A decoy or deflection typically lure an opponent's piece away from a square. What is it called when you sacrifice in order to lure/force an opponent to a certain square in order to prevent another piece escaping?

Here is a bad example that I've made that shows the idea. The reason it's bad is because the lure isn't actually needed since d8 is already attacked by the black rook.

[FEN "3r1rk1/ppp2ppp/8/2b5/4P1RP/5q2/PPQ5/RN2KN2 b - - 0 1"]

1... Rd1+ 2. Qxd1 Qf2#
  • 2
    For this tactic, the name obstruction is used here. Self-block seems to be a good substitute, only problem is, it is used in different meanings (e.g.: stalemate by self-block). The tactical theme involved is definitely neither attraction/decoy nor deflection. The theme is trapping; only this time, it is trapping the king. May 3, 2021 at 13:03

3 Answers 3


What you are looking for is called "attraction". That is, you attract a piece to a specific square. One of the most famous types of attraction is seen in this example:

 [FEN "r1b2rk1/pp2pp1p/1qp3p1/4Q3/1n1N4/1P6/PBP2PPP/R4RK1 w - - 0 1"]

 1. Qg7+ Kxg7 2. Nf5+ Kg8 3. Nh6#

Here is a nice link with another example.

This is also exactly a deflection since you deflected the queen away from f2. By the way, 1...Bf2 2. Qxf2 Rd1 also the same.

Here are two examples of what Rewan Demontay described as "self-blocking" below. In the first, a study by Nimzovich, it is what I believe the OP is asking for. The other is another type of self-blocking move, but it is not the opponent that forces it. This is more common in some endgame tactics to draw where one side walls the king in so it will be a stalemate.

 [FEN "5rn1/2N1npk1/R7/4P3/8/4P3/Q7/K6R w - - 0 1"]

 1. Rg6+ $3 fxg6 (1... Nxg6 2. Qxf7+ Rxf7 (2... Kxf7 3. Rh7#) 3. Ne6#) 2. Qf7+ $3 Rxf7 (2... Kxf7 3. Rh7#) 3. Ne6#

Here is the other self-block, but for another reason.

 [FEN "8/r6k/3r3p/5p1K/5P2/p6P/Q7/8 w - - 0 0"]

 1. h4 Rd1 2. Qf7+ Rxf7 {Stalemate}
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    Thanks very much. This is very interesting. However, I'm specifically looking at cases where an opponent's piece is lured into a position that prevents another piece (e.g. a king) from using that square
    – stevec
    Jan 18, 2020 at 16:22
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    It still is going to be called attraction, but you are looking for a subset that I do not believe has its own name. Even attraction itself is considered a subset of decoy per the "Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations". It is getting so refined at that point, that no one has bothered to create a separate category. Jan 18, 2020 at 16:26
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    @user5783745 Not that I expect people to start refining combination books that much, but if they did, I would recommend the term "jamming" since "obstruction" is already a term. Jan 18, 2020 at 16:39
  • But if you're moving a piece to a square, you necessarily had that square covered already... well, except in edge cases like pawn promotion.
    – D M
    Jan 18, 2020 at 16:40
  • That second puzzle was amazing, and i've seen quite many.
    – Isac
    Jan 20, 2020 at 18:53

As far as I know, the term for a sacrifice that causes a player to block an escape square called a “selfblock,” altough it is a type of selfblock.

For a composed example, here is one that shows the idea. White sacrifices a pawn on d4 and a rook on e4 and this causes Black to move their pieces to those squares, thus taking away escape squares from the Black king.

[Title "Julio César Infantozzi, Mate In 16 Moves"]
[FEN "R1n2N2/4pk1B/2Q1r2B/2K2b2/Rr1n2P1/1q1P1PP1/4N2b/8 w - - 0 1"]

1. Qe8+ Kxe8 2. Rxc8+ Kf7 3. Bg8+ Kxg8 4. Ng6+ Kh7 5. Rh8+ Kxg6 6. Nf4+ Kf6 7. Rf8+ Ke5 8. Bg7+ Rf6 9. Bxf6+ exf6 10. Re8+ Ne6+ 11. Rxe6+ Qxe6 12. Ng6+ Bxg6  13. f4+ Rxf4 14. gxf4+ Bxf4 15. Re4+ Bxe4 16. d4

You can find more such chess problems here, and there is even a ChessBase article on the subject.

I found a game where this actually occurs, pulled from this chessgames collection.

[Title "Tigran Levonovich Petrosian-Ara Minasian, 66th Armenian Championship, Yerevan Armenia, 3/19/2006"]
[FEN ""]
[startply "56"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Qe2 Ng5 6. Nxg5 Qxg5 7. d4 Qe7 8. dxe5 Nd4 9. Qd3 Qxe5 10. Bd2 Ne6 11. Re1 Qd6 12. Qh3 Be7 13. Bd3 c6 14. Nc3 Qc7 15. f4 g6 16. g4 O-O 17. f5 Ng5 18. Qe3 Bf6 19. Rf1 d5 20. fxg6 d4 21. gxh7+ Kg7 22. Qe1 dxc3 23. Bxc3 Qb6+ 24. Kh1 Bd4 25. Qh4 Ne6 26. Qf6+ Bxf6 27. Bxf6+ Kh6 28. Rf5 Ng7 29. Rh5+ Nxh5 30. g5#

White “sacrifices” their rook to h5 with a check, which in turn causes Black to move their knight there, depriving the king of an escape square, aka a selfblock.

  • 1
    Even if you give it a name, as notyetagm made up, you just showed that the collection of examples is so small, that it really is just a made-up name. When I went looking, I looked at the tables of contents of about 15 general tactics books looking for a grouping that would fit, just in case I missed, or forgot, something. It is a decent naming, but you will still not find it in tactics books. Jan 18, 2020 at 21:13
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    Not including Russian books, I have a digital library of approximately 1900 chess books. In them, the term self-blocking occurs only 8 times. Only twice does it occur in combination type positions. So while it is a general term sometimes used to describe things in chess, it is so rare that it is not a term used to specifically define a specific type of tactic. I am going to add them to my answer above. Jan 18, 2020 at 21:39
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    I am saying that it is just English that adeptly describes what is happening, but it is not common enough to be a pure chess term. Jan 18, 2020 at 22:22
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    @PhishMaster Speaking of Russian books, there is a term for such tactics, namely блокировка (not to be confused with блокада - block), and may be roughly translated as blocking. I admit I never seen it in English chess literature.
    – user58697
    Jan 20, 2020 at 2:34
  • I know that word well. I will search that tomorrow to see if it fits, or if it is also more generally used as a major category that would include this small subset. Jan 20, 2020 at 2:38

In PDB the keyword "Lenkung" in German ("steering" in English) is used for the tactic of White forcing Black to move a unit to a specific square where White wants it to be. "Steering" has wider usage than what the OP seeks. For one thing, this square might or might not be a black king-flight. For another, in some cases the steered unit is Black's king. To narrow a search down to what the OP wants, you could also use PDB's keyword "Remote selfblock".

Here's a case where White does force Black to self-block:

[Title "Manfred Schmidt. Freie Presse (Chemnitz), 15 Jan 1988, no. 2873. Mate in 4"]
[fen "8/p1K4B/k1N5/8/1R6/8/2b5/8 w - - 0 1"]
[StartFlipped "0"]

1. Bg8 Bb3 2. Bc4+ Bxc4 3. Ra4+ Kb5 4. Ra5#

FEN 8/p1K4B/k1N5/8/1R6/8/2b5/8

PDB link

  1. Ra4+ Kb5 2. Ra5 would work, except that Black's bishop guards a4, and Black's king can escape via c4. So White first steers that bishop to c4 where it will block a king-flight.

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