Hi! In this article, we will focus on everybody's favorite part of the game: going for a crushing attack on the king! Although almost all chessplayers get so much pleasure from this part of the game, few know how and when to use all of their pieces to try for checkmate. In fact, in most situations, a violent attack will fail because the opponent can move his pieces towards his castled king and use a counterattack in the center. However, you should go for a lightning attack if:
1. The opponent is far behind in development,
2. The position is open or can be quickly opened, and
3. Your opponent has weaknesses which can be attacked.
If these conditions are not met, the opponent will probably be able to beat down your attack and will often counterattack you in the center. However, even if your position is strong enough, most players do not know how to properly conduct the assault. While attacking, you should focus on
1. Opening the position,
2. Maximizing your piece activity, and
3. Not giving your opponent any time to catch up in development.
In the proper conditions, following these three rules should be enough to guarantee success. When you open the position, all the lines towards the opponent’s king are free for your pieces to use. While using open diagonals and files, your pieces reach maximal activity. The most difficult part of attacking for most players is not giving your opponent a moment’s rest to bring the king to safety. It is easy to make one move which does not directly attack to defend a pawn or guard against the opponent’s future threats, but these moves will give the opponent a chance to develop. The following game from the Junior High Nationals illustrates these concepts:
As you can surely imagine, winning a game like this was a blast. I went on to win the tournament and the national title with 6/7. From this game, we can all learn how to trap the opponent's king in the center and then checkmate it. Notice how ideal the situation was for a quick attack. My opponent, whose king is on e1 and bishop on f1, had little central control and a horrible weakness on f4. In contrast, I was fully developed with actively placed pieces and an open f-file to use for attack.
However, my hyperagressive play demonstrates the way to never give the opponent any hope. Starting with fxg6, I made it clear that I was going to put my pieces in as active positions as possible. Then I answered Qg4 with the shocking Nf6. Giving a pawn with check was a small price to pay for keeping my initiative. By that point, my position was strong enough to finish with a couple of small tactics. However, my opponent could have prevented this disaster with a couple of solid developing moves.
Instead of Rc1 and b3, my opponent should have realized that he was behind in development and played to castle, rather than some optimistic moves to open the center. Know what to do when the opponent fails to develop and with luck, you will play even more brilliant games then this one!