Lesson 9 - Basic Chess Tactics: The Deflection
"If the student forces himself to examine all the moves that smite, however absurd they look at first glance, he is on the way to becoming a master of tactics."
- Cecil Purdy
It might happen at times that an enemy piece seems to be the main supporter of your opponent's defense: it is blocking the access to all important entry points to your attack and is also backing its own army by protecting some pieces installed on important squares on the board. Such a position seems pretty solid for the defender... but do not get too much impressed: with the deflection tactic, you might succeed in breaking this defensive setup!
Indeed, the piece is overworked as it needs to defend/support several squares and pieces on the board at the same time. When a piece is overworked, it becomes incapable of playing its role efficiently if it gets distracted since it might not be able to maintain support to all the important points requiring its help. It could then be possible to put some pressure on these unsupported points. The deflection is exploiting an overworked piece by forcing it to do a choice between the points it should continue to defend/support.
Let's see the deflection tactic in action with a concrete example. In the diagram below, Black has offered to exchange queens in order to simplify the position. He thinks his queen has enough support as it is protected by the bishop on g7. However, White has a trick up his sleeve since the g7 bishop is also doing another important job: it is currently the only available defender against a check on the the 8th rank. White could then force the overworked bishop to choose between two tasks... but as you will see, in this case the bishop will not have any choice at all:
It might happen also that a sacrifice is needed for some deflections. Indeed, it might be interresting to give some material in order to gain an advantage by a deflection tactic. Usually, the sacrificed piece is used as a bait to deflect the enemy piece. In the next example, White is sacrificing one of his rooks in order to gain a material advantage by deflecting the black queen from its current spot. We can note in the position that the black queen is the only defender of the f6 bishop. If the queen no longer supports the bishop, White could then capture it with his e4 knight. Moreover, the knight will make a fork to the d7 rook and the black king after the capture.
So now you can add one more tactic to your amunitions... try to make good use of it!
Let's now see some proofs that mastering tactics could bring you to another level of play with the next page.