I'm new to chess and I've found that while certain tactics come relatively easily to me(double fork), certain others are quite harder.

I've been missing out on a lot of opportunities to take advantage of discovered checks. Is there something I should be looking out for? Has anyone else faced a similar difficulty?


A Discovered Check is a "discovered" attack against a King--when a pawn or piece moves aside, to reveal a check by another piece. It's a powerful weapon, because check is given by a piece that does not have to move--and therefore, the piece that does move is free to make other threats, or even captures.

To a certain extent, you will naturally begin to see opportunities for discovered checks as you play more, because they, like all discovered attacks, are all about lines of influence. Tactics practice--all tactics, not just discovered check tactics--will help you begin to visualize these without searching for them specifically. A google search for "chess tactics" produces a decent selection of online tactics trainers.

To look for discovered checks in particular, look for pieces that would be checking the opponent's King, if not for one of your own pieces blocking the way. For example, in the diagram below:

[FEN "r2q1rk1/pp1n1ppp/3p4/2b1p3/3nPPQ1/2NB4/PPP3PP/R1B2RK1 b - - 0 1"]

Black to move.

Black's Bishop on c5 would be checking White's King, if not for the Black Knight on d4. If Black's Knight moves, it will reveal a discovered check. In fact, Black has an opportunity to win material here:

[FEN "r2q1rk1/pp1n1ppp/3p4/2b1p3/3nPPQ1/2NB4/PPP3PP/R1B2RK1 b - - 0 1"]

1...Nxc2+! 2.Kh1 Nxa1

Even though the pawn on c2 is defended by White's Bishop, the Black Knight may take it with impunity, because White must respond to the discovered check. Then Black is free to win a further exchange, Knight for Rook, after White's King runs away.

Pawns can reveal a discovered check as well, and they're sometimes much more dangerous than pieces, since they can effectively threaten anything, and even advancing at all can make them powerful weapons.

In the situation below, material is equal and there's a lot of tension on the board, but White has a devastating discovery that wins instantly...

[FEN "1k4rr/pp1n1pq1/2b2p2/2p1P3/5Q1p/2N2N2/PP3PPP/3R1RK1 w - - 0 0"]


White's pawn will take the Black Queen next turn, with no real repercussions, and he should go on to win with ease (if Black doesn't simply resign on the spot!).

One common pattern is often called a "windmill": where one piece takes advantage of a trapped King by repeatedly alternating between giving check and discovering another check. The position is from a somewhat famous game by a 13-year-old player you might have heard of:

[White "Donald Byrne"]
[Black "Bobby Fischer"]
[FEN "r3r1k1/pp3pbp/1Bp3p1/8/2bP4/Q1n2N2/P4PPP/3R1K1R w - - 0 0"]

1.Kg1 Ne2+ 2.Kf1 Nxd4+ 3.Kg1 Ne2+ 4.Kf1 Nc3+ 5.Kg1 axb6

By the end of the windmill, Black has already gained a Bishop and a pawn, and he will soon pick up the Rook on d1 as well, and go on to win handily.

A common thread in discovered check tactics is long, open lines directed at the enemy King. Because discovered checks are generally delivered from a medium or long distance, an open board and few pawns around the King make them easier to engineer. Look for pieces that could deliver check, if only some other piece or pawn was removed.

If you find a discovered check, look at all the places that the discovering piece could move: can you take free material? Make other threats that your opponent can't answer? Use a windmill to pick up many different objectives? Discovered checks are one of the most versatile threats in the game--when you get used to seeing them, your tactical levels will improve dramatically.

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  • I would say, look for any piece lined up against an opposing king, regardless of what is currently between the two. I.e. even if some opponent's pieces are also currently "in the way", they may move at some point also. As to helping "visualize" the concept (of discovery), this may be even easier to "see", and may reveal other possibilities to your tactical mind as well (e.g. discovered pin). – Jeff Y Dec 20 '15 at 14:36

The Discovered Checks (Attack) is a form of double attack. In these sorts of attacks, typically a stationary piece gives check while the one that moves is free to threatens another piece. Creating a threat that cannot be parried is pretty much the goal of chess. Discovered attacks do exactly this.

They are something you want to get good at spotting. Your opponent will have to spend time to prevent them from happening.

Here are some tactics exercises. Play through them, then search for others.

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Discovered attacks are almost like reverse pins. With a pin your piece prevents or inhibits and opponent's piece from moving by threatening to capture a piece behind it. With a discovered attack, your opponent piece is threatened by moving your piece exposing it to attack from a piece behind it.

Here's what you should look out for:

  1. Any time you can move a piece with a discovered check, you should carefully consider all of those moves. In this case, the piece that moves is likely to be able to move freely without threat of capture. This makes it possible to threaten or capture a valuable piece with perhaps no defense or move in for mate.

  2. Any time you can move a piece and discover an attack on your opponents Queen. If your opponent leaves his queen where it may be attacked by discovery, you may be able to use it to your great advantage to win a piece or trap the queen.

  3. Any time a piece is undefended and subject to a discovered attack. Undefended pieces are always weaker than defended pieces.

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