Advanced Patterns: Pin And Win

Advanced Patterns: Pin And Win

| 19 | Strategy

In our last article, we discussed the importance of typical chess patterns using a pin as an example. As you become proficient in recognizing chess patterns, you'll see them everywhere! Suddenly you'll realize that the Morphy's "Opera Game" is not only about quick development and attack, it is an anthem to the pin!

Look at the diagram above: Two pins literally paralyze Black. Morphy took advantage of these pins very efficiently!

The great Paul Morphy.

You will also definitely notice that the famous game where Alekhine introduced his famous gun is all about a pin!

At some point, you will move from basic examples of a pin to more advanced ones:

Then you'll learn that a pin is not just a tactical weapon to win your opponent's pawns and pieces; it is also a very important positional tool that can be used in all parts of the game.


Let's take the Ruy Lopez as an example.

The initial idea of the Spanish priest who allegedly invented the opening was very simple: Black defended his central pawn with his knight, so White wanted to eliminate the knight and win the pawn.

Image result for images ruy lopez chess book

Now that's some ancient opening theory!

Pretty soon it became clear that this basic idea had a major flaw: White cannot win the pawn!

Despite the fact that the original idea of the opening doesn't work, the Ruy Lopez remains one of the most popular openings. Why? The reason is simple: The modern idea of the Ruy Lopez is different.

White knows that sooner or later Black will play d7-d6 to develop the queen's bishop. Once the d7-pawn moves, the knight on c6 will be pinned, and it will severely limit Black's influence on the center.

That can be seen in the classical Steinitz defense of the Ruy Lopez:


In many cases you pin your opponent's pawns and pieces no against strategic squares and areas. For example, in the next game, Black's knight was pinned against the all-important diagonal a1-h8.


Many technical endgames require exact knowledge, and nobody can know and remember everything. In some cases, you can substitute exact knowledge of the position with general knowledge of chess principles. A case in point is the famous Cochrane position.

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Cochrane, master of both gambits and defenses.

When you get really skillful in pins, you'll see even invisible pins! You'll also learn that sometimes you can turn your opponent's pin to your advantage, as we discussed here and here.

But just as any big journey starts with a little first step, learning any chess pattern starts with ability to recognize the pattern! A good description of basic chess patterns for our less advanced readers can be found here. Don't forget to watch the many videos on a wide variety of chess patterns.

And finally practice, practice, practice!  The "tactics by theme" feature in the's Tactics Trainer gives you thousands of examples to test your ability to recognize and execute a tactical pattern!

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