Rook fork

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A rook fork is a move with a rook that attacks two or more 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 rook forks

Rooks can move very quickly about the board, but usually need a lot of room to become active. Rooks can also attack only up to three pieces at the same time. They are the second most valuable piece, so they win material only if they capture a queen or an unprotected piece. Rook forks therefore are most common in open positions, and/or in the endgame.


White can win material with the rook fork Rc4+, giving check and attacking the bishop on c2 at the same time. Black has to escape with the king, and White can then capture the bishop and has a winning material advantage (5 pawns against 3).

This is the most common type of rook fork, where the rook moves in one direction (horizontally), and the attacked pieces are on opposite sides of the rook in the other direction (vertically).

White can win material with the rook fork Rxf7+, giving check and attacking the knight on f6 at the same time.

Here the attacks are orthogonal to each other. This can happen if the move that delivers the fork also captures a piece that was previously blocking one of the attacks.


On an open board, and in the endgame in general, always look for ways to attack pieces with your rook, especially if they are unprotected.

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