In chess composition, a motif is basic element of a move in the consideration why the piece moves and how it supports the fulfillment of a stipulation. Any move may and often does contain multiple motifs. Some composition schools put specific emphasis on motivation in chess problems, especially strategical school and Slovak school.
A composition where a maximum number of a certain motif occurrences is shown is called a task, even if the term task is more general.
Classification of motifs
Motifs may be classified according to various viewpoints. In the usual twomovers they might be:
- positive - those working towards the accomplishment of the stipulation
- attacking - positive motifs of white moves
- weakening - negative motifs of white moves
- negative - those tending to hinder the accomplishment of the stipulation
- defensive - negative motifs of black moves
- harmful - positive motifs of black moves
Similar classification is valid for all directmates, selfmates, reflexmates and other problems with antagonistic aims of sides, while for helpmates and other help-problems only positive/negative level is applicable.
Contents of motifs
The basic orthodox motifs are:
- preventing the move of other unit (includes taking of a flight of the king)
- allowing the move of other unit (includes creating of a flight of the king)
- guarding of some square or line
- unguarding of some square or line
- attacking of king (checking)
In fairy chess some other motifs are possible.
Forms of motifs
Any of the above-listed motifs may be presented in various forms. In orthodox chess problems these forms include:
- capture (prevents move of captured unit, allows move of king to square previously guarded by captured piece)
- line opening (allows move of pieces along opened line, guards square on the opened line, checks by opening the line)
- line closing (prevents move of pieces along closed line, unguards square on the closed line, removes checks by closing the line)
- blocking (prevents move of the king or any other piece to the blocked square)
- unblocking (allows move of the king or any other piece to the unblocked square)
- pinning (prevents move of pinned piece, unguards square previously guarded by pinned piece)
- unpinning (allows move by the unpinned piece, guards square by unpinned piece)
In the fairy chess, other forms of motifs are possible, e.g. allowing the move by a grasshopper by providing the hurdle or allowing the capture by a piece by patrolling in Patrol chess.
While studies also may contain problem motifs, they often contain usual tactical motifs.