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How to use chess tactics: the "discovered" attack!

A 2-piece chess combination. A powerful enemy piece lingers on a diagonal with your bishop, but this is blocked by your knight. You can "discover" an attack on the enemy by moving your knight aside!

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2 of your pieces are on a line or diagonal with 1 enemy target. The idea is to have your blocker piece step aside, revealing an attack laying in wait. We'll do a bishop-knight combo here...

Pay close attention to the knight at f6, the bishop at g7, and the white rook at a1. As soon as the knight moves from f6, an attack on the rook is "discovered".

To make the most impact we should consider options for the knight's move.

To make the most impact we should consider options for the knight's move.

Ne8? Meh, seems counter-productive. Keep searching...

Ne8? Meh, seems counter-productive. Keep searching...

Nxd5?

Nxd5?

Ordinarily, you would not attack a protected pawn, but since you discovered an attack on the rook, white must save his more valuable piece and concede the pawn. If not, he loses the exchange.

This was a fairly mild example... When combined with checks, this tactic is brutal.

As soon as the e5 knight moves, the king will be in (discovered) check!

Nxf7+? It lets the king slip the noose with Kxf7 - no good.

Nxf7+? It lets the king slip the noose with Kxf7 - no good.

Nxd7+? Trades a piece - maybe we can do better?

Nxd7+? Trades a piece - maybe we can do better?

Nc6+!

Nc6+!

The b7 bishop is useless. The king MUST get out of check, which will leave his queen in the lurch. The king has many ways of getting out of check, but NxQ is unavoidable due to discovered check!

Black's future is grim - he will surely lose now.

Black's future is grim - he will surely lose now.

There are many other piece-piece combo potentials. The knight-anything discovered attack is kind of hard to see, but they are all deadly if set-up properly.

The critical concept underlying the discovered check is the TIME-LOSS the opponent will experience. In the example, we saw how the priority of check stole the time needed to save the queen...

Trying to see if you can design traps for your opponent is one of the most challenging and enjoyable aspects of Chess. Once you learn the tactical patterns (pieces on a row), you have all you need!

Have fun chess-ing! Thanks for reading!

  • 1.0 Chessboard or App
  • 1.0 Target enemy piece
  • 1.0 Attacking piece on the same diagonal/row
  • 1.0 blocker piece