Chess Tactics for Beginners

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The quickest way for a beginner to improve their chess, is to learn the basics of chess tactics.

What Are the Tactics of Chess?

The tactics that typically appear in chess games often resemble recognizable patterns. In chess circles, such patterns are also referred to as themes, motifs or tactical ideas. It’s useful for a beginner to study these tactics because it teaches you how to exploit the targets in your opponent’s position. If your opponent makes a mistake, it’s your tactical skill that will help you take advantage of it.

5 Chess Tactics Patterns a Beginner Should Know

It becomes a lot easier to win more games when you know a few common chess tactics. Here’s examples of the 5 most important tactical motifs a beginner should know.

Pin

A pin occurs when an attacked piece can’t move since doing so would expose another, more valuable, target. Because of it’s limited (or no) mobility, you can often find a way to take advantage of a pinned piece.

chess tactics for beginners - pin
White’s bishop on e5 pins the black queen to the king. The queen can’t escape because it’s illegal to leave your king in check. White will probably capture black’s queen on the next move.

Skewer

Skewers are related to pins, but they aren’t the same. In the case of a skewer the higher-valued piece is first in the line of attack. Moving the skewered piece will expose a lower-valued piece (or target) behind it. A skewer tactic is sometimes referred to as a “reversed pin”.

chess tactics for beginners - skewer
White plays 1.Qh8+ and demonstrates a skewer tactic. The black king must move, then white’s queen will capture the black rook on a8.

Double Attack (Fork)

A fork, or double-attack, occurs when you make 2 or more simultaneous threats. It’s a very useful tactical idea because it’s hard (or sometimes impossible) for your opponent to defend against multiple threats at the same time.

beginner tactics - fork or double attack
Black moves their knight to f4 and attacks the white king and queen at the same time. This idea is known as a double attack (or fork). Note that white’s pawn on g3 is pinned by the black queen on g6. Similarly, the white pawn on e3 is pinned by black’s rook on e8. So, if white captures your knight, e3xf4, then you will capture their queen, Rxe2.

Removing the Defender

When a piece or important square is defended, then that piece or square can become vulnerable once you remove its defender. This is usually done by a trade, threat or sacrifice that removes the defending piece.

easy tactics remove defender
White’s king can’t capture the knight on f2–else their king would be in check by the black queen on f7 (the defender). However, white can first remove the defender by playing 1.Qxf7+ Kxf7, followed by capturing the knight on f2 with their king.

Discovered Attack

A discovered attack occurs when moving a piece reveals a strong threat from a piece hiding behind it. The power of a discovered attack often lies in the fact that you can use it to set up a double attack.

beginner tactics discovered attack
Black can “discover an attack” on white’s queen by moving the bishop. By playing 1… Bxh2! black checks the white king. White must get their king out of check and then black will capture the white queen, Rxd3.

NEXT: Beginner Chess Puzzles

It’s important to practice what you’ve learn’t. You can try solve the 10 easy chess problems to further practice your skill.