Forks in Chess
In life, there are forks and there are Chess forks, we’re going to talk about the ladder. A fork in Chess is one of the most powerful tactics you can implement against your opponent. Inversely, they can be one of the most devastating attacks against you if you get caught in one. In this article, we go over what they are, how to spot them, and how to practice them.
What is a Fork in Chess?
In Chess, a fork is declared when a single piece is attacking two or more pieces at the same time. The piece doing the attacking is called the forking piece and the opponents pieces being attacked as called the forked pieces.
For example, the Knight forked the enemy Bishop and Rook—the opponent only has one move before the knight captures either the Bishop or Rook, so the opponent choses to move the Rook to safety.
Note: A Double Attack is not always a Fork, but a Fork is always a Double Attack because a Fork is a type of Double Attack.
If you went over our previous post on the double attack, you learned that a double attack is when a piece or square is being attacked by two different pieces. A fork is the same thing only one piece is attacking two targets at the same time, usually resulting in the opponent choosing which piece they want to keep and which one they will let be captured.
Types of Forks
There are many kinds of forks. We’ll go over how to fork with each piece.
- Queen Fork
- Rook Fork
- Knight Fork
- Bishop Fork
- Pawn Fork
As we have seen in the previous lesson about the double attack, the Queen is one of the most powerful attacking pieces as it is worth ten points, or two Rooks. The Queen is often involved in double attacks and forks. This makes it rather easy to find a square from which the Queen can attack two other pieces by itself.
For more details, there is an entire guide with examples and puzzles about the Queen Fork in Chess.
The Knight is probably the piece that most commonly associated with the fork tactic because it is most often used for a fork. And when it you get forked by an enemy Knight, it hurts bad.
It is easy for the Knight to attack two pieces without being attacked at the same time because of its unique way in which it moves and the amount of squares they can cover in one or two moves.
An example of a Knight fork is given in position below.
The King is in check and has to move enabling the Knight to capture the Rook on the next move.
For more details, visit the guide with examples and puzzles about the Knight Fork in Chess.
Getting double attacked with a Rook fork is rather easy to see but is also often overlooked, simply because it occurs less frequent.
The Rook is a valuable piece, valued at five points above the value of Knights and Bishops. However, the number of possibilities Rooks have for a fork double attack are the same as a Bishop.
For more details, there is an entire guide with examples and puzzles about the Rook Fork in Chess.
In general the attacked pieces have to be more valuable or have to be undefended for a successful double attack. In addition the attacked pieces should not be able to capture the attacking piece unless this is defended and less valuable. Therefor most of the time a Bishop fork is aimed at a combination of the King, a loose Knight, a Rook and the queen if the bishop is protected.
For more details, there is an entire guide with examples and puzzles about the Bishop Fork in Chess.
The Pawn Fork is one of the most powerful forks in the game simply because you’re using the least valuable piece on the board to fork one or even two more valuable pieces. The piece value of a pawn is just one point. The pawn fork can allow you to trade a pawn for a much more valuable piece such as a Bishop or Knight that are worth three points. Also, if your pieces being forked by the pawn are defended, it doesn’t even matter because the pawn is worth less than the forked pieces by default.
Pawn Forks are also one of the most powerful forks because they sneak up on you. Pawns in general, aren’t seen as much of a threat. They move slowly. They lack mobility. They’re ignored in general because you’re too busy worrying about other pieces like the Knight. This is what makes missing the threat of a pawn fork easier than others.
For more details, there is an entire guide with examples and puzzles about the Pawn Fork in Chess.
The last kind of fork in Chess is one that isn’t usually thought of when you’re discussing and even seeing a fork in a game. However, it’s for a good reason because this type is rare in Chess. The position above illustrates a King fork. In fact, this is such a rare fork that it’s not even mentioned in many Chess magazines or books.
For more details, there is an entire guide with examples and puzzles about the King Fork in Chess.
How To Find Potential Forks in Positions
In order to get good at attacking with forks is to practice board awareness and spotting unprotected pieces, just like we mentioned in the double attacks guide. Only for the fork, it’s easier in general to spot opportunities than double attacks overall because a fork is a simple kind of double attack. Forks are made with just one of your pieces, whereas double attacks can involve multiple pieces
Forks in Chess are one of the strongest attacks you can deploy against an opponent. Practice spotting them in positions by increasing your board awareness. If you want a suggestion on which type of fork to start with, we suggest starting with the Queen fork since it’s one of the more powerful forks and then practice the Knight fork.
I hope this guide on the Fork Tactic helped you learn how to fork with any piece on the board. If you liked this post, you may want to learn other Chess Tactics like the Discovered Attack and Interfering.
Other Chess Terms every beginner Chess player should know: