Forks and Skewers

This is a mini-game to practice the most common tactics: forks and skewers. It is popular with children starting out.


The bishops have the first move. You win by capturing one of your opponent’s pieces. This game is a draw with best play but in practice mistakes are made.
A fork is when a piece attacks two other pieces simultaneously.
Bishop Fork


Rook Fork


A skewer arises when the attacked piece is on the same line of attack as one of its colleagues. Only the first in the line is attacked but if it moves out of the way, then its colleague can be captured.
Bishop Skewer


Rook Skewer


From the starting position it is possible for the rooks to go wrong.
Opening Move


In the above diagram, the rook on h8 is under attack. Where to go?
Rh1?


Black has made a serious error (marked by the “?”). White can now fork the two rooks.
Forking two rooks with a bishop


Both of Black’s rooks are under attack and only one can be saved. White wins because it is the first to capture an opponent’s piece.

Variation

Modify the winning condition so that for the rooks to win, they need to capture a bishop safely i.e. without a rook being immediately recaptured. This rule compensates for the fact that the rooks are stronger pieces than the bishops.

Exploration

Playing this game with clocks has a significant effect on performance. Normally the game should be drawn. However, if the players are under time pressure then one of them will inevitably make a mistake.

Credit:Tim Kett