This article is by WIM Alexey Root
One of my favorite characters on Sesame Street is Count von Count -- a.k.a. "The Count". He counts everything. In chess, you should count the number of attackers aimed at the chessman you wish to capture.
If you have one more attacker than the other side has defenders, and the value of each attacker and defender involved is equal you will win material by capturing. To review the values of the chessmen, read this article.
"The Count's" rules for winning material (points) when making captures:
1. Count the number of attackers.
2. Count the number of defenders.
3, Make sure that the defenders are of equal (or higher) value than the attackers.
In the diagram below, white wants to capture the pawn on e5. Will that capture win material? To decide, count how many attackers are aiming at e5. Next count how many defenders are protecting e5. Finally, check to see if the attackers and defenders are of the same value.
HINT: White can capture on e5 with a b-file bishop, a c-file knight, or an f-file knight. The quiz software allows only one "right" answer. "c" which piece to capture with first!
Aiming at the e5-pawn in the diagram above, white had three attackers (N, N, and B) and black had two defenders (N, B). Knights and bishops are worth three points each. So each attacking and defending piece was of equal value. Since there was one more attacker than defender, white won a pawn.
Now you have the basics of counting. In To take, or not to take, the values of the attackers and defenders vary for more of a challenge. In the meantime, The Count wants you to count! Count both attackers and defenders every time you are considering a capture. The capture will win material if there are more attackers than defenders...