Figure[White to move]

The Pawn Fork.


We now consider double attacks by the pawn. This chapter, too, is shorter than the earlier ones on forks because attacking patterns involving the pawn tend to be simple. A pawn can fork two enemy pieces that are on the same rank and separated by one square. (E.g., the Black rook and knight in the diagram, which can be forked with f2-f4.) Any two enemy pieces are fine, at least if the pawn has protection; the joy of attacking with pawns is that they are worth so little. A pawn for a piece—any piece—almost always is a good deal, so every piece must fear them. And of course you start with eight pawns, and they often are near the combat zones of the board. They can jump from their starting position into the center in one move, and can move diagonally when they capture. We will see pawns taking advantage of all these capabilities in the examples that follow.

By the way, what will happen in the diagram after White starts with f2-f4? Black might try a classic line of reply to a fork: he can move one of his pieces out of it with check by playing Re1. Now White can't play f4xN; he has to move his king to f2. But White still will make his gains, because now he threatens KxR and (still) f4xN. Black can't escape both threats.