Endgame Fundamentals: Forcing Moves

By Donny Gray

Forcing moves are moves that limit your opponent’s responses to a very limited amount of moves. If your opponent only has one response to your last move, then that was a very forcing move!  Of course, there are good forcing moves as well as bad.

Forcing moves are usually checks, captures, or mate threats. Of course, just because you have a check does not make it a good forcing move. But it is always a good idea if you have the time on the clock to take a look at your forcing possibilities.

Good forcing moves are not found only in endings, but in the middlegame as well. Many times if you follow the forcing move sequence you will be surprised at what you find. Sometimes if you would just take a look at your forcing moves in various combinations you would win the game easily.

Let’s take a look at some examples.




In our first example, every single move loses except one. It is the forcing move that wins the day!


Very forcing indeed. Black has only one move.

1. … Kb7
followed by

Now white can win the ending with hardly any effort.




In example #2, we have an example of every chess player’s dream position.


Now black only two choices of moves, so this qualifies as being forcing. Unfortunately for black both lose horribly.

1.Nf7+   Rf7
2.Qb8+ Rf8
3.Qf8+  Mate


1.Nf7+   Kg8
2.Nh6+ Kh8
3.Qg8+!! Rg8
4.Nf7+  Mate

All forced moves.




As we saw before, sometimes the forcing move is the only one that wins. Try as you might, without the forcing move you can not win this one as white. With the forcing move it is very simple.


Very forcing. Black has only one legal move. He must take the knight!

1. …  bc

Another forcing move, and this time black might as well resign. It is mate in three now.




Example #4 is a good example of visualizing in chess. Here you may notice that if somehow you could put a rook on a7 it would be mate! How to do that is the problem. If only you could get black’s b pawn to move out of the way you could indeed put a rook on a7. How to do it? Follow the forcing moves!!

1.Nc7+     Ka7 forced
2.Qa6+!! ba forced
3.Na6+   Ka8 forced
4.Ra7+    Mate

After each move black had only one move. His moves were forced.

In our last example, the position looks hopeless for white.  After all, who ever heard of winning with just a lone knight? But, if we take a good look at it and the possible forcing moves, we see a win!! Forcing moves wins yet again.




1.Ng4+ Kh1
2.Kf1!! f3

Here black could have played h2, but that allows 3.Nf2+ mate.

3.Kf2 h2
4.Kf1 f2


Related Posts

Leave a Reply