All You Need To Know About Chess Knight


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Did you know that even though the chess knight is considered a minor piece on the game board, it is actually one of the most useful chess pieces for attack?

The concept of the chess knight seems unnatural since it moves in an uncanny fashion across the chessboard and can easily be captured by minor rival pieces. However, the chess knight’s ability to hop across the first line of defense and sneak into the opponent’s camp is what makes it such an important asset.

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There are several checkmates that you can deliver based on the chess knight movement. The derivation of various opening strategies also uses the chessboard knight as a critical element in their tactical structure.

Thus, today we will discuss the chess knight in a little more detail and study chess knight openings, the movement of a knight in chess, and even discover an incredible chess knight strategy that you can develop based on popular tactics involving chessboard knight moves.

The chess knight

The chess knight is easily recognizable on the game board as the horse in any language and region of gameplay. The knight on the chessboard was fashioned after the cavalry division in war and the chess game horse moves as a warhorse would.

We will discuss how the knight in chess moves and how it is similar to the war horse but first, let us get to know the chess knight a little better.

There are four chess knights on the game board, two for each player. They occupy the B and G files on the chessboard with the white knight chess occupying B1 and G1 and the black knights occupying B8 and G8.

The knight of chess is the only character that can jump over the heads of other divisions of your troop, including the king. The chess knight has the ability to block an opponent’s piece, deliver a sneaky check on the opponent’s king, and flank multiple pieces that result from an awkward positional tactic.

The knight on the chessboard is a very, very critical element even if it is a minor piece. So, now that you understand the importance of the chess knight, let us take a look at how the chessboard knight moves.

How the knight moves in chess

The knight’s movement is just as peculiar as its appearance. As a representational piece from the cavalry division of war, the chess knight meets the high levels of expectations of the players.

The chessboard knight moves two and a half steps in any direction. This does not imply that after the chess knight movement, it occupies half a square. No, it actually changes its direction after the first two steps and moves to an adjacent square. You can track the movement of knight in chess in an ‘L’ shape.

For instance, the chessboard knight on B1 can move two steps forward, while leaping over the pawn in front to B3 and taking a right to C3 or a left to A3.

The chess knight can also move backward and turn right or left. It can even move two steps horizontally before taking a turn. The unconventional movement of knight in chess is what makes it such a valuable piece.

Now, to consider how the chess knight moves like the cavalry horses in war:

The cavalry horses were used as a means to allow more advanced warriors to overtake the foot soldiers and infantry division and attack enemy lies, preferably with archery and great swordsmanship. The knight in chess can jump across any piece on the chessboard, be it the pawns, bishops, rooks, and even the Queen and king. Additionally, it can penetrate enemy lines even in a closed chess game.

Thus, the chess knight movement resembles the cavalry divisions at war.

The representation of chess knight moves is depicted as N followed by the square to which it moves. If the knight is making a capture, then you add Nx and follow with the square to which it moves.

For instance, to develop the B1 knight, you would use the move Nc3. If there is an opponent’s pawn to be captured on that square, then you play Nxc3.

Forks and Smothered Mates

As we have mentioned, there are several chess strategies that you can implement using the chess knights. The Forks and Smothered chess mates are the most popular ones used by players with either piece color.

The Fork is a chess knight strategy where you threaten two or more of your opponent’s pieces simultaneously with a single chessboard knight. The opponent has two options. Either they can capture your knight if at all possible, or they have to choose one piece to save and one or more sacrificial possibilities. It is an excellent way to weaken the opponent’s defense and attack strategies with a single well-thought-out movement of knight in chess.

Since the knight in chess moves peculiarly, a lot of knight opening chess moves allow the knight to take powerful positions in the center of the game board.

The Smothered mate is a little like the Scholar’s mate or Fool’s mate where the opponent’s king is unable to move away when attacked since it is surrounded by its own pieces. The only difference is, in Smothered mate, the opponent’s pieces are developed but they come together to the king’s rescue when he is constantly under attack.

Thus, taking the chess knight to checkmate the king when he is prepared on all sides to protect himself against rooks, bishops, queen, and pawns, provides a tactical advantage. The king is smothered in his spot when your chess knight approaches with the ultimate move.

Tactics for using your chess knights

There are multiple tactics that you can enforce using the chess knight. While all of them are great, not all of the tactics may be lucrative. Fear not, though. We have the top 5 tactics that you can implement using the knight in chess:

1. Develop your chess knights early on in the game

Your chess knight is an important element, bring it out early onto the battlefield.

Normally, chess games start with a pawn opening move, ideally the C, D, or E pawn on either side. This is crucial since the bishops, rooks, queen, and king, cannot develop unless the pawn that is blocking their path is moved.

In the case of knights, though, that is not the case. Chess knight opening is the fourth-most common opening move in chess. This is simply because the chess knight is not constricted by the pawns.

It is good to bring the knight on the chessboard early to the center. Since the chess knight movements are uncanny, you can take over a major portion of the central chessboard. It also brings you one step closer to castling your king.

2. Bring the knight to the center of the chessboard

The center of the chessboard is where all the action takes place, therefore, your chess knight needs to be in the center in order to block and threaten your opponent’s pieces.

There is a conceptual understanding in chess that if you have control over the center, you can dominate several squares not only in the middle of the chessboard but also subsequent squares on both sides of the players.

Bringing the chess knight to the central positions allows you to make a lot of important squares vulnerable for your opponent. Therefore, you could easily prevent an attack on one or more of your pieces or even provide a double flank for some of them using your chess knight opening moves.

3. Identify the ideal outposts to keep your chessboard knight safe

As beneficial as it is to bring the knight to the center of the chessboard, you also need to consider its safety. We cannot stress enough how important the knight in chess is to gameplay.

You need to find an ideal location for the knight in the center of the chessboard since, while it provides a lot of advantages, it is also the most vulnerable in the center.

Take a look at the possible threats on the squares where you can create an outpost for your chess knight. Ensure that it is not in the direct line of sight of your opponent’s bishops and rooks. The uncanny movement of the knight is what makes it vulnerable since it cannot capture a piece in adjacent and diagonal squares.

Ideally, find an outpost on a file where the opponent’s pawns are hanging one behind the other or with a gap. That way you can block the opponent’s pawns from moving forward with your chessboard knight and since there are no pawns on either side, there are no direct attacks. Just ensure that the knight is not standing diagonally to the opponent’s bishop which may attack it in 2-3 moves. Also ensure that you flank the chess knight for any unprecedented attacks from the rooks, queen, or even the opponent’s knights.

4. Use the paired chessboard knights attack strategy

You may have heard a lot about the paired bishops and rooks. You can do the same with chess knights as well. As individual entities, the cavalry is quite strong but a minor piece. As a pair, the chess knights become major pieces on the chessboard.

Pair your knights together and create double-weakness squares in the center of the chessboard. When moving the knights from this position, make sure that they flank each other so you can advance into the opponent’s territory with both knights in subsequent moves.

You can smother the opponent’s pieces by tactfully playing the chess knights.

5. Use the fork attack strategy to your advantage

Speaking of attacking with the knights, you can also implement the fork approach to threaten and capture your opponent’s pieces.

Take a look at the chessboard and identify possible squares where playing your chess knight strategy would challenge more than one of the opponent’s pieces. Make sure to flank this knight adequately with multiple pieces too.

Using the forking chess knight strategy will allow you to capture at least one of the opponent’s major pieces, thus weakening their defense and attack strategy.

Using these simple chess knight tactics you can strengthen your own attack and defense strategies while ripping apart the opponent’s existing strategy. Thus, you should never attempt to sacrifice your chess knights during the early stages of gameplay.

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