Discovered Attack in Chess (Explained)

The discovered attack is one of the most powerful tactical weapons in a chess player’s arsenal is the discovered attack.

A discovered attack occurs when a piece moves out of the way, revealing an attack by another piece behind it.

We look at the concept of discovered attacks in chess, their importance, and how they can be used to gain a strategic advantage.

What is a Discovered Attack?

A discovered attack is a tactical maneuver in chess where one piece moves, uncovering an attack by another piece behind it.

The attacking piece can be of any type, such as a bishop, rook, or queen, while the piece that moves out of the way is typically a pawn or a minor piece (bishop or knight).

When a discovered attack occurs, the attacking piece gains the ability to attack an opponent’s piece or threaten checkmate on the opponent’s king.

This can lead to significant material gains or force the opponent into a defensive position.

How Does a Discovered Attack Work?

To understand how a discovered attack works, let’s consider an example:


The queen is strategically located behind the pawn.

When the white pawn captures the d-pawn, it launches a discovered attack against the black king.

Discovered Attack
Discovered Attack

Why are Discovered Attacks Important?

Discovered attacks are important in chess because they allow players to gain a strategic advantage by simultaneously attacking multiple pieces or threatening checkmate.

They can create unexpected threats and force opponents into unfavorable positions.

Here are some reasons why discovered attacks are important:

  • Material Advantage: A discovered attack can lead to capturing an opponent’s piece, resulting in a material advantage. This can significantly weaken the opponent’s position and increase the attacking player’s chances of winning.
  • Forcing Moves: Discovered attacks often force opponents to make specific moves to defend against the threat. This can limit their options and restrict their ability to develop their pieces or launch their own attacks.
  • Checkmate Threats: A discovered attack can create a checkmate threat on the opponent’s king, forcing them into a defensive position and limiting their ability to execute their own plans.
  • Psychological Impact: Discovering an attack can surprise and unsettle opponents, leading to mistakes or suboptimal moves. It can create pressure and uncertainty, giving the attacking player a psychological advantage.

Strategies for Utilizing Discovered Attacks

To effectively utilize discovered attacks, chess players need to develop a keen eye for tactical opportunities and understand the underlying principles.

Here are some strategies for utilizing discovered attacks:

  • Developing Minor Pieces: Discovered attacks often involve minor pieces, such as bishops and knights. By developing these pieces early in the game and positioning them strategically, players can create potential discovered attack opportunities.
  • Creating Pinning Situations: A pin occurs when a piece is immobilized due to the threat of exposing a more valuable piece behind it. By creating pinning situations, players can set the stage for a powerful discovered attack.
  • Exploiting Weak Back Ranks: The back rank of a player’s army is often vulnerable to discovered attacks. By exploiting weak back ranks, players can create threats that force opponents into defensive positions.
  • Calculating Potential Outcomes: Before executing a discovered attack, players should carefully calculate the potential outcomes and assess the risks involved. This includes considering possible counterattacks or defensive moves by the opponent.
  • Timing: Timing is crucial in executing a successful discovered attack. Players should wait for the right moment to unleash the attack, ensuring that all the necessary pieces are in position and the opponent’s defenses are weakened.

FAQs – Discovered Attack in Chess

1. What is the difference between a discovered attack and a double attack?

A discovered attack involves moving one piece to uncover an attack by another piece behind it.

In contrast, a double attack occurs when a single piece simultaneously attacks two or more opponent’s pieces.

While both tactics are powerful, a discovered attack often involves a surprise element and can lead to checkmate threats.

2. Can a discovered attack be blocked or defended against?

Yes, a discovered attack can be blocked or defended against.

The defending player can move their pieces to block the line of attack or capture the attacking piece.

Additionally, the defending player can create counter-threats to divert the attacking player’s attention.

3. Are discovered attacks more common in the opening, middlegame, or endgame?

Discovered attacks can occur in any phase of the game, but they are more common in the middlegame.

This is because the pieces are more developed and have greater mobility, allowing for more tactical opportunities.

4. Can a pawn create a discovered attack?

Yes, a pawn can create a discovered attack.

By moving forward, a pawn can uncover an attack by a piece behind it, such as a bishop or a rook.

5. Are discovered attacks only effective against weaker players?

No, discovered attacks can be effective against players of all skill levels.

Even strong players can fall victim to unexpected tactical blows.

However, the effectiveness of a discovered attack may depend on the opponent’s ability to recognize and defend against it.

6. Can a discovered attack lead to checkmate?

Yes, a discovered attack can lead to checkmate.

By moving a piece out of the way, the attacking player can reveal an attack on the opponent’s king, forcing them into a checkmate position.

7. Are there any famous games that feature discovered attacks?

Yes, there are several famous games that feature discovered attacks.

One notable example is the game between Garry Kasparov and Veselin Topalov in 1999, where Kasparov executed a stunning discovered attack to secure victory.

8. Can a discovered attack be used defensively?

Yes, a discovered attack can be used defensively.

By moving a piece out of the way, a player can uncover an attack on their own king, forcing the opponent to divert their attention and defend against the threat.

9. How can I improve my ability to spot discovered attacks?

To improve your ability to spot discovered attacks, practice solving tactical puzzles and studying annotated games.

This will help develop your tactical vision and familiarize you with common patterns and motifs.

10. Can a discovered attack be used in combination with other tactics?

Discovered attacks can be combined with other tactics, such as pins, forks, or skewers, to create even more powerful threats.

By utilizing multiple tactical elements, players can increase their chances of success.

Summary – Discovered Attack in Chess

Discovered attacks are powerful tactical maneuvers in chess that can lead to material gains, checkmate threats, and psychological advantages.

By moving one piece to uncover an attack by another, players can surprise their opponents and force them into unfavorable positions.

To utilize discovered attacks effectively, players need to develop their tactical vision, understand the underlying principles, and calculate potential outcomes.

By incorporating discovered attacks into their strategies, chess players can gain a significant edge over their opponents and increase their chances of victory.

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