Almost every player enjoys playing attacks in chess games. After all, you can’t win a chess game without launching an attack at some point!
One of the often-overlooked advantages of playing chess attacks is that it is unlikely to be fatal if you make a small mistake. However, if you are defending, the slightest mistake can end in checkmate!
Bobby Fischer famously said, “Sac, sac, mate!” but not every attack is that easy to play. At least not without a lot of cooperation from your opponent.
When it comes to attacking chess, one of the most exciting players was Mikhail Tal. Enjoy this entertaining example, taken from GM Mihail Marin’s Attacking Academy.
Here are two more attacking games that are very different. Be sure to use these attacking strategies in your games.
Attacking in Chess: One Threat After Another
Checks, captures, and threats are how we get taught to find candidate moves. These are the forcing moves that force wins.
Emmanuel Lasker knew how to get the most out of making threats. In this game, he creates ten threats in a row.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4
Lasker believed that if you could win a crucial center pawn, you should capture it if you haven’t broken any of the chess opening rules.
The critical point is not to cling to the extra material at the cost of development or king safety.
5.d4 Be7 6.Qe2 Nd6 7.Bxc6 bxc6 8.dxe5 Nb7
The knight is temporarily out of the game, but it can return to a central position with Nc5-e6.
9.b3 0-0 10.Bb2 d5! 11.exd6 cxd6 12.Nbd2 Re8
The rook indirectly attacks the queen. This move might not seem very dangerous, yet in his game notes, Dr. Tarrasch remarks how this indirect threat quickly leads to a decisive advantage for Black.
13.Rfe1 Bd7 14.Ne4 d5 15.Ned2 Ba3 16.Be5 f6 17.Qa6
17…fxe5 18.Qxa3 e4 19.Nd4 Qf6 20.c3 Rf8
Five Consecutive Attacking Moves and There’s Still More in Store
Black has played five moves, from move sixteen to twenty, that threatened to win material or more, and he still isn’t finished attacking in this chess game.
21.f3 Qg5 22.Qc1 Nc5 23.Nf1 Qg6 24.Re3 Nd3 25.Qd1 Nf4 26.Ng3 h5 27.Nde2
All of the threats might have seemed obvious and easily avoided, but Black has a winning attacking combination in this position.
27…Nxg2 28.Kxg2 exf3+ 29.Rxf3 Bh3+ 30.Kxh3 Qg4+ 31.Kg2 Qxf3 32.Kg1 h4 33.Nh1 Qe3+
This game deserves a place in every collection of great attacking games.
Moritz Porges – Emanuel Lasker, 1896.07.20, 0-1, Nuremberg Round 1, Nuremberg GER
Attacking in Chess: The Slow Death Caused by a Positional Attack
Does the concept of a positional attack sound like an oxymoron to you?
Aron Nimzovitch’s positional attack against H. Mattison was so devastating the game was over in twenty-three moves! Even more remarkable is the fact that material was equal at the end of the game.
The game began with the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 Bxc3 5.bxc3 d6 6.Qc2 Qe7
Nimzovitch played 6…Qe7 to support …e5 if White played e4. However, it allows White to pin the d-pawn with 7.Ba3 c5.
7…c5 fixes the front doubled-pawn on c4. One of the cornerstones of chess attacks is to direct your attack at your opponent’s weakest points.
8.g3 b6 9.Bg2 Bb7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Nh4
Black’s bishop was more active than White’s, so exchanging it makes sense.
What does not make sense is putting a knight on the rim, where it is dim.
11….Bxg2 12.Kxg2 Qb7+ 13.Kg1 Qa6 14.Qb3
This move is the only way to defend c4 and the bishop on a3. There’s another rule for attacks in chess: bring all your pieces over to join in the attack.
In light of this, Nimzovitch continues with 14…Nc6.
14…Nc6 15.Rfd1 Na5 16.Qb5 Qxb5 17.cxb5 Nc4!
Positional Chess Requires a Flexible Mindset
Nimzovitch understood he was exchanging one positional advantage – White’s weak doubled-pawns – for another – the weak c4-square. The c4-square is a superb outpost because the knight can’t get attacked by the bishop.
A knight established on an outpost will soon become a powerful attacking piece.
18.Bc1 a6 19.bxa6 Rxa6 20.dxc5 bxc5 21.Ng2 Nd5
Black found another target to attack in the isolated, backward a-pawn. Unlike White, Nimzovitch has both his knights actively placed in the center.
Centralization is a powerful strategy when attacking in chess.
Yes, Black’s knight went to the rim, but it did so with purpose and attacking intent.
22.Rd3 Rfa8 23.e4 Ne5
There were only two checks throughout this game, and Black gave both – 4…Bxc3+ and 12…Qb7+.
White didn’t deliver a single check, nor did he threaten Black’s king, a clear indication of how little time White spent attacking in this chess game.
Games like this can help you choose your opening repertoire. You can choose an opening that inflicts a structural weakness and learn how to attack this weakness.
Inflicting a weakness is only part of the process, and it won’t count for much if you don’t know how to take advantage of it.
Here is the game for you to study at your leisure.
Hermanis Karlovich Mattison – Aron Nimzowitsch, 1929.08.14, 0-1, Karlsbad, Round 12, Karlsbad CZE
Chess requires a blend of positional elements and attacking head-on in order to succeed. Be aware an attack in chess might not end in checkmate but it might give you enough of an advantage to win the game.
Also, it is essential not to try to memorize the moves but to learn why a tactic or positional element works. Then you can apply it in similar positions or from different openings.
We can learn many attacking strategies in chess by playing through the games of strong players. This approach is highly effective because it shows you the technique required to finish the game successfully after the attack ends.
There are more than 90 attacking games in GM Mihail Marin’s excellent Master Method course on attacking chess.
That’s over 15 hours of instruction in attacking chess by a top coach and grandmaster. Learn why some attacks in chess work and others don’t.
Don’t wait any longer to become an attacking force at the chessboard.