10 September 2015

Glossary of Tactics: Skewer

When two pieces are on the same rank, file, or diagonal, they may be attacked by a pin or skewer. A skewer is a pin in reverse. The stronger or more vital piece stands in front of another target. When it moves to safety, the piece behind it is captured.

White to move

This position arose in Gioachino Greco's model games after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Qf6?! 3.Bc4 Qg6 4.O-O Qxe4 5.Bxf7+ Ke7.

After the alternative, 5...Kxf7, White wins the queen with a fork.

The key move is 6.Re1, attacking the queen and pawn along the e-file. After 6...Qf4 7.Rxe5+ captures the pawn with check.

One of Greco's studies concluded quickly with 7...Kd8 8.Re8#.

Hence, 7...Kxf7 is obligatory. Greco shows that even here, the king's vulnerability is fatal.


White supports the rook and attacks the queen via discovery.

8...Qf6 9.Ng5+ Kg6 10.Qd3+ Kh5 11.g4+ and checkmate next move.

The term skewer also applies when the two targets along a line, such as when two rooks are vulnerable to attack by a bishop.

White to move

White played Bc6, winning the exchange.

The term skewer appears to have entered the vocabulary of chess players in the late 1930s in Liverpool, England. There, Edgar Pennell, who was not a particularly strong chess player proved that his teaching methods were effective in training a group of school boys to be much stronger than he was. Edward Winter has an informative history of Pennell work and chess terminology in his Chess Notes article, "The Chess Skewer" (updated 26 October 2014).

No comments:

Post a Comment