Lessons

Intermediate Tactics

Intermediate Tactics

Get ready for some tricky tactics!

Did you master the first two tactics levels? Then this course is for you! Intermediate Tactics presents tactical exercises that are significantly more difficult than those seen up to this point. Once again, you'll be finding checkmates and winning material. Stay focused, these are going to get tricky! Improve your tactics to start winning more games today!

Here is what you will learn:

  • Learn how to identify undefended pieces!
  • Learn how to set up combinations!
  • How to use discovered attacks!
  • Forks, pins, and counter threats!
  • How to attack h7 with brilliant sacrifices!
  • How to avoid traps and tactics!
  • How to build mating nets!
Basic Tactics: Undefended piece

Basic Tactics: Undefended piece

Combinations usually come into existence only if a king is vulnerable in some way or if an opponent's piece is undefended.
3 Challenges
Basic Tactics: Sacrifice gone bad

Basic Tactics: Sacrifice gone bad

White has just sacrificed a bishop on f7 with the move Bc4xf7+ in the hope of picking up the loose Black bishop on g4.
3 Challenges
Basic Tactics: Discovered Attack

Basic Tactics: Discovered Attack

Black enjoys a space advantage and pieces which appear to be more aggressively placed than White's. White has a commonly seen trick, however, that completely turns the tables.
2 Challenges
Basic Tactics: The road to a5

Basic Tactics: The road to a5

The Black bishop on a5 appears to be strangely placed yet safe. However, nothing is defending it on a5 and this fact makes it vulnerable to a tactic.
3 Challenges
Basic Tactic: Counter Threat!

Basic Tactic: Counter Threat!

White has just played the surprising 1.Nf3xd4, hoping to meet 1...exd4? with the double attack 2.Qh5+ followed by 3.Qxa5.
1 Challenge
Basic Tactics: Forks and Pins

Basic Tactics: Forks and Pins

Black would like to capture the White pawn on e4, but things are not as easy as they might appear. Should Black take this pawn? And, if so, do you see the dangers?
4 Challenges
Blackburne's Mate

Blackburne's Mate

This checkmate shows the power of a knight on g5 combined with the might of a queen. Both join to attack h7, and such assaults must always be taken very seriously.
3 Challenges
Attacking h7

Attacking h7

When you attack the Black king, the most common points to throw yourself against are f7, g7 and h7.
5 Challenges
Anastasia's Mate

Anastasia's Mate

Black is feeling rather confident, being up a piece and forking the White queen and knight with the pawn on e6.
3 Challenges
Field-Tenner, New York 1933

Field-Tenner, New York 1933

When you attack the king you usually devote your energies to breaking down f7, g7 and h7, or, from the other side, f2, g2 and h2.
2 Challenges
Placing g7 and h7 under siege

Placing g7 and h7 under siege

This example illustrates a very valuable and common mating pattern. White makes use of the holes on f6, g7 and h6 to penetrate into the Black position.
4 Challenges
Classic Bishop Sacrifice

Classic Bishop Sacrifice

The Classic Bishop Sacrifice is a common tactical motif that must be thoroughly understood so that you can use it if given the chance.
8 Challenges
A Flawed Classic Bishop Sacrifice

A Flawed Classic Bishop Sacrifice

The Classic Bishop Sacrifice usually doesn't work if Black can safely land a knight on f6, which isn't possible in this example.
3 Challenges
Toth-Szigeti, Budapest 1946

Toth-Szigeti, Budapest 1946

There are several nice things that can be said about the White position: His knight is powerfully placed on d6; his bishop is much more active than its Black counterpart.
6 Challenges
Building a mating net

Building a mating net

This problem teaches us that random checks are not always a good idea,
3 Challenges
Creation of a pin

Creation of a pin

White has two very nice minor-pieces on b2 and f5 staring at the Black king.
3 Challenges
Fox-Bauer, Washington 1901

Fox-Bauer, Washington 1901

White is down a piece yet has several pieces pointing in the direction of the Black king. Find a way to break down Black's kingside pawn cover so that the king becomes vulnerable to mating threats.
4 Challenges
Variation of Fox-Bauer, Washington 1901

Variation of Fox-Bauer, Washington 1901

White is down a piece but has several pieces pointing in the direction of the Black king. Find a way to break down Black's kingside pawn cover so the king becomes vulnerable to mating threats.
4 Challenges
Alekhine-Supico, Tenerife 1945

Alekhine-Supico, Tenerife 1945

Alekhine, as White, was playing this as a blindfold game, which means that he was playing without sight of the board.
3 Challenges
Bernstein-Kotov, Groningen 1946

Bernstein-Kotov, Groningen 1946

Black appears to be doing well since he enjoys the superior pawn structure with a protected passed pawn on d5. He also has an immediate threat of ...Rxb2.
5 Challenges
Variation from Capablanca-Nimzovich, Kissingen 1928

Variation from Capablanca-Nimzovich, Kissingen 1928

White would love to get the bishop to e4 where it would join with the queen in a threat of Qxh7 mate.
4 Challenges
Shumov-Janisch, St. Petersburg 1849

Shumov-Janisch, St. Petersburg 1849

Sometimes a defensive piece bites off more than it can chew and it finds itself having to keep a finger in the dike with one hand, while the other hand keeps fighting.
2 Challenges
Destruction of Kingside Pawn Cover

Destruction of Kingside Pawn Cover

When the pawns disappear from the front of their king, madness and mayhem usually break out.
2 Challenges
Em. Lasker-Bauer, Amsterdam 1889

Em. Lasker-Bauer, Amsterdam 1889

Black has just taken a piece on h5 and thought he would be able to defend after White would make a seemingly obligatory recapture.
9 Challenges
Explosion on f7

Explosion on f7

The three main points of attack against Black's kingside are h7, g7 and f7. This example shows how an explosion against f7 can drag the king towards the center.
5 Challenges
Pinning a defensive pawn

Pinning a defensive pawn

White is a piece down, however, the horrible position of the Black king and the powerful placement of the White rooks enable him to execute the Black king in short order.
2 Challenges
Avoid Trap

Avoid Trap

White should also look closely for a possible trap.
1 Challenge
To fear a skewer or not to fear a skewer?

To fear a skewer or not to fear a skewer?

White has the better position because your rooks control the important e-file. The real question is should White capture the Black c3-pawn with the queen or move her to safety.
3 Challenges
Pin vs. Pin

Pin vs. Pin

Black has the superior pawn structure and now must decide whether to take the pawn on c6, which appears to be undefended. Is that pawn on c6 edible or is it a trap?
2 Challenges
Fighting against a full pawn center

Fighting against a full pawn center

Black owns the two bishops and has a full pawn center. All this is usually something to crow about, but here White has a shot that turns Black's smile into a frown of concern and panic.
2 Challenges
Never believe what your opponent tells you

Never believe what your opponent tells you

White has just taken a pawn on d5 with a knight that started on c3. The horse looks completely undefended, but White thinks he has seen something that Black may have missed. Which player is mistaken?
3 Challenges
Indirectly defending a pawn

Indirectly defending a pawn

Two skills that are needed if one is to indirectly protect something are the ability to calculate a move or two ahead and a well developed sense of pattern recognition.
3 Challenges
The undefended queen

The undefended queen

White's rook is attacking the Black queen. What is the best way for Black to deal with this threat?
4 Challenges
Setting up a fork

Setting up a fork

Forks don't just happen by themselves; you must have the skill to create them. In this example we see a shocking way to set up a fork.
3 Challenges
Don't fear shadows!

Don't fear shadows!

White has placed his rook opposite the Black queen because 1...Qxd6 will be met by 2.Nf5+, forking the Black king and queen. Is White right about this, or should White get a new pair of glasses?
1 Challenge
Pins and Forks

Pins and Forks

This position doesn't look too exciting. The White knight is under attack by the Black queen. That same Black queen also defends the c5-pawn and keeps the knight out of d7.
3 Challenges
Overworked piece

Overworked piece

Black was napping here and thought that everything was under control.
4 Challenges
Better piece coordination pays!

Better piece coordination pays!

Black appears to have a solid position, but a tactical nuance gives White the opportunity to win a couple of pawns.
9 Challenges
Seirawan-Sulsky, Vancouver 1981

Seirawan-Sulsky, Vancouver 1981

The only piece defending the bishop on f6 is the Black queen. How can the queen be induced to leave its defensive position?
3 Challenges
Deflecting a defender

Deflecting a defender

The only thing defending the Black queen is its king. Can White take advantage of this fact?
3 Challenges
Deflecting the defender

Deflecting the defender

This game appears completely drawn, and a queen trade by 1.Qxd5 Rxd5 would make that even clearer. A trick exists, however, that turns the game on its ear.
2 Challenges
From ashes to equality

From ashes to equality

White is down material and is about to be mated by ...Qb2 mate or ...Qa1 mate. However, White can save the day by creating a perpetual check of the Black king.
3 Challenges
Salvation through stalemate

Salvation through stalemate

It looks like it's time to resign for White with only has the queen left. The Black pieces are about to mate the White king, and the Black king appears to be completely safe. What's the hidden feature?
2 Challenges
Staying attentive

Staying attentive

White has been getting kicked around the board for a long time and now is so far behind that Black has lost the proper sense of danger.
1 Challenge
Finding light in the wreckage

Finding light in the wreckage

White's e-pawn is about to turn into a queen, however, Black still has one more arrow to shoot.
3 Challenges
Searching for paralysis

Searching for paralysis

There is a form of chess in which you try to give away all your pieces faster than your opponent can. It is called giveaway or fairy chess. Sometimes we do this in real chess, too.
4 Challenges
A common form of perpetual check

A common form of perpetual check

Black is a rook ahead, but White can draw by hounding the Black king. This particular pattern is extremely common and should be committed to memory.
3 Challenges
Double Rook Mate

Double Rook Mate

The poor Black king has no legal move. This means that any lasting check will lead to mate.
2 Challenges
Mating with two Rooks

Mating with two Rooks

Two rooks easily checkmate a king. One cuts the king off along a file and then the other takes the file next to it and forces the king further to the side of the board.
3 Challenges
Cracking open the King

Cracking open the King

Kings like room to breathe, and the Black monarch is suffocating at the moment. Since any lasting check might be a mate, White will try very hard to make that check a reality.
2 Challenges
Avoiding panic

Avoiding panic

Black can put up a tough defense by remaining calm and using all the resources in the position.
2 Challenges
From the main problem, we arrived at this position after 1...Bd7!! 2.Qxf8+ Rxd8 3.Re7

From the main problem, we arrived at this position after 1...Bd7!! 2.Qxf8+ Rxd8 3.Re7

A rook on the seventh rank is usually worth a pawn. On the seventh rank a rook cuts off the opposing king and attacks most of the opponent's pawns.
2 Challenges
Showing disdain for a premature attack

Showing disdain for a premature attack

White has just attacked the f7-pawn for the second time with Ng5. Is Black in trouble or is there a simple way to deal with the problem?
3 Challenges
Seredenko-Belousov, USSR 1972

Seredenko-Belousov, USSR 1972

Black dreams of promoting the d-pawn or winning material which White will have to give up in order to prevent the pawn's advancement. How can this dream succeed?
6 Challenges
A common trick with pawns

A common trick with pawns

Black to move could easily stop the White pawns with ...g7-g6. White to move though, has a way to force the promotion of a White pawn into a queen!
3 Challenges
Always be aware!

Always be aware!

White to move can promote the g-pawn immediately, yet Black is inclined to fight until checkmate is delivered, in spite of the evidently hopeless situation. What hopes might Black have in the back of his mind?
2 Challenges
One move threats with substance

One move threats with substance

White can force Black to give away one of his own pieces! How do you get somebody to do this? The code word here is decoy!
2 Challenges
How to play the opening

How to play the opening

This position comes from a Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defense. Black is behind in development with two pieces out versus White's three.
2 Challenges
Make your pieces work together

Make your pieces work together

White has one piece developed and now must decide how to develop the kingside pieces. Where would you deploy these pieces?
6 Challenges
Thinking of the Rooks

Thinking of the Rooks

A simple and somewhat dull opening allows White a choice of several plausible moves. Here we are concerned with the development of the knight on b1. Should it be placed on c3, d2 or somewhere else?
3 Challenges
Development blues

Development blues

Black would like to complete kingside development and then castle.
1 Challenge
Typical plan from the Ruy Lopez

Typical plan from the Ruy Lopez

This main line position from the Ruy Lopez can be played in several ways. However, the best method is instructive for its insight into how central play should be started. What would you do as White?
4 Challenges
Typical Opening Scenario

Typical Opening Scenario

White enjoys a small edge, as the bishop on c4 is more active than the Black bishop on e7. Now White must figure out a way to get the c1-bishop into the game. How should this be done?
4 Challenges
Getting Knights to Nirvana

Getting Knights to Nirvana

How can the White knight on d2 eye the weak squares on d5 and f5?
2 Challenges
Keep things as simple as possible!

Keep things as simple as possible!

White is two pawns ahead and should win the game without too much trouble. However, the Black rook is a bother, since it can attack the White pawns and check the White king.
7 Challenges
Ed. Lasker - Sir George Thomas, London 1911

Ed. Lasker - Sir George Thomas, London 1911

Edward Lasker (not to be confused with former World Champion Emanuel Lasker) was a German born engineer who emigrated to the US. In 1923.
8 Challenges
Intelligent Exchanges

Intelligent Exchanges

White appears to be a bit better placed in a rather boring position. White's king is castled, and White's bishop is clearly more active than Black's. How can Black solve these problems?
3 Challenges
Battle between bishop and knight

Battle between bishop and knight

What is stronger, the White knight or the Black bishop? How can the knight prove superiority?
9 Challenges
Dominated Knight

Dominated Knight

Usually a knight is better than a bishop if all the pawns stand on one side of the board.
10 Challenges
A Bit from the Bird's Opening

A Bit from the Bird's Opening

White to play would like to find a nice home for the c1-bishop. Where do you think it should go?
3 Challenges
Creating Luft

Creating Luft

Making luft means you are creating a hole for your king to hide in, in order to prevent any kind of backrank checkmate.
1 Challenge
A simple decision

A simple decision

The game is rather even, but White has a slight lead in development, and the king is safely out of the center.
1 Challenge
Target Practice

Target Practice

The e-file is wide open and Black has targets on b6 and d6. Should White attack one or both of these targets or should White fight for control of the open file?
4 Challenges
Fighting for a square

Fighting for a square

Black's pieces are on active posts, but White has managed to defend all weak points. Now White must decide whether to chop the e6-bishop and double Black's pawns.
3 Challenges
Protected passed pawn

Protected passed pawn

White has a protected passed pawn on d5. Does this automatically give White a superior position? How should Black deal with that White pawn?
2 Challenges
Breaking the blockade

Breaking the blockade

If a passed pawn reaches the sixth or seventh rank, then it becomes extremely dangerous. In this position, the pawn is almost ready to promote.
2 Challenges