Every successful game of chess involves combinations, and games are lost if you get your combination in chess wrong.
Getting your combinations in chess right is much easier if you have a sound understanding of chess tactics. There is a broad spectrum of tactics in chess, but if you learn the essential elements, or motifs, of tactics, you will have a sound foundation to build on.
Learning tactics is not only about memorizing moves but about getting your thinking right and understanding how to use the different elements of chess tactics.
The more you understand tactics, the more dangerous your combinations in chess games will become.
A Weak Back Rank Allows Winning Combinations in Chess
Back rank weaknesses are a common tactical weakness you can exploit in chess. You can use the weak back rank to win material in chess.
Remember, not all your combinations in chess will be about delivering a checkmate.
Apart from attacking the king, you can use combinations in chess to attack other material and pawns or to create weaknesses in your opponent’s position.
White can take advantage of Black’s weak back rank in this position to win material with 1.Rxd5 Rxd5 2.Bxd5. Black cannot capture the bishop because moving the rook from d8 allows Re8 checkmate!
Another tactical motif exists in this position – the semi-hanging piece. A semi-hanging piece is a piece where the number of attackers equals the number of defenders.
The knight on d5 is attacked twice and defended twice.
When there is a semi-hanging piece on the board, see if you can include an attack on one of the defenders. Forcing a defender away from a semi-hanging piece will allow you to play a successful combination in chess.
If you cannot force it to move, look for opportunities to infiltrate squares or pieces protected by one of the defenders. When a piece performs multiple defensive tasks, the piece is said to be overloaded.
After 1, Bxd5 Rxd5 White can play 2.Rxd5 because the black rook on d8 is overloaded.
The d8-rook is tied to the back rank, so it cannot recapture on d5.
Attacking the King: A Checkmate Combination in Chess
Being behind in material and having a weak pawn structure does not matter if you deliver checkmate. Studying the principles behind the checkmate will help you position your pieces on the ideal squares to deliver your winning combination.
Apart from learning how to deliver checkmate, a mating combination in chess will teach you how the pieces work together. A queen and knight work differently from a queen and bishop.
Always consider all your options when deciding on your checkmate combination in chess. You might expect to deliver checkmate with a queen and rook, but provide a checkmate with a queen and bishop.
Here is one example where three pieces – queen, rook, and bishop – work together to deliver a checkmate.
The game ended with 30…Rxg3+ 31.hxg3 Qxg3+ 32.Ng2 Bd4+ and White resigned. If White captures on d4, the queen delivers checkmate on g2 with the rook, and Kh1 allows Black to deliver checkmate with the queen and bishop – …Qh3#
Charles H Storey – David Walker, 1999.08.12, 0-1, BCF-ch Round 10, Scarborough ENG
You often need to sacrifice a piece to expose the enemy king. Even at thirteen-years-old Mikhail Tal wasn’t afraid to play this sacrifice.
Take a look at Tal’s game against Ratmir Kolmov in 1949.
No matter your preferred style of play, there is no escaping the importance of tactics in chess. Tactics are the reason behind many a combination in chess and will continue to inspire more.
You do not need to calculate long variations to play a winning combination in chess. What counts for a lot in understanding the motifs and elements of tactics.
Thanks to his twenty years of coaching experience, FIDE National Instructor Angelo Kesaris is well-qualified to teach you all about tactics. Besides learning the tactical elements within positions, he will ensure your thought process is correct.
Along with an excellent coach, you also get the wisdom and experience of GM Stelios Halkias.
This top-quality, comprehensive course on tactics covers many aspects of tactics for players of various playing strengths.