IIB. Additional Tactical and Strategical Concepts & Principles.We turn to additional concepts and principles used in constructing the conceptual framework and see application of the prime principle – combination.
Counterattack: refers to an opposing player launching a simultaneous attack against the pieces and/or pawns of a player who is pressing an attack. The main aims of counterattacking are:
- to distract the other player from his or her own attack;
- create threats to break up the player’s attack; and
- develop pieces and advance pawns in a manner designed to create strong defensive positions against the attack.
Counterplay: refers generally to a player being able to effectively negate an opposing player’s threat or threats, intended trap or traps, intended line(s) of attack, or goal(s) in moving opposing pieces and/or advancing pawns at a particular point in the game, through having usually at least an equal and opposite ability to develop an offsetting line of play in opposition.
Double attack: is when two pieces, or a piece and a pawn, are attacking and threatening capture of two different opposing pieces and/or pawns simultaneously, unlike the fork where just one piece or a pawn of a player is threatening capture of two different opposing pieces and/or pawns simultaneously.
Doubly attacked: is when two pieces, or a piece and a pawn, are attacking the same piece or pawn. While the single-most potent offensive weapon in a player’s arsenal is a Queen sacrifice during a mating pattern and mating net, a doubly attacked opposing King…double check…through a discovered check move arguably is the most devastating tactical weapon with awesome power on the chessboard. Unlike the usual discovered check where a piece or pawn is moved allowing another “passive” piece to then check the opposing King, in the double check situation the discovered check is accompanied by the moving piece or pawn also checking the opposing King at the same time. This results in the opposing player’s options becoming extremely limited! The opposing King must be moved out of the double check, there simply is no other available option. The opposing player cannot capture either of the checking pieces, because the other piece or pawn would still be checking the opposing King. At the same time, blocking check is not an option in a double check situation because there is no way to block two checks on the opposing King at the same time. If one of the pieces involved in the double check is a Knight, then because of the Knight’s odd moving pattern additional possible flight squares for the opposing King often also are taken away from the opposing player.
Triply attacked (a piece or pawn attacked in three different ways simultaneously) is possible, although not very common.
En prise: means that a piece or a pawn is able to be captured, usually accidentally left in a position where it can be captured through a blunder or bad move or pawn advance (but sometimes this is done on purpose for tactical & strategical reasons).
Entombment: can happen to the King, Queen, Rooks, Bishops, Knights, and pawns, and occurs when a piece or pawn becomes locked onto a square by opposing pieces and/or pawns, and while not being attacked under an immediate threat of being captured, it cannot safely move to (or move and capture upon) any other square (i.e., without it being under the threat of immediate capture by the opposing player often without any compensation or inadequate compensation). Entombment, therefore, usually renders the piece or pawn for all intents and purposes useless to the player for attacking and defending purposes. If it is the King, then entombment is simply trapping it often leading to a mating net and the mating pattern. However, an entombment may work to a player’s advantage if while being entombed, a piece is pinning or skewering an opposing piece (pins and skewers are covered under Section III below), or works to restrict the opposing King’s movement, or possibly in combination with another piece or pawn creates an advantageous situation such as a sacrifice situation.
Exchange: this term broadly refers to when the players engage in a series of capturing and removing pieces and pawns from the board. An exchange could be deemed to occur for example when a player captures a Bishop with a pawn and the opposing player captures the pawn with a piece or a pawn. When pieces of unequal value, or a piece for a pawn, are exschanged, the player with the higher point value fighting unit removed from the board is said to “lose the exchange”, while the player with the lower point value fighting unit is said to “win the exchange.” If a player intentionally gives up a higher point value fighting unit for a lower point value fighting unit, the player is said to “sacrifice the exchange.” A player most often does so because the player seeks to gain, or will gain, amply “compensation” for the loss in material in the form of positional superiority. [source: How Do You Play Chess? by Fred Reinfeld (pamphlet, Dover Publications, 1958, reissue 1972), at p. 17] Note should be made that under FIDE’s Official Rules of Chess, an exchange is when the players capture each other’s pieces of similar equal value. The example presented thus would not be classified as an exchange under FIDE’s rules. See also “Trade” below.
Focalpoints: in their simplest expression, focalpoints are critical squares (single or group) around or near a King upon which attacks against the King are to be launched, or which control over the squares is critical to establish a mating pattern and mating net. Against a Black King castled to the Kingside, the common focalpoints are five: f7, g7, h7, g6, and the trianglar dark-squared group of f6, g7, and h6. Against a White King castled to the Kingside, the most common focalpoints are similar but on White’s side of the chessboard: f2, g2, h2, g3, and the trianglar dark-squared group of f3, g2, and h3. In Queenside castles, focalpoints include primarily a7, b7, c7 (Black Queenside castle), and a2, b2, c2 (White Queenside castle). Discussion of the concepts relating to focalpoints is left to various tutorials.
Fork: a fork occurs when a player’s piece or a pawn is attacking two of an opposing player’s pieces, or a piece and a pawn, simultaneously. A multiple fork occurs when a piece is attacking more than two opposing pieces, two or more pieces and a pawn, or a piece and two or more pawns, or two or more pieces and two or more pawns. Additionally, a fork or a multiple fork can occur in conjunction with simultaneous check on the opposing King, called a fork check. Further, a forking piece can be combined with another piece or pawn, or a forking pawn can be combined with another piece, to create a combined Fork Check and Double Check. Forks, Fork Checks, and the combined Fork Check and Double Check, will be diagrammed and reviewed in the separate individual tutorials and in the Checking and Checkmating tutorial.
Infiltration: this is the act of penetrating a player’s piece or a pawn into the opposing player’s “space”, that is moving the piece or advancing the pawn so that it gets behind forward positioned opposing pieces and/or opposing pawns. Some common examples are (and these are covered more fully in other tutorials): a Rook seizing control of the opposing player’s second rank (rank2 for White by a Black Rook; rank 7 for Black by a White Rook); an advanced passed pawn; a Bishop sacrifice at h2 (Black sacrificing) or h7 (White sacrificing) against the opposing King castled to the Kingside; and White obtaining centralization with a Knight on the e5 square.
Interference: Fred Reinfeld in his book, 1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations, explains: “Interference, as the term indicates, occurs where the defender is forced to block himself. He has a choice of moving two pieces to a critical square. Whichever piece he moves, he blocks the operations of the other piece and is thus left helpless against his opponent’s threats.” An example of interference is provided in the Queen tutorial.
Luft: means to provide an escape square and path for the King off the back rank of a castled King to prevent a back rank mate, by doing a pawn advance. For a Kingside castle, usually this involves a single square advance of the h file pawn, but can be a single square advance of the g file pawn as well. Fianchettoing of the King’s Bishop is an example of an early move that compliments providing possible luft for a Kingside castled King (by moving the fianchettoed Bishop). Less commonly, it may involve advancing the f file pawn. An example of the importance of considering an f pawn advance to do luft to prevent a back rank mate of a Kingside castled King is shown in the example provided in the Simple Checkmates section in the Checking and Checkmating tutorial. Advancing the f file pawn to provide luft usually is not advisable because doing so opens the critical f7 square (against Black) or f2 (against White) and the corresponding diagonal into the castled King. Luft also may be done, naturally, for a Queenside castled King; but, a back rank checkmate against a Queenside castled King is far less common and infrequently encountered because of the position created by the Queenside castle. This is not to say a back rank checkmate for a Queenside castled King is not important to consider for either player. The critical a2 square (against White) and a7 square (against Black) in a Queenside castle provides an avenue into the Queenside castled King which must be respected, defended, and protected with tenacity especially if the opposing player has gained control of an open d file. However, often it is easier to avoid and escape a back rank checkmate for a Queenside castled King.
Overprotection is where a player having a very important strategically placed pawn or wants to significantly control a strategic square, concentrates pieces and/or pawns in defense and protection of the pawn or square but in a seeming overabundance. The main theme behind the concept is that the player wants to press hard in dissuading the opposing player from launching an attacking against the pawn or from that square (i.e., wants to prevent the opposing player from getting control of the square). Often the pawn or square represents a significant positional superiority or potential positional superiority for the player, creating significant space, cutting the board in half and making it difficult for an opposing player’s pieces to come to the aid of their King, blocking a critical file and/or diagonal.
Reverse Openings: This concept applies to situations where a player makes opening moves and pawn advances traditionally made by the opposing player. Thus, White makes moves and advances which are usually and traditionally made by Black, or vice versa. This concept is discussed further in a later tutorial, but the central goal is to try to force the opposing player to develop the game position into a line with which the player is familiar and confortable playing. Before attempting a reverse opening, a player must be thoroughly versed in the basic so the opening system and its most common variant lines which he or seeks to force the play into during the opening or early middlegame, or else the player might well see a crushing, devastating ckeckmate dropped on him or her. This is closely related to the concept of transposition utilized most often in the “hypermodern” openings. See “Transposition” below.
Sacrifice: the giving up a piece or a pawn, or a particular attacking or defensive position, with an ulterior purpose (goal) behind what may appear to be a seemingly senseless leading of the sacrifical lamb to slaughter. For example, a Queen may be sacrificed to lay a mating net trap for the opposing King. Another common one is a Bishop sacrifice on h7 against Black’s King castled to the Kingside, or h2 against White’s King castled to the Kingside, to open the h file and provide a difficult to defend positional inferority for the player with the castled King. If an opposing player creates a situation where a piece, especially his or her Queen or Rook, is moved to a square or captures upon a square where it looks “good” to simply capture it…stop-look-study-THINK. Do not assume the player has simply made a blunder.
Of course, sometimes there is simply nothing a player may do if an opposing player does a sacrifice. The corollary is that if a player wants to do a sacrifice, the player should stop-look-study-THINK. Does it accomplish what the player hopes to do? Does the opposing player have a counterattack or block, or worse yet a checkmate threat laying in wait on his or her next move or have a possible mating net open to him or her? An example of a Rook sacrifice with an ulterior purpose of creating a possible ensuing mating net is provided in the Sacrifice problem in the Problems tutorial, and others are provided throughout these tutorials.
Trade: this term is used in a focused sense to mean an exchange of equal pieces…a Bishop for a Bishop, a Queen for a Queen, and so on. As noted under “Exchange” above, in FIDE’s Official Rules of Chess an exchange is when the players capture each other’s pieces of similar equal value.
Transposition: this concept applied most often is “hypermodern” openings refers to forcing the play of the game during the opening or early middlegame into a familiar line with which a player is comfortable playing. Usually, this concept is seen in the more complex d-pawn openings where Black does not reply to White’s d4 with d5. Attempting transposition can be tricky and loaded with traps and pitfalls. Most often the gambits involving riskier lines of play are based upon seeking this goal. As with reverse openings, attempting gambits and transposition is very tricky and not for the faint of heart. These maneuvers are extremely complex and positional nightmares can ensue very rapidly.
X-ray: Threats and traps created by combination lineups of pieces may often lead to another type of combination threat called an X-ray. An X-ray is when an opposing player seems to have a solid defense against the power of the combination of pieces pointed at an attacked piece or pawn, but it is really an illusion because of material disadvantage and/or positional structural deficiencies in the opposing player’s game. The opposing player may fall into a trap when the player with the combination lineup captures the attacked piece thereby seemingly offering up his or her own piece to a sacrifice, trade, or exchange of pieces. In a Queen-Rook-Rook combination, for example, an X-ray may be that if the opposing player captures the player’s piece which does a capture, the player quickly proceeds to gain material advantage (or strengthen his or her already existing material advantage) because the sacrifice actually results also in an immediate threat of checkmate forcing the opposing player to choose to lose the material. Of course, in such situation usually the opposing player winds up with a lost game because of significant material disadvantage and/or positional inferiority.
Zwischenzug: a term meaning an “in-between move” – an unexpected reply move interposed during a sequence of expected moves. The importance of Zwischenzug lies in seeking to interfere with what an opposing player expects to see as the “normal” play during the game. This can help to distract the opposing player’s attention from what he or she is doing (e.g., pressing an attack, setting up a defensive position, seeking to create a mating pattern and mating net). A timely made Zwischenzug can help a player to seize the initiative back from the opposing player, develop an effective counterattack, develop his or her own mating pattern or mating net to the great surprise of the opposing player who thinks he or she has the game well in hand and on the way to victory (the player snatches victory from the jaws of defeat!), or allow the player to get a draw or a stalemate out of what was a decidely downturned game which was leading toward a checkmate or resignation. A Zwichenzug can be particularly effective is the opposing player is under significant time pressure, as it may force the oppsing player to lose valuable time considering why the player did the Zwischenzug and how to respond to it (the purpose of which might be as simple as causing the opposing player to lose valuable time and perhaps gain an edge toward winning on time!).
However, the opposing player might inadvertently or otherwise throw in a Zwischenzug which snatches victory from him or her when the player throws a Zwischenzug back. An example is shown in the following diagram where Black messes up a straight forward winning position and White gains a draw via a perpetual checkmate. Black has the straighforward pawn advance to b3 pushing toward pawn promotion, which is unstoppable except by White capturing Black’s pawn with White’s Queen and losing the Queen to capture by Black’s Queen. Black forgets the basic principle of simplification and examining the whole board in general, and being concerned with White’s advanced Knight at h5 decides to capture the Knight offering a Knight trade in a blunder (Kxh5??). White throws a Zwischenzug back at Black: Qe8+ forcing Black to move Black’s King to h7, after which White has perpetual check (Qe8+, Kh7, Qxh5+, Kg8, Qe8+, Kh7, and so on). [source: The Complete Book of Chess Strategy, Grandmaster Techniques from A to Z, by IM Jeremy Silman, at pages 133-134]
In his book at page 134, IM Silman also provides an example (shown in the following diagram) of a Black player recognizing the vulnerability of Black’s pawn at b7, overlooks a Zwischenzug open to White and makes a bad move and capture – Black’s Queen’s Bishop from g4 capturing White’s King’s Knight at f3 (Bxf3?) expecting White to capture the Queen’s Bishop via a pawn capture (gxf3), after which Black could move Black’s Queen to d2 to defend and protect Black’s pawn at b7. White temporarily foregoes gxf3, and instead does the powerful excellent Zwischenzug move and capture of Black’s pawn at b7 with White’s Queen (Qxb7!) creating a Double Attack (White’s Queen threatening capture of Black’s Queen’s Rook blocked in by Black’s Queen’s Knight, simultaneously still having open the threat to capture Black’s Queen’s Bishop at f3). This forces Black to move the Queen’s Knight to d2 (Nbd2) to open the back rank for Black’s Queen to defend and protect Black’s Queen’s Rook, allowing White to now safely capture White’s Queen’s Bishop at f3 (gxf3), and White gains a pawn advantage and putting White firmly in control.
As with a sacrifice, a player faced with a Zwischenzug thrown at him or her should stop-look-study-THINK. Time pressure, though, might not yield much time to do this.
Zugzwang: a situation where a player, not being under no actual threat, neverthless is obliged by the positioning of the pieces and/or pawns on the chessboard to weaken his or her position due to the need to make a move. A counterpart to Zugzwang is Reciprocal Zugzwang. This is a position on the chessboard where whoever is to move is in Zugzwang. This can be expressed simply “as ‘whoever is to move must weaken [his or her] position’ and more precisely as ‘a situation in which the stronger side cannot force a win if he [or she] is to move, while the weaker side loses if he [or she] is to move.” The Mammoth Book of Chess, by Graham Burgess, at page 480 [full book reference provided in the Recommended Readings section]. An example of Reciprocal Zugzwang is shown in the following diagram. Black’s King has blocked White from doing pawn promotion. If Black is to move, Black must move to c7 breaking Black’s King block on White’s pawn promotion, thereby weakening Black’s position and indeed resulting in a win for White following pawn promotion to a Queen. The line is 1. … Kc7 2. Ke7 Black King moves (to b8, b7, b6, or c6) 3. d8=Q. However, if White is to move, then White must either move White’s King away from defending and protecting White’s pawn at d7 (to d5, e5, f7, f6, or f5) allowing Black to capture White’s pawn at d7 (Kxd7) with a drawn game, or else White can move to d6 (Kd6) for a stalemate. This example is taken from taken from The Mammoth Book of Chess, by Graham Burgess, at page 480.
Now let’s turn to two very important attacking principles – pins & skewers.