Chess Tactics Classification on


We will make a brief overview of the classifications of Chess Tactics we use on this site. Every part of this classification will be covered in detail within separate articles.

We won’t be dealing with definitions in this article, but let’s try to explain what we consider as a Chess Tactic.
Chess Tactic is a short-term, forceful, energetic action that limits the number of possible continuations and significantly changes the situation on the chessboard.
Chess Combination is a compound or of Chess Tactics, put together in one ensemble. Very often a few Tactical Elements work together towards the one Tactical Goal, for example Decoy and Double Attack with the aim of Material Advantage.

Five criteria for classification of Tactics on Chess Tactics Online:

  • The Goal of the Tactics
  • Tactical Elements
  • Tactical Motifs
  • Means of Tactical Action (Attack and Defense)
  • Properties of Pieces in Tactics


The Goal of the Tactics

This is the aim of a tactic, the reason why we employ tactical operation, a goal we want to accomplish. Some tactical aims like checkmate are ultimate goals which end the game immediately. Other tactical goals are less definite and include some lesser aims like material advantage. The Goal of the Tactics is the main classification dimension (criteria) for Tactics Puzzles on this website.

The list of tactical goals (aims):


Tactical Elements

Tactical elements effectively define the way we use are pieces. They are connected to geometrical positions of two or more pieces, a function of a piece like defending the piece of the same color or other piece properties like pawn promotion. It is not always easy to define what is Tactical Element and not all authors agree on the final list of the elements. Elements are directly connected to pieces, their movement and their properties. Tactical Elements are also very interwoven with Tactical Motifs.

The list of Tactical Elements we will use on


Tactical Motifs

Tactics begin with motifs. We see something on the chessboard that inspire us for tactical action. That something can be, for example,  weak enemy piece or geometrical position of pieces.

List of Tactical Motifs:

  • Weak square(s)
  • Weak or undefended enemy piece
  • Overloaded enemy piece
  • Own excessive or attacked piece
  • Weak king
  • Geometrical alignment of pieces
  • Line weakness
  • Advanced pawn
  • Function of a piece


Means of Tactical Action

In its simplest form the tactics is all about attack and defense. We employ some forceful moves that give power to our tactics and combinations.

By Means of Tactical Action we consider:

  • Sacrifice
  • Exchange of pieces
  • Check
  • Attack
  • Threat
  • Defense, Covering
  • Moving away
  • Control of the squares


Properties of Pieces in Tactics

Every piece has its own rules of movement and tactical properties. Under this criteria we examine which pieces or groups or pieces take part in tactical operations. We differentiate single piece (pawn, bishop,…) tactics, tandems of pieces (e.g. queen and knight) in tactics and so on. We will see that some pieces are naturally related to particular Tactical Elements or Tactical Motifs, for example only the line piece can provide Pinning, while the knight cannot. Queen and Bishop can easily exploit the weak diagonal, etc.



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