Pawn fork

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A pawn fork is a move with a pawn that attacks two pieces at the same time.

About forks

Forks are the most common tactics that win material. With a fork you make a move with one of your pieces. After the move, this piece is attacking two (or more) of your opponent''s pieces at the same time. Very often, your opponent won''t be able to defend against both threats with the next move, and you can capture one of the attacked pieces.

When you start learning forks, you have to look at all possible moves to determine which pieces are going to be attacked by that move. With more and more practice, you will be able to quickly see which attacking moves are possible, and you will spot many forks immediately and without effort. Some forks can be more difficult to see, if they involve the whole board, diagonal backward moves or attacks, or in complicated positions where a lot of moves and attacks are possible. If there are any unprotected pieces, forks (as well as some other tactics and combinations) are much more likely. Therefore, it is always a good idea to look for unprotected pieces and any way to attack those.

About pawn forks

Pawn forks don't happen often, because pawns can only move in one direction, and very slowly at that. They also can only attack no more than two pieces at the same time. However, pawns are the least valuable piece, so any pawn attacks on a piece other than a pawn always threatens to win material.


Black can win material with the pawn fork d4, attacking the rook on e3 and the knight on c3 at the same time. After White moves the more valuable rook to a safe square, Black can capture the knight and has a winning material advantage.

Black can win material with the pawn fork e4, attacking the knight on f3 and the queen on d3 at the same time.

Instead of e4, Black might try a knight fork with Nb2, attacking the rook on d1 and the queen on d3 at the same time. White could however defend against that with the intermediate check Qd6+ and a subsequent rook move. e4 is therefore the only winning move - note that the intermediate check on Qd6+ is not a good option with the knight on c4 protecting that square.


Pawn forks are usually easy to visualize because of the limited moves available to pawns.

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