Tactics & Calculation

Chess Tactics Galore

Chess Tactics Galore

One of the main backbones of winning in chess is what we call chess tactics.

Chess tactics are recurring moves that will leave you with an advantage.

The advantage is either positional based or material based depending on which a person gets comfortable with.

Chess Tactics

Tactics have different names depending on the motif. Here is a list of some chess tactics, their names, and how they are executed:

1. Fork

This chess tactic attacks two or more pieces at the same time. All chess pieces are capable of delivering a fork.

This includes pawns and also the king.

Chess Tactics: Fork

In the position above, the knight has delivered a typical knight fork.Β 

Black will be forced to lose a piece, either the rook on c7 or the queen on f4

2. Overload

The sequence of overload involves putting too much pressure on a defensive piece.

This means the piece will have to multi-task with the result being a loss of material.

Chess Tactics: Overload

In this situation, the black rook on b7 is in a position where it is protecting the bishop on e7 and the knight on b5.

The major problem is that both pieces are being attacked by White’s pieces. White can play Bxb5! Losing a piece as Rxb5 allows white to play Rxe7.

3. Absolute Pin

This pin involves a king. The piece in front of the king will be unable to move out of the way as it will be considered an illegal move.

This is whereby we have a piece stuck in front of a king because if it moves, there is a “check“.

Chess Tactics: Absolute Pin

In this position, the rook on g5 is under an absolute pin. There is no way for it to move nor save it from being captured.

In the video below, we see two common tactics that can arise from a chess game being explained in detail by GM Igor Smirnov.

4. Relative Pin

This tactic, another pin, involves other chess pieces that are not the king. The piece that is pinned has the option to move out of the way, but then the bigger piece behind the pinned piece will be captured.

Chess Tactics: Relative Pin

In this position, the rook on d5 and the queen on b7 are in a relative pin position.

Whilst the rook has the option to move out of the way, this would be considered a blunder as the queen is more powerful than the rook.

With a relative pin, a piece with more points is the target, so an opponent has to choose which piece to give up on.

5. Discovered Attack

This involves a piece moving out of the way to reveal another attacking piece.

Most open attacks involve a bishop and king, with the bishop attacking the king.

Chess Tactics: Discovered Attack

The position above will result in a discovered attack as the bishop will capture the pawn on h7, with a check on the king.

This will leave the queen on e7 exposed to the rook on e2 with no way to save it.

This is just like hiding behind a piece, so that when the piece in front moves, the one behind shows its true color.

6. Smothered Mate

This is one of the most famous checkmating sequences. The final position involves the enemy king being forced into a corner with its pieces not giving it any breathing space.

Chess Tactics: Smothered Mate

In the following position, Black’s pieces will deliver a forced smothered mate on the white king.

Black, it’s ready to sacrifice his queen. We will deliver checkmate with his knight.

1…Qd4+ forces 2.Kh1 as Kf1 will result in 3…Qf2#. Β The sequence continues with 2…Nf2+ 3.Kg1 Nh3+ 4.Kh1 Qg1+, forcing the rook to play 5.Rxg1, which leaves the king with no way to escape Nf2#

7. Deflection

A typical case of redirecting an enemy piece away from an important square.

The piece that is deflected would have initially been preventing the capture of a piece or preventing a checkmate.

Chess Tactics: Deflection

In this position, White will play 1. Rd8+, which will force the black knight to move away from the e6square, which was protecting the queen on f4.

This will also leave white with the option to play Qe8, checkmate.

8. Decoy

In a decoy scenario, you force your opponent to move into a square that will result in a loss of material.

Decoys normally involve a king or a queen as the victim.

Chess Tactics: Decoy

In this position, Black can perform a decoy tactic. 1…Rg1+ forces the king to move away from protecting the queen on e2, as it’s forced to play 2.Kxg1 Qxe2 will leave Black with a winning position.

9. Triangulation

Triangulation is a middle and endgame tactic that leads to one player forcing their opponent into a losing position.

The frequently known triangulation involves the king doing a triangle, forcing the position to be retained, and it will be your opponent’s turn to move instead.

Chess Tactics: Triangulation

In this position, White can use the triangulation effect. 1.Kc5 Kf5 2. Kd4 Ke7 3.Kd5!

The position looks similar, but White has lost a move, forcing Black to be the one to play.

10. Skewer

A skewer is an attack that forces a strong piece to move out of the way, leaving a lower-valued piece to be captured instead.

Here we protect the piece with higher points, but lose the piece with fewer points in the process.

Chess Tactics: Skewer

In this diagram, the queen and knight face a skewer from the bishop.

The queen will have to move out of the way and allow 2…Bxb2.

11. Zwischenzug

This is a German word that means in-between move in English. The idea behind this tactic is to play a move that will be an immediate threat that your opponent will first have to deal with.

First, we complete the move. Second, we capture the piece.

Chess Tactics: Zwischenzug

Instead of playing 1...Rxb8, Black opts to play 1…Nd5, threatening white to immediately deal with the knight fork threat.

White will have to deal with this threat by either moving the queen or king, then Black will recapture the bishop on b8 afterward.

12. Breakthrough

Breakthrough is an endgame tactic that uses pawns, creating a path to promote in a position that looks drawish; passing through a wall that seems to have no way out.


Black can initiate a breakthrough by playing 1…b3. This forced White to capture the pawn on b3.

The weakness created from the b3 move leaves the pawn on b2 as an overloaded pawn that’s unable to stop both the c3 and a3pawns.

2.cxb3 a3 3.bxa3 c3, and there is nothing to stop the c-pawn from crowing. Or 2.axb3 c3 3.bxc3 a3, leaving Black’s pawn with a free path to go promote.

13. Domination

These chess tactics can be found mostly in games played by positional players.

The basic idea is to ensure that an opponent’s piece doesn’t have any safe squares to move to as your pieces will be controlling them.


The black knight cannot move. The pawn on c6 and the queen on c4 dominate it.

The only option for Black will be to improve their position. White, it’s gonna capture the knight anyway.

14. Stalemate

This tactic involves forcing a draw to occur due to a positional mismatch.

The mismatch can either lead to a perpetual check or a perpetual attack, with both forcing repetitions of the position.


In this position, Black notices that the king has no squares to move to. To execute a draw in this position, the black queen must deliver multiple checks until the white king captures it.

1…Qd4+ 2.Kf3 Qf4+ 3.Ke2 Qe3+ 4.Kd1 Qd2+, the white king has no squares to move to, thus forcing a draw with 5. Kxd2.

15. Greek Gift

These tactics revolve around a chess player giving away a piece, normally a bishop, to stimulate a bad position for the opponent.

Greek Gift

In the position above, White will play 1.Bxh7+, which automatically becomes the Greek Sacrifice.

The following moves will include 1...Kxh7 2.Ng5+, opening the path for the queen to come into the game.

The best defense for Black would be to play 2…Kg6 as 2.Kg8 will result in a mating sequence: 3.Qh5 Re8 4.Qxf7+ Kh8 5/Qh5+Kg8 6.Qh7 +Kf8 7.Qh8+Ke7 8.Qxg7#.


Tactics can have a devastating effect on a chess match. The tactic can be short-range, which means that the pieces can be close together.

The main solution to evading tactics includes rather keeping your pieces apart from each other.

Playing tactical positions takes away the fear of sacrifices.

A good chess tactic not only makes your opponent uncomfortable but can also create the conditions to win a game. So, don’t be afraid to sacrifice pieces!

Tactics create a fun chess game for a person who enjoys risking a position just to create a win for themselves.

We have different types of chess players, those that like an open game full of tactics or a closed one that leads to drawn positions at the end.

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want GM Igor Smirnov to help you get better at chess, watch this Masterclass.

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