Five Fundamental Chess Tactics

Blocking

Blocking is useful for trapping a piece, especially a king. Once the king is attacked and there is no escape, the game is over. This makes good blocking very important. Blocking works when pieces of the same color hinder each other's movement.

Blocking the king in the back rank is very effective for a checkmate. Suppose the black king is in h8. You check him with a white rook in g8. A black rook moves c8-g8. There are two pawns in front of the king so now he is blocked. If you can move a white knight to g6, the king has no escape—it is a checkmate.

Back Rank

The back rank refers to the row where the pieces are located at the start of the game (behind the row of pawns). For white, the back rank is always row 1; for black, the back rank is always row 8.

For most of the game, one's king is confined in the back rank away from the action. This is a safe place for some time. However late in the game when the pieces are spread out, the walls of a castle (pawns) and the fewer number of escape squares in the back rank can turn this sanctuary into a trap. Try to corner the enemy king into the back rank. Use blocking or check him while also attacking escape squares.

Skewer

The skewer is a chess tactic in which two friendly pieces are in the same striking range of an enemy piece. The more valuable chessman is the one in immediate danger; when it is moved, the other piece can be captured. Also known as x-ray.

Overloading

A piece that guards several other allies is overloaded. An overloaded chessman is a weak spot for the player. If it is captured, all the others would be in danger. And if more than one piece is attacked, the overloaded man cannot save all of them.

Stalemate

When the king is not in check yet it is impossible move, the game is in stalemate and ends in a draw. An example of inability to move is when the king is left on the board and the only move(s) the king can make would lead to a check. Even if one of the players has a huge material or positional advantage, it will still be declared a draw.

Note that even if a king's legal moves would result in a check, it is not necessarily stalemate. If there are other friendly pieces or pawns left, the game must continue.

Forcing a stalemate is a chess tactic used by disadvantaged players to force a draw. If you can get yourself into a stalemate position, you can eek out a draw even when you are losing!

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