1 Attacking and protecting

1.1 Tutorial

An attack on a piece is a move which makes it possible to capture it on the next move. You must know how to react to attacks otherwise you will lose material and the game.

There are five possible ways of dealing with an attack:
  • defend the piece which is under attack, We call this protecting.
  • move away the piece which is under attack.
  • block the line of attack by moving another piece between the attacking piece and the piece which is under attack. This only works against an attack by the queen, rook or bishop.
  • take the attacking piece
  • set up a counter-attack or a counter-threat.

a) The value of the attacking piece is the same or higher

A piece is protected if the side under attack can recapture. That means that a defending piece is in a position that after the capture it could move on to the square of the piece that has just been captured.. But protecting only makes sense if the piece under threat is worth no more than the attacking piece. If the attacking and defending pieces are of the same value then capture and recapture are called an exchange.

b) The value of the attacking piece is less

If the attacking piece is worth less than the piece being threatened it makes no sense to protect the latter. Capturing always wins material. In this case the piece being attacked must, e.g., move away. A typical example is the driving away of a minor piece or a major piece from a good square by a pawn. In this sort of threat the piece usually moves away.

Imagine that a top player from the Bundesliga is taking part in an amateur football match. He is fouled and has to leave the pitch injured. Then it doesn't help matters if a revenge foul ('recapture') also takes out the attacker.

When your pieces are being attacked you must react correctly. Similar or weaker pieces can be protected but more valuable pieces must move away or ward off the attack in a different way.