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Importance of positional factors in chess tactics

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In an earlier article about tactics and strategies (Simple tips to master tactics and strategies), we discussed in general about the importance of tactics and strategies. Let us try to understand the importance of tactics through a practical example. This is a game from Bundesliga tournament in 2001:

Look at the position given hereunder, where it is the turn of Black to move.


On a curious look at the above position, you will find that the number of pieces each player has is the same. Apart from King and Queen, both players have 1 bishop (in same color), 1 knight, 2 rooks and 6 pawns each.

The black pieces are well developed, especially with Knight at c3 in a very good position, controlling more number of squares, the rooks are more centralized and the bishop is also in a good position. In contrast, the white rooks are not in favorable position and the white bishop at g2 is more or less blocked by the knight at f3. The King at f1 is also vulnerable relatively moving closer to the center.

In the normal course of thinking, one might be inclined to make the following moves:

1.….. Qxf4 – (if black does not take the queen, white may capture the queen)
2. .gxf4 b5 (to support the Knight at c3)

Now, let us pause for a moment and think of any possible moves that can give an opportunity to make it advantageous to the black pieces.

Some tactics that might be of use must be explored. Tactics need not be a long one. They might not yield the desired results always, simply because the opponent will also think on similar lines and try to have his own tactics based on his own intuition.

So, tactics basically are for a short duration of may be two or three moves with some target in mind. Let us see whether we can use any such tactic and deviate from the normal course of moves. This is what Grandmasters make – consider the positional factors, analyze and foresee the moves and then make a move.

Let us revisit the pieces and consider them in a different angle – positional factors.

Take a look at the back rank of White – the 1st rank. The King at f1 is protected by two rooks – one at a1 and the other at c1. Look at the rook at c1. It is vulnerable given that the protection for that rook from Queen at f4 might not be there once the queens are exchanged. The rook at c1 is protected by rook at a1 as well. Now, taking advantage of the probable vulnerability of the back ranks of white, we can think of a tactic to disturb the back rank of White.

Again, look at the black rook at c8. If the knight at c3 is removed, black rook at c8 can attack the white rook at c1 and give a check by distracting the other rook. So, black might consider distracting the rook at a1 by taking the pawn at a2 by Knight at c3.


The white has two options here – either it can take the black knight by rook at a1 or else use the rook at c1 to remove the black rook at c8. If white resorts to c8 x c1, then instead of taking the white rook at c8 by black rook at d8, black can consider taking the rook at a1 by queen at f6. In such a way, more than one move and counter move must be considered as tactics.

In this case, black knight decided to take up pawn at a2 and the tactics of distracting the rooks at back rank worked out well.

Black went on to win the game as given hereunder:

22 ….. Nxa2
23 Rxa2 Qxf4
24 Rxc8 Qxf6
25 Rxd8+ Qxd8
26 Rxa7 Bxb3
27 Nd4 Bd5
28 e3 g6
29 f4 b5
30 Bxd5 Qxd5
31 h4 b4
32 Rc7 b3
33 Nxb3 Qf3+

Chess Tactics: How simple tactics helped to improve the location of pieces?

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In the game of Chess, tactics can be used for anything and everything that will ultimately lead to a favorable position in the short term and help us in finally achieving the goal of saying checkmate to the opponent. In this series of articles, we have been looking at the different aspects of tactics.

Tactics, in most cases, is required in almost all types of situations. More so in circumstances where the position is very bleak and unfavorable. Tactics sometimes has to be employed out of despair to overcome the unfavorable position.

Let us try to explore the effectiveness of tactics that was carried out out of desperation.

Take a look at the following diagram depicting the position after 42 moves of white and Black to make the move.

Black to Move


A quick look at the positions of the pieces reveals the following :

  • The pawn structure of White pieces is well developed while the black pawns have weaknesses
  • The passed pawn at c5 is well placed and the rooks at a4 and b2 will exert pressure on black’s double pawn structure at a6 and a7, if Black takes no efforts.
  • White Knight at c3 is unduly exerting pressure on black pawn at d5
  • Additionally, the black knight at f6 is passively supporting the pawn at d5, in that it cannot move from that place.

The following diagram can best explain this situation:


This is one ideal situation where the Black, placed in a highly precarious situation, need to come up with some sort of tactics to change the position and do something that will help him gain an upper hand over the opponent.

What are the options available for Black at this position?

Take a closer look at the white pieces once again. The White king is placed at f2. All the other major and minor pieces are placed on the Queenside. So, if any move is made to attack the King, then it will be difficult for the White o react as most of its pieces are on the Queenside.

Now, what can Black do now? It can either move the pawn at g5 to g4 to disturb the pawn structure and open the “f” file, if white pawn at f3 captures black pawn at g4. What are the other options available? A check on White King using Knight at f6 is one possibility.

What will happen if black gives the check by moving the Knight to g4 – Ng4+?

The white pawn at f3 can capture the Knight at g4 – fxg4. If that happens, the Black’s game is opened up and it might think of giving a check by moving the Rook at e6 to f6. Then White King has two options – either move to g3 or g1. If King moves to g3, the second rook at e7 can be moved to e3 to give a check to King on g3. What does this move do? The White’s Knight is pinned. See that how the things begin to happen. In case White king moves to g1 instead of g3, the position will be much easier for Black – a Check by rook at e7 to e1 would be curtains for White. Can you visualize how the things unfold out of nothing by a single move? This is what tactics is all about.

Having evaluated all these possible options, Black decided to move the Knight, to g4 to give a check on White King at f2.

42. ….. Ng4+

In response to the Black Knight’s threat with a check, the White, having evaluated all the possible options, decided to move the King to g3.

43. Kg3 ……

What should the Black do now? By moving the Knight, which is passively defending the black pawn at d5, the pawn at d5 is exposed. The Knight is also at threat now from white pawn at f3 and King at g3. There is no possibility for giving check on White King.

The Black moved the Knight at g4 to e3

43. …. Ne3

And the position at the end of the 43rd move is as follows:


This is a tactic employed by Black, which helped it to convert its weak position to one of strength. Can you visualize how it has been achieved?

Look at the following diagram:


The Black Knight, which was passively defending the pawn at d5 from f6 is now at e3, at a very active state, while at the same time supporting the pawn at d5. The black can move the pawn at f7 to f5 and then f4 to harass the White King. The Knight at e3 can also harass the White King by capturing the white pawn at g2. This is what tactics is all about. It need not be a grand plan. But a series of small moves, two or three that alters the course of the game.

In this case, the weak location of the black pieces has been transformed to one of strength by a simple tactical move.

By the way, the Black went on to win the game after a series of moves, as given hereunder.

44. h3 f5
45. Kf2 f4
46. Rab4 Kf7
47. Rb8 a5
48. R8b7 a4
49. Rxe7+ Rxe7
50. Ra2 Rb7
51. Ke2 Rb3
52. Nxa4 Nf5
53. Kf2 Nxd4
54. Rd2 Rb4
55. Nc3 Ke6
56. Ne2 Nb3
57. Rc2 Rc4
58. Ra2 a5

White resigned accepting the defeat.

Chess Tactics: How tactics helped convert a losing position to a winning one?

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Tactics play a vital role in the game of chess. Tactics is everything in chess. Chess, as you all know, is a fair game with no room for chance or luck whatsoever to either of the players. The players ultimately decide the fate of their result in the game. A slight lapse of concentration, a slight miscalculation or a little oversight is just sufficient to allow your opponent to say checkmate to you.

Tactics might just involve distracting the opponent’s pieces, sacrificing pieces to achieve a broader goal, mating threats, checks, and all such other things.

Let me explain the role of tactics by way of an example where a literally losing position for the black pieces has not only been avoided, but the black went on to win the game in the next 3-4 moves.

This is the position after 38 moves, and white has to move next:

White to Move

Black to Move

A closer look at the position shows that White is in a stronger position with more possibilities for winning.

The Black king at g8 is vulnerable, in that if White rook at b7 gives a check from b8, then black king has no option but to move to g7.  One tactic here for white might be to arrest the movement of Black King to g7, which would then result in a checkmate.  White’s bishop at d2 can be moved to h6 for this purpose.

It is essential that a chess player visualizes at least 2-3 moves in advance and plans his moves taking into consideration all other possible alternatives, such that his goal or tactics succeeds.

Before jumping into the move straightaway, let us see what would be the possible response from black for this move.  Black, visualizing the threat of mate if no action is taken, might have no other alternative but to capture the white bishop at h6 using the Knight at g4.  What will happen if Black Knight at g4 takes the bishop at h6?

One may also notice that the Black queen at e2 and black rook at c4 are in a single diagonal. White might think of moving the bishop at g2 to f1, which will result in a discovered check by Queen. At the same time, the Black Queen can be captured at ease by White bishop making it simpler for White to say checkmate.

The vulnerability of Black’s position and the advantages or possible moves for White, which is to move now, is depicted in the following diagram.


So, the White, considering all possible options, has taken the right decision of moving the bishop at d2 to h6, harassing the Black King at g2.  Now the position would be as follows :


Black is facing a potential checkmate now as the next move by White, moving the rook at b7 to b8 will be a checkmate.

Let us look at the position closely from the black’s point of view.  What are the possible options available to Black to thwart the White’s move.  One thing is he can consider moving the black bishop at f6 to e5 to thwart the White rook’s move to b8. White may then move the bishop at g2 to f1as the black queen and black rook are in a single diagonal.  This move by white’s bishop will also block the Black knight at g4.

What might be the other possibility for Black now?


The white King at h1 is also not very safe.  It is equally vulnerable as is the Black king in g8.  One possible option for Black might be to threaten the White king with a check. The Black knight at g4 is at a good position to threaten with a check by moving to f2.  The response from White for that check from Black knight would be either to move the King to h2 or capture the Knight at f2 by Queen.

If the King is moved to h2, then Black can move the bishop at f6 to e5 and the check would be the final nail in the coffin for white, leading to checkmate.  If the White queen captures the black knight at f2, then Black rook at c4 can be moved to c1 for giving check at White king. Now white has no other option but to use his bishop at h6 to capture the black rook at c1.  By this move, Black has successfully thwarted the threat of mate from White and also is in a great position to capture the White queen placed at f2.  This will be a great opportunity for black to win.

The game concluded as follows :
39.    Bh6    Nf2+
40.    Qxf2    Rc1+

And, White resigned the game conceding the defeat. This is what tactics is all about.