The Nerd Club - Tactics

Nov 12, 2015, 6:44 AM |

This is the blog for the CMT-group chess club. The idea is to teach a bunch of theoretical phycisists how to play chess.

So this is the curriculum for the 2nd week boys: Tactics!

Tactics is different from strategy in that a tactical operation is something very specific in chess - a concrete calculation of something more or less 'forced'. Strategy is something less concrete and more long-term. A good chess game should probably contain both strategy (trying to get some strategic advantages over the opponent) and tactics, but even though you play without a proper strategy, tactical opportunities will almost always present themselves at some point. 

So, let's look at some of the most standard ones:

Double attack:

One of the most simple and basic tactics is the double attack. I had a discussion with Asbjørn about the meaning of this word, but I think I will just settle on it meaning: Any situation where two enemy pieces are attacked at the same time. Often time the point is that the opponent will not be able to parry both threats at the same time. Let's look at some puzzles with this theme (please note: when you finish the puzzle, you can go back and see my notes to the individual moves if I made any):

Remember: If you cannot find the answer to any of the puzzles, you can see the right move by clicking the small 'lightbulb'-icon in the bottom left corner.

Using the deadly check!

Often times a check can be surprising and deadly, since it forces the receiving end to react. Here we see the same theme:

The pin ('bindingen' in Danish) is a very powerful tool indeed. A pin 'binds' a piece in some way - the strongest pin is of course a piece pinned to the king, since this piece can never move out of the pin as long as the pin pesists; but there are also weaker pins, such as a piece pinned to a queen etc. We will see some examples here. The rule of thumb is: If you see a pinned piece, try and attack it somehow - since it is pinned, it cannot move away from the attack.
This next one is difficult, but really shows the power of the pin! You have many chances to cash in some material, but sometimes it is simply better to keep the pin!

A famous, beautiful game with pins all over the place:

Discovered attack:
A discovered attack is a common tactic. A discovered attack is where you move some piece away to UNCOVER the attack of another piece. As with the pin, one should always keep a look out for potential discovered attacks, since they can be game-changers, literally.

Pieces caught behind enemy lines

Sometimes your or your opponents pieces can stray too far behind enemy lines, and get trapped in the process.

Intermezzo/Defending against fake threats

An intermezzo is an 'in-between' move so to speak. It often means a surprising move (often a check) that can be played in the middle of a tactical sequence, thus changing the outcome of the tactic.

Combining tactical themes:

In a real game, a tactical sequence often requires combining more tactical themes (since if only a single theme was needed, the opponent would likely have seen it and prevented the tactic to happen). Also it often involves having some faith in oneself. Sometimes you fail to spot a tactic due to a 'mutual delusion'; that is, if your opponent ignores a tactical threat against him, you can easily miss it because you somehow feel the psychological focus of your opponent being elsewhere - it often takes some guts to break the mutual illusion and really punish your opponent's misconception of the position. Anyway, here are some fun examples that mix different tactical elements.
There are of course many themes besides what I could come up with here, but we will just have to take them along the way :)