The Art of Forcing Moves

By Premier Chess CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

Beginner students will often capture pieces, without considering why their opponents are allowing them to do so. To the contrary, our 118th Podcast Guest Grandmaster Maxim Dlugy often reminds us how chess is like a duel. If your opponent offers you something, your initial reaction should not be to take it but rather be suspect as to why he is allowing you to have it. One may decide to leave a knight where it can be captured, if it means capturing his opponent’s queen on the next turn. There may also be something more complicated, like a hidden attack.

Even more experienced players will not abide by Dlugy’s guideline. For instance, in the 5th round of the U.S Open 2021, I was playing against an “A”player who I bet in a tournament in Manhattan 3-years ago. When I offered a draw, he almost instantly took it and afterwards told me he felt a little relieved since he was in time pressure and I was 250 points higher rated. However, truth be told, I only offered it because I knew I was losing; when we looked at it together with the engine, Stockfish gave his position +4.9, which equates to almost a rook.

Who knows what would have been the ultimate result if the game continued but he likely would have won. If you want your opponent do something in chess or any other area of life, you must force him to do so. With this in mind, here are the most forcing type of moves, 10 being the highest and 1 being only slightly forcing:

10- Check: absolutely must be dealt with, according to rules of chess (I heard our 126th Podcast Guest Elizabeth Spiegel , when coaching students years back at the Bruce Bowyer Memorial tournament).

9- Threaten Checkmate.

8 – Attack a queen, trade queens, threaten to promote.



5- Attack a rook, trade rooks.


3-Attack a bishop or a knight, trade minor piece.

2-Theaten to make a trade that rips open kingside.

1- Attack a pawn.

While forcing moves are not always good, one should strongly consider every single check, capture and threat. These moves can help you create tactics to lead to winning of material and checkmate. That said, one should not making an attacking move just for the sake of making an attacking move. One should only do one if he looks at the move his opponent will likely respond with and sees he will get some benefit.


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