A Chess Player's Best Friend

  • GM Gserper
  • | Mar 9, 2014

Let me start today's article with a little brain teaser. What can every single chess piece (that is king, rook, bishop, knight or pawn) do that a queen can't? You'll find an answer to this question at the end of the article.

Today we'll talk about probably the most powerful weapon in chess - a discovered check (If you are about to start an argument that a double check is more powerful than a discovered check, please remember, that a double check is just a sub-category of a discovered check!).

Most of chess players learn very early in their chess careers how deadly a discovered check can be. My personal discovery of the discovered check (no pun intended) happened in a popular trap of the Petroff Defense. You can read the whole story here

But if you ask me to give the best possible example of a discovered check, I won't hesitate. The following famous problem by Samuel Loyd is a real hymn to a discovered check! White starts and checkmates in three moves.

It is amazing that after White's second move, Black has no less than 10 checks, and yet White delivers a checkmate with a discovered check!

An unexpected discovered check can completely change the situation on the board. In the following position, I bet Black was preparing to celebrate a victory over an extremely dangerous opponent. Try to find how a young Bobby Fischer managed to completely turn the tables:

While talking about discovered checks, we shouldn't forget about the popular combination windmill, and the most famous game that featured this combo:

The following game, played by a then 16-year-old Vasily Smyslov demonstrates a less common version of the windmill. Usually it is a rook that delivers discovered checks and 'grinds' down opponents pieces and pawns. Smyslov managed to reverse the grinding mechanism and in his game it was a bishop delivering the final blow. Try to find this beautiful combo:

Vasily Smyslov | Image Wikipedia

The answer to the question in the beginning of the article: all pieces except the queen can deliver a discovered check. Yes, even a king can do it, but not a queen! The following well-known problem by Adolf Anderssen proves the point about a king. You need to find a checkmate in four moves:

Not done solving puzzles? Tactics Trainer is waiting!

In the second part of this article, you'll test your discovered check skills!



  • 19 months ago


    The only way to mate in 2 is a discovered checkmate by the king!
  • 21 months ago


    The queen is the only piece that can singlehandedly stalemate the opposing king!

  • 23 months ago


    I like the check from Discovered Banking!

  • 23 months ago


    Good one.

  • 2 years ago


    very well done thks

  • 2 years ago


  • 2 years ago


    +1 to yogi... LOL!

  • 2 years ago


    Isn't pawn promotes to a queen a discovered check??

  • 2 years ago



  • 2 years ago



  • 2 years ago


    Thanks for the nice article

  • 2 years ago


  • 2 years ago


    Loved it, thanks a lot!

  • 2 years ago


    Obrigado !

  • 2 years ago



  • 2 years ago


    w7n the queen cannot discover check, because if it were to block a bishop, it would already attack along that diagonal, and if it were to block a rook, it would already attack down that file


    a queen can't discover another piece because it already has the abilities of both a bishop and a rook

  • 2 years ago


    Thanks for the article

  • 2 years ago


    If a piece(except the knight) can start a forced windmill, then replacing it with the queen delivers a checkmate...?

  • 2 years ago


    Psycho: Thanks for explanation. 

  • 2 years ago


    yermawsbit: because a queen, if it were to deliver a discovered check, could only uncover a bishop or a rook's path (since a knight could already hop over it), and a queen already threatens the same squares as either the bishop or the rook, so it wouldn't discover anything new by moving

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