The back rank is often the subject of many tactics, i was once told that if i spend some time studying back rank tactics then i would be less likely to fall victim to them in the next few weeks. Irronically when i was told this, the three weeks that followed i had a number of wins through back rank tactics, culminating with my game against Ganesh Krishnan where i had an amazing combination ending in mate. This is the game below. i was black. and my opponent made a big blunder on move 24 just to find my mating reply.
So why do so many back rank tactics occur? when someone castles they get thier king out of the centre, behind a barrier of pawns to protect it, but with no pawns on the back rank you need to defend it with a piece, however when your pieces move up to attack or do other things your king can often be left behind. stuck behind his loyal protectors they might not let him escape should he need to.
So that is why these tactics occur so often, but what can we look for to avoid falling for them. one of the most common ideas to do with the back rank is the idea of distraction, no i dont mean destracting your opponents so that they dont see your threat, rather when a piece is defending the back rank you might try to distract that piece from the defence. here are a few examples. send me the answers in the comments area. if your are correct i will leave you comments and leave a comment of my own. the colour dot in the bottom left corner tells you whos move it is. Not all back rank tactics end in mate. but the threat of mate can be a useful way to win matierial.
Hope you enjoy these puzzles.