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The Ninth Pawn's Chess Course
Compiled by The Ninth Pawn

This is a progressive chess tactics course in which we start at the very basic tactics and move up. We will see some of the simplest combinations, such as DECOYS, FORKS, USE OF PINNED PIECE, SKEWERS, etc. first, with explanations for each, and at the very end we will be combining more of these ideas together. I hope you learn a lot from this course.

This sentence will disappear once the collection is completed.

Helpful collections:

Game Collection: Pin and the Knight Fork (combined) by <patzer2>

Game Collection: KNIGHT FORKS (DD,DDD)! KNIGHT FORKS (DD,DDD)! by <notyetagm>

Game Collection: 0 by <ravel5184>

Game Collection: In-Between Move (Zwischenzug) by <patzer2>

Game Collection: Zwischenzug: Equal or Stronger Threats (ESTs) by <notyetagm>

Game Collection: X-RAY: applied BALEFUL INFLUENCE (ESS) by <notyetagm>

Game Collection: Decoy by <patzer2>

Game Collection: DECOY INTO PIN => WHEN THERE IS A DEFENDER THAT by <notyetagm>

Game Collection: Decoys: CHESS IS NOT JUST COUNTING by <notyetagm>

In Anand vs N Sulava, 2004 , the ideas to remember are (1) the DECOY (13. ♖d1-d8+!) and (2) the KNIGHT FORK (14. ♘e5x♙f7+). The name of the combination is called the DECOY/KNIGHT FORK, and is used to win material that the knight takes when forking (in this case the f-pawn).

In Topalov vs Gelfand, 2008 , the ideas to remember are again (1) the DECOY (28. f2-f4!) and (2) the KNIGHT FORK (29. ♘g4-f6+ after 28. ... ♕g5x♗h5). Another element is the PIN of the g7-pawn by the Queen.

In Anand vs Morozevich, 2007 , we see again the DECOY/KNIGHT FORK idea with 56. ♖c5-e5! ♕e4x♖e5 57. ♘e4-g5+. The White rook was the DECOY, luring the queen to e5, while the Knight of course would do the forking.

In Huzman vs Kasparov, 2003 , the two ideas are the PIN and the KNIGHT FORK. After 21. ♖d1x♙d5! the rook is untouchable because the knight is pinned to mate at g7 and the queen is preventing 22. ♘f5-e7+.

In J Powell vs C Downing, 1978 , the same two ideas are used by 24. ♖e4-g4 attacking the queen, and after 24. ... ♕g6-h5, the knight can again FORK, this time at f6, because the g7-pawn is pinned.

In F Bindrich vs Z Andriasian, 2007 , we see the tactical blow 27. ... ♘d2-f4+! There are TWO PINS going on, the first to the queen, the second to the king. White therefore loses his queen and resigns immediately.

In K B Richardson vs D Andreev, 1977 , Black creates what is called a CROSS-PIN with 39. ... ♕a2-d2! The White rook is now IMMOBILE and will be captured next. A neat way to exploit a lasting PIN!

In Dreev vs E Gleizerov, 1992 , we see again a CROSS-PIN, the Black queen being pinned to both d8-rook and g8-king after 20. ♖f1-d1! Note here also the use of a ZWISCHENZUG which will be explained in more detail later on.


Moving on, we see that in Kholmov vs W Golz, 1956 , White uses the ZWISCHENZUG (IN-BETWEEN MOVE) 21. ♘e4x♘f6+! before recapturing with 22. f2x♕g3. In this way White gets a whole Knight more than he would otherwise.

In Chiburdanidze vs G Sachs, 1990 we see a beautiful demonstration of a ZWISCHENZUG with 19. ♘g4-h6+! Now of course not 19. ... g7x♘h6?? 20. ♕e2-g4+ and mates next. And after 20. ♘h6x♙f7+, White wins a whole extra pawn.

In Ivanchuk vs Nisipeanu, 2007 , Black plays the more complicated but more beautiful 22. ... ♗a6-c4! setting up a DISCOVERED ATTACK after 23. ♕b3-c3(c2) ♗c4x♖f1 and now the queen is attacked and Black wins a whole rook!

In Ghitescu vs Fischer, 1960 , the automatic recapture of the c5-pawn with 14. ... ♗d6x♙c5?? would give his opponent a good game. However, Fischer has seen an IN BETWEEN MOVE using a DISCOVERED ATTACK 14. ... ♗d6x♙h2!

In Kramnik vs Topalov, 2006 , Black missed 45. ♖b6-b7+! and 46. ♖a5x♖c5+! which would make White a rook to the good. And a top player overlooked this! ZWISCHENZUG is not to be taken as trivial!

In Kramnik vs Aronian, 2007 , White played 45. ♔d3-c2! so as to drive the undefended rook away from the b2-pawn before recapturing on c4, thus Black resigned as White would remain three pawns to the good.


In Chigorin vs Znosko-Borovsky, 1903 , White demonstrated an X-RAY with 31. ♕c5-f8+! The point is that the White rook at d8 defends the f8-square from BEHIND an opposing defender which will get taken if it moves to f8.

In Van Wely vs Ivanchuk, 2008 , Black plays the strong 21. ... ♘g4-h2! The h2-square is defended adequately because the number of defenders must be counted AFTER the attacker(s) have captured.

In Morozevich vs Kasimdzhanov, 2005 , White can play 41. ♖d8x♙d6 because it is defending the White d4-queen THROUGH the Black d5-queen, which is the only attacker. Also notice that the d6-rook is ALSO defended through the d5-queen by the d4-queen.

In Kasparov vs Salov, 1992 , White plays 44. ♖f1-f7+! because the rook is defended THROUGH the e7-rook by the d7-rook. As pointed out by <notyetagm> this is used to double the queen and rook on the 7th.

In A Thorgrimsdottir vs M A Stefanidi, 2003 , White plays 29. ♕h6-f8+! The Queen is defended THROUGH the f7-rook by the f4-rook and, if taken, will be recaptured with CHECKMATE (otherwise White would lose material).

In Kramnik vs Anand, 2008 , Black plays the stunning 42. ♕f4-f3! defending the h1-mating square through the g2-bishop. Now there are three defenders of the mating square and White soon resigned.

In Judit Polgar vs Ponomariov, 2007 , Black plays 32. ... ♘d5x♙c3! winning a pawn because 33. ♕d4x♘c3?? is not possible because the knight is defended THROUGH the d4-queen by the e5-queen.


Now we will look at more combinations involving decoys.

In Wang Shuai vs N Castaneda, 2001 , White plays 23. ♕e6-e8+! a DECOY to e8 so as to permit 24. ♘e4-f6+ and 25. ♖e1-e8++. This particular DECOY combination is called a DECOY INTO A DISCOVERY.

In Hitech vs Kudrin, 1988 , Black uses the idea of a DECOY FOR TEMPO (check) by 30. ... ♖a7x♙a2+! which leads to material gains. In return for the rook, Black gets his other rook to a8 and an extra move in hand.

In Dolmatov vs Yusupov, 1982 , no less than FOUR tactical elements are used: the DECOY (20. ... ♘d7x♙e5) the PIN (to the g2-pawn) the MATE THREAT (21. ... ♕f6-g5) and the DISCOVERY (after 22. ♘e5-g4? ♘f4x♙h3+)

In Macieja vs Radjabov, 2007 , White plays 29. ♘e5x♙c6! a DECOY INTO A PIN because if 29. ... ♕d6x♘c6? 30. ♕e3x♖d4 because of the pin on the c-file White is an exchange up for a pawn.

In Ponomariov vs Mamedyarov, 2006 , the White queen and king are dangerously lined up for pins/skewers, as Black demonstrates with 45. ... ♖g7-f7! because after 46. ♕f5x♖f7, ♕d3-f1+ picks off Her Majesty.

In Spassky vs Averkin, 1973 , White wins the exchange by 26. ♗f4-c7! a DECOY INTO A QUEEN FORK (and also a SKEWER!) because after 26. ... ♖c8x♗f7 27. ♕e1-e5! FORKING the g7-mating square and the c7-rook.

In Keres vs Verbac, 1933 , White plays 14. ♕h5-h6+! a DECOY INTO A DISCOVERED ATTACK CHAIN (White e3-bishop, f4-rook, Black h6-king) to deliver the final blow, 15. ♖f4-h4 double check mates next.

In E Vladimirov vs D Donchev, 1975 , 41. ♖h7-h8+! is a DECOY in two count 'em two different ways. Both lead to mate: 41. ... ♔g8x♖f8 42. ♕c8x♗f8++, or as played, 41. ... ♕e5x♖f8 42. ♕c8-e6+ 1-0.



Here is a great tactical lesson brought to you by the great <notyetagm> himself!


The number of times a square is attacked (NA) and defended (ND) cannot be calculated by simply counting the number of pieces controlling that square. Rather,


Part I (++). Being able to -MAKE- a threat (especially <CHECK> or a <MATE THREAT>, a <<SENTE>> move) means that you control a square -MORE- times than meets the eye (<THREATS GAIN TEMPO>).

Part II (--). Having to -MEET- a threat means that you control a square -FEWER- times than meets the eye (<OBLIGATION RESTRICTS MOBILITY>).

Maybe I can add attackers to the square with tempo, making a threat.

Maybe you can add defenders to the square with tempo, making a threat.

Maybe some of my attackers are tied down meeting threats.

Maybe some of your defenders are tied down meeting threats.>

In simpler form, this means that (1) if a piece is tied down meeting a threat, it is not a defender of any squares that its going to would not meet the threat (this covers such things as DECOYS and PINS) and (2) if a piece can make a threat and control a square at the same time it is also a defender (this covers such things as FORKS, DISCOVERIES and SKEWERS.

Virtually all areas of basic tactics can be covered by this.


In Karpov vs Korchnoi, 1981 , White plays 35. ♖a5x♙a7! winning a pawn because the queen is NOT a defender, rather it is meeting the threat of 36. ♕e1x♘e6+, with decisive material gains.

Anand vs N Sulava, 2004 
(C10) French, 17 moves, 1-0

Topalov vs Gelfand, 2008 
(C42) Petrov Defense, 28 moves, 1-0

Anand vs Morozevich, 2007 
(B90) Sicilian, Najdorf, 56 moves, 1-0

Huzman vs Kasparov, 2003 
(D45) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, 22 moves, 1-0

J Powell vs C Downing, 1978 
(C60) Ruy Lopez, 31 moves, 1-0

F Bindrich vs Z Andriasian, 2007 
(D30) Queen's Gambit Declined, 27 moves, 0-1

K B Richardson vs D Andreev, 1977 
(B11) Caro-Kann, Two Knights, 3...Bg4, 39 moves, 0-1

Dreev vs E Gleizerov, 1992 
(A84) Dutch, 20 moves, 1-0

Kholmov vs W Golz, 1956 
(D68) Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Classical, 30 moves, 1-0

Chiburdanidze vs G Sachs, 1990 
(B52) Sicilian, Canal-Sokolsky (Rossolimo) Attack, 29 moves, 1-0

Ivanchuk vs Nisipeanu, 2007 
(E11) Bogo-Indian Defense, 22 moves, 0-1

Ghitescu vs Fischer, 1960 
(E46) Nimzo-Indian, 14 moves, 0-1

Kramnik vs Topalov, 2006 
(D47) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, 45 moves, 1-0

Kramnik vs Aronian, 2007 
(C89) Ruy Lopez, Marshall, 45 moves, 1-0

Chigorin vs Znosko-Borovsky, 1903 
(C31) King's Gambit Declined, Falkbeer Counter Gambit, 31 moves, 1-0

Van Wely vs Ivanchuk, 2008 
(A04) Reti Opening, 21 moves, 0-1

Morozevich vs Kasimdzhanov, 2005 
(B92) Sicilian, Najdorf, Opocensky Variation, 54 moves, 1/2-1/2

Kasparov vs Salov, 1992 
(B31) Sicilian, Rossolimo Variation, 54 moves, 1-0

A Thorgrimsdottir vs M A Stefanidi, 2003 
(B70) Sicilian, Dragon Variation, 29 moves, 1-0

Kramnik vs Anand, 2008 
(E15) Queen's Indian, 43 moves, 0-1

Judit Polgar vs Ponomariov, 2007 
(C78) Ruy Lopez, 45 moves, 0-1

Wang Shuai vs N Castaneda, 2001 
(B62) Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer, 23 moves, 1-0

Hitech vs Kudrin, 1988 
(B32) Sicilian, 33 moves, 0-1

Dolmatov vs Yusupov, 1982 
(C50) Giuoco Piano, 21 moves, 0-1

Macieja vs Radjabov, 2007 
(C63) Ruy Lopez, Schliemann Defense, 47 moves, 1-0

Ponomariov vs Mamedyarov, 2006 
(E70) King's Indian, 45 moves, 0-1

Spassky vs Averkin, 1973 
(B44) Sicilian, 35 moves, 1-0

Keres vs Verbac, 1933 
(C00) French Defense, 16 moves, 1-0

E Vladimirov vs D Donchev, 1975 
(A15) English, 42 moves, 1-0

Karpov vs Korchnoi, 1981 
(C67) Ruy Lopez, 57 moves, 1-0

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