Removing the Defender is a term you’ll hear a lot in Chess because it’s a tactic that you’ll have to do in nearly every game you play.
In addition to the twofold attack and the double attack there are more tactic possibilities to capture a piece. Many times you can win a chess piece by first attacking it and then attacking the defending piece. Removing this guard results in leaving the first chess piece unprotected.
How To Remove a Defender
There are four ways to remove a defender in Chess. We cover all of them below.
You can capture the piece, usually by trading pieces of equal value.
You can attack the piece, threatening to capture it if the piece isn’t moved. If the piece moves, depending on where it could move to, it relinquishes it’s ability to defend the piece it was defending. You’re simply driving away the piece so it’s no longer defending what it was.
You can block the piece with another piece, ideally with a Pawn, a piece of lesser value, so it’s no longer defending the piece it was defending.
Distracting could also called a Decoy in Chess. In example 4 below, you’ll see how you could distract a piece from abandoning it’s defender role of a piece.
Below are four examples of removing the defender. One example for each different method of doing so.
Example 1: Capture
In this example, we see that Black’s f4 Knight can be captured by White’s Rook. But the Knight is defended by White’s Bishop. This is where the tactic, removing the defender comes into play.
If we can remove the defender of the Knight, the Bishop, in a fair exchange, we can then capture Black’s Knight for free and be up an entire piece in material. Do you see how you could remove the Bishop so you could capture the Knight afterward?
Black’s Bishop can be exchanged for White’s Knight at e4. After removing this defender of the Knight at f4, White can capture the Knight after 1.Nxd6 cxd6 with 2.Rxf4.
The defender is eliminated by a capture.
Example 2: Attack
The next diagram is rather similar, but now White is unable to capture the defender, so the next best thing is to attack it, threatening to capture it if the piece doesn’t move.
You can attack the defender and drive it away with 1.c5.
After 1…Be7, the Bishop is no longer defending the Knight and can now be captured safely.
Black didn’t have to move the Bishop after 1. c5 though. After 1.c5 Black could capture the pawn with 1…Bxc5 after which White will capture the Bishop with 2.bxc5. Atleast Black would get a pawn in the exchange instead of capturing nothing.
Example 3: Interference
A third way to eliminate the defender is by interference. In this third diagram, White is able to place a piece between the guard and the guardian by means of 1.d4.
After something like 1…Ra3 White can capture the Knight by 2.Rxe3.
At first sight it looks as if Black will capture Black’s Bishop on the next move, but this is not allowed because 2…Rxb3 meets 3.Re8#.
Example 4: Distracting
The previous diagrams showed some examples of ways to remove the guard.
In the diagram on the left it is rather easy to remove the guard, because the guard is defending two pieces at the same time.
The Queen at e7 is both defending the Knight at f6 as the Bishop at a3.
After 1.Bxf6 Qxf6 White can capture the Bishop: 2.Rxa3.
In this last example, the Queen is not driven away, but attracted to f6. This possibility to remove the guard is called distracting, resulting in a move to another square.
This is an important Chess lesson to learn and to master. If you watch Grandmasters play, you’ll see that they are absolute masters at removing the defender is every way.
To recap, we covered four possibilities to eliminate the defender have been shown: