A Chess Player's Best Friend
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:
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!
RELATED STUDY MATERIAL
- Read more from GM Serper about discovered checks in his article: The Shortest Checkmate;
- Unleash a discovered check on your next opponent with this Chess Mentor course;
- Keep your tactical eye open with our Tactics Trainer;
- Watch IM Zatonskih's analysis of her beautifully executed windmill in Personal Gems: Votava vs Zatonskih.