Voodoo Pins and Counter Pins

Voodoo Pins and Counter Pins

Jan 4, 2016, 6:10 AM |

"The pin is by far the most frequently used tactical them. It may be defined as an attack on a piece which screens a second piece from attack. The unit attacked in this way is said to be pinned. If attacked with enough force and ingenuity, it can often be won or completely disabled." - Fred Reinfeld

So starts Chapter 1. Pinning from Reinfeld's exceptional book "1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations". This was the first Chess book I ever purchased, and I'd go so far as to say the most valuable to me. The tactical themes from this book are timeless, and one should revisit them again and again till they are second nature.


Such was my shock in a recent game I played on the White side of an Alekhine's Defence. I believe the game is a good illustration of playing against hanging pawns, in provoking one of them to advance and thus weaken the newly created backward pawn as well as create a weak square.


This game also highlights not only the power of a PIN, but also the counterpin that I missed in analysis. It's Voodoo (Pin)!


Missing a Counter Pin



Black has just played 21. ... b5 and I felt this was a critical moment in the game.

I was drawn to the idea of 22. c5 thinking that 22. ... Nxc5 was simply not possible for Black due to 23. Nxc5 dxc5 24. Rd7 forking Black's Queen and Bishop.

But what did I miss in my analysis?


I calculated up to here, believing Black to be lost (hence 22. ... Nxc5 was not possible). However, I missed 24. ... Qc8 pinning my Rook given 25. Rxe7 is not possible due to 25. ... Qxh3 (as White's g-pawn is pinned).

After 25. Rfd1 Qf8 I don't know if I would have been calm enough to assess this position. 

White would have control of the d-file and play against the isolated black e-pawn, however Black can create a Queenside pawn majority. Not clear.


My Game Annotations and Analysis (No Computer used)


Questions I have from this game are:

1. Black deviated from the mainline with 13. ... Nxf3+. Is this advantageous for White because it helps develop White's Queen, whereas White's light squared bishop would be clumsy after 13. ... fxe6 14. Bg4. How does theory view the position after 13. ... fxe6
2. After 14. ... fxe6, my plan for White was to provoke Black's ... e5 which would weaken the d-pawn and the d5 square. Did I implement this the best way possible, and how could my opponent have defended?
3. How should White have continued if Black played 21. ... Nc5. Is 22. Bxc5 best or 22. Nc3 better. What plan should White implement here?
4. I felt a very critical moment was White's 22nd move where I played 22. c5. However, I missed the that 22. ... Nxc5 was possible due to 23. Nxc5 dxc5 24. Rd7 Qc8! (I missed this move). How to assess this position now, and was there a better plan/move than 22. c5
5. How would you assess overall the handling of play against hanging pawns in this game? (I'm not sure if I got the strategic plan implemented the most effective way against best defence).

6. What model games would you recommend in understanding the Alekhine's defence (which I don't have much experience in the main lines for White or Black