Chess Basic Tactics Series #4 – Deflection and Decoy

As Christmas gets nearer, I thought we should continue with our series covering basic tactics. First let’s just do some quick definitions so we can get a basic understanding of these two tactics. Deflection is exactly what you would think. An enemy piece is guarding an important square or piece. If we can find a way to successfully deflect this piece we will either win material or checkmate. This tactic occurs frequently with backrank threats.  Usually there is a piece that is protecting our opponents back rank, if we can only deflect this piece we either win material or checkmate.  Let’s see how this works in practice.

It’s blacks move. We can see that white’s backrank is weak. If whites queen were not where it is, black could play 1. … Re1#. So our idea is to deflect the queen from defense of the bank rank. How can we do that? Here Jose Raul Capablanca played 1. …Qb2! White has no defense to either checkmate or loss of material. White cannot play 2. Qxb2 because of Re1#. As an exercise try to work out the other variations until black has a winning advantage and you completely understand how this move wins. Let’s look at another example of deflection.

It’s white’s turn to move. Notice how blacks queen is only protected by her king. If there was a way to deflect the king from protecting her, we could play Qxd8. Here white plays 1. Bxf7+. Since 1. …Kxf7 is forced white plays 2. Qxd8 and wins blacks queen.

Now let’s look at the decoy. The idea is that we want an enemy piece on a particular square. So we play a move that forces the enemy piece to that square. Let’s look at a classic example of decoying that every chess player should know by heart. It shows a decoy, double check, and a queen sacrifice!

It’s white turns to move. Notice that if we could somehow get blacks king to the d8 square we can unleash a powerful double check. Here white plays the decoying move 1. Qd8+!!. Black is forced to play 1. …Kxd8. After which white plays 2. Bg5++ with mate to follow.

Many times the decoy tactic is used in conjunction with the skewer. Let’s see how this can work.

If blacks queen were further away from her king, white could play the 1. Qh7  skewer. So we need to decoy the queen to a square that is farther away. White does this by playing. 1. Rxc7. This pins blacks queen, and black has nothing better than to play 1. …Qxc7 after which white plays 2. Qh7+.

As you review your own games look for opportunities where these tactics arise. By playing often, analysing your games, and solving tactical diagrams, your ability to recognize tactics and combinations will quickly increase.

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