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Activating Your Pieces

Activating Your Pieces

Make the most of each piece by finding its best square

  • Breakthrough

    Often the way to win a game is to promote a pawn. Since a new queen is so valuable, it's usually worth sacrificing a piece or two to promote a pawn if at all possible.

    • 7 min
    • 6 challenges
  • Pawns in the Middlegame

    In the middlegame, you can often tell where to attack based on where your pawns are pointing and where you have a majority. One option is to advance a majority and create a passed pawn in the endgame. If you have fewer pawns on part of the board, you can trade them to isolate the opponent's remaining pawn. This is called the minority attack.

    • 7 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Blockading Pawns

    Passed pawns can be deadly, so you need to keep them blockaded. Knights are great blockading pieces because they can jump over the pawn and remain active. If you let passed pawns advance too far, you will often have to sacrifice to stop them from promoting.

    • 5 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Isolated and Hanging Pawns

    Sharpen your attacking and defensive skills with these two essential pawn structures! Isolated pawns are easy to attack because other pawns can't defend them. Often an isolated pawn is the only pawn in the center, so that means that the side with the pawn can have good attacking chances in the middlegame. Hanging pawns are when there are two pawns together, with no pawns on either side, for instance on the d and c files. These pawns also provide good attacking chances, but can easily come under attack.

    • 7 min
    • 6 challenges
  • Outposts

    An outpost is a square for a piece that cannot be attacked by an opposing pawn. In particular it helps when that square is defended by one of your pawns and controls key squares in the opponent's position. Knights in particular are very powerful pieces to put in outposts.

    • 6 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Using the Bishop Pair

    Bishops are strong in open positions and particularly powerful when you have both of them. They can control both light and dark squares and play a role in both endgames and mating attacks. If your opponent has a bishop pair, look for a way to trade off one of those bishops.

    • 8 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Bishops vs Knights

    The bishop vs. knight rivalry is one of the greatest battles in chess. Bishops are fast and powerful in open positions when they won't be blocked. Knights can control both light and dark squares and thrive in closed positions.

    • 8 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Batteries

    Unlock the full potential of your long-range pieces by focusing them on the same lines. A battery is when two or more pieces work together or a rank, file or diagonal. Batteries frequently can help you win material or checkmate.

    • 9 min
    • 5 challenges
  • Pigs on the 7th Rank

    One of the most powerful batteries in chess is two rooks on the 7th rank. They're called pigs on the 7th because they can capture everything in they're path. They frequently capture many pawns and possibly checkmate as well.

    • 5 min
    • 6 challenges
  • Windmill

    The windmill is a rare, but powerful tactic that occurs when you can repeat a discovered check multiple times, like the blades on windmill spinning around. You can use the discovered checks to capture multiple pieces, often resulting in a large material edge.

    • 6 min
    • 5 challenges
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