The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix) Introduces Us To Chess Tactics.

queens gambit game 2 blog image3
Beth triumphs over Mr. Shaibel in game three.

Victory! In game three of the wonderful Netflix miniseries “The Queen’s Gambit”, Beth wins with chess tactics and finally triumphs over Mr. Shaibel.

She has come a long way from her first game where she fell victim to Scholar’s Mate.

Tactics are something every chess player must master. Even if you prefer a positional game there will come a time when you will need to use tactics.

Before you can master something you must understand what it means. This guide will introduce you to chess tactics and show how Beth used them to emerge victorious against Mr. Shaibel.

Anna Taylor Joy who plays the role of Beth in the Nethflix miniseries The Queen's Gambit.
Anna Taylor Joy who plays the role of chess prodigy Beth in the Netflix miniseries
The Queen’s Gambit

Chess tactics include:

  • The Pin
  • The Skewer
  • Control of the file
  • Discovered check
  • X-Ray attack
  • Pawn promotion

Chess tactics in the opening are where a lot of players first learn about them. To avoid falling victim to them early in your game, take a look at these two informative articles on the opening:

In the following example white wins by using a skewer.

You can see how chess tactics can earn you many sensational wins.

The Exciting Tactical Game Three Between Beth and Mr. Shaibel

Here is the amazing position where Beth was able to use devastating chess tactics to win her game.

initial position game three between Beth and Mr. Shaibel in the Netflix miniseries "The Queen's Gambit". Beth uses chess tactics to force a win.
Critical position in game three between Beth and Mr. Shaibel.
Can you spot the tactics forcing a win?

In this stunning position, the knight on e3 is pinned by the bishop on g5 to the king on c1. Whenever you have pinned a piece it’s a clue there are likely tactics in the position.

Beth advances her pawn to f4 while threatening to capture the knight.

After the knight retreats, Beth advances the pawn, unleashes a discovered check and threatens to capture the knight on g2.

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Mr. Shaibel returns the knight to e3 because he has to block the attack on his king but gives Beth another tactical shot. There follows Bxe3 fxe3 and f2.

Now there is no way for white to prevent the pawn from promoting.

These chess tactics work because Beth’s pieces are much better coordinated. In this instance, the rook cuts off the escape of the white king by controlling the d-file.

White’s rook and knight are on the first rank and it’s impossible for white to get the rook into play. Along with the rook on d8, the black pawns help entomb the white king.

Anna Taylor-Joy in "The Queen's Gambit". Chess is a great game for many reasons but attacking with chess attacks is one of the best.
Anna Taylor-Joy in “The Queen’s Gambit”.
Chess is a great game for many reasons and the excitement of chess attacks is one of the best.

Whenever you ask a chess coach how you can improve they will almost always tell you to work on your chess tactics. This would certainly be good advice for everybody, including Mr. Shaibel, to follow.

However, it is the fact Mr. Shaibel is not an all-knowing, unbeatable chess player that helps us enjoy the Netflix miniseries “The Queen’s Gambit”.

In the following video, GM Susan Polgar goes over one of the most common chess tactics: the pin!

Chess Strategy Empowers Chess Tactics

Often, it’s the implementation of a sound chess strategy that allows you to get in a tactical blow. You can easily see that the bad positioning of Mr. Shaibel’s pieces made it impossible for him to conjure up any tactics against Beth.

Strategy in chess is best understood as your overall plan because the strategy you adopt gives your opponent more ways of responding than chess tactics.

Chess tactics are much more restricting and forceful than strategies.

Tactics arise because your pieces are on the best squares for them. There is a good reason people frequently say things like “Place your rooks on the open file.” or “Bishops are strong on an open diagonal.”

Although this seems very logical now it’s easy to forget about these nuggets of wisdom in a game. Of course, the more of these you remember and apply the better you become at chess.

Bill Camp plays the role of custodian Mr. Shaibel in the Netflix miniseries "The Queen's Gambit.
Bill Camp plays the role of Mr. Shaibel in Netflix Miniseries “The Queen’s Gambit”

Gaining more space is a chess strategy rather than a tactic but the two work together. As a result of controlling more space, Beth got great piece mobility which led to a tactical opportunity too.

In this case, the greater space Beth controlled made it easier for her to bring her pieces to join in the attack. She was able to place them on their ideal squares without fear of Mr. Shaibel being able to drive them away.

Power-Up Your Game With Pins

The pin is a particularly powerful chess tactic and there’s the old adage “You must pin it to win it.”

What makes the pin so powerful? The pinned piece is unable to move. For this reason, you have time to bring more pieces to attack it.

Another thing to remember is if a piece is pinned directly against a more valuable piece other pieces can’t step between them to break the pin.

Eventually, your opponent is forced to give up the pinned piece or accept an even greater material loss.

Be very careful not to give your opponent a tactical way of breaking the pin. The usual way of protecting a piece is to place a defender between the pinned pieces.

For example, white often plays Bg5 pinning the f6 knight. This pin is often broken with Be7.

However, it sometimes happens black is given a tactical opportunity to break the pin and win material.

Here is an example of chess tactics from the Queen’s Gambit Declined: Exchange Variation chess opening.

Final Words On Chess Tactics

The growth of Beth as a chess player in the Netflix miniseries “The Queen’s Gambit” is something all chess players can relate to. We were all beginners at one time.

Chess is a rich game with many facets. Thus, it should come as no surprise there is lots to learn about chess tactics. One of the most effective ways is to solve chess puzzles.

Some of the many other tactical themes include a weak back rank, X-ray attacks, the Windmill, and even under promotion of the pawn (when you promote it to a minor piece instead of a queen).

Studying chess tactics not only turns you into a devastating attacking force it also makes you a rock-solid defender against them. You will recognize what tactic your opponent is setting up and counter it.

Also, learn from these instructive articles

Chess Mentor

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