Undermining (also known as removal of the guard, or removing the defender) is a chess tactic in which a defensive piece is captured, leaving one of the opponent's pieces undefended or under-defended. The opponent has the unpalatable choice of recapturing or saving the undefended piece. A possible response is to sacrifice the piece whose defense was undermined before capturing the piece which just took the defender.
|This article uses algebraic notation to describe chess moves.|
Kramnik–Topalov in the seventh round of the 2004 Linares chess tournament reached the diagrammed position with White to play. The black knight on a4 is defended only by the black pawn on b5. White undermined the knight with 1. Bxb5. The game continued 1... Rxb5 2. Rxa4, with a net gain of a pawn for White.
Black may attempt 1...Nxb2??, disposing of the unguarded knight and hoping for 2.Kxb2 Rxb5+ to regain the lost pawn. However, after 2.Rb3 Black loses the knight and cannot take the bishop, leaving White a minor piece ahead instead of only a pawn.
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