In the previous two installments of this article we discussed how important it is to pay attention, know openings you play and watch out for forcing moves of your opponent. But even if you do all the above-mentioned things, there is still risk. Say you see a potential check of your opponent but dismiss it as a stupid one. Indeed, who in his right mind would give up a piece just for a check? What you might miss is that the check was the start of a beautiful combination and, say, three moves later your opponent recovers the sacrificed material with a huge interest.
I think it is absolutely clear that in order to avoid silly opening catastrophes (or embarrassing chess defeats in general) you need to know the common chess combinations. Over the years we discussed many of them in this column, so let us refresh some of them.
The 'f7' ('f2') pawn.
Those are the most vulnerable spots in the initial position protected only by the Kings. It is not a coincidence that the 'Scholar's Mate' happens exactly there! We discussed this subject here:
And here is a new example:
Diagonals 'a4-e8' and 'a5-e1'.
Those diagonals point directly at the Kings, so be careful there! We discussed this pattern here:
Here is a recent example:
Under certain circumstances a pinned piece can move!
Here is another example:
Another set of dangerous diagonals ('h5-e8' and 'h4'-'e1')
was discussed here:
Here is a new victim:
Of course some forcing moves can be the beginning of a variety of different tactical patterns. For example different ideas for a Queen sacrifice were discussed here:
Here is a classical example of the Queen sacrifice in an opening in the game of two famous Grandmasters: