We can go on to the knight moves if you're now completely comfortable with all facets of the pawn moves. If so you are ready to begin learning the movements of the backrow pieces. We will start with the slightly weaker ones, the knight and the bishop. These are commonly known as the minor pieces.
Weaker though they may be, they are instrumental pieces in the opening and throughout the game. Correct deployment and usage of the minor pieces is crucial in gaining a positional edge over your opponent.
Before going over the bishop we will first look at the knight. Knights before bishops is something you'll hear loud and often as you study chess strategy.
The knight moves two squares in any direction followed by a right angle turn of one square. Don't worry. You'll get the picture from the diagrams and replayers. They are usually sent towards the center where their mobility and influence on the game is at it's peak.
They co-ordinate well with their partners in crime, the bishops. The knights and the bishops are posted to nice squares early on where they can support the center and threaten the enemy.
Each piece has different primary and secondary objectives as the game moves from one phase to another. In the opening the knight's main objectives are to get developed and to support the pawn's attempt to win the center.
One great advantage that the knight holds over every other piece is the ability to jump over other pieces on it's way around the board. Other pieces often fall victim to blockading by enemy pieces or being cramped or grid locked by their own pieces.
The knight can wade through densely populated areas of the board through the use of this phenomenon. Take a look at the diagram on the right. The other backrow pieces (which are not shown here) must wait for some pawns to move in order to escape the back rank into battle.
But as you can see the four knights can reach the third rank straight away by simply jumping over the pawns. They do not have to wait for them to move. Cool!
The fork is the knight's secret deadly weapon. In chess the fork is a double attack and it is a technique which the knight is most adept at owing to it's unique move. In a fork a piece such as the knight will attack two pieces at once.
The opponent is forced to save the more powerful or maybe rather more important piece leaving the other hanging and this second hanging piece is captured.
If the king is one of the two pieces attacked in the fork, obviously it is the one that must be saved. That leaves the other one open for capture.
In our example on the left if the knight is moved to the e5 which is marked in green the Black king is in check and the Black queen is also under attack. The king must move, the queen is lost and there is nothing Black can do about it.
Although the bishop is generally regarded as being stronger than the knight in most situations, as the great Capablanca noted queen and knight is a better combination than queen and bishop.
The reason Capablanca gave for this is quite a logical one. As he said while the bishop can only mimic the queen with it's movement, the unique knight moves allow it access to places that the queen cannot cover so together they are the deadlier combination.
The diagram shows a sample check-mate achieved by a queen with the support of her kingside knight. This is a sample finishing position just to give you an idea of what you are trying to achieve. Play through the games in the knight tutorial game viewer.
That's about it for the knight's move. There wasn't a whole lot to it in the end. Actually learning how the pieces move is the easy bit. The tricky bit as you will find yourself over the years is learning how to combine and utilize your pieces and their respective powers into one coherent fighting unit.
But we'll get to that in time. For the moment just smile and be content in the knowledge that you can now move the knight. And if per chance you are having even the slightest trouble with it fear not. I have something here that will have you seeing the knight moving even while you sleep!
Even if you're completely comfortable with the knight's move at this stage I say take a look at this. It's the solution to a super little chess puzzle. It's a little thing called the Knight's Tour.
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