Double Attack

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What is a Double Attack?

A double attack is when you create multiple threats with one move. Although a fork and a double attack are often used interchangeably in chess, it’s technically not the same thing.

double attack example
Double Attack: White can play 1.Ng5! threatening 1) Qxh7# and 2) Nxf7# at the same time.
Comment:

If after 1.Ng5, black plays 1… g6, then 2.Nxf7+ forks the black king and queen. This is the essence of a double attack–one move, multiple threats.

5 Examples of Double Attacks

The examples below will help you get a better understanding of double attacks.

Double Attacks | Example #1

The first example demonstrates the simplest form of double attack, known as a fork:

double attack example 1
White just played 1.Bb4, attacking your rook on f8. How should you respond?

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Solution

double attack example 1 solution
1… Qd4+ is a fork that checks the white king and captures the hanging bishop on the next move.
Comment:

Since one piece (the black queen) makes multiple threats, this case of double attack is also known as a fork.

Double Attacks | Example #2

In the second example, a double attack comes about as the consequence of a discovered attack. White is already down 2 pawns in material and black is threatening to capture the knight on d3:

double attack example 4
White to play. What’s the best way to deal with black’s threats?

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Solution

double attack example 4 solution
1.Qg4! reveals a discovered attack on black’s queen and at the same time white’s queen threatens to capture the rook on c8.
Comment:

The example illustrates how a double attack can come about as the consequence of a discovered attack. (In other words, a discovered attack is a type of double attack).

Double Attacks | Example #3

In the position below white just played 1.f3, threatening to capture your knight on e4. How can you turn the tables on white?

double attack example 3
Black to play. What would you do?

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Solution

double attack example 3 solution
1… Nxc3! is a double attack that forks the two white rooks. It is at the same time a discovered attack against the b1-rook (by black’s queen).
Comment:

If white now plays 2.Qxc3, then 2… Qxb1 wins material since white’s queen will not protect the b1-rook anymore.

Double Attacks | Example #4

White just played 1.Qb4, but it’s a mistake. (They should’ve played 1.Qf3). How can you use a double attack to take advantage of white’s undefended queen?

double attack example 2
Black to play. What’s the best move?

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Solution

1… Qh4! is a double attack that threatens: 1) Qxh2# or 2) Nf2+ followed by Qxb4.
Comment:

This example also serves as a reminder why you should be very careful when you place your pieces on undefended squares. If white’s queen was defended (say the a2-pawn was on a3) then white could simply play h3 (and Nf2+ would not be a serious threat).

Double Attacks | Example #5

In the last example of a double attack, black finds a move that makes a threat and at the same time coordinates with another piece to create a second threat. See if you can find it.

Black to play. What would you do?

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Solution

double attack example 5 solution
1… Qg4 creates two threats: 1) Qxg2# or 2) Ne2+, forking the white king and c1-rook.
Comment:

White’s priority should be to prevent the checkmate, but it comes at the cost of material (a rook for a knight). 1… Qg4 2.g3 Ne2+ followed by Nxc1 OR 1… Qg4 2.Qf3 Qxf3 followed by Ne2+ OR 1… Qg4 2.Qe4 Ne2+ is a discovered attack against white’s queen.

The Difference Between a Double Attack and a Fork

To be clear, a fork involves multiple threats made by one piece, whereas a double attack could include threats made by two pieces, as it is in the case of a discovered attack.

I hope you enjoyed the examples of Double Attacks and that you will soon get the chance to surprise your opponent with it!

End of Double Attacks | Go Back to Important Chess Tactics Patterns