What is a Double Attack or Fork in Chess

Chess is certainly a game that requires a lot of effort to master it. The number of possible moves and combinations are truly countless. So, if you want to become a great player, you will have to speed up the learning process by mastering some of the most important principles and combinations. I believe that double attack is a very effective way to put your opponent in a very difficult position. The double attack, otherwise, fork in chess is a technique that has helped me a lot of times and it is worth to write an extensive article about it.

What is the double attack in chess?

Fork in chess is a situation when a single piece threatens two pieces at the same time. On the following example, you can see a pawn threatens the Rook and the Knight at the same time. It’s an attack that all the pieces can execute, even the pawns and the King. Therefore, it’s a technique that you have to master in order to have more tools to threaten your opponent.

Importance of fork in chess

I believe fork is one of the best tools to create serious problems to your opponent. It can be executed more easily than other techniques and there are many opportunities to happen especially in the opening phase of this game. The benefits of fork are the following:

  • The most important one is that you can threaten two pieces at the same time and because your opponent can’t move them both, you should be able to capture one of them. This tactic is very effective when the King is one of the forked pieces because your opponent can’t let his King been captured. So, you can capture the other forked piece that it could be even your opponent’s Queen. That’s the power of fork!

  • Fork is a great way to improve the swaps that happen on the opening phase of the game. When you attack, your opponent will move the more precious piece and sacrifice the other one. So, you will have an advantage.
  • It’s a great way to put some pressure on your opponent’s more valuable pieces. Your opponent will try to move his pieces into an area where they cannot contribute the most and that is in your advantage.
  • It creates anxiety on your opponent because he has to figure out how to respond on your double attack. Psychology is important because too much stress leads to wrong decisions.

Create a fork in chess

While playing there are a lot of opportunities to perform a fork because all of the pieces can perform it. However, the ones that are worthy are a few. Among the pieces, the most useful ones to apply this technique are the Queen and the Knight.

Queen

Queen performs a variety of moves, namely, it can move along any line, either horizontal or vertical or diagonal. Therefore, this technique suits perfectly to the Queen.

Rook and Bishop

Rook and Bishop can apply the same technique but take into account that the way they move is more restricted compared to the way the Queen moves. Usually, these pieces, especially the Rooks, are more effective during the endgame, for the number of pieces on board has become very limited.

Knight

Knight has a very distinguished property. It can attack pieces of the opponent without being under threat. The fact that another piece in front of the Knight is not an obstacle does not prevent it to get the right position for a double attack. This advantage is very much welcomed at the opening and it can create very sneaky double attacks on your opponent.

My checklist:

  1. Analyze the positions taken by the pieces of the opponent and identify the squares that give you the opportunity of fork attack. You are looking for squares at the intersection of paths leading to valuable pieces of the opponent. Always take advantage of the particular shape of Knights motion. In other words, said paths need not be linear only but can have the L shape of the way the Knight moves.

  2. After such a square is identified, try to move your piece on that square. Try to accomplish that in two steps at most.
  3. Never forget your defense and look out for the positions your opponent tries to obtain. If your opponent tries to create a serious threat, you should consider aborting the double attack. Sometimes the best defense is a counterattack.
  4. Make sure that the critical squares you try to put your pieces on are not under threat and there are no ways he can intercept the attack (more on this on the next section).
  5. Finally, you have to decide the benefits of a fork. If you will have an advantage in value and especially, the fork fits your overall strategy to win the game then it’s ok to proceed by executing to it. Make sure you judge all possible responses of your opponent that you figured out in step 4 before you make the final decision. For example, there is no point to exchange your Knight for a Bishop because this you won’t have enough pieces to win(see below).

Defend yourself from double attack in chess

Sooner or later you will have to defend from a double attack. So, you have to know how you can protect yourself from the procedure as well. Always you have to pay attention what your opponent is going to do next. Sometimes, your opponent will find a defensive gap and will use a double attack against you. Because you neglected it, doesn’t really mean you’re damned. There may yet be an exit plan! Here are a couple of regular thoughts you can use to attempt escape from fork in chess :

  1. Evacuate the more precious piece and sacrifice the other. I suggest doing that in cases when you will have to exchange pieces with the same value as a last resort.
  2. Capture the attacking piece. That’s the best case scenario and it could happen when you are playing against inexperienced opponents.
  3. Use a counter-strategy to evacuate the forked pieces. For example, you can check your opponent’s King and win some time because he will have to deal with the check. In general, look for ways to attack your opponent’s more valuable pieces.

  4. Look for ways the forked pieces to defend one another. You can do that by moving your most precious piece in a square that it protects the other forked piece. For example, by moving the Rook at f6, Black will have the advantage by exchanging his Bishop with the Knight.

  5. Don’t get forked in the first place. You can do that by monitoring squares the enemy Queen and Knights can move. The other enemy pieces can create such a threat but it’s more likely to happen from the Queen or the Knight. So, monitor all the enemy pieces and watch out the Queen and the Knight. The Knight can fork in a very sneaky way, especially in the opening.

Final thoughts

Chess is very special game meaning that it is hard to improvise a checklist with steps on how to play. There is always an exception to whatever I mentioned above but anyways my guidance serves to give you the big picture. I tried to give you my knowledge in a nutshell and especially to provide an outline of the way I tackle the problem. Please take into account that the knowledge offered in the web is overwhelming and pertinent articles have no structure. Exactly as I did in my article on pin, I tried to provide an easy to understand solution. If you find any value in my endeavor, please don’t forget to comment and share with friends. Have fun with chess!

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