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Mixed Chess Training Exercises #3

If you’ve done some of the other exercises in this series then you already know that I won’t tell you whether there is a tactic in the position, or not – it’s up to you to try figure out what the most likely objectives in the position are.

White to move. What would you do?

But here’s another thing that I also won’t tell you – I won’t tell you whether the solution to exercise is easy or hard. Because, if you were told that the solution is hard to find, then you will probably overlook some of the simple moves – when in fact one of those simple moves could actually be the solution. And similarly, if I told you the solution was easy, then you probably wouldn’t calculate the longer variations and that is a problem because you could easily develop lazy habits – and that is something you should avoid if you want to become a stronger chess player. So with that said, see if you can find the best move for white.

You can watch the solution on Youtube

or scroll down to read more about the solution in text.


As always, we start by thinking about our opponent’s threats. Black is threatening to capture your queen, which is obviously a serious threat. But does black have any other threats? QXf7 is not a threat because your queen defends the rook through x-ray. Black is also threatening to win a pawn with fxe3, fxe3, Bxe3+. So now that you understand your opponent’s threats, the next logical thing to do is to calculate whether there are any tactics that will also deal with these threat at the same time. And if you are familiar with the calculation method that I present on my website, then you will be looking at the likely targets in the position, which would be the knight, the king, and the queen. You will try to identify motifs that take advantage of these targets and you will calculate all the forcing moves – that means – all the checks, all the captures and all the moves that gain a tempo.

You should realize that from a tactical point of view, you have only 2 candidate moves: 1) Rxf8+ or 2) Qxe6. If neither of these 2 moves work well, then you will need to find a defensive move. But before we even think about defensive moves, let’s first see if any of the tactics work in our favor.

1.Rxf8+ Rxf8 2.Qxe6 wins material.

If white plays Rxf8+, black will be forced to capture with the rook, and then white can play Qxe6, winning material.

Conclusion and a note on training tactical motifs

To conclude this exercise I want to say that one of the most important aspects of improving your chess – is of course to understand motifs. The motif that features in this position is known as removing the defender. The black queen had two defenders, the knight and the rook. White got rid of the knight – an idea known as capturing the defender, and at the same time he also removed the rook, thanks to an idea known as overloading a defender. Since the rook couldn’t defender both the knight and the queen. If you want to master all the important tactical motifs then you can buy my video course on chess tactics. In the tactics course I’ll show you all the important motifs you should know and I’ll give many examples of each so that you can be sure you get a very good understanding of all the important motifs. Of course you will also discover many of these tactical ideas in the other exercises in this series. So be sure to check those too.

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