The Art of Attacking, Part the Last

The Art of Attacking, Part the Last

Aug 2, 2017, 2:47 PM |

Quick note - if you want to read my previous articles, here are the links: 

         - They do contain some extra little tidbits, so I do recommend it. But I will be publishing a future article which is basically all previous ones combined, so you can wait for that instead .


Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

And now, we can delve into the final installment - welcome to The Art of Attacking, Part the Last.

So, as mentioned above, this is an overview of the general principles. I'm going to start with the basic introduction rules of how to attack.


First, why do we attack? Well, the objective of a chess game is to win. In order to win, you must checkmate your opponent. How? The answer is: start a 'King Hunt'. Or in other words, attack the enemy king! Whether it's slowly strangling your enemy like a python, or striking like a viper, attacks are fundamental to the game, and ultimately determine which side wins.


Some basic pointers:

     1. Direct attacks to the king can often occur during the game at the same time that different   

         struggles, such as gaining control of the board, piece activity, and material advantages, are also

         going on.

     2.  These struggles more often than not relate to each other, as control of the board, more active 

          pieces, and material advantages can be triggers for an attack.

     3. However, creating direct threats and attacks to an enemy king is always worthwhile, even if

         you are down material. By mobilizing pieces against your opponent's king, you may realize that

         your opponent may not be able to counter your moves effectively.


It is understood that with moves that directly attack the king, the actions with the goal of completion of the game (through checkmate or material gains) are results of attack maneuvers which are performed.


There are two main ways in which to attack:

     1. Attacking while castled on the same side

     2. Attacking while castled on opposite sides.

This concludes Introduction to the Art of Attacking.

The next section will cover The Art of Attacking, Part the First, which describes general principles for attacking a castled king.


We can summarize these general principles that can guide us in the conduct of attack as thus:


       1. Possession of a positional advantage such as:  

               - Better coordination of your pieces

               - Greater mobility of pawns

               - Control/occupation of open files or diagonals

               - Superiority in a section of a board through either a majority of pawns or a concentration of                     pieces

       2. The attack must be directed towards the weak points of the castle, and shouldn't be 

           chosen at a will or whim

       3. A requirement to attack on the flanks is to have control of the center, or to have a

          closed/locked center.

       4. The attacking side must try to open the game, maximize the power of his pieces, and

          avoid simplifications(the trading off of pieces)


The following diagram shows an example of this principle: 


Both White and Black have significant positional advantages, and whoever attacks first will be well on his way to victory.

There are three main structures of the king's pawn shield:
1. f7, g7, h7
This type of pawn structure is most resistant to attacks because it avoids all approaches of the opponent's pieces. It is often necessary to sacrifice pieces and/or pawns to be able to penetrate this pawn shield. Often, the collaboration of a minor piece (mainly a Knight on f6) is able to ward off part of the threats which may arise. A common problem of this structure is the ability to mate on the 8th rank.
2. f7, g6, h7
This structure is less robust than the previous one because of the weaknesses in f6 and h6, which may be later occupied by pieces of the attacker, which may give pass to different mating threats. The advance of g6 gives the attacker the possibility of opening the "f" or "h" columns by advancing h4, h5, or f4, f5. However, the castle will not be considered weak if there is a bishop on g7, it being essential to eliminate this bishop in order to gain success in the attack.
3. f6, g7, h6
The weakness of castling with h6 is less sensitive, but has the following tactical disadvantages:
  1. The possibility for the h6 pawn to become a target, with sacrifices of pieces on f6, g7, or h6. 
  2. Creating favorable conditions for an assault with a pan by g4, g5 to open the g or ha column for attack.
  3. An attack on the b1-h7 diagonal to provoke g6 and exploit the weak h6 pawn
As more pawns move, the castle becomes weaker and more vulnerable, because it facilitates breaks for subsequent locations for the pieces of the attacking side.
This concludes the Art of Attacking, Part the First. 
The next section will cover attacking while castled on the same side.

Jeremy Silman has some good advice on what to do about attacking while castled on the same side.

"When both players have castled on the same side of the board, pushing pawns on that side could weaken one's own King, although such pawn attacks are still seen from time to time."

Here is an example:

Here, because the center is open, White's g2-g4 did more harm to his King than to his opponent's
"Because of this fact, an attack with pieces is the normal way to begin a king side assault. Of course, before you begin such an attack, you have to ask what justification you have in doing so:
1. Is the center wide-open or in the state of flux? If so, a wing attack has little chance of success. An example is as follows:

 As there is still tension and play going on in the center, any wing attack is doomed to failure.


2. Only if you have control of the center, or if the center is closed, a pawn storm may become possible, even if you must push the pawns directly in front of your own king. An example is as follows: 

Here, the center is closed, so g2-g4 is perfectly acceptable."
There are several more general principles that we can indicate as methods of attack:

1. Destruction of the pawns of your opponent's castle

2. Weakening of the structure of your opponents castle with a piece penetration

3. The opening of files and diagonals

4. Planning an attack with different colored bishops

5. Attacking with heavy pieces (Queens or Rooks)

6. Attack with a pawn storm. However, this is a double-edged sword, because sending a pawn storm at your opponent's castle while castled on the same side will weaken your own castle. As mentioned before, the success of this method depends on the stability/closure of the center.


The following games will show examples of the principles mentioned.

This game is a classic example of using a piece sacrifice to break apart your opponent's castle.


Let's look at some other examples:

These games show us the use of minor pieces to attack the opponent's castle. Now, let's look at some examples of using heavy pieces to attack the enemy castle. Unfortunately, I didn't find any master games online with examples of these, but fortunately, I do have some among my own games. In both of these following games, I play white.
Not all attacks lead to checkmate, but they can lead to winning positions. My next game shows a similar game, but with a better defense.
So, like the last game, my rook attack didn't lead to immediate checkmate, but to a material gain and a winning position.

Now that I've showed you how to attack while castled on the same side, test yourself with this puzzle: 

This concludes the Art of Attacking, part 2.

The next section will deal with attacking while castled on opposite sides.

Jeremy Silman says this about castling on opposite sides: "When Kings are castle on opposite sides of the board, this usually signals the start of aggressive action by both players against the opposing monarch.

(White will play on the kingside, Black on the queenside)
In general, both sides will start their attacks with pawns. In the diagram shown previously, White will open kingside files with h2-h4-h5, while Black will do so with b7-b5. This allows them to gain space and open files for their Rooks. Naturally, such sharp positions require energetic play. The initiative becomes very important here, the sacrifice of a pawn or two to place the opponent on the defensive is a no-brainer for the experienced master."
(This is a typical situation in which both sides are castled and ready to attack)

So, that being said, there are a few principles to attacking when castled on opposite sides:
1. Moving the pawns on the side where your opponent is castled to open lines of penetration.
2. Organizing/connecting your pieces so that they can act using the open lines created.
3. If both players decide to attack, the first to arrive should win. It is important in these positions to seek for the initiative and defend threats made against your King with minimal resources.
4. The weakened position of a castle facilitates the opponent's attack. We can observe the castle's pawn structure to find the optimal attack. There are 3 types:
  -f7, g7, h6 allows a break with g4-g5
  -f7, g6, h7 allows a break with h2-h4-h5 or f2-f4-f5
  -f7, g8, h7 is the best formation, generally requiring the sacrifice of pawns, pieces, or both to achieve the goal of creating weaknesses in the enemy camp.
Here are the 3 main pawn structures (previously shown above)

1. f7, g7,h7                                                                                         

2. f7, g6, h7                                                                                                                    
3. f7, g7, h6

As more pawns move, the castle becomes weaker and more vulnerable, because it facilitates breaks for subsequent locations for the pieces of the attacking side. 

OK. Let's look at some examples of attacking while castled on opposite sides.

Now that I've shown you how to attack while castled on the same side, test yourself with these puzzles!

In conclusion, attacks are powerful moves which empower you, giving you the ability to bring your opponents down. When mobilizing pieces against your opponent's king, you may find that your opponent does not have the same flexibility to move his pieces as you do. If you choose to start a king hunt, such actions are magnificent, and irreplaceable as a compensatory element in the fight for victory.

This is the final installment of this series - one that took me over a year to write! (The first articles was published on March 20, 2016). I sincerely hope you've enjoyed these articles, and that you've learned something from them. Thank you for taking time to read these, and bearing with my infrequency of publishing - I truly appreciate all of my fellow chess players who read these. If you have anything to add, or wish me to write about anything else, put it in the comment section down below! This article also marks my (un)official return to So, until next time, see you around!