The Scariest Chess Attacks Bring Ruin Upon the Castled King

Attacking in chess is the only way to win the game. The attack can focus on the king or winning material.

Create Fear in the Castled King blog image

A third aspect of attacking in chess is to gain positional advantages by forcing your opponent to weaken his position or misplace his pieces.

No matter what the aim of your attack, there are four crucial elements, you must consider. These four elements will determine the success or failure of your attack.

In his Master Method Course, International Chess Master Valeri Lilov will introduce you to the quadrant of attack.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The Vital Four Elements of an Attack

When it comes to attacking in chess, there is no reason to make it complicated. Chess is a complex game, and simplifying it whenever you can makes a lot of sense.

The four elements essential to attacking chess are:

  1. the main target,
  2. the pieces involved,
  3. open lines, and
  4. the main defender.

Chess Attacks: The Main Target

Because checkmate wins the game, the opponent’s king is often the primary target. However, it is not the only target.

Targets are not always the opponent’s pieces when attacking in chess. A weak square can be a target, especially near the king, or provide an outpost deep in your opponent’s position.

Loose pieces are good to identify in your opponent’s positions because they are prime candidates when choosing a target. Even if they are easy to defend, your opponent will have to spend at least one move dealing with your threat.

Also, keep in mind if you aren’t attacking a piece, you cannot capture it!

Do not discount the value of direct threats or pins. The piece breaking a pin or defending another piece is one less your opponent can use to attack you.

Chess Attacks: The Pieces Involved

When assessing if your attack will succeed, it is essential to take a moment to count the pieces. Unless you have more attackers than defenders, hold off on your attack and bring more pieces over.

Take your time to bring all your pieces to join in the attack before you begin the attack!

When it comes to attacking in chess, you cannot have too many pieces involved in your attack. There is nothing worse than discovering you have too few pieces for a successful attack after sacrificing material to open lines.

Piece activity is a critical factor in deciding if you are ready to do any attacking in chess. Of course, your active pieces must focus on weak points in your opponent’s position.

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Chess Attacks: Open Lines

When you play a game with opposite-side castling, you can use pawns to attack the enemy king. Leading with pawns is possible because you aren’t moving the pawns in front of your castled king.

Similarly, if you have castled on the same side, it is best to use your pieces to attack the castled king. 

You can use a pawn to force weaknesses, but you do not want to leave your king exposed by attacking with too many of your pawns.

Remember to save the sacrifices until you are sure your attack will succeed.

Try to make sacrifices towards the end of your attack when you are confident your attack will succeed. There is no point in opening lines against the king if your pieces cannot take advantage of the opportunity.

Chess Attacks: Eliminating the Main Defender

Do not hesitate to play an exchange sacrifice if that is what is needed to eliminate a crucial defender. Your opponent will often need to expose his king by recapturing with one of the pawns protecting his king.

One of the most important defenders of the kingside is the knight on f3 or f6.

The fianchettoed bishop is also a crucial defender of the castled king. This bishop keeps pieces attacking from close to your king in chess. 

When you exchange a fianchettoed bishop, look to use the h3 or h6 squares to attack the king. 

You must evaluate every position in chess on merit, but a good tactic is to offer the rook on a8 in exchange for the bishop on g2. Especially if you still have your light-squared bishop to occupy the a8-h1 diagonal.

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A Model Attacking Game by Siegbert Tarrasch

In the next game, notice how Tarrasch brings all his pieces across to attack. On move 21, the king is alone on the queenside.

Siegbert Tarrasch – Theodor von Scheve, 1894, 1-0, Leipzig GER

Final Thoughts

Take your time to build your attacks methodically, and you will strike fear in the hearts of your opponents. Seeing all your pieces aimed at his king is a scary sight.

Use the attacking patterns from great attacking games as the one Tarrasch played.

Also, be sure to read:

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