Lesson 3 - Difference Between Attack And Threat of Chess Pieces

If you did not go through the previous topic on the value of the pieces, I recommend that you do so before continuing as it is a prerequisite to the content below.

Difference Between Attacked Piece and Threatened Piece

A piece is attacked when it can be captured by an enemy piece on its next move. When the attack gives an advantage (material or other type) to the attacker, the attack becomes a threat. We can then say that a threat is an attack, but the opposite is not true: an attack is not necessarily a threat.

In chess, a player will often try to build threats on the enemy camp by attacking high value enemy pieces. With the value system we previously studied, we are now able to determine if an attack coming from our opponent is a real threat or not.  If it is the case, four options are possible to eliminate the threat:

  • move the threaten piece on a safe square;
  • blocking the threat by interposing a piece between the threatened piece and the attacker (keeping in mind that the blocking piece must not be threatened as well...);
  • capture the attacking piece;
  • protect the threatened piece when its value is lower or equal than the attacking piece.

In the diagram below, it is Black to move and the threatened piece is the knight sitting on the h8 square (the attacking piece is the bishop on d4).  We can use the four options to remove the threat:

The "4 options to remove a threat" capture

Diagram 3.2 - Four options to remove a threat

Exchange of pieces

Notez que lorsque deux pièces ennemies de même valeur se font capturer lors d'une série de coups, on dit que les deux camps ont fait un «échange» puisqu'aucun camp n'a réussi à obtenir d'avantage matériel sur l'autre. Par contre, si dans un échange de deux pièces l'un des joueurs gagne une pièce de plus grande valeur, obtenant une tour contre un fou par example, on dira que le joueur a gagné l'échange.

Note that when two enemy pieces of same value get captured during a sequence of moves, we say that the two opponents did an "exchange" since none of the players got a material advantage out of these moves. If players exchanged two pieces and one of the player obtained a piece of greater value than his opponent, let's say he got a rook for a bishop as an example, we say that this player "won the exchange".

That concludes this lesson... let's see if you grasped everything with the exercises available on the next page.online chess tutorial

I do not recommend it, but you can also skip the exercises and go directly to the next lesson on the basic chess rules.