Chess Terms


What if you were allowed to make multiple moves while your opponent just sat by and watched? If that sounds appealing to you, the windmill tactic is just what you need!

What Is A Windmill In Chess?

A windmill in chess (sometimes also referred to as a seesaw) is a tactic that occurs when one player takes advantage of a restricted king to deliver multiple checks and discovered checks in sequence. Doing so usually allows the player employing the windmill to capture enemy pieces, checkmate the opponent, or force a draw.

The windmill in action.
A windmill wipes out the board. Notice how the white king is restricted to three squares, making it impossible for White to escape.

Why Is The Windmill Important?

The windmill is one of the most devastating tactics in chess because it involves a series of checks. The player who applies it can win a lot of material while their opponent is forced to move their king back and forth helplessly.

In this game, GM Carlos Torre sacrificed a queen to set up a windmill against former world champion Emanuel Lasker. As a result, Torre went on to win three pawns and the game.

In other cases, this tactic can even lead to a checkmate. In this game played by another world champion, Alexander Alekhine used the windmill against Alan Fletcher first to demolish the king's defenses and then to deliver a smothered mate.

Players can also use this tactic as a last resort to save a worse position. In this game played during the World Championship Match of 1966, GM Tigran Petrosian used the windmill to force a threefold repetition draw against GM Boris Spassky. Notice how Spassky was ahead in material and also had a dangerous pawn on the second rank ready to promote.

Test Your Skills

Now that you are familiar with this tactic, it is time to test your skills. Solve the puzzles below using your newly gained knowledge of this potent weapon!

Puzzle 1: In this game, White played a risky opening and is a knight down. Still they can use a windmill to turn the game around and win. Can you find the winning moves?

Puzzle 2: In this blitz game between GM Li Chao and GM Giga Quparadze, Black found a sacrifice that allows for a quick win. Can you find the move played by Quparadze as well as what would have happened if White had not resigned?


You now know about the crushing windmill tactic and how to employ it in your games. Head over to our Lessons page and learn about other chess tactics you can use to demolish your opponents!

Explore More Chess Terms