Howdy! Do you know when there is a tactical combination in your chess games? Here are some hints to help you discover them on your own, by Mrs Jessica E Prescott (aka BoundingOwl). Follow along and then try the puzzles.
What do you spot here?
First of all, what is a combination? A series of moves that help you win something. These moves combine tactics. So you could have a sacrifice that leads to a double attack. Or a pin that allows a discovered check. Or a fork that leads to mate!
How many spots?
Here is an example of a fork leading to another fork. This is possible because of an absolute pin already on the board. So we are combining ideas here! This is high-level chess!
Bye bye Queenie!
How did I know there would be a fork there? Well, in looking for a combo you should ask yourself:
1. Are there any hanging pieces?
2. Are there any loose (only guarded once) pieces?
3. Is the king weak or open?
4. Do I have 2 or more pieces working together?
Let's see if black has any tricks in the same position. Remember: always look for forcing moves. Your opponent could be planning something, too!
1. Are there any hanging pieces? Yes, the white queen.
2. Are there any loose pieces? Yes, the white knight on e5 is only guarded by the queen and is already attacked once by the black queen.
3. Is the king weak or open? Yes, the white squares around him are guarded.
4. Do I have 2 or more pieces working together? Yes, the rook on f8, the queen and knight are all ready to pounce!
With all of those answers being yes, your intuition should be knocking on your brain pan going, TACTICS TACTICS TACTICS! Turns out there are lots of forks but only one really important one...
Look at all the variations. Note that if you just fork the two rooks and don't give check you will fall victim to white's fork...remember?!
Now you try. This is white to move and mate in three by using a queen fork. Each move is check!
Were the questions helpful? Did you notice the hanging rook on h8 and the open king? Good work!
What if it's black to move? Use a combo queen fork to win material. It takes two moves.
More combolicious tactics next week!
Tip of the week: Combine ideas like peanut butter and jelly or forks and pins for double the fun! What else could you combine?