Introductory Matters.

A Short Guide to the Site.

In Brief.

Spectacular chess moves produce the same sorts of satisfactions as the climactic moments of other great games: the slam dunk, the thirty-foot putt, the home run. In chess these moves are known as tactics. This web site teaches them in detail. It assumes you know only how the pieces move and builds step-by-step from there. Every idea is illustrated with lots of examples, and every example is explained in plain language that describes a train of thought leading from a problem to its solution. Funny-looking notation is held to a minimum. You can treat each example as a puzzle and try to solve it before reading the explanation, or just read the explanations as you go. The object throughout is to provide a teaching tool that makes the secrets of chess easy for anyone to understand. It's a chess book for people who think they don’t like chess books. (The site also has a new section—the Chess Quizzer—that lets you test your understanding by working on positions chosen at random and with their explanations hidden.)

You can start reading anyplace. The rest of this first section gives a fuller account of the idea behind the site and how it differs from existing books; then comes a primer on the most important general principles of tactics: double threats, loose pieces, and forcing moves (if those terms aren't old hat to you, the explanations probably will be useful). Last are some pages discussing further points of interest to some but not others—the notation used in the diagrams, acknowledgments, how to change the look of the font, and other miscellany.

After this introductory part there are five large sections, one for each of the great families of chess tactics: the fork; the discovered attack; the pin and skewer; the removal of the guard; and mating patterns. Within those sections are a total of twenty chapters; within the twenty chapters are nearly two hundred topics. Each topic is illustrated with about a half-dozen positions—occasionally fewer, and sometimes quite a few more.

If you want to skip any or all of this first part and plunge into the specific lessons, you can go back to the table of contents (there’s always a link at the upper right corner of the screen) and click on The Knight Fork or whatever other topic sounds appealing. The sections build on each other a bit, but most of them can be enjoyed on their own with no trouble if you prefer to dip in at random or skip parts that get tedious. If you want to navigate through these early parts or any of the other sections more precisely, click on the plus (+) signs in the table of contents to expand each menu. Or click at the top of the contents page to expand all the menus and see the entire structure at once (I recommend this). Or you can flip around by starting anywhere and using the arrows at the bottom of each screen to go page by page. (Clicking on the forward (>) arrow at the lower right corner of this page, for example, will walk you through the rest of this first section.)

This site aspires to be the most detailed and systematic treatment of basic chess tactics yet published. It also is meant to be the most congenial to those who like things explained in English. How far it succeeds, and where it might be improved, the reader will judge; I welcome corrections and suggestions, and apologize in advance for the inevitable typos or other glitches (and thank those who have called such mistakes to my attention). All feedback can be sent by way of the link at the bottom center of every page.

Let us begin.