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Jul 12, 2012, 6:37 PM 0

A confession: after a long and thorough analysis I made my move, only to be shocked by the reply. He captured my Rook with check, something I had totally missed. His move was made possible by the pin of my Knight. How could I be so blind?! I had noticed the pin, but failed to see its consequence, ie that my Rook was unprotected. The surprise was a blow to my ego, showing that I was playing at the beginner level.

As we all know, pain is important to learning. Mistakes hurt, so we try to avoid them in future.

Do you have any of these blindspots: 1) Knight forks 2) Bishop skewers 3) Pawn forks 4) pins 5) Bishop and Queen mate on g2/g7 6) intervening checks 7) double attacks? If like me, you sometimes have trouble seeing these or similar manoeuvres, then read on.

I asked myself, what can I do about my blindspot for pins? The first step is to become aware of it. It's like being aware that a car in a certain position is not visible in my rearview mirror. In the motoring case it becomes a habit to check for cars in the blindspot. How can I do the same thing in chess? I can keep reminding myself, "Watch for pins!", but this approach works poorly. I remember for a while, then gradually the precaution fades from awareness.

Missing pins is part of the more general problem of missing the opponent's move. I used to think that the answer to that was to look at every legal response move, but this does not work for me. When I persevere with this, which I rarely do for long, I find that I check the moves so perfunctorily that it does little good. Even if I had considered my opponent's capture, I would have dismissed it out of hand, believing the Rook to be protected.

It's like being given the answer to a difficult chess problem. Quite often even knowing the key move is not enough. I think, How is this move going to work? I may feel as baffled as before. So a mechanical checking of moves approach is at most part of the answer. What is needed is to build the essential skill of pattern recognition to the point where pins and forks are always sought out and accounted for.

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