Two Faces of a Pin.

Two Faces of a Pin.‎

GM Gserper
35 | Tactics

When I was a kid, one of my favorite opening set ups was to play 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 (or Nf6) 4. d3 and then jump Bg5 pinning the Nf6.  In many cases I was even able to play Nd5 and then using the pin to play Nxf6 or Bxf6 completely destroying my opponent's King's side pawn structure.  This is how my dream plan looked:

Today, looking at the games of my students, I can see that I was not the only intermediate player who 'invented' this elaborate strategy. If only it was that simple...  Let's look at a classical game where this strategy backfired.

(Just like in most of my articles I give you a chance to test your tactical skills, so the games are given as a Quiz.  Please remember that you can always replay the whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list.")



So, if the pin can be easily broken by pushing the 'h' and 'g' pawns like in the game above, then what's so cool about it?  That's probably what White thought in the next game, where he tried to let Chigorin taste his own medicine.  Let's see what happened there:
The moral of the story is pretty simple.  Even though there could be found many exceptions from any rule, this one will help you to avoid unpleasant surprises. When your opponent has castled already, then in many cases the pin becomes very unpleasant since the standard way to break it with pushing the 'h' and 'g' pawns will make his King very vulnerable. In this case a typical Knight sacrifice for two pawns can be very dangerous.  But if you opponent's King is still in the center, then he can chase away your Bishop with his pawns without much of the risk for his King. He can later castle on the opposite side, or just like in the game Knorre-Chigorin just leave it in the center.  So please always remember the dual nature of pins and turn it to your advantage!
Good luck!
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