Fork Tactics

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What is a Fork Tactic?

A fork is a tactic whereby a single piece makes multiple threats at the same time. Even though a fork is sometimes referred to as a double attack, they aren’t quite the same thing.

The Difference Between a Fork and a Double Attack

To be clear, a double attack is a broad term that refers to making multiple threats at the same time (with one or more pieces).

A fork, on the other hand, is when multiple threats are made by a single piece.

Fork Tactic: 1.Qd4, makes two threats at the same time: 1) Qxg7# and 2) Qxb6.

Any chess piece can perform a fork tactic, even the pawn, but it often involves the queen (because she can attack in many directions) or the knight (because of its unique movement in any direction).

5 Examples of Fork Tactics

The examples below will help you get a better understanding of fork tactics.

Fork Tactics | Example #1

White just played 1.Rd1, threatening to capture your knight on the next move. How should you respond?

fork tactics example 1
Black to play. How can you use a fork tactic to your advantage?

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Solution

fork tactics example 1 solution
1… Nf4+ forks the white king and queen.
Comment:

The idea 1… Nf4+ only works because the pawns on g3 and e3 are both pinned, respectively by the queen on g6 and the rook on e8.

Note: A fork tactic against a king and queen is known as a “Royal Fork”. And if you ever get the opportunity to fork a king and queen and rook, all at the same time, that would be a “Family Fork”.

Fork Tactics | Example #2

The next example illustrates that even simple forks can be very tricky, particularly when the knights are involved:

fork tactics example 2
White to play. What would you do?

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Solution

fork tactics example 2 solution
1.Nc6 attacks the rook on a5 but also threatens 2.Ne7+, which would also be a fork!
Comments:
  1. If black takes the knight, 1… Rxc6? then 2.Rb8+ leads to a back-rank checkmate.
  2. From c6, the white knight also attacks the a7-square, which implies black can’t even play 1… Ra7 (to defend the e7-square).

Fork Tactics | Example #3

In the next example black can win a few points in material by playing 1… Nd3+ 2.Qxd3 Qxb2+. It seems good enough, but is there something even better?

fork tactics example 3
Black to play. What would you do?

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Solution

fork tactics example 3 solution
1… Qxb2 wins the whole rook since 2.Qxb2 allows 2… Nd3+, forking the white king and queen.
Comment:

When you see a good move (1.Nxd3), look for a better one (1.Qxb2!). Sometimes a tactical idea can be improved on by simply changing the move-order.

Fork Tactics | Example #4

fork tactics example 4
White just played 1.Qd2? How can you take advantage of this mistake?

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Solution

fork tactics example 4 solution
1… Qxg3+ wins the knight because 2.Kxg3 allows 2… Ne4+, followed by 3… Nxd2.
Comment:

This tactic works because after 1… Qxg3 2.Kxg3 Ne4+, the pawn on f3 is pinned by the rook on e3. At the same time white can’t play 3.Kf2 (attacking the rook on e3), because white’s knight is on e4.

Fork Tactics | Example #5

fork tactics example 5
White is down a whole rook in this position. Is there a way to recover lost material? (Note: 1.Nxd6+ is not good enough.)

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Solution

fork tactics example 5 solution
1.Bf5+! forks the black king and queen.
Comment:

The real beauty of white’s move lies in the fact that if black plays 1… Qxf5, then 2.Nxd6+ again forks the black king and queen!

I hope you enjoyed these fork tactics and that you will soon get the chance to use it against your opponent!

End of Fork Tactics | Go Back to Important Chess Tactics Patterns