My readers have heard me mention the craftiness of former World Chess Champion, Dr. Emmanuel Lasker. One of his philosophies of chess strategy was his belief that THREATS ARE THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF ANY ATTACK. The art of attack contains the very acknowledgement that players witness by the very nature of aggressive intent, becomes real with the mounting of threats.
One of Dr. Lasker’s chess principles is that a threat is an intended combination where the attack becomes a danger until the defender prevents or parries the threat. Perhaps a more modern use of our language might shorten it to simply say: a threat is a plot toward exploiting a weakness in the opponent’s position. With regards to the attacker, such aggression can be seen as:
- Threats leading to checkmate;
- Threats to occupy weak squares or use of square count;
- Threats to weaken the Pawn Structure of the opponent;
- Threats to expose one enemy force to be an over-worked unit.
The role of the defence requires careful timing with regards to the nature of the threat. You must assume your opponent is clever enough to envision a planned action that carries with it the threat to wreck your defence by use of a trick or tricks that catch you napping. The rule has to be taking care of the worst scenario–the checkmate threat. The threat of an attacked piece such as Knight attacking the Queen requires immediate attention to avoid a major loss of material. One of the pretty threats given by a Knight is called a ‘fork’ that describes a play where the tactical Knight attacks two or more pieces, squares which, in both cases, can present a fracturing of a position’s defence structure and be viewed from either side. The question becomes one of relative value in meeting attacks. In chess, as in life, one must weigh the consequences and define for yourself whether the disease is more or less dangerous than the cure of a defensive decision. Ultimately, each player faces that old question: Is the threat seemingly greater than its execution?
There are times when one consumes so much time and energy in looking at perceived threats beyond those which are real, the whole board becomes a whirlpool of indecision! That is a danger having nothing to do with the game in play and can be more damaging than the threats that do exist.
I have previously presented many games some that illustrate my current article. I shall endeavor to present more games for this column I write featuring this art of attack and defence as an important study guide to self-improvement.