Chess Tactics For Beginners | A Detailed Guide

Chess tactics for beginners are no different from those for intermediate and advanced players.

There are numerous tactical patterns, making it challenging to put an exact number on them. However, beginners can concentrate on mastering the 20 most commonly occurring patterns to build a strong foundation in the tactical aspect of the game. These are:

  1. Pin – When an opponent’s piece is “pinned” to its king and cannot move without exposing the king to check or capture.
  2. Fork – A move that attacks two or more of your opponent’s pieces simultaneously, forcing them to choose which piece to save.
  3. Skewer – Similar to a pin, but the more valuable piece is behind the less valuable one. When the less valuable piece moves, the more valuable one can be captured.
  4. Discovered Attack – When moving one piece reveals an attack by another piece, often the queen or bishop.
  5. Double Attack – Simultaneously attacking two pieces or squares with one move.
  6. X-ray Attack – An attack through an opponent’s piece, where your piece’s real target is hidden behind the obstructing piece.
  7. Windmill – A series of checks and discovered attacks that put tremendous pressure on the opponent, often leading to material gain.
  8. Back Rank Mate – When a rook or queen delivers checkmate to the opponent’s king on the back rank, and it cannot escape because of its own pieces.
  9. Smothered Mate – A checkmate delivered by a knight when the opponent’s king is surrounded by its own pieces and has no legal moves.
  10. Discovery Sacrifice – Sacrificing a piece to reveal a powerful attack by another piece.
  11. Deflection – Forcing an opponent’s piece to move away from its ideal square or to abandon its defensive duties.
  12. Decoy – Sacrificing a piece to lure an opponent’s piece to a square where it can be exploited.
  13. Zwischenzug (In-Between Move) – An intermediate move inserted in a sequence of tactics, often surprising the opponent.
  14. Removal of the Guard – Capturing a piece that is defending another piece or square, making it vulnerable to attack.
  15. Overloading – Forcing a defender to guard multiple pieces or squares simultaneously, leading to a tactical advantage.
  16. Battery – Placing two or more pieces on the same rank, file, or diagonal to exert pressure on a specific target.
  17. Trapped Pieces – Opponent’s pieces that are running out of safe squares to move to.
  18. Pawn Breakthrough – Advancing a pawn to create threats or open lines for your other pieces.
  19. Passed Pawn – A pawn that has no opposing pawns in its path to promotion.
  20. King Hunt – A sequence of moves where you relentlessly attack the opponent’s king, often leading to checkmate.

Mastering these 20 tactical positions will significantly improve your chess skills and provide a strong foundation for more advanced tactics. You can practice them on any chess app or watch Youtube videos of them.

How Much Do Tactics Help Chess?

It is seen that 90% of the games are decided on tactics.

But until you reach the masters level, you will see that almost all your games are won on tactics and not strategy.

To excel at chess, it is important that you master the art of tactics by learning a few key openings for both white and black pieces, and practice tactics that arise in the middle games of those openings.

Focusing on these 2 areas of the game (openings and tactics in it) will grow your ratings faster than anything else.

As you solve each tactical puzzle, try to commit the tactic’s name to memory for future reference. By doing so, you will be well on your way to mastering the tactical aspect of chess.

Watch a video below to get familiar with the most commonly occurring tactics in chess:

Where Can You Practice Chess Tactics?

You can practice chess tactics on different platforms like:

1. Online Chess Tactics Trainers

There are many websites, such as,, and that offer a wide range of tactics, puzzles and training sessions.

I have personally tried and tested several tactics training resources. If you’re looking for a convenient and effective way to practice, I highly recommend downloading one of my top-choice chess apps, available for both Android and iOS devices.

These apps provide an excellent platform to hone your tactical skills and become a stronger player.

2. Chess Books

For those who prefer traditional learning methods, chess tactics books are a treasure trove of knowledge.

These books feature tactics from real-life games of the past, as well as challenging and unique positions that may not often occur in actual gameplay.

However, working through these tactics, either on a physical chessboard or on a computer, can greatly enhance your tactical skills and sharpen your tactical vision.

There are many chess books that focus on tactics, and you can find many of them in your local library or bookstore.

There are several great books on chess tactics, and the best one for you may depend on your individual learning style and level of play. However, here are a few widely recognized and highly recommended books:

My SystemAron NimzowitschThis classic work introduces the idea of prophylaxis in chess and is considered a cornerstone of positional play.
100 Endgames You Must KnowJesus de la VillaThis book focuses on the endgame, a crucial stage of the game where tactics often play a determining role in the outcome.
The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever PlayedIrving ChernevThis book features a collection of well-annotated games that highlight the tactical themes and ideas that arise in chess.
Secrets of Chess TacticsMark DvoretskyThis book focuses on the underlying principles of tactics and provides a systematic approach to developing tactical skills.

These are just a few examples of excellent books on chess tactics. I recommend trying out a few to see which one works best for you.

3. Chess Software

There are also chess software programs that provide tactics training, such as ChessBase, Fritz, and Rybka.

4. Playing Games

The best way to practice tactics is by playing games of chess. By doing so, you can see tactics in action and learn how to recognize and implement them in your own games.

Analyze your games later both manually and with chess engine to see any potential tactics you missed.

5. Join A Chess Club

Joining a local chess club can provide you with the opportunity to practice tactics against other players and learn from more experienced chess players.

By incorporating a combination of these methods into your chess training regimen, you can improve your tactical skills and become a more formidable player.

Before you go…

In case you are interested to play a rated chess tournament in the future, do check out this article on how to become a rated chess player.

Additionally, familiarize yourself with these obscure and unusual chess regulations to avoid any rule violations during tournaments, as they may result in a loss.

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