Discovered attacks in chess: what are they and how to avoid them?

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Discovered attacks are a powerful offensive tactic in chess, where an attack is revealed by moving another piece out of the way. If it is aimed at the king, it is face-up check. It often combines multiple threats into one move, which, in addition to its surprising nature, makes it a devastating tool in any player’s arsenal.

What is a detected attack?

Like pikes, skittles, and other chess tactics, spotted attacks are devastating moves that create a significant problem for your opponent, often resulting in the loss of material or even the entire game. The idea of ​​one piece attacking another in chess is pretty simple: now imagine that another friendly piece is in the way and blocking the attack. Moving this figure is a detected attack.

If you can use that to build up a new threat with the piece you just pulled away, the end result is a bit of a fork: your opponent has a move to deal with attacks on multiple pieces at once. It is very rarely possible to do this efficiently, which is why spotted attacks are so powerful in chess.

Discovered checks (and even discovered mates) are also a possibility: in fact, this version of the tactic is even stronger when the king is the piece caught in the line of fire. This is because it is an even more compelling step that further limits the possible reactions of the victim. Look at the example below, where it is check that destroys Black, who would otherwise have Qxf1+ as an answer.

Image via lichess.com

How to recognize a discovered attack in chess

In addition to tricky knight moves, discovered attacks are among the most difficult tactical motifs for an inexperienced chess player. Since you need a bishop, rook, or queen to perform the discovered attack yourself (although the piece moving out of the way could be anything), you should be aware of the possibilities that arise when pieces rise same line, line, or diagonal is a good place to start.

In most cases, building a discovered attack starts with aligning the actual attack, with several pieces still in the way. So if you’re aware of the evolving threat, you’ll have an easier time defusing int before it explodes in your face.

Solving tactical puzzles and consciously improving your visual awareness of the chessboard by working on understanding and recognizing tactical motifs is a key element to growing as a chess player and this remains a part of the practice program of even the strongest players.

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