3 Elements of Success When Attacking in Chess

There is no doubt attacking in chess is a lot more fun than defending.

Attacking in Chess blog image 1

When you are attacking, you are the one pressing for a win. This places all the pressure on your opponent, who at best hopes to survive for a draw.

When you are attacking in chess, you play for two results while your opponent is playing for one result.

That doesn’t mean the game won’t swing back and forth. Counter-attacking is a highly effective way to defend!

Here is a great attacking game between Caruana and Duda, who both had to calculate precisely while staying calm in all the mayhem taking place on the board. Learn how to find moves like Ne6! and play them in your games.

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Don’t Waste Time When You Are Attacking in Chess

Any advantage you have in time must be used soon, or else your opponent could gain a critical tempo and bring another piece to help defend against your attack. 

Time is a dynamic advantage, and if you don’t make it a priority to use it, you will likely lose it!

One way to gain an advantage in time is through a lead in development in the opening. In positions where you are ahead in development, sacrificing a piece to open lines against the king is often a winning move.

Nowadays the dynamic element is more important in chess - Boris Spassky. Time is an important dynamic element when it comes to attacking in chess.

You can also gain an advantage in time by playing on the side of the board where you have a piece majority. Your opponent will lose time bringing his pieces across to meet your threats on the opposite side of the board.

Forcing moves help you gain the initiative because while he responds to your threats, your opponent doesn’t have any time to promote his plans. Although direct threats might be easy to meet, they still involve losing time while dealing with them.

Time can be such a valuable part of your attack it is often more important than material. When attacking the castled king with a pawn storm, don’t be afraid to sacrifice a pawn or even two.

Tactics Are Vital When Attacking In Chess

Tactics are essential when you are attacking in chess and must be calculated to the end. When studying an opening, you must familiarize yourself with the tactics of the opening.

Before you go ahead and play a sacrifice, you must stay aware of all your opponent’s defensive resources.

A thematic defense for Black against the bishop sacrifice on h6 is to bring the queen to help defend on the queenside with Qa5-h5. This resource is often overlooked because the queen is on the opposite side of the board.

One way to counter this defensive resource involves sacrificing a pawn in the fifth rank because after Black captures the pawn, his piece blocks the queen from coming over to help defend the king.

There are three elements in a position that can indicate the opportunity for tactics. These three factors are:

  • Undefended pieces.
  • A weak king.
  • Poorly placed pieces.

Always remember that the king is not your only target when attacking in chess, and you can win games by gaining a strategic advantage too.

One bad move nullifies forty good ones blog image 1

Calculate Through the Chaos When Attacking in Chess

Calculation is a vital element of every attack that you must master to make your attacks successful. When you have sacrificed material or are considering a sacrifice, the last thing you want to do is to play hope chess.

In critical positions, it is good to begin your calculations with moves that create threats, and the bigger the threat, the better.

Your calculations need to be both organized and focused.

Once you have decided on your candidate moves, you need to calculate them one at a time. When your calculations show that a move is not working, you need to set it aside and focus on your next candidate move.

Working through your candidate moves in an organized manner will stop you from becoming confused and getting your lines mixed up when attacking in chess. 

You can stop calculating any other moves if you can see a way to win the game. Double-check your calculations, then simply go ahead and play the winning line.

In order to select your candidate moves and begin your calculations, you need to have a goal in mind. When choosing your objective, ask yourself, “What is the ultimate goal? Which of my opponent’s pieces are stopping me from achieving it?”

If your plan is to deliver checkmate on h7, one of your goals will most likely be removing the knight on f6. This became the focus of Karpov’s calculation ins his game against Ljubojevic, and even though it didn’t lead to a checkmate, it gave Anatoly Karpov a winning material advantage.

Karpov, Anatoly (2780) – Ljubojevic, Ljubomir (2580), Buenos Aires, 1994.10.14, 1-0

Final Thoughts

Winning at chess means integrating the opening, middlegame, and endgame into a cohesive whole. Similarly, when you are attacking in chess, the three elements of time, tactics, and calculation work together to achieve victory.

Seizing the initiative will deprive your opponent of time and make it harder for him to land any tactical blows. You will find it easier to defeat an opponent using his calculation skills to defend against your attacks.

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