Perpetual Check

Tactics are something most serious players spend a lot of time on when studying, however one of the most useful and overlooked tactical motifs is perpetual check.  Perpetual check is what I would consider an “iron clad” draw because there is no mutual agreement to draw the game, with perpetual check you steal your half point back.  The diagram to the left shows a simple example.  Shuttling the queen back and forth between e8 and h5, white gives checks forever and saves his skin from the back rank mate.

In a recent game on the Free Internet Chess Server (FICS) I found myself down on material, short on time and close to resigning.  The idea that I could somehow swindle a win was gone and my only chance to avoid a loss was to force a draw somehow. In the following game fragment, my opponent was doing a good job of tossing me up.  I desparately try to complicate and hope that he can’t find the best continuation.  After the jump, we see the Theory of Infinite Resistance at work.

After 28. …Rg8 29. Ng3! demonstrates that 26. … Rxg2+ is an unsound sacrifice.  It is important to note that at no point is black winning or even equal.  When a draw is the best you can do, take the half point before it disappers.

Spotting potential perpetual checks, as well as stalemate themes, is something that needs to be in your periphery at all times.  Even though one side is fighting for a draw, perpetual checks often require accurate defense as even a single mistake could result in a mate.  Below I’ll layout out some common motifs and finish with a few examples from gm games.
A couple themes below involving knights.

A couple motifs involving the heavy pieces.

The following game fragments are taken from some grandmaster games.