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Master: Tactics

IM Danny Rensch & IM Bryan Smith Avg Rating: 1580 Master

They say that chess is 99% tactics - ultimately, tactics are the difference between a win, loss, or draw. In this course we will be delving further into the realm of tactics and seeing some master-level patterns.

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  • Spotting Tactics 1 - Loose Pieces

    A big part of being a great tactician is knowing when to look for tactics. There are clues in the position that tell an experienced player that the time is right for a combination to take place. One of the biggest clues is the presence of unguarded (sometimes called hanging or "en prise") or poorly-guarded pieces.
  • Spotting Tactics 2: Exposing the Castled King

    While castling is important, it doesn't make the king immune from danger, of course - particularly when the pawn cover has disappeared and enemy pieces control the squares around the king.
  • Spotting Tactics 3: Weak Back Rank

    Another indication that there is a combination brewing in the position is the presence of a weak back rank. When the opponent's king is locked on the back rank and you have some heavy pieces with the possibility of access, then it is time to look for a way to use that factor.
  • Spotting Tactics 4 - Forkable Pieces

    Another clue that a combination is imminent is when there are pieces that are in such a position that they could potentially be forked. This can be hard to spot and takes some creativity.
  • Spotting Tactics 5: Heavy Pieces Overloaded

    Another factor which leads to a combination is when a player has one of his most valuable pieces stuck defending a critical point. This can lead to combinations based on the theme that the piece cannot leave its defensive position no matter what.
  • Combinations 1: Putting Together Motifs

    You have already heard the term "combination" before. While definitions differ, a combination basically means a tactic which decisively changes the nature of the game. An essential element of a combination is that the first move (or moves) of the combination do not make sense until you see the "punchline" which comes later. Here we will see a combination which involves two different motifs which we have previously seen: the weak back rank and deflection.
  • Combinations 2: Putting Together Motifs

    Here we will see another example of using different tactical motifs. The weak back rank, forkable pieces, and overloaded heavy pieces are all represented in this clever combination.
  • Combinations 3: Putting Together Motifs

    Again we will solve a combination involving various motifs - removing the defender and double attack.
  • Defensive Tactics

    We have seen several tactics involving removing a heavy piece which guards the back rank. However, when you carry out these tactics, you need to look carefully. Sacrificing a piece could backfire on you if you don't achieve your checkmate!
  • Advanced Desperados: Positional Zwischenzug!

    A 'desperado' is a tactic which can occur when pieces on both sides are under attack. One side "sells" the life of the attacked piece in order to make some kind of gain before capturing the opponent's piece. Another similar term is the "zwischenzug" - an in-between move - where one side makes a forcing move which interrupts a tactical sequence for a moment.

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