vendredi 3 janvier 2014

The Fork

With this blog post, I intend to start a series of lessons about well-known tactical patterns. The fork is surely one of the most important tactics in Chess, thus it seems logical to start with it.

(Before starting, have you read my previous article about How to checkmate with King and Rook ?)

The goal of many tactical patterns is to win material. As an advantage of 2 pawns is often enough to win a game, a single tactical shot can put you in a winning position. It is very common to win a full piece after a fork. And once you have a significant material advantage, the rest is "only a matter of technique" as they say.
So we are here to learn how to win this material advantage with a fork. this post includes some examples and also a few puzzles to help you dealing with this tactical pattern.

Let's first start with the basic principle of the fork:

Therefore, from the following position, it is easy to win material with a fork:

1. Nd6+
The winning fork
1... Kd8
2. Nxf7+

The following diagram shows another fork configuration:

The winning fork appears after the following moves:

1. d4
A deadly fork: Black is losing one piece
1... Nc6
There is no better alternative
2. dxc5

Let's test our tactical abilities with a little puzzle: can you find the winning fork here:

The solution is below, it is recommended to wait a little bit before looking at it.

1. Nxc7+
A very common fork on the King and the Rook
1... Kd7
2. Nxa8
White captures the Rook
2... Rxa8
And Black takes the Knight back, the position is now as follows:

Here is another tactical puzzle for you. Search the solution by yourself before looking at the solution.


1. Nf6+
This is another fork
1... Kh6
2. Nxd7 
 And White has captured the black Bishop for nothing !

A fork may be the most common way of winning material. The unusual way the Knight moves makes it easy to overlook the danger.
When your opponent has a Knight, watch out for the Knight fork !

 Another funny example, find the right move:


1... Rb2
an usual Rook fork !
2. Bb3
2... Rxc2 
Once again, the Knight has been easily captured.

Sometimes, a fork requires a little more preparation. This is another, more difficult puzzle. At first sight it seems that White is lost. There is however a way to save the game...


1. c4+
The reason for this pawn sacrifice will soon become clear (first fork)
1... Kxc4
2. Ne3+
Second fork, with the Knight this time !
2... Kc5
This is forced of course, the black King is in check.
3. Nxd5 
 White captures the Queen and saves the game. Isn't this beautiful ?

The fork is the most common tactic in Chess. This will win you a lot of games and lose a lot of other games. Always be aware and never miss a fork opportunity !

The screenshots are part of Chess Trainer, a free iphone app dedicated to Chess learning. The starting lessons are available for free.

Please use the comments if you have any question related to the comments. I will answer them.

If you want to learn more about Chess, Chess Trainer is probably the application you need, with a lot of training lessons to help you improving your chess.

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