A combination is a sequence of moves which leads to the capture of material or even checkmate. Sometimes you may sacrifice one of your own MPs/mps during the sequence of moves. A series of moves which achieve a specific task, often involving a sacrifice. A forcing sequence of moves with an advantageous goal, often involving the sacrifice of material. Your MPs/mps are like a fleet of warships and as such must not be exposed to danger. For example, while several of your opponents MPs (KTs and BSs) are still on the board, it is usually a mistake to bring QU1 or RO1 and RO2 into the open. A planned set of moves which are designed to force particular responses from your opponent, and lead h/er into an undesirable board position. A sequence of moves whose underlying purpose may be a checkmate attack, a positional advantage or the capture of mps or MPs. The series of moves usually has a surprise element. An unguarded mp, MP or even the KI can be the target/objective. The ability to be able to see three or more moves ahead is an essential attribute to possess if you are to be able to play a combination. An essential feature of some combinations is the ‘sacrifice’. French: combination - la combinaison.
A forcing sequence involving threats (of capture, check and/or mate), probably involving a sacrifice. There are examples in the Tactics and Attacking [link] sections of the Canon. Any long series of moves that the average player cannot understand! A sequence of moves involving a sacrifice played in order to gain a specific advantage, usually to win material or to force checkmate, sometimes to force a draw from an inferior position. A series of moves which, unless the player has miscalculated, will force an immediate win or an overwhelming advantage. A combination sometimes starts with a sacrifice of material. A sacrifice and forced sequence of moves to gain a certain advantage.
‘You can’t say civilization don’t advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way’.
English: Combination. French: Combinaison. German: Kombination.
Italian: Combinazione. Spanish: Combinacion.
Combinations fall into four general areas
01 Drawn combination (turning a lost game into a draw).
02 Checkmate attack combination (attacking the KI with more than one MP and/or mp).
03 MP and/or mp capture combination (often used to checkmate your opponents KI).
04 Positional combination (moving your MPs/mps into better positions).
A move in chess falls into one of three main areas
06 A tactical move (:tc) ie, usually a threatening move/moves, which your adversary must reply to immediately.
A Moving a MP/mp to a cell that blocks (:bl) one of your opponents MPs/mps.
B Moving a MP/mp to a cell that decoys (:dy) one of your opponents MPs/mps.
D Moving a RO so that a diagonal can be of use to your BS or QU1.
E Sacrificing (:sa) one of your MPs/mps so that a more effective MP can recapture on the same cell.
F Vacating a cell (:vc) so that a more effective MP/mp can occupy the same cell.
07 Strategical moves ie, moving your MPs/mps into good positions.
A Checkmate combination consists of three parts
08 The checkmating pattern, which has to be seen.
09 The checkmating path which has to be found.
10 The obstacles which have to be recognized and removed. At times you will think you have every possibility covered, only to find to your cost differently.
How to proceed
11 Make exchanges when they lead to material gain.
12 Exchange MPs not mps when you have material advantage.
13 Exchange mps but not MPs when you have material disadvantage.
14 Exchange when you are under severe attack.
15 How many MPs/mps are left on the board.
16 How few MPs/mps does your opponent have.
17 How many mps remain.
18 Does your opponent have h/er MPs/mps spread or bunched.
19 Try to visualize the final position involved in the combination.
20 Identify the MPs/mps involved in the combination.
21 Start at the end of the sequence of moves and work backwards in your mind.
22 Move your MPs/mps in the right order for the combination to be successful.
The paragraphs below go into the finer details
1 Combinations. 2 The
heart of chess. 3 Three acts. 4 To embark on a combination. 5 Exchanges. 6 The
player with the advantage. 7 To reduce the force of an attack. 8 To win. 9 A
checkmating attack. 10 Level-1, 8 x 8 board. 11 Annotators comments. 12
Smothered checkmate. 13 Philidor's Legacy, ++SM. 14 ++SM. 15 BS sacrifice. 16
Double-Check (+DO). 17 Double RO sacrifice. 18 KI hunt. 19 Weak cells. 20 ++SM.
21 En Prise. 22 Diversionary Sacrifice. 23 Desperado mp. 24 Desperado mp. 25 KT
fork. 26 PA fork. 27 Pin on the KI. 28 Pin on the KI. 29 :pn-KI+
The combinations that arise during a game are of two basically different types. Some are based on devices which have already occurred in other games and you can easily see the possibility of a combination because you already know a device of the same type. There is no doubt, for example, that smothered checkmate (++SM) was for several centuries held to be a small miracle of combinational play. Today, however, this device is so well understood that overlooking a smothered checkmate is considered a rarity, a bad error. Incidentally, this also goes for other typical combinations ie, a BS sacrifice at H07 or, F07.
Game winning combinations are born from good positions: “By my good position I am deposited - as all good chess players like to be - in the right place at the right time”.
The ‘Immortal Game’ is an example of a combination but, I do not wish to concern you with a detailed analysis of the ‘Immortal game’, nor for the moment with the question of how Anderssen got the idea in the game to sacrifice RO1 and RO2 so daringly. We are chiefly interested in the fact that as soon as this sacrificial combination had seen the light of day similar ones occurred in a whole series of other games. Surpisingly, it is not even necessary to have a GM classification to discover a combination which in the 19th century was regarded as a miraculous product of creative play. The decisive factor is knowing the ‘device’ which has occurred repeatedly since then. The only problem in executing combinations containing well-known devices is therefore the accurate calculation of specific variations. The knowledge of the typical devices thus leads directly to the discovery of a combination during the game.
What is a combination?
A combination is a number of moves played so that you gain an advantage or, neutralize a disadvantage. The total number of moves can be anywhere from 1 to over 10 during actual play. Some players are afraid to get involved in situations where they have to look 3 or 4 moves ahead or, are nervous unless they are definitely sure that this series of 3 or 4 moves is guaranteed to bring success. Combinations fall into four areas…
01 Drawn combination (turning a lost game into a draw)
02 Checkmate attack combination (attacking the KI with more than one MP/mp)
03 MP and/or mp capture combination (often used to checkmate your opponents KI)
04 Positional combination (moving your MPs/mps into better positions)
02 Combinations are at the heart of chess
It is not always true to say the shorter the game the worse the mistakes. Sometimes the opposite is the case. Is it not more pleasant when playing chess to give and win rather than to take and win. What do you do when you have the chance of gaining either a MP or mp? There is no question, naturally, you take the MP. But this is not always the right thing to do. Combinations are the heart of chess. A combination is a series of plays, worked out in advance, in which several moves are forced on your opponent, who has no choice in the matter, and which leads to the defenders loss of material or checkmate. These combinations incur the sacrifice of MPs/mps by the attacker and the defender does not realize that the end is closing in. Mature players are proficient in their use of the combination and it is of course one of the essential ingredients in any mature players arsenal.
To play a combination you have to be able to see ahead, to plan several moves in advance and be able to sacrifice MPs/mps for the purpose of winning the contest. This is the attribute that separates the mature player from the average chess player. Combinations do not lend themselves to systematic exposition because of their variety and their unwillingness to follow certain rules. I have therefore restricted myself to stimulating the imagination of the chess player and to guiding you along certain paths in the examples given in this section. But you must do your own thinking.
03 Three acts
The fascinating field of combinations, so important for the study and conduct of the middle game, has been all to rarely explored in the literature. It is such an obtruce subject to explore and explain that, despite its great interest, even the greatest aficionados have only lightly touched upon it. It’s exposition demands a special type of mind, a mind that can see clearly into all the profundities of the complex middle game and portray all kinds of original aspects during its execution. A combination can show fresh shades of colour. Chess at its simplest is a drama in three acts - opening, middle game and endgame. With experience you should be able to spot a checkmate by two MPs and/or mps. You should always leave a bolt-hole for your KI to escape. A checkmate combination consists generally of three parts…
01 The checkmating pattern, which has to be seen
02 The checkmating path which has to be found
03 The obstacles which have to be recognized and removed. At times you will think you have every possibility covered, only to find to your cost differently.
04 To embark on a combination
Once in a while you will successfully pull off a lengthy combination involving a simple set of moves. Anyone who is incapable of taking advantage of the great power of the mps will not aspire to be a mature player. Sometimes as a result of a sacrifice the KI is often enticed out of his castled refuge and has to set out on a longish or shortish journey. There is no need to add that this can often have fatal consequences in the middle game as it is almost impossible to provide protection for His Majesty once he is on his travels.
The basis of every combination is the ability to recognize the checkmating patterns, which are always fundamentally identical. In an endgame involving the MPs an active position is all important. Like a virtuoso musician the chess artist must be able to play h/er instrument and introduce the acciaccatura and the glaciando to add to the overall performance. Your mastery is measured by the refinement of your playing. The logician will insist on attacking only when clearly recognizable weaknesses exist in the opposing camp. Even a won game must first be won but, this is only rarely achieved by the final blow. In chess, tactics and technique must work together. It is difficult to think of the one without the other. The remote :pa-mp (passed) is a dangerous weapon at any stage of the game and in the middle game provides the springboard for many combinations. To embark on a combination you must be able to visualize in your mind the final position before commencing a series of moves.
Once a strategic plan has been determined, the means by which this plan is to be executed is a question of tactics. Tactics is the method of executing a strategic plan by a series of specific moves. It entails calculating the moves required to attain the objective, taking into consideration the reasonable replies of your opponent. One of the specific types of tactical play is the combination, which is a short part of the game, within which a certain purpose is attained by force. Its sequence of moves forms a logical chain and cannot be divided up. When looked at one by one, the moves may seem purposeless or even mistaken, yet together they form a combination. After a series of moves incomprehensible by themselves, the solution suddenly follows, and their real purpose sees the light of day.
Combinations are the heart of chess. A combination is a series of plays, worked out in advance, in which several moves are forced on your opponent, who has no choice in the matter, and which leads to the loss of material or checkmate. These combinations incur the sacrifice of MPs/mps by the attacker and the defender does not realize that the end is closing in. Mature players are proficient in their use of the combination as it is one of the essential ingredients in a mature players arsenal. To play the combination you have to be able to see ahead, to plan several moves in advance and be able to sacrifice MPs/mps for the purpose of winning the contest. This is the attribute that separates the mature player from the average chess player.
You can often ‘force’ a number of exchanges in order to capture prisoners or alternately to bring about a won ending. In all games of chess progress is made in this manner right up to the very end of battle. Exchanges made to effect a polished endgame without thought of immediate gain in material are the key to success in your campaigns. It pays to keep an open mind in all situations on the chess board. As the attacker try to retain the initiative and as a defender try to wrestle the initiative into your own court.
01 Make exchanges when they lead to material gain
02 Exchange MPs not mps when you have material advantage
03 Exchange mps but not MPs when you have material disadvantage
04 Exchange when you are under severe attack
06 The player with the advantage
The reasons for 02 and 03 are as follows: the fewer MPs/mps on the board, the more difference an extra MP/mp makes. You may hardly notice an extra KT with many MPs on the board, but if you have a KT and mps and your opponent just mps, you can easily capture your adversary’s mps, promote your own, and win. However, if you have a KT only and no mps, you cannot win, as this is insufficient material to checkmate. The player with the advantage should therefore try to exchange MPs, while the opponent should aim to exchange mps.
07 To reduce the force of an attack
When you are on the defensive, especially when you have little room for manoeuvring, exchanges will often reduce the force of the attack and give you room to breathe, hence 04 above. In addition there may be special circumstances ie, getting rid of an important defender when you are yourself attacking - where exchanges pay. What you must not do is to exchange because you are afraid of a complicated position. Practice in such positions will improve your play more than anything else. You will find that a stronger player will beat you even if you do try to make things easier by exchange. So you might as well play a game with some interest in it!
08 To win
Victory is an inexhaustible topic. Does it mean that chess is a game of chance? No - the blame must be laid on human inadequacy. You should never make the same mistake twice - it is better to make a new one! Stalemate as victory is a contradiction in terms, surely, yet there are times when a stalemate seems like a gift from heaven and you are as pleased about it as if you had won. A player is always learning, but can it be said that you get anywhere? Certainly, but you never attain the goal of perfection. The study of chess is a sort of labor of Hercules, which always has to begin again at the beginning. When you meet with misfortune you must not despair.
Sometimes you may be justified in accepting considerable exposure of your MPs/mps in an effort to create a blockade. Brain-to-brain combat of championship calibre is difficult to attain. Chess is warfare on a grand scale. The manoeuvre that is basic to chess is capture and calls for attack which in turn provokes responses in the form of counter attack and capture. At all levels of play it becomes a matter of who is firing at whom in a given area and this is repeated everywhere on the board - a complex pattern of intermingled cells and MPs/mps. Time is a vital factor as indeed one might expect in an occidental game. Early plays are usually swift, there being a call to hurry into battle. Chess is essentially a struggle for new cells and their occupants - a fight to build a strong defense while keeping the enemy MPs/mps weak so that they are bound to be defensive. We can summarize the decisive factors involved in the combination as follows…
01 How many MPs/mps are left on the board.
02 How few MPs/mps does your opponent have.
03 Does your opponent have his MPs/mps spread or bunched.
09 A checkmating attack
A checkmating attack can be brought about by…
1. ++SM (smothered checkmate),
2. A back rank (++BR: usually with two ROs or QU and RO),
3. Hunting the opponents KI,
4. Sacrificing one of your BSs,
5. +DO (double check) and +DC (discovered check),
6. Sacrificing RO1 and RO2, sacrificing BS1 and BS2, and lastly,
7. By attacking a cell that is protected only by your opponents KI.
Positional combinations can be brought about by…
01 Placing RO1 and RO2 on rank-7,
02 Controlling the center of the board (B$A),
03 Creating a :pa-mp (passed),
04 Exchanging QUs at the right moment,
05 Smashing your opponents mp position,
06 Capturing BS1 and BS2,
07 Capturing KT1 and KT2, and lastly,
08 Reducing the position into a won endgame.
Capturing MPs/mps (gaining material) can be brought about by…
01 A KT :fk (fork), pinning MPs/mps,
02 capturing en prise MPs/mps,
03 Using the :sk (skewer) and other types of :fk (fork),
04 Overworking an opponents MP/mp,
05 Sacrificing one of your own MPs/mps (the desperado, :dy),
06 Promoting a mp and finally,
07 Setting-up a discovered attack.
What you should do…
01 Try to visualise the final position involved in the combination.
02 Identify the MPs/mps involved in the combination.
03 Start at the end of the sequence of moves and work backwards in your mind.
04 Move your MPs/mps in the right order for the combination to be successful.
10 Level-1 ISP (8 x 8 board)
On Level-1 :A has 20 possible moves that can be made from the ISP (moving each mp either one or two cells forward or, moving KT1 or KT2). In practice you will find that there are only 7 realistic moves from the initial starting position (ISP)…
11 Annotators Comments
To play a game of chess you need to know the main elements that make up the moves of a game. Some commentators comments are as follows: Please see 'Index by Category' for a complete list.
01 Fork :fk
02 Pin :pn
03 Doubled mps :do-mps, :do-PAs
04 Tripled mps :tr-mps, :tr-PAs
05 Open file :of
06 Open diagonal :od
open file :
08 Half open diagonal :hod
09 Skewer :sk
10 Forced sequence :fs
11 Forced capture :fc
12 Double attack :da
13 Masked attack :ma
14 Intermezzo :imz
15 Turning point :tp
16 Central control :cc
17 Recapture :rc
18 Bad Bishop :bd-BS
19 Threat :th
20 Counter threat :ct
21 Locked MP :lo-MP
22 Locked mp :lo-mp, :lo-PA
23 Connected Rooks :co-ROs
24 Disconnected ROs :di-ROs
25 Weakened KI-side :we-KI
26 Weakened QU-side :we-QU
27 Expansion KI-side :ex-KI
28 Expansion QU-side :ex-QU
29 Trapped MP :td-MP
30 Trapped mp :td-mp
31 Blockade :bl
32 Sacrifice :sa
33 Unguarded :ug
34 A (d)ead (d)raw :dd (nothing that either player can do to avert a ++DR).
35 A (b)alanced (p)osition :bp
36 A (c)omplicated (p)osition :cp
37 :A has a (s)light (a)dvantage :sa
38 :A has a decisive advantage :da
39 A (c)ertain (w)in for :cw
40 A (d)ifficult (p)osition for :dp
41 An inaccurate move - (w)eakens the (p)osition :wp
42 :A (s)trengthens the (p)osition :sp
43 A (mi)stake :mi
44 A (bl)under :bl
45 A (s)trong (m)ove :sm
46 A very strong or (b)rilliant (m)ove :vs
47 A brilliant but (u)nsound (m)ove :bum
48 Best move :bm
49 Best move in difficult circumstances :bmdc
50 A safe move :sm
51 :A should (p)ress (h)ome the (a)dvantage :pha
52 :B should (p)lay for (t)ime :pt
40 ++WN, ++DR, ++LS
You will also have to consider what you want from a game. Do you have to win or draw? Maybe your sole ambition is to have an interesting contest and the result is of secondary importance. In a team game the ambitions of an individual may be subordinated by the overall team requirement. Emotional issues will also influence a player. Health, tiredness, mood and so on will also have their effect. An amalagram of all these factors affect a player when s/he sits down to play. The human mind can overcome many handicaps - but not always. What is important is to avoid incompatible objectives such as deliberately provoking a complex game when tired, when a draw is sufficient!
41 To gain material
What kind of situations can a player expect to force the gain of material against any defense? Basically, there are only two types of manoeuvre that can accomplish this. The first is an attack on more than one MP and/or mp at a time or, by the 'double attack' (a :fk by two MPs). The second is an attack on an immobile target with more MPs/mps than your opponent can muster for defense. How your MPs/mps cooperate with each other to achieve these objectives is explained elsewhere in the text. Their study is an indispensible preperation for the higher levels of chess, which deal with the proper conduct of the opening, middle game and endgame - the three distinct subjects with which you must acquaint yourself before you can play an intelligent game of chess.
42 Skill and ingenuity
Sometimes the chess players fancy takes h/er along unusual paths. In a game of chess you must be active and not subscribe to the fatalistic principle of allowing yourself to be surprised. The player who decides what is going to happen is the one who sees one move farther than the opponent. The harder matched, the greater the victory! The finest games of chess are those which are contested on both sides with skill and ingenuity and where the final victory goes to the player who holds the remaining ace move. In this game where both sides are actively fighting the 'zwischenzug' and 'intermediate' check are used in an original way. A MP or mp suffers an absolute pin only when the MP/mp protected is the KI. All other types of pin are more or less relative and can at any time lose their effectiveness as a result of tactical measures. Every situation on the board requires handling differently.
You should endeavor to block every escape of your opponent, but you should avoid opening the window to your opponent and making your own escape impossible. The occassional mistake makes excellence bearable. Everyone can on occasions suffer from chess blindness, sometimes caused by time trouble, poor physical health, tiredness and temperature. These can all be contributory factors, but what would chess be without silly mistakes!
:Level-1, Smothered checkmate (++SM)
01 A checkmate by a KT (the KI being locked by MPs/mps of either :A or :B).
02 Smothered checkmate can only be achieved by KT1 or KT2 (Level-1).
03 Burke: to murder by smothering.
RO2 KT2 BS2 QU1 -KI BS1 KT1 RO1 Rank-8
PA8 PA7 PA6 PA5 PA4 PA3 PA2 PA1 Rank-7
PA1 PA2 PA3 PA4 PA5 PA6 PA7 PA8 Rank-2
RO1 KT1 BS1 QU1 -KI BS2 KT2 RO2 Rank-1
Set-up the ISP for Level-1 and play through the moves as shown below
A-PA5 cannot capture B-KT1 because B-QU1 would give +CH to B-KI
01A PA4-D02/D04 PA4-C03/A01
01B KT1-G08/F06 KT1-D16/B08
02A PA3-C02/C04 PA3-C02/B12
02B PA4-E07/E05 PA4-C13/A03
03A PA4-D04*E05-PA4 PA4-A01*A03-PA4
03B KT1-F06/G04 KT1-B07/C08
04A BS1-C01/F04 BS1-D03/B05
04B BS1-G01/B04+CH BS1-D17/C19+CH
05A KT1-B01/D02 KT1-D02/C03
05B KT2-B08/C06 KT2-D21/B10
06A KT2-G01/F03 KT2-D07/B04
06B QU1-D08/E07 QU1-D19/C13
07A PA1-A02/A03 PA1-D28/D27
07B KT1-G04*E05-PA4 KT1-C08*A03-PA4
08A PA1-A03*B04-BS1 PA1-D27/C19-BS1
08B KT1-E05/D03++SM KT1-A03/B02++SM
++LS for :A ++SM (++WN for :B)
Set-up the ISP for Level-1 and play through the moves as shown above
A-PA5 cannot capture B-KT1 because B-QU1 would give +CH to B-KI
good and many bad ideas that occurred in my games.
They may be not very brilliant, but were instructive, at least to me