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# Lesson 9 - Basic Chess Tactics: The Fork

"Chess is 99% tactics."
- Rudolph Teichmann

We already had the chance to be introduced to the fork in previous lessons. The fork is a tactic for which a piece attacks several enemy pieces at the same time. This manoeuver usually gives a material advantage to the player that executes it. This tactic is available to all pieces... and let's see together how to make forks with each of them.

## The Knight

A lot of beginners are scared by the knight because of its possibilities to surprise the opponent with forks. One of the biggest advantage for the knight is that enemy pieces are usually forced to move out of danger when attacked by a knight (unless if the attacked piece is another knight).  This allows the knight to be more effective thant the other pieces to do forks. Here are some examples of forks given by a knight:

 Diagram 9.5 - A simple knightfork against two rooks

 Diagram 9.6 - A quadruple forkgiven by a knight

As we can see in the second example, we call "royal fork" a fork attacking both the king and the queen.

It is true to say that knight forks could catch a player by surprise. However, since a knight cannot control squares of different colours at the same time, a way to protect yourself from being surprised is to put your heavy pieces on squares of different colours while an enemy knight is galloping around.

## The Bishop

The bishop can attack up to 4 pieces at the same time but a bishop's fork usually involves only two enemy pieces. If a bishop attacks more than two pieces, it means that it was already doing a fork on the previous move and the opponent did not deem necessary to put an end to it. The bishop's capacity to make forks are less efficient than the knight since it is forced to always occupy squares of the same colour. A player could then eliminate all fork possibilities against a bishop by placing his pieces on squares of the opposite colours than the bishop. Here are some fork examples given by the bishop:

 Diagram 9.7 -Simple fork againsttwo rooks given by a bishop

 Diagram 9.8 - Bishop's forkinvolving the enemy king

Take note of the last example... a bishop's fork involving the king and a rook still sitting on their starting squares is quite common.

## The Rook

As it is the case with the bishop, even if the rook can attack four pieces at the same time, a rook's fork usually involve two enemy pieces. It is more difficult to guard from rooks forks since they control both colours of the chessboard. Here are some fork examples given by the rook:

 Diagram 9.9 - Simple forkgiven by a rook

In the above example, the rook threatens the g1 bishop and the pawn on g6 at the same time. However, as we saw in the previous page on discovered attacks, Black can save himself by playing the in-between move 1... Bd4+.  White must then take care of the check and Black could then protect his g6 pawn on the next move. This example shows that we always have to look for all defending possibilities prior to respond too rapidly to a direct threat...

 Diagram 9.10 - Rook forkinvolving the enemy king

The rook is usually efficient in making forks during the endgame as there is more room on the board.

## The Queen

The queen, combining both the gait of the bishop and the rook, has a much ease to make forks. The queen could really be devastating with forks when it has room to move on the board. Here are some fork examples given by the queen:

 Diagram 9.11 - Multiple pieces'fork given by a queen

 Diagram 9.12 - Fork against two pawnsin the beginning of the game

In the last example, the fork is not really obvious as the d5 pawn is protected. But if we observe the position carefully we see that the d5 pawn is protected two times (by the queen and the f6 knight) and attacked two times by White (by the c3 knight and the bishop on g2) prior to the queen move. By moving on b3, the queen becomes the third attacker on d5 and attack also the b7 pawn which is not protected at all. Black can only give support to one of the pawn...

## The King

The king can also give forks, despite the fact that it is more predictable because of its slow pace. Here are some examples of forks given by the king:

 Diagram 9.13 - Fork given by a king

 Diagram 9.14 - Another fork given by a king

## The pawn

The pawn is the most economical way to make forks. Indeed, being the piece with the less value on the chessboard, players will hesitate to exchange an enemy pawn for a piece of greater value. Let's see some examples of forks given by pawns:

 Diagram 9.15 - Fork given by a pawn

 Diagram 9.16 - Another fork given by a pawn

By adding the fork to your tactical arsenal, you will have several opportunities to gain material advantages in your own games. Saty alert however... as you can also be catch by this tactic!

Let's continue our journey in the tactical world with the next page on the pin.