Chess Terms
Removing The Defender

Removing The Defender

Have you played a game of chess when you spot a crushing tactic but realize you cannot execute it because a piece is preventing you? What if you could make that piece disappear? When this is the case, removing the defender can help you!

What Is Removing The Defender In Chess?

In chess, removing the defender (or removing the guard) happens when a player captures a piece that has been performing a defensive role. The removed piece could be defending other pieces or squares. After eliminating that piece, the attacking player can take advantage of the positional weakness created by the absence of that defender.

In the example below, the black bishop is attacked by White, but it is protected by the black rook. 

Can White remove the defender of the bishop?
Is the black bishop really safe in this position?

Notice, however, that the white rook can capture the bishop's defender. Although Black can recapture White's rook, the black bishop loses its protector. White can capitalize on that weakness and win material!

Removing the bishop's defender.
White removes the bishop's defender and wins material.

Why Is Removing The Defender Important?

Removing the defender is critical in chess because it often leads to a material gain. In the game below, you can see this tactic happen. Forcing a position to apply this tactic helped GM Peter Leko defeat GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov, who resigned when his queen would have been captured after losing its defender.

Players can also use this tactic to gain access to essential squares. In this game played between two former world champions, GM Tigran Petrosian and GM Vasily Smyslov, we can see this idea in action. Smyslov sacrifices a rook to remove Petrosian's bishop, freeing the way for his pawn to promote on the c1-square.

Removing the defender sometimes is the quickest way to destroy your opponent's defenses and checkmate the enemy king. In this game against GM Loek van Wely, the legendary GM Judit Polgar demonstrates how a single pawn can make all the difference in the outcome of a game!

Test Your Skills

Now that you understand the concept of removing the defender, it is time for you to put your skills to the test! Solve each of the puzzles below using this concept.

Puzzle 1: WGM Ekaterina Kovalevskaya demonstrates great tactical play in this game against GM Tatiana Kosintseva. Do you notice how Black's queen aligns with her king? Can you find Kovalevskaya's moves that won the game?

Puzzle 2: In this battle against Aron Nimzowitsch, Arthur Hakansson's king is very restricted by its own army and Nimzowitsch's rook. Can you see a way for White to remove a crucial defender and take advantage of Black's restrained king?

Puzzle 3: In this game, former world champion Alexander Alekhine demonstrates yet another example of removing the defender tactic against Alexander Evenson, whose king is nearly out of moves because White's bishop, knight, and rook control critical squares. Can you find a way to take advantage of that?


You now know how to remove your opponent's defenders and take advantage of this tactic. Head over to our Lessons page and learn other tactics you can use to win more games!

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