Remove the Defender (Guard)

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Get ready to improve your tactics skill: Remove the defender

Remove the defender (also known as removal of the guard or undermining) is a chess tactic that refers to the idea that an important defender is in itself vulnerable to tactical threats.

When a piece performs an important defensive task we refer to that piece as a defender. And since the piece is defending something important, the piece itself becomes vulnerable.

There are 2 logical ways to exploit an important defender:

  1. Remove the defender by capturing it
  2. Remove the defender by overloading it

Next we we study examples of each scenario. I will use a lot of examples so that you can further improve your tactics skill at the same time. I will start by using simple examples that illustrate the point, but then I will also include advanced examples so that you can also see the power of these tactics in more complicated situation.

1. Remove the defender by capturing it

Capturing a defender (usually under the guise of a “piece-exchange”) will leave the piece or square that the defender was supposed to defend, more vulnerable. The list of tactical exercises below will help you understand this motif and give you the opportunity to practice it too.

Capture the defender Puzzle #1

Black to move. How can you capture a defender?

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1… Bxc3+ removes the defender of whites queen and checks the white king. On the next move black will capture white’s queen.

Capture the defender Puzzle #2

White to move. How can you capture a defender?

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1. Qxe5 captures the defender of the f6-square. The f6-square is important because the white knight can fork the black king and queen, Nf6+, followed by Nxd7.

Capture the defender Puzzle #3

White to move. How can you capture a defender?

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1.Rxd7! captures the defender of the h3-pawn. This is important because if black now plays 1… Rxd7, white can play 2.Rxh3 and pin black’s queen. Note that white’s queen will defend the rook on h3.

2. Remove the defender by overloading it

Removing a defender by overloading it is also referred to as deflection, since you deflect the defending piece away from the task it was supposed to perform. The list of puzzles below will demonstrate how you can exploit an important defender by overloading it.

You can study examples of the tactical motif known as “overloading the defender” by working through the exercises below.

Overload the defender Puzzle #4

White to move. How can you overload a defender?

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1.Rxb5 wins material by overloading the defender of the a8-square (the black queen). In other words, if black plays Qxb5, then white can play Qa8+, followed by Qxb7.

Note: White could also play 1.Nxd6, but this is not as good as the solution move because black will play 1… Qf8 and put pressure on white’s pinned knight.

Overload the defender Puzzle #5

White to move. How can you overload a defender?

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1.Qxf6 proves that the black queen is overloaded in trying to defend both the f6-knight and the g4-square. In other words, white won the knight, but if black now plays Qxf6, then g4#! is checkmate.

Overload the defender Puzzle #6

White to move. How can you overload a defender?

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1. Rxd5 Qe8 2. Bxc4 wins two important pawns.
1. Rxd5 proves that the f6-knight is overloaded in that it cannot defend both the d5-pawn AND the Qxg7# threat.

End of Remove the Defender.