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The Power Of A Pin

The Power Of A Pin

Gserper
| 66 | Tactics

A pin is probably the most common chess pattern. It is difficult for me to imagine any master game where there would be no pins in the actual game or in the variations that could've happened during the game. Also, it is probably one of the easiest chess tactics to master. Indeed, usually pins are easy to spot and act upon. The general motto here is "pin and win!" Here is a basic example:

Sometimes an unexpected pin can completely change the path of the game. Here is an example from a game played by super grandmasters that made a very strong impression on me when I was just starting chess. It demonstrates very well the humongous power of a pin. It looks like White completely dominates, having his heavy pieces on the seventh rank. In reality, it is Black who is winning. Can you find out why?

The above-mentioned examples are very elementary: you attack a pinned piece and win it. Sometimes it is more complicated than that. You pin your opponent's piece and even though you cannot win it right away, the pin completely paralyzes the opponent. The following classical game is a very good example:

There is a textbook position that you can find in many books for beginners. I think it was composed by GM Siegbert Tarrasch to demonstrate the crushing power of a pin. It looks like this:

While this example is indeed very instructive and White's combination is quite nice, unfortunately,  it is only good enough for a draw. Can you find how Black can easily survive after White starts their combination?

The recently concluded tournament Chessable Masters was a triumph of GM Ding Liren. It cannot be called a huge sensation since the Chinese grandmaster is the world's number two player. That's why a player who made the strongest impression on me in this tournament was undoubtedly GM Praggnanandhaa R. Here is a fragment of his game that I like the most:

Praggnanandhaa sacrificed a minor piece to establish a permanent pin, just like in the textbook position by Tarrasch, except in this case the consequences of the sacrifice are not that obvious. Generally speaking, the h4-d8 diagonal is responsible for a very big chunk of all pins. I remember my own game which helped me to win a tournament and earn my second GM norm:

Of course, my combination is a child's play compared to the one by Pragg. While I immediately won material, his pin just paralyzed Black's pieces, but there was still a lot of play. It was another pin that really decided the game:

I hope that after reading this article, you, my dear readers, will never miss a winning pin in your games!

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