It is my view that there are more books, articles and discussions on chess openings than those on chess tactics for attacking enemy positions. One reason may be the that it is easier to talk about chess openings than about chess attacks!
Chess openings have certain specific ideas behind them (control of center, coordinated development of pieces, creating more space etc.) and it is possible to foresee the ways you can realize those ideas. The process is more of chess strategy than of Chess tactics.
But chess attacks are mainly the result of chess tactics arising out of a position reached on the chessboard. The position is an outcome of the right and wrong moves on your part as well as on the opponent’s. These situations occur mostly in the middle games when the number of possible moves and countermoves are so large that chess pundits, after analyzing past chess games over some depth, end up by saying “… after which the position is unclear”!
Does it mean that a chess attack cannot be pre-planned and it just happens on the chessboard? Yes and No. Yes, because every chess game is different and so are positions from point to point, needing new thinking on the part of both players. No, because though the positions are different, there are some underlying themes that recur. If you know about these and can identify them on the chessboard, you can go about in a methodical way to exploit the opportunity. These chess tactics should be remembered to initiate your attack at the right moment.
Isn’t it important to learn chess openings? They are, but not that important to be successful in your chess play unless you make some very bad moves. Even if your opening moves are just indifferent, you can come out on top with good attacking tactics.
So, what are these chess tactics for attack?
1. Develop your analytical ability by going through chess problems, real-life situations or composed ones.
Since the main part of an attacking chess tactics is spread over a few moves in most cases, you should be able to calculate carefully to assess the possible outcome. Identify the best moves available, analyze each one sequentially to subsequent positions and moves, and choose the most promising line out of these options.
2. A check or a capture usually comprises an attacking chess tactics. So you should look for such possibilities to get ideas that can be examined in detail.
3. Complete yor preparations. “>A failed attack merely ruins your positions or options, so launch the attack if you have a good chance to succeed.
4. Timing your attack is very important.
Success in your attack will depend on certain ideas taking shape like opening of some file, achieving a better coordination of your pieces, getting a good position for your attacking pawns or pieces, inability of your opponent to take a defensive measure etc. If you launch your attack at this point, you are likely to succeed. Too early – your preparations are incomplete, too late – oppponent has rallied his defenses or launched a counterattack.
5. Always try to retain your tempo or initiative to push through your attack. This ties up with the timing factor.
6. Identify weak positions in opponent’s position to target your attack. It may be a weak pawn structure, weakened castle, exposed enemy King, uncastled King, Rook/Queen/king under a pin etc.
7. Try to mobilize your pieces to achieve a superiority in power. Usually about three pieces (more the better!) need to participate together for a sustained attack.
8. When starting an attack, do not overlook your own defenses. A counterattack by your opponent on your weak areas may nullify your attacking moves.
But here the timing factor often becomes very important. Games abound where the successful attack was just one move ahead of opponent’s counterattack so that the initiative always remained with the first player to reach the winning position. One slip, and the enemy would get the upper hand.
All these may look fairly common sense to you, but as one cynic remarked, common sense is often very uncommon!