Master the Game: Some Fantastic Tactics For Chess Success

Master the Game: Some Fantastic Tactics For Chess Success

Tactics steer the game from a strategic battle into a thrilling contest of wits

Soumya SwaminathanUpdated: Sunday, June 23, 2024, 12:15 AM IST
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Tactics steer the game from a strategic battle into a thrilling contest of wits. But how does one spot these brilliant moves amid the complexity on the board? To develop a keen eye for tactics, understanding the basic building blocks of chess serves as the starting point, where the first step is to be aware of the various tactical ideas. We recently covered powerful tactical ideas in chess like Discovered Attack, Discovered Check, and the concept of a Combination. We also touched upon the tactical idea of Double Check last fortnight.

Let us get familiar with a few more tactical concepts which are often seen during a game:

Overloading is similar to overwhelming a palace guard with the task of guarding 2 or more vulnerable fronts at the same time! Picture the Black Queen, regal and powerful, defending both a critical Back Rank and a vulnerable square around its King. White cleverly directs his Rook towards Black’s Back Rank and simultaneously creates a checkmate idea on the vulnerable square by forming a battery with his own Queen and Bishop. The overworked Black Queen, unable to protect both the points, must abandon one, leading to a breach in the kingdom's defences or a loss of crucial material.

Sacrifice: In the scene we just discussed, what if we simply charge with our White Rook to penetrate the Back Rank? Even though the Rook can be picked up by the Black Queen, the vulnerable square around the Black King can now be exploited, since the Black Queen’s attention has been diverted. That’s the magic of sacrifice! Sacrificing a piece means giving up material with the expectation of a greater reward—be it an exposed king, a devastating attack, or at an advanced level, even for the sake of a significant positional advantage.

The following diagram illustrates our example perfectly!

Q: What would you play as White?

A: 1. Re8! Breaks through for White, illustrating the concepts of overloading and sacrifice. If Black picks up the Rook with his Queen with 1…Qe8, she loses her grip over the g7 square. White proceeds with 2. Qg7, culminating in Checkmate! White combined the tactical ideas of Battery, Back Rank Checkmate, Lotus Checkmate, Overloading and Piece Sacrifice to achieve his aim!

Here are some practical tips that will help you find tactics during a game:

While considering your next move, look for Forcing Moves first like Checks, Captures and Threats. Such moves often lead to an advantage or even Checkmate.

Always conduct a quick blunder check before making a move to ensure you’re not falling into a tactical trap yourself. After all the opponent will also try to create the same tactics on their end!

Often, it becomes necessary to combine two or more tactical ideas, and create a Combination, i.e. a multiple-move sequence for the tactics to work in our favour! Keep this possibility in mind when you look for ideas.

With regular training, our mind gets accustomed to identifying patterns. Solving chess puzzles and studies is a great way to sharpen our instincts. Our intuition grows as we get more familiar with various possibilities, and soon we begin to anticipate the hidden possibilities within any position, turning what seems like a mundane setup into a playground for brilliant tactics!

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