Chess Terms


Forks are very useful when you want to enjoy a delicious meal. In a chess game, they are also a handy tool for munching your opponent's pieces! Learn everything about this tactic and how you can use it to win more matches.

What Is A Fork In Chess?

A fork is a basic chess tactic that consists of a single piece attacking two or more pieces at the same time. The attacking piece is known as the forking piece, while the attacked troops are known as the forked pieces.

A pawn fork.
The pawn attacks the bishop and the knight at the same time.

Although every piece can deliver a fork, the most striking forks come from a knight. Because of the unique way it moves, a forking knight cannot be captured by the pieces it is threatening. Because it is also a minor piece, it can be traded off almost with no restrictions.

The knight forks two rooks.
The knight attacks both rooks but is still out of their range.

The deadliest forks are the ones that are forcing. Usually, those forks involve an attack on the enemy king and create an inescapable threat.

A forcing bishop fork.
The king is in check so it must move. The rook cannot be saved.

How To Take Advantage Of A Fork

Forks are potent weapons in a chess game. It is often impossible to defend all the forked pieces at the same time, allowing the attacker to win material.

In the game below, played by former world champions GM Tigran Petrosian and GM Boris Spassky, Petrosian used the threat of a fork to win the game. In his last move, the Iron Tiger temporarily sacrificed his queen to create a fork and capture Spassky's royal lady and rook. Since Petrosian would have a significant material advantage after this line, Black resigned.

To employ a fork successfully, you must deeply understand the way each piece in your army moves and pay close attention to the position of your enemy's pieces on the board. Doing so will get you ready to pounce whenever you have the chance to attack more than one piece at the same time.

The queen is a dangerous forking piece.
Black is up in material, but after a couple of blunders by Black and many forks by White, the black army is devastated by the white queen.

Test Your Skills

Now that you have learned about the fork, it is time to test your skills!

Is there a way for White to win material in this game?

It looks like White has forked your pieces. Can you find a way to turn the game around and win material yourself?

The enemy is surrounding your king! Is everything lost, or can you create a crushing counterattack?


You now know what a fork is and how to use this tactic to get ahead in your games. Tactics are a crucial part of chess, and you should be familiar with every one. Try our premium membership to learn all about the basic and advanced chess tactics and become an unstoppable player!

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