Tactical Patterns Everyone Should Know: The Knight Kamikaze

Tactical Patterns Everyone Should Know: The Knight Kamikaze

Gserper
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  • Tactics

Most chess players discover this pattern thanks to the next notorious game (I give it as a puzzle, so you can try your tactical skills!)

There is a strong evidence that the game is a fake and was never actually played but it is irrelevant for this article.  What really matters is that the game is probably the best example of this pattern. As you could see, the pattern works like this: first a crazy knight lands on e3 (or e6 if it is a White knight) and then in case the knight gets captured then the king gets checkmated due to the exposed diagonal e1-h4 (or e8-h5 for the black king).

In the aforementioned game everything was very simple: either the white queen is lost (because she got trapped) or the king gets checkmated. In most of the real tournament games it is usually more complicated. For instance, the queen might not be trapped after Ne3 (or Ne6). Still, as a rule such a powerful knight brings a lot of damage to your opponent's position:

 

Sometimes the combination remains behind the scene and yet it decides the game!

You might think that this pattern happens only in some offbeat openings played by club players, but you'd be wrong! One of the major opening variations is entirely based on this pattern and White shows his intentions as early as move 5! Look at the next game played by two super GMs in the famous Linares tournament:

It is in exactly this line that Kasparov lost his infamous game vs. Deep Blue:

If the best players in the world fall into this pattern, we mere mortals should take a notice. I hope that if this tactical motif does appear in your game, it will be you who played Ne6! (or Ne3!).

Good luck!


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