Trapped Piece


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A Trapped Piece is either:

  • Any Chess Piece that finds itself either unable to advance on the Board, else it'll be captured ...

  • Or, it's a piece that is currently under attack and, no matter where it goes, it'll definitely be captured. Thus, with nowhere to go, it's Trapped.

With her ultimate power of movement across the Board, the Queen is a particular candidate for Trapping, so you can safely capture the elusive bint.

Just be careful, in your pursuit to get your opponent's prized piece Trapped, that your singlemindedness hasn't led you into a counter-trap, where one of your pieces gets kippered.


Trapped Piece
- Example 1 -

Battle Log - Header Graphic
  1. hxg3 ... Bf6
  2. Rb3 ... Bg4
  3. Reb1 ... Rb7
  4. f3 ... Bh5
  5. g4 ... Bg6

Historical Game:
Seirawan-Mephisto Genius, AEGON Man-vs-Machine Tournament, Den Haag, 1995

It's fair to say, Computer Chess programs have improved considerably, since the early-to-mid 1990s.

Back in those days, with less technical sophistication, certain "quirks" of the programming enabled technically-skilled and alert players to take advantage of their binary-brained opponent.

This is one of those cases, where GM Yasser Seirawan's computer opponent, Mephisto Genius (Black) was unable to recognize/calculate that its selected moves were about to get its own Bishop Trapped ...

Move 1, White's h-file Pawn captures (x) Black's Knight, on g3; Black's processor opts to send its Bishop to f6.

Move 2, White's Rook slides up to b3; Black's other Bishop goes downwards, to g4 ...

That move, by Black, was the start of its Bishop being Trapped ...

Move 3, White's e-file Rook slides left, onto b1; Black's Rook steps forward, onto b7

Another opportunity, missed by Black, that could've avoided what's about to happen to its Bishop ...

Move 4, White's f-file Pawn advances to f3; Black's Bishop retreats to h5.

Move 5, White's g-file Pawn advances to g4; again, Black's Bishop must retreat, this time to g6.

And now Black's Bishop is Trapped ...

While it can move safely, back-and-forth, between the squares g6 and h7, such an option isn't going to help Black's progress in the game.

For as long as White's e and g-file Pawns keep their overall structure, with the d3 Bishop as protection, Mephisto Genius's Trapped Piece will remain, redundant.


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Trapped Piece
- Example 2 -

Battle Log - Header Graphic
  1. Bxf7+ ... Rxf7
  2. Nc4

Historical Game:
Botvinnik-Stepanov, USSR, 1931

This example features a tactical Clearance Sacrifice, by Botvinnik (White), in a move which leaves Stepanov's (Black) Queen totally Trapped ...

Move 1, White's Bishop is sacrificed, by capturing (x) Black's Pawn, on f7 and putting Black's King in "Check" (+); Black's Rook captures (x) White's Bishop, on f7.

Move 2, White's e5 kNight is now able to jump onto the c4 square, recently vacated by his Bishop ...

With the Knight's L-shaped range of movement, Black's Queen is instantly attacked. But, it turns out to be a much more dire situation:

Black's Queen is Trapped ... It's why the sacrifice was such a good move, by White!

You can see, no matter where Black's Queen goes, it will be captured - either by White's Pawns on the 4th Rank; by either of the Bishops; or the Knights.


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Trapped Piece
- Example 3 -

Battle Log - Header Graphic
  1. g3 ... Ncxd4
  2. Nxd4 ... Nxd4
  3. Qxd4 ... Bc5

Move 1, White's g-file Pawn advances to g3; Black's kNight, the one on the c-file, captures (x) White's Knight, on d4.

Move 2, White's kNight retaliates and captures (x) Black's Knight, on d4; Black's remaining kNight captures (x) White's Knight, on d4.

Here comes White's ultimate mistake, which gets his Queen Trapped ...

Move 3, White's Queen captures (x) Black's Knight, on d4; Black's Bishop drops left, down onto c5 ...

White's Queen is well and truly Trapped ... Under attack by Black's Bishop, yet, no matter where she goes, she'll still get captured.


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Beware The Trapped Piece, When Attempting
The Basic Chess Strategy (See Move 15 )
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