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  • How The Pieces Move >> Knights         Pawns     Bishops     Rooks     Archbishops     Chancellors     Queens     Kings

    When we teach children how the Knight moves, we say "It goes one, two, then over."
    Knights basically make an "L-shaped" move on the board.
    Move two squares vertically, then one horizontally. That describes 4 different moves of the Knight.
    Move two squares horizontally, then one vertically. That describes the other 4 ways to move the Knight.
    You can see that the Knight on square f5 in the animation above has 8 legal moves, each shown with the circular dot.
    Now imagine a Knight on square i1, and you can see that it only has 3 legal moves. That is because the other moves would be "off the board."
    The Knight is said to be a "jumping" piece, and it can literally "jump over" pieces to land on its destination square.
    Knights can jump over enemy and friendly pieces alike, but it cannot land on a square occupied by one of its own pieces. When it lands on an enemy's square, it captures that piece and removes it from the board.
    Forking: Part 1         Pawns     Bishops     Rooks     Archbishops     Chancellors     Queens     Kings

    The most common threat a Knight can make is the so-called forking move.
    It is white to move in the animation above, and the Knight takes the Pawn, simultaneously checking the black King.
    As you can see, after the black King moves, the white Knight takes the black Rook on the j8 square. The Rook is said to have been "forked."
    For this reason, the forking move works. No matter what, white will lose material as a result of coming under two simultaneous threats.
    Forking: Part 2         Pawns     Bishops     Rooks     Archbishops     Chancellors     Queens     Kings

    A fork can occur without the need for checking the enemy King. In this example, with black to move, the Knight on the f5 square issues a fork.
    As shown above, the Knight captured the white Pawn on the d4 square and simultaneously threatens two pieces of much greater value.
    Notice how the white Queen on the c2 square and the white Archbishop on the f3 square are BOTH able to be captured next by the black Knight after it lands on the d4 square.
    While it is true that the white Archbishop could capture the black Knight on d4, notice there is a black Bishop on f6 protecting it.
    For this reason, the forking move works. White must lose either the Archbishop or Queen as a result of the fork.
    If you're an advanced player, you might notice that after 1...Nxd4 2. Axd4 Bxd4 there is no need to be concerned about 3. Rd1 since after 3...e5 the black Bishop is safe, the white Bishop is threatened, and 4. Bxe5 runs into the Chancellor on e8 recapturing it with 4...Cxe5
    A master level player will consider the consequences of 1...Nxd4 2. Rd1 Nxf3 3. Rxd8 Nxh2+ 4. Kg1 Cxd8 5. Kxh2 before making a final decision.
    Most players, after realizing they walked into this fork and played as shown in the animation, would probably just resign.
    More Advanced Forking         Pawns     Bishops     Rooks     Archbishops     Chancellors     Queens     Kings

    Some forking motifs contain more complex considerations. Notice that the black knight on g4 is trying to "hold the archbishop hostage" on g1.
    The archbishop is protecting white’s h2 square and thereby it stops the fork …Nxh2+ which wins the rook after …Nxj1 next.
    White’s first thoughts might be chasing the knight away with the pawn push f2-f3 which would compel that knight to move. Or would it?
    White’s pawn move here (f3) “looks good” at first glance, since black’s first inclination is to move the knight from the g4 square which means the Nxh2+ fork threat disappears.
    But look more closely! Black plays …Bd4! to threaten the white archbishop on g1 since the knight on c6 protects the bishop on the d4 square.
    The capture Axd4? would lose material for white so black’s bishop on d4 is perfectly safe! Also it doesn’t take white long to realize that blocking the black bishop with Be3? would be a total disaster. That leaves Ae2 as the best candidate move, which, as you can see, removes the guard of the h2 square.
    This will allow the black knight to finally execute its fork with …Nxh2+ and the white rook will fall next when the follow-up …Nxj1 is played. This example shows that forking is sometimes deeper than the surface!
    And in the final position, as a show of good sportsmanship, white resigns by tipping over his king. But, as the next example will show, there are even deeper traps to set that might make it look like you are losing, when in fact you have a win just around the corner!
    Even More Advanced Forking: Part 1         Pawns     Bishops     Rooks     Archbishops     Chancellors     Queens     Kings

    The prior example demonstrated that even knowledge of the elementary forking mechanism could be exploited, if you think more deeply than your opponent.
    While white did make a mistake, this mistake was created by applying the notion of the fork to some deceptive moves where more potent threats were lying in wait.
    This current example (above) takes the deception and planning even deeper. Here, black "knows" that white wants to try to remove the guard that is protecting the forking square.
    Notice that the black Archbishop is guarding the h7 square while the white Knight on i5 is threatening to capture onto it.
    If white gets to play Nxh7+ he will check the King with a fork and win the black Rook next. A clever player can use this notion as bait for a trap.
    This is exactly what Black was planning when he played his Archbishop out to f6, still guarding h7 from that post. This is shown with the purple arrows in the animation above.
    White had a Bishop that could attack the black Archbishop once it reached f6, but black saw this, and made his move anyway since he looked further ahead.
    After white played the Bishop to g5, it looks like the Archbishop must retreat back to g8 in order to defend against the forking move on h7. But black plays Ah5! which will allow the fork! Play continues below.
    Even More Advanced Forking: Part 2         Pawns     Bishops     Rooks     Archbishops     Chancellors     Queens     Kings

    White sees that the h7 square is unguarded, and plays the forking move immediately. He captured the Pawn on h7, checks the black King, and will win the Rook on j8 next.
    Black calmly moves the King out of check, making the only move available to him. White is happy. Now he can win the Rook. Right?
    The white Knight takes the black Rook on j8, as shown in the animation above. But, black has a stunning surprise in store.
    The black Archbishop captures the pawn on g3, and checkmates the white King!
    Look closely at the diagram, especially the white Knight on e2. It appears that it can capture the black Archbishop on g3. But, this Knight is pinned!
    The black Bishop "way out of the way" on a6 is pinning the Knight on e2. This Knight cannot move, since otherwise the white King would be in check.
    Black cannot evade the check, move his King to safety, nor capture the piece delivering check. This is checkmate!
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