In tactics, we can either defend or attack - taking no action is not possible, (as in real life!) I like to think of the competition between human beings as '2 player chess', because more and more games are played with machines as the opponent.
A piece is in an attacking position if it can capture an opponent's piece in the next move. A piece is said to be defending when it is in such a place that it could capture the opponent's piece, if that piece followed through with an attack. Normally, both players will judge the respective value of the pieces in question, and decide how to move. This all depends on the value the pieces have in the general strategy. maybe one opponent intends to sacrifice his piece as part of his strategy. Sacrificing certain pieces in the general interest of victory is one of the central tactics of chess.
If the opponent launches an offensive, we can use various tactics, which will depend on the board layout and our general strategy. We might try to seize the attacking piece, or move our piece out of the way. Could we place one of our pieces between the two, and end the attack that way? Perhaps we can mount a fast counter attack to divert the opponent from his tactic. There are many another ways in which we can attack or defend, but tactics fall into defined categories. A beginner chess player would do well to study one of the many excellent books about chess tactics and gradually develop the themes into their own strategy. Let's take a quick look at just two standard categories of tactics.
This is a move which permits an attack by an opponent's piece, by moving one of our pieces out of the way of the attack. (If the attacked piece is our king, the tactic is referred to as a discovered check). This is a potent tactic, as the piece that was moved out of the way can then be used to counter attack. In this way you launch a second attack, which has the effect of putting your opponent off guard and on the defensive.
This is a great move and definitely one of my favorites, especially if it involves a knight. It can be put in place when the other player doesn't notice the set up, while concentrating on a false offensive elsewhere on the board, for example. Essentially, a piece gets into a position where it can capture any one of two opponent pieces nearby by. Ordinarily, the opponent can only save one piece by moving it out of the way, and he must make up his mind which piece to lose. Of course, if one of the pieces is the King, then he is obliged by the rules of chess to remove it from this check situation. Queens are also great pieces to employ in this tactic, moving as they can in eight different directions.
Fork attacks are called 'Relative', if the pieces being attacked are Pawns, Knights, Bishops, Rooks, or Queen. The fork tactic is known as 'Absolute', when one of the attacked pieces includes the King.
Peter Bruce is a freelance journalist operating out of Toulouse in France. Subject covered range from shiatsu to chess.
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