This week, we’re going to start our examination of discovered and double discovered attacks. This specific type of tactic is extremely powerful and should be part of every chess player’s tactical toolbox. I cannot stress enough, the power of discovered and double discovered attacks. We cover this tactic over the next two weeks, starting with an introduction to the idea behind it.
The word “discovered” means to find something and, in the world of chess tactics, what your finding is an attacking opportunity. How do you discover an attacking opportunity? In the simplest terms, a discovered attack is created when a pawn or piece is moved, and the piece formally trapped by the now moved pawn or piece is free to attack an enemy piece. Think about it like this: At the start of a chess game, your Bishops are trapped until you move a pawn. Here’s an example: Prior to 1. e4, White’s King-side Bishop is unable to enter the game. That Bishop cannot attack anything because it is stuck behind a pawn. When White’s pawn moves from e2 to e4, the Bishop on f1 now attacks any pawn or piece that might be on the f1-a6 diagonal. Of course, in this example there’s nothing for the Bishop to attack.
Set up the following position on a chessboard: The Black King on g8, Black pawns on f7, g7, and h7, a Black Knight on c7, and a Black Rook on h6. Place the White King on g1, White pawns on f2, g2, h2 and d2, a White Rook on f1, and a White Bishop on c1. It’s White to move. White plays 1. d4. Alright, White moves a pawn. What’s the big deal? Look at the Bishop on c1. Prior to moving the pawn, the White Bishop didn’t have access to the c1-h6 diagonal. When the White pawn moves, the Bishop now has access to that diagonal. More importantly, the Bishop is attacking the Black Rook on h6. The Rook, worth more than the Bishop is forced to move. This is a simple discovered attack.
Now, let’s make a slight change in Black’s position. Move the Black Knight from c7 to c5. It’s White to move and the same move is made (1. d4). Things have greatly changed in favor for White. When the pawn moves, the White Bishop is still attacking the Rook on h6. However, the White pawn that’s now on d4 is attacking the Black Knight on c5. This is a double discovered attack, and its genius lies in one of the rules of the game, you can only move one pawn or piece per turn (except when castling). This translates to Black losing a piece regardless of what they do.
Obviously, the Black Rook will move out of the line of fire since it’s worth more than the Knight. Where should it move? To c6, where it will defend the Knight, lessening the overall loss, not to mention keeping White’s pawn from promoting itself.
This double discovered attack gives White an advantage since White is now up a minor piece. This type of tactic is more difficult for the beginner because you’re now looking for attacking opportunities for two pawns and/or pieces (double discovered attack). However, the basic ideas we’ve discussed in previous articles regarding setting up tactics still apply. You can often find discovered and double discovered attacks by carefully looking at the position on the board. I suggest, as a beginner, you start by checking each position on the board when it’s your turn to move, looking for a possible discovered/double discovered attack.
This type of tactic can happen during all three game phases –opening, middle and endgame – but not too early during the opening, so you should always be on the lookout for an opportunity to use this great attack. Also, be wary of the use of a discovered or double discovered attack against your pawns and pieces. To find this potential attack against your position, simply examine your opponent’s position and see if you can find any potential attacks that can occur if one of their pawns or pieces moves.
Next week, we’ll look at the extremely powerful discovered and double discovered check, which is often a huge game changer. We’ll also dig a little deeper into finding this type of tactic, and a few thoughts on setting this type of attack up. Until then, randomly set up a chessboard and see if you can find a few discovered and double discovered attacks on your own. See you next week!