Learning Basic Chess Tactics for Beginners

Tactic and Strategy

Tactic is defined as a series of moves with the aim of gaining an advantage or escaping danger. Advantage may be either material (capturing a piece) or positional (occupying a crucial square). Danger may be a check, attack or inconvenient position.

Tactic must be used hand in hand with strategy. Strategy is the general, long-term battle plan. Tactic is more short-term and particular in nature. For beginners, it is more fun to study and practice with tactics first.

Chess tactics developed over the ages because players noticed that the same patterns appeared over and over. Theories were formed around these and today many standard tactics have come down to us. Learn a couple of tactics at a time. Try them out as you play to see how they work.

Following are some basic chess tactics: interception, freeing, x-ray, discovered attack, removing a defender and pinning.

Interception of a Chess Piece

This chess tactic cripples an enemy piece by blocking its way with one of your own pieces/pawns. It's useful when you want to attack a valuable piece. Say you are attacking a bishop defended by the queen. By blocking the queen's path with a pawn, you can capture the bishop without threat of a recapture.

Freeing a Chess Piece

A chessman can be made useless by friendly pieces around it that prevent its free movement. If a bishop's diagonal is blocked by an ally knight in the middle, for instance, the bishop cannot cross to enemy ranks to do damage. In the freeing tactic, you remove an obstacle so that a piece can move as desired.

X-Ray

In the x-ray chess tactic, a piece is attacked and moving it only leads to the capture of another piece on the same line. Say a queen is on the same diagonal as a friendly rook with no obstructions. If the queen is being threatened by the enemy queen, moving the former to another square would result in the capture of the rook.

Discovered Attack

In this chess tactic, an attack from one piece comes into force when a friendly piece moves out of the way. Say your queen and the enemy king are flanking one of your knights. Moving the knight out of the way reveals a check.

Removing a Defender

This is the term applied to a tactical procedure in which you capture an enemy piece defending another.

Pinning

In the pinning tactic, a piece is trapped between an enemy chessman and a friendly one. A knight in g3 is pinned if its king is in h3 and an attacking rook is at e3. By pinning a piece, you limit its usefulness on the board.

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