A Primer on Defending Your Chess Pieces

Defending Pieces in Chess

In chess, defending your own pieces is just as important as attacking your opponent's. The first and foremost thing you need to do is to train your eyes to look out for attacks on your pieces and pawns. Beginners can be so focused on the offensive that they overlook threats to their occupied squares. Be very watchful!

In the event you do find one of your pieces being attacked, there are several ways you can defend it:

- Capture the attacker - Evade, i.e. move the attacked piece to a safe square - Block the attacker's path (if it isn't a knight) - Defend the piece with another piece - Put the enemy king on check

Capture - You can capture the attacking piece if it is in the assault path of either your attacked piece itself or another ally piece or pawn.

Evade - Your attacked piece can evade capture if there is at least one safe square it can move to and doing so would not put the friendly king in check.

Block - In this defense, you put another chessman between your attacked piece and the attacker. The blocking piece must be of lesser value than the attacked one; otherwise you'd be doing the enemy a favor! As an example, let's say your queen is attacked by a rook. To block the way to her, you move a knight. If the rook captures the knight, you get the rook with the queen. Since the rook is worth 5 points and the knight is only worth 3 points, this is a worthy exchange to make.

Defend - Defend is similar to blocking. But here you put the defending piece behind or around the attacked one. A capture would lead to the attacker being seized by the defender. This defense works only if the attacker is more valuable or equal in value to the attacked piece; otherwise the sacrifice would be worth it.

Check - If checking the king would force the attacker to move to defend its king, you can save your piece.

Failure to Defend Chess Pieces

Defense is not possible if:

- Your king is in check - There are no escape squares - Escaping would place your king in check - Friendly pieces cannot defend the attacked - The attacked piece is unable to capture the attacker (e.g. a bishop on the same file as an attacking rook)

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