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The Dreaded Discovered Attack

  • IM Silman
  • | Mar 3, 2013
  • | 20610 views
  • | 38 comments

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A discovered attack is a very common, and often very strong, combinative strike based on one piece getting out of the way and allowing a connection to occur that, ideally, leads to a decisive gain in material. Here's a very basic example:

This worked due to the fact that the “middleman Bishop” was able to sacrifice itself with check (thus leaving white’s Queen hanging out to dry), and also to the hugely important detail that white’s Queen was undefended.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? However, if we add a pair of Bishops (a White Bishop on h3 and a Black Bishop on e7) then the sacrifice would be insane, or an admission that the player with the Black pieces is a masochist.

As you can see, two of the most important “details” in a successful combination are a vulnerable King and/or an undefended piece. In our first position (repeated in the diagram) we saw both in play: The check on g2 made use of the fact that all other things come to a standstill when one’s King is in check, which left us with the decisive fact that white’s Queen was completely undefended. But defend the white Queen and suddenly we’re facing a different kind of ballgame.

Once these basic forms of Discovered Attack are mastered, you can make use of the theme in far more complex forms:

Other than the usual combinative duo of vulnerable King and undefended piece, another key to a winning combo is simply having a weaker piece go after a stronger one. In the next position black’s Queen is the target, and though it’s protected by its Rook, that fact has no bearing on the result (decisive material loss for Black):


The potential connection (discovered attack) between the white Rook and black Queen was decisive in the example we just looked at. But sometimes the threat of that connection can lead to simple positional gain:

Okay, it's clear that the concept of a discovered attack is pretty simple and easy to grasp. But actually spotting it in a game is often anything but easy (as proven by the fact that the puzzles are rather difficult). Are you ready to show your “Discovered Attack IQ”? If so, it’s puzzle time! 

Oh, keep one more thing in mind: any piece can initiate a discovered attack. You've been warned!

In our next puzzle, it seems like Black is going to win the game since white’s King is in the middle of the board and Black is two pawns up. However, something shocking occurs: 

Comments


  • 10 months ago

    Grumly06

    Thanks for this excellent article !

    Beginners may want to take a look at my blog post to have more examples about basic discovered attacks: http://chesstrainerapp.blogspot.fr/2014/01/discovered-attack.html

  • 21 months ago

    CP6033

    Nise puzzles

  • 21 months ago

    april18

    nice puzzle Tongue Out

  • 21 months ago

    MadmanR777

    In the third puzzle is there a reason on the last move that just playing ...Bxb6 is not as good as taking the rook? 

  • 21 months ago

    shahrokh1975

    thanks!

  • 21 months ago

    Tharinda97

    Very Good Strategy-The Dreaded Discovered Attack! I read your "Practical Chess Pshycology" article too! Thank You IM Silman!

  • 21 months ago

    wabal

    in the last puzzle is nh6 just as correct as ne6? since it was my first thaught i'd like to know :)

  • 21 months ago

    rise512

    nice article

  • 21 months ago

    rise512

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 21 months ago

    chessmaster102

    nice read.

  • 21 months ago

    IM Silman

    Here I go again, repeating two simple but important things.

    First off, after looking at a puzzle (whether you solve it or not) click the SOLUTION button and then MOVE LIST for my notes. It's sad when people mention a move that's addressed in the notes since it tells me they are oblivious to the prose that I've added. The notes are INVISIBLE until you click SOLUTION and MOVE LIST!!! (Please do this or you risk missing out on some instructive points I might have made)

    Mr. manalgcor mentioned 2.Bc4, which is indeed best. He could have verfied this by looking in the notes. But one must also take into account my next comment...

    Second: Mr. Quack-Peep (LOL!!! I can't stop laughing! Quack-Peep!! No disrespect, but it's a very funny name.) said: "G. Grigore-Erwin L'Ami white should play Bd4 after ...Qc5+. It saves the queen."

    I'll repeat this too: The solving side's moves (the moves you play) need to be the best moves, but I can manipulate the defender's moves in any way I wish (as in a real game, if your opponent plays badly it's up to you to find the right way to punish him). Yes, Bd4 saves the Queen (for the moment) but the puzzle is about Discovered Attack, so I had White walk into one. We're working on themes here, folks!

    As for his Bd4, it's actually worse than losing the Queen:

  • 21 months ago

    Zimzz99

    This is going straight into my tactic vocabulary :)

  • 21 months ago

    negotiate

    hmm... I've only gotten to the second paragraph but IM Silman is talking about black being a masochist and perhaps confusing that with black's confusion... Just is an important distinction for me, physical vs mental masochist and what one even means by that.  I hate losing in chess the most because there is the least luck involved.

  • 21 months ago

    Quack-Peep

    At the game of G. Grigore-Erwin L'Ami white should play Bd4 after Qc5+. It saves the queen.

  • 21 months ago

    manalgcor

    In the Thimann vs. Felbecker example, white would play 2. Bc4, thwarting the discovered attack menace. Even if black can achive some initiative by attacking white's queen, there doesn't seem to be a decisive advantage.

  • 21 months ago

    OVAIDO

    clic here to solve the probleme

  • 21 months ago

    rknair15

    Very nice. Thanks to chess.com for such articles and puzzles. This is a great site.

  • 21 months ago

    repossession

    Those puzzles gave a me a good headache...

  • 21 months ago

    wouterkabouter

    good article, thx for sharing this

  • 21 months ago

    anupralhad

    i think this one also nice

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