The Chess Files
The answers are out there.
By Jim Eade
Many people wonder why some players improve quickly, while others don’t seem to. Chess is a game of pattern recognition. Some people absorb these patterns easily, and some don’t. Patterns come in many forms in chess from opening pawn configurations to final mating sequences. Until a player becomes quite good indeed, the primary road to chess success is spotting tactical patterns.
Tactics involve the preparation or prevention of threats. These threats usually involve winning material, but they can also range from as minor as disrupting your opponent’s pawn structure to a direct threat against the enemy king. The fastest way to make progress in chess is to become proficient in tactics.
One of the most common tactics in chess is the fork, which is a direct and simultaneous attack on two or more pieces by a single piece. Knight forks have decided many a chess game, because knights usually attack pieces that are more valuable, and because these types of forks can be devilishly tricky to spot.
The key to finding the solution to today’s diagram is to spot the potential knight fork on d7, where the knight would be attacking the black king and queen simultaneously. Unfortunately, the d7 square is covered by black’s bishop in e6. Is it possible to deflect the bishop’s attention elsewhere?
The best way to build up your tactical muscles is through repetition. Nowadays, there are lots of useful software programs to assist you in acquiring tactical pattern recognition. However, the old fashioned way of solving a bunch of diagrams in a book is also extremely useful and less expensive. You can pick up a book by Fred Reinfeld, such as “1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations” which was written over 50 years ago, and find it just as instructive today as it was back then. There is no mystery to improving your pattern recognition. It is the same way you get to Carnegie Hall: Practice, practice, practice.
Solution: Deflect the bishop away from the d7 square by playing 1. Nxd5. If Black plays 1 …Bxd5 then 2. Nd7 forks the Black king and queen.