That said, I start the lesson (as he suggests) with a general discussion of what a threat is: how in real life, a threat is bad ("I'm going to beat you up after school," "I'm going to tell," etc.) but in chess, a threat is great ("I'm going to take your piece") because it gives you a chance to be winning next move. The more threats you make, the more chances you give your opponent to make a mistake, and the more chances you will get an advantage.
In chess, a threat has to be specific, so when I ask "what's the threat?" I am really asking "Where are going going to move next turn?" and you should give me a specific answer, like Qxg7, rather than a vague answer, like "checkmate." For a threat to work in either real life or chess, it has to be something that the other guy is actually scared of. So if I say "I'm going to give you a piece of cake," that isn't a threat, and neither is threatening to play QxP if they can just recapture your queen.
Here's Coakley's position:
He talks about the following threats:
- 1. Be3, threatening to take the black queen.
- 1. Bd6, threatening to win the exchange
- 1. Qg2, threatening Qxg7#
- 1. Qd2, threatening the sacrifice 2. Bxh6
- 1. Be5, threatening to double black's pawns
- 1. Qe3, threatening to trade queens, since white is up material
- 1. Bg5, threatening the queen;
- 1. Qa4, threatening the knight for a second time (a good opportunity to review counting attackers and defenders);
- 1. d4, threatening both to win the e5 pawn, and to play 2. d5, threatening (also winning) the knight (a good opportunity to review pins)
- 1. Ng5, threatening to take on f7 with the queen or knight (ask which threat is more dangerous). This can lead to an interesting discussion about how to follow up after 1...Nh6 or 1...Qd7. (2. f4 is a logical idea, as are 2. a5 and 2. Bc4)
- 1. a5 threatening both 2. a6, winning the knight by attacking the bishop, and to a lesser extent 2. axb6, threatening to make black's queenside pawns into targets.
- 1. Rhd1, threatening 2. Rd8 with backrank mate
- 1. h4, threatening to trap the bishop with 2. h5
- 1. Nd5, threatening a fork with 2. Ne7+
- 1. Rd7, threatening to take on b7.