Create an Airhole for the King

If you’re at a loss for what move to make, a good little safety measure is to create a little air in front of your castled King. This avoids getting checkmated by a “back rank mate”. Usually this means moving the rook pawn up one square, to create a little safety square for the King at the rook pawns starting square. The same logic applies to castling on both the Kingside and Queenside, although Queenside castling is less susceptible to back rank mates.

Diagram: Not Back Rank Mate!

Note that an air-hole for the King does not always prevent back rank checkmate. The airhole can sometimes be blocked by another enemy piece attacking that safety square.

Diagram: Yes, Back Rank Mate!

Related Chess Tactics

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