Take a look at this position and say the first move (for White) that comes into your head. One glance, 5 seconds max. ChessDoubleAttack

What move did you go for? Did it threaten checkmate? Was it a strong, forcing move that severely limits Black’s possible responses?

Was it Qf6? The familiar mating pattern given by the the “fianchetto” pawn formation, the support of the King on h6 and the Queen’s ability to come to the g7 square make this an appealing move to play. What do you play after Black responds Kf8? We could check him, but that does not gain anything.

This is a simple example of how tempting moves can blind us to stronger moves. We can make a dangerous threat and so we do. However, if we can make 2 (or more) dangerous threats then things become much more difficult for our opponent.

Enter “the MULTI-PURPOSE MOVE” ! A move that has, well, more than one purpose, achieves more than one thing, makes more than one threat.

This idea, also called “the double attack”, is key to finding stronger moves and plans. You will also hear of “the principle of two weaknesses” in chess books.

In the example above, Black’s remaining pieces are loose. A move that could threaten checkmate and one of the pieces would be more difficult to meet (in this case, winning). Examine the position and see if you can find the strongest move for White.

It pays to look for all the weaknesses in the opponent’s position and see how you can exploit them with your moves. They do not have to be as clear cut as this example either.

The multi-purpose could include:

  • attacking one piece and increasing the pressure on a key square
  • the threat to weaken your opponent’s pawn structure and the threat to exchange a weaker minor piece for a stronger one
  • the defence of a pawn and the increase in mobility of one of your pieces

…and anything that will improve your chances in the game. Just remember, with each move, to find the move (or plan) which is the strongest overall – not just in its primary threat, but in the total of its purposes.

2 thoughts on “Chess Tip: The Multi-purpose move”

  • Patrick Degan says :

    My idea is Qe3 to really put the screws on Black here, forcing him to defend against the mate that’s coming with the next move.

  • CFH says :

    I think the best move here is Qe1, with a double attack (taking the loose knight on a5 and checkmating on e8 in the next move)

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