Can someone explain the x-ray tactical motif? I have looked at this example, but I still don't understand it fully. If you can provide other examples, that would be great too.


3 Answers 3


Basically, if a defending piece of your opponent has one of your pieces with the same movement "behind" it, then it's not really defending anything, as your piece standing behind also "attacks" what you want to capture through that defending piece of your opponent's.

In the following exampe, the ♞g6 is x-ray-attacked by the ♖b6, through the ♜d6, so once the other rook takes it, it is defended through the black rook by the ♖b6 (and the knight is lost).

[FEN "7k/4p3/1R1r2n1/P7/6R1/8/8/7K w - - 1 1"]

1. Rxg6
  • What is the difference between this and a Skewer?
    – xaisoft
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 16:14
  • You x-ray through your own pieces, whereas you skewer through your opponent's pieces. Good question! Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 17:55
  • So is this comment from chesstempo correct: Note that this is not the same as a skewer as the relative value of the piece being attacked through is irrelevant.
    – xaisoft
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 20:33
  • @xaisoft: It is correct in the sense that there are 2 attack mechanisms with can be called differently with these 2 names. It is incorrect in the sense that people often mix the 2 terms to describe a skewer. The distinction between the two, if you make it, it that in a skewer, your opponent has to move the in-between piece not to lose it, thereby letting you attack the other one, whereas in an x-ray attack, the piece in the middle is genuinely irrelevant. Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 20:47


[Title "your example"]
[fen "4r2k/Bb1n2pp/2q1r3/1R1Qpp2/2P5/5P2/P4KPP/4RB2 w - - 0 1"]

1. Rxb7 Qxb7 2. Qxb7

when R x b7, your Queen on d5 is guarding the rook, even though it doesn't look like it. That's because if Black plays Q (c6) takes b7, your Q (d5) can take it back.

The reason "it doesn't look like it" is because the Black Q on c6 appears to be blocking the way to b7. That is, until the Black Q herself moves to b7. Thus, your Q d5 has "xray" power to b7 through the Black Q on c6.


Basically, an x-ray attack is one where, even if one of your long range piece (queen, bishop, rook) is being blocked by another piece, then you should still look at the squares that your blocked piece can attack through the piece that's blocking it. Here's an example.

[fen "r1Q2b1r/1p1R1pp1/p1b2k2/8/2q2Np1/2P1B2P/PP3P2/2K4R w - - 0 1"]

1. Bd4+ Kg5 2. Rd5+ Qxd5 3. Qxg4+ Kh6 4. Qh4+ Qh5 5. Qxh5++

Here, the queen's power is unleashed on the poor g4 pawn after the rook moves after which his majesty is thrown off the board. Always look out for tricks like this, and the one in the link that you posted in the question. An x-ray attack can be used simultaneously with discovered attack. But the basic idea is that one of your pieces "sees" through another.

  • 3
    I don't agree with the example : you have to move your own rook (with check, and even this way your opponent gets to play a move) for it to "work". Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 20:13
  • 3
    I agree with Nikana, your example sounds more like a discovered attack than an x-ray.
    – Andrew
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 20:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.