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Clearance
Compiled by notyetagm
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Moving your own pieces out of the way with a forcing move. <<<Your opponent is not stopping your threat in any way; rather, the only thing preventing you from executing your threat is that one of your own pieces is in the way, occupying a square or blocking a line.>>>

La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834

White to play: 28 ?


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Position after 28 ♖g5-h5+!:


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A lovely example of <SQUARE CLEARANCE>. White would be able to play ♕e5-g5# if only his White g5-rook was not already on this square.

<<<Note that Black is doing -nothing(!)- to stop this threat; -only- the White g5-rook being in the way is preventing the <SNAP MATE>.>>>

So White simply moves his White g5-rook off of the g5-square with a <FORCING MOVE>, 28 ♖g5-h5+!, and Black is powerless to stop the mate next move with 29 ♕e5-g5#.

Result of vacating g5-square for White e5-queen:


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Clearance is a double threat: one threat because the obstructing piece moved, a second threat because the obstructing piece moved out of the way.

A great example of the <CLEARANCE> (line-clearance) tactic was played by the strong Chinese GM Bu Xiangzhi in a blitz game on ICC.


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In a dead lost position Black has just blundered by playing 51 ... ♕e1-d2?. Why is this move a blunder? Consider the position of the Black h6-king.

The Black king is safe only on the squares h6 and g7. If the White f3-queen could give check from the f8-square, then it would be mate.

What is preventing White from playing ♕f3-f8#? His own piece, the White f5-rook, is in the way! So what is the tactical solution? <CLEARANCE>! Move the obstructing White f5-rook off of the f-file with a forcing move (check, capture, threat). Bu plays 52 ♖f5x♗e5!.


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Now Black must meet the threat of 53 ♕f3-f8# and cannot do anything about the fact that he has just lost his e5-bishop.

CLEARANCE is a double threat, one threat because the obstructing White f5-rook moved (52 ♖x♗!, winning a piece), another threat because the obstructing White f5-rook moved out of the way (threatening 53 ♕f3-f8#).

Event "ICC 3 0"
Site "Internet Chess Club"
Date "2006.07.07"
Round "-"
White "bxz"
Black "GeneraLisimus"
Result "1-0"
ICCResult "Black checkmated"
WhiteElo "3345"
BlackElo "3228"
Opening "King's Indian: fianchetto, classical variation, 8.e4" ECO "E68"
NIC "KI.64"
Time "06:37:19"
TimeControl "180+0"

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nc3 d6 6. Nf3 Nbd7 7. O-O e5 8. e4 exd4 9. Nxd4 a6 10. a4 Re8 11. b3 Rb8 12. h3 Ne5 13. Bb2 c5 14. Nde2 Be6 15. Qc2 Nc6 16. Rad1 Qe7 17. Kh2 Rbd8 18. Rd2 Qc7 19. Rfd1 Na5 20. Nf4 Nc6 21. Ncd5 Bxd5 22. Bxf6 Be6 23. Bxd8 Rxd8 24. Ne2 h5 25. Qd3 h4 26. Qe3 hxg3+ 27. fxg3 Be5 28. Nf4 Kg7 29. Rf1 Rh8 30. h4 Qe7 31. Bh3 Nd4 32. Kg2 Bxh3+ 33. Nxh3 Qd7 34. Nf2 f5 35. Nd3 Bf6 36. exf5 Nxf5 37. Qf4 Bd4 38. Re2 Qc6+ 39. Rf3 Re8 40. Rxe8 Qxe8 41. Kh3 Qe2 42. g4 Qd1 43. gxf5 Qh1+ 44. Kg4 Qg2+ 45. Qg3 Qe2 46. fxg6 Qe6+ 47. Rf5 Qe4+ 48. Nf4 Be5 49. h5 Kh6 50. Qf3 Qe1 51. Nh3 Qd2 52. Rxe5 dxe5 53. Qf8# ♗lack checkmated 1-0

25 Nh7-f6+! vacates the h-file with tempo for Qh4-h8#
Pillsbury vs Burn, 1895  
(D55) Queen's Gambit Declined, 28 moves, 1-0

40 Nd5-e7+! clearance for a discovered attack and a skewer
I Cheparinov vs Z Almasi, 2006 
(C88) Ruy Lopez, 40 moves, 1-0

26 Rg6+!! a clearance sacrifice missed by both Leko and Svidler
Leko vs Svidler, 2005 
(A15) English, 45 moves, 0-1

17 e5! vacates the e4-square for 17 ... dxe5 18 Ne4!
Adams vs Leko, 1996 
(A45) Queen's Pawn Game, 24 moves, 1-0

56 Re8-e2! vacates the e8-square, threatens RxN and Ne8+
Topalov vs Leko, 2006 
(E32) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 71 moves, 1-0

41 Ne3-c4!! clears the c1-h6 diagonal for 42 Bc1-h6+!!, mating
Leko vs Kamsky, 2006 
(C97) Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin, 46 moves, 1-0

22 - Bg7xc3! vacates g-file with tempo, threatening 23 - Rg8
Robatsch vs Larsen, 1963 
(B33) Sicilian, 31 moves, 0-1

24 ... Qc2xd1+! vacates the c2-forking square with tempo
S Short vs N Ahern, 2005 
(B90) Sicilian, Najdorf, 25 moves, 0-1

41 Be6-f5! clears e-file for White e5-rook and threatens 42 BxQ
Topalov vs Kamsky, 2006 
(D15) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, 42 moves, 1-0

28 Bd3xg6!! vacates the d-file for 29 Rfxd4, a winning skewer
Nimzowitsch vs Spielmann, 1910 
(C47) Four Knights, 31 moves, 1-0

35 Nf5-d6+! clears the f-file with tempo for 36 Qf4-f8, winning
Morozevich vs Kiril D Georgiev, 2006 
(C45) Scotch Game, 38 moves, 1-0

31 Nd4xe6! vacates a1-h8 diagonal for 32 Qc3!, double attack
Larsen vs A Matanovic, 1965 
(E07) Catalan, Closed, 32 moves, 1-0

12 - Ng3-e2+! vacates e1-h4 diagonal for 13 - Qe1#, forks K + Q
Efimov vs Bronstein, 1941 
(C34) King's Gambit Accepted, 12 moves, 0-1

21 ... d6-d5!! vacates c5-e7 diagonal for 22 ... Be7-c5!!
Judit Polgar vs Kasparov, 2002 
(B33) Sicilian, 45 moves, 0-1

37 - d3-d2! threatens 38 - d1=Q, vacates a6-f1 for 38 - Bd7-b5
Kramnik vs Kamsky, 1994 
(A17) English, 38 moves, 0-1

19 Qg7-h8! vacates g7-square for 19 ... Rf8xQh8?? 20 Nf5-g7#
D Rivera vs J M Bellon Lopez, 2001
(B40) Sicilian, 23 moves, 0-1

34 e4-e5! vacates the e4-square for White c3-knight
Lasker vs Capablanca, 1914 
(C68) Ruy Lopez, Exchange, 42 moves, 1-0

25 d4-d5! vacates d4-square for White e2-knight, piling on pin
Carlsen vs Ivanchuk, 2007 
(D86) Grunfeld, Exchange, 35 moves, 1-0

16 c3-c4! vacates c3-square for 17 Nb1-c3, defending e2-bishop
Kasparov vs Leko, 1997 
(C45) Scotch Game, 31 moves, 1-0

39 ... c2-c1=Q+!! rids Black of pawn that shelters White king
M Gurevich vs Leko, 2007 
(E32) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 53 moves, 0-1

41 ... c2-c1=Q+! now White d2-rook can be captured with check
B Predojevic vs Carlsen, 2006 
(B96) Sicilian, Najdorf, 40 moves, 0-1

17 Nd4xb5! vacates the d4-square for 18 Qd2-d4 double attack
Chandler vs W Beckemeyer, 1987 
(B90) Sicilian, Najdorf, 33 moves, 1-0

21 e4-e5! vacates e4-square for 22 Nc3-e4, with attack
Spassky vs Petrosian, 1969 
(B94) Sicilian, Najdorf, 24 moves, 1-0

28 Rf6xe6+! vacates the f6-square for the White f3-queen
Fischer vs W Hook, 1970 
(C18) French, Winawer, 28 moves, 1-0

40 Nf6-d7+!! vacates the f6-square to allow 41 Qh4-f6+, mating
Kasparov vs Bareev, 2001 
(C07) French, Tarrasch, 41 moves, 1-0

38 Nc8-d6+! vacates c8-square with gain of time for 39 c7-c8=Q
I Popov vs A Grigoryan, 2007 
(D00) Queen's Pawn Game, 38 moves, 1-0

28 Qh6-g7+! vacates h6-square for White f5-knight, 29 Nf5-h6#
A Adly vs V Laznicka, 2007 
(A08) King's Indian Attack, 28 moves, 1-0

28 Rg5-h5+! vacates g5-square for White e5-queen and 29 Qe5-g5#
La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834 
(D20) Queen's Gambit Accepted, 29 moves, 1-0

34 ... Rd4-c4!! rook supports passed c-pawn, clears d4 for pin
A Yurgis vs Botvinnik, 1931 
(A15) English, 37 moves, 0-1

19 Nf3-h4! opens d1-h5 diagonal for a lethal upcoming Qd1-g4
Carlsen vs Beliavsky, 2006 
(C78) Ruy Lopez, 20 moves, 1-0

21 c4-c5!! vacates a2-g8 diagonal for threat of Ba2xf7+,Ra1xQa4
Kasparov vs Leko, 2001 
(C84) Ruy Lopez, Closed, 31 moves, 1-0

19 e3-e4! vacates e4-square for 20 Nd2-e4!, pawn fork threat
Korchnoi vs Tal, 1962 
(A62) Benoni, Fianchetto Variation, 54 moves, 1-0

34 e4-e5! vacates the line b1-h7 for White c2-bishop to attack
Carlsen vs H Harestad, 2003 
(C98) Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin, 38 moves, 1-0

29 Rg7xh7+! vacates g7-square for White g5-queen, 30 Qg5-g7#
Kramnik vs N Rashkovsky, 1991 
(E33) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 31 moves, 1-0

16 ... Nb4-d3+!! vacates b4-square, a5-e1 for 17 ... Nc5-b4+
T W Barnes vs Morphy, 1858 
(C41) Philidor Defense, 24 moves, 0-1

29 Rg7xh7+! vacates loose g7-square for Qg3-c7+-g7 maneuver
Fischer vs D C Kumro, 1964 
(C26) Vienna, 30 moves, 1-0

46 - Kg5-h5! vacate g5-square for Black f3-knight, 47 - Nf3-g5#
Korchnoi vs Fischer, 1962 
(E62) King's Indian, Fianchetto, 44 moves, 0-1

33 d5-d6! opens a2-g8 diagonal allowing f1-bishop to join attac
Karjakin vs Van Wely, 2007 
(B90) Sicilian, Najdorf, 35 moves, 1-0

26 e4-e5! vacates the e4-square to threaten winning Nc3-e4-f6+
Anand vs J Ye, 1989 
(B81) Sicilian, Scheveningen, Keres Attack, 31 moves, 1-0

25 ... Qf2xRe1+! vacates f2-square for royal fork 26 .. Ng4-f2+
A Aleksandrov vs Adams, 2002 
(E55) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System, Bronstein Variation, 35 moves, 0-1

32 ... Re8-e7 vacates e8-square, threatens skewer 33 ... Bg6-e8
E Inarkiev vs V Gashimov, 2008 
(A70) Benoni, Classical with 7.Nf3, 53 moves, 1/2-1/2

21 Nc4-d6! vacates c4-square, 22 Bf1-c4+ vacates f1-square
Tartakower vs Schlechter, 1909  
(C30) King's Gambit Declined, 33 moves, 1-0

23 ... Ne4-c3+! vacates e4-square for pawn fork 24 ... e5-e4
Van Wely vs Carlsen, 2008 
(E36) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 26 moves, 0-1

30 Rh5xNc5! vacates h5-square for 31 Qg4-h5+, 32 Qh5xBc5
Kasparov vs Karpov, 2001 
(B12) Caro-Kann Defense, 31 moves, 1-0

17 Ne7-g6+! vacates the e7-square for pawn fork 18 e6-e7
Geller vs J Vatnikov, 1950 
(B89) Sicilian, 18 moves, 1-0

44 Be3xh6! vacates the e-file for the rook fork 45 Re2xe4+
Yifan Hou vs D Howell, 2008 
(C96) Ruy Lopez, Closed, 61 moves, 1/2-1/2

28 Qd8xBf8+! vacates the d8-promotion square with gain of time
Smyslov vs Karpov, 1971 
(D41) Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch, 29 moves, 1-0

45 Rc2xBc4! vacates c2-square for knight fork winning a rook
Lasker vs Duras, 1909  
(D25) Queen's Gambit Accepted, 54 moves, 1-0

34 Rg6-h6+! vacates g6-square for White g4-queen and 35 Qg4-g6#
Carlsen vs Radjabov, 2008 
(B78) Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack, 10.castle long, 37 moves, 1-0

29 e4-e5!! vacates e4-square for White g2-bishop, 32 Bg2-e4+
Ivanchuk vs Topalov, 1996 
(B84) Sicilian, Scheveningen, 34 moves, 1-0

28 ... Re3-e4! vacates e3-square for 29 ... Bh6-e3+, winning
D Zagorskis vs Sadler, 1998 
(A10) English, 32 moves, 0-1

39 Rd8-g8+! vacates d8-checking sq for 40 Qg5-d8+, mate in 2
M Rodshtein vs I Caspi, 2008 
(E94) King's Indian, Orthodox, 39 moves, 1-0

23 Re3xe4!! brilliant line clearance for the pinning 24 Bd2-f4
Fischer vs S Schweber, 1970 
(C18) French, Winawer, 47 moves, 1-0

48 - Ng1-f3+! vacates undefended g1-promotion square with tempo
Van Wely vs Mamedyarov, 2004 
(A52) Budapest Gambit, 48 moves, 0-1

14 Bc1-h6! vacates the first rank to threaten Black with Ra1-d1
Carlsen vs Radjabov, 2009 
(B40) Sicilian, 60 moves, 1/2-1/2

22 Qh6-g7+! vacates the h6-square for 23 Ng4-h6+, mating
Bird vs Pinkerley, 1850 
(000) Chess variants, 24 moves, 1-0

50 Bd6xf4! gets out of way of d5-passer with tempo from capture
Aronian vs Eljanov, 2009 
(D37) Queen's Gambit Declined, 50 moves, 1-0

18 d5-d6!! vacates the d5-square for winning maneuver Ne2-c3-d5
Svidler vs Mamedyarov, 2009 
(B07) Pirc, 24 moves, 1-0

24 ... Ng2xRe1! vacates the g2-square to threaten 25 ... g3-g2#
Gelfand vs Nakamura, 2010 
(E97) King's Indian, 33 moves, 0-1

36 ... Rg3-h3+! vacates the g-file for 37 ... Qg7-g2+, mating
J Arizmendi Martinez vs J M Gomez Esteban, 2006 
(B12) Caro-Kann Defense, 36 moves, 0-1

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