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Expert: Attack and Defense

IM Danny Rensch & IM Bryan Smith Avg Rating: 1280 Expert

The Expert and Master Attack and Defense courses are designed as continuations (for more advanced players) of the "Intermediate and Advanced Checkmate" lessons. The general principles of attack and defense are fundamental in chess. Most the critical moves you will ever play revolve around these two poles. Learning how - and when - to attack and defend is crucial on your road to mastery. Let's get started!

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  • Playing Forcing Moves

    The concept of "forcing moves" is very important in chess. A forcing move is one which requires the opponent to reply in a specific way. For instance, if you put your opponent in check, he is required to get out of check. If you capture a piece, your opponent is often required to recapture, or remain down in material. And if you create a threat, you also limit your opponent's possible responses. Forcing moves are important because they keep you in control of the game and don't allow the opponent...
  • Using the Initiative

    Having the "initiative" in chess is like having control of the ball in soccer (football for most the world). You get to call the shots, make the threats, and attack. But it is important that you learn to use the initiative, and learn to not let it die out.
  • Targeting Weak Squares

    When a lion wants to pick his prey, does he go after the strongest and biggest wildebeest in the herd? No! He goes after the weakest. The same applies to chess. You should identify and direct your attack toward the weakest squares in your opponent's position.
  • Exposing the Uncastled King

    We all learn early on that castling is very important. But what do you do if your opponent doesn't manage to castle early enough? The key is to open lines and remove the barriers that separate your pieces from the king.
  • Recognizing Your Weaknesses

    Besides looking for and utilizing your opponent's weaknesses, you also have to be on the lookout for any weaknesses in your own position. Incautious play - and forgetting that one has an opponent - is the reason for many losses.
  • Learning to Counter-Attack

    If your opponent is creating threats to your king or your pieces, it is not always best - or even possible - to defend them. It is often better to meet his threats by making your own. This is called "counterattack". Of course, it is important that your threats be stronger than his!
  • Giving Back Material to Defend

    One of the advantages of having more material than your opponent is that you can give some of it back! Quite often, doing something on the chess board costs material, and here you already have an excess. It is particularly important to keep this in mind when you are facing an attack.
  • Breaking Down the Castle

    When you have a big advantage in force aimed at your opponent's king, your goal should be to somehow break up his castled position. Sometimes, this requires a sacrifice.
  • Defending Against Threats

    Being aware of your opponent's threats is crucial in chess. Naturally, you need to always be aware of what he is planning, as well as how he will answer your moves.
  • Protecting the Weakness

    Often people see an attacking idea for themselves but forget about their opponent's possibilities. Be sure to watch out for the weaknesses and dangers in your own position as well.

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