2 Easy Chess Tactics That Will Be Hard to Solve If You Don’t Know the Motif

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The two chess puzzles below are quite simple–but they can be surprisingly hard to solve if you are not familiar with the underlying motifs. Give it a try!

Easy Puzzle #1

easy chess tactics puzzle

Diagram above: Black to move. What would you do? Keep in mind that white’s bishop on c3 is threatening to capture your queen!

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The Solution

easy chess tactics puzzle 1 solution
1… Qb2+ 2.Bxb2 Bxb2#

Black uses a tactical motif (known as X-Ray) to force checkmate in 2 moves. The point is that black’s bishop on g7 indirectly supports the b2-square through X-Ray.

The X-Ray tactic can surprise your opponent because it’s easily overlooked that your pieces can defend one another even though an enemy piece obstructs their line-of-sight.

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Easy Puzzle #2

easy chess tactics puzzle 2
White to move. You could play 1.Nxd6, but there is something much better. Can you find it?

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The Solution

1.Rxb5 wins the bishop because the queen on e8 is overloaded.

The point here is that if black’s queen takes your rook, then white can play Qa8+, followed by Qxb7, and capture the undefended rook on b7. This tactical idea is known as overloading a defender. (Black’s queen becomes overloaded–she can’t defend the bishop on b5 and the a8-square at the same time.)

Overloading a defender is also referred to as deflection, since you deflect the defending piece away from the task it was supposed to perform.

If you enjoyed these tactics, you will also enjoy 100 STUDY TACTICS. (A collection of 100 chess puzzles specifically chosen for their instructive value.)