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Champion Tactics with GM Wolff - Pins and Skewers

GM Patrick Wolff Kiwango cha Wastani: 1515 Mbinu

Pins and skewers are two ways that the "long-range" pieces (the bishop, the rook, and the queen) can attack two or more pieces simultaneously along the same rank, file, or diagonal. This is another basic tactical tool that is easy to understand and critical to master. When you can clearly see in your mind's eye all the potential for using pins and skewers, you will discover that your "long-range" pieces are much more powerful than you realized. You will also protect yourself from potential disaster! With a pin, one piece cannot move without exposing a piece "behind" it (i.e. along the same rank, file, or diagonal) to capture. A skewer is a specific kind of pin. In a skewer, you attack a piece, force it to move, and then win the piece "behind" it.

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  • Lesson 1

    Black has an extra pawn, but white can force the win of black's queen in just two moves using a pin. Do you see how?
  • Lesson 2

    It looks like black has everything protected, doesn't it? But actually, white can win material immediately using the various pins in the position. Do you see how?
  • Lesson 3

    The material is equal here but black can create a nice tactic due to the white pieces being in vulnerable positions. Can you find the winning path?
  • Lesson 4

    White has an extra pawn, but black can quickly gain a decisive material advantage by exploiting all the pins in the position. How?
  • Lesson 5

    White's position certainly does look desperate, doesn't it? Although white has a material advantage, black threatens mate in one move on f2, and it's hard to see a defense. But actually, white can set up a winning pin! Do you see how?
  • Lesson 6

    Black has just played his Bishop to b5, attacking the Rook on f1. Black expects white to move the Rook out of the attack. Does white have a better move?
  • Lesson 7

    Black has an extra pawn, but white has a potentially powerful pin against black's Knight. How can White turn this pin into a win?
  • Lesson 8

    Does this position remind you of Exercise 7? It looks similar, but it uses an entirely different theme. One thing is true, though: White still needs to exploit a pin.
  • Lesson 9

    Nobody is in a pin yet, but if black could set one up, maybe he could find a way to take advantage of it...
  • Lesson 10

    Black just moved his Rook to f8, hoping to exchange Rooks and reach an even position. But in fact this was a blunder. How can white use a pin to win material?
  • Lesson 11

    It looks like the only one suffering from a pin is white. But it turns out that white can turn the tables on black by using the power of his Rooks on the c-file. A key part of the solution uses the theme of DEFLECTION.
  • Lesson 12

    Here's a tricky one! Although black is up a pawn, it looks like black must lose material because his Queen and Rook are forked. But he can keep his extra pawn by using the pin and some forks of his own. How?
  • Lesson 13

    This looks a lot like Exercise 11. How can white win material using a pin here? And if you already solved Exercise 11, are there any important differences here to take account of?
  • Lesson 14

    It seems that black has an extra pawn here but the piece placement makes all the difference. Do you see how white takes advantage of the bad piece placement of black?
  • Lesson 15

    This looks like a pretty innocuous position, right? But white's King is a little hemmed in a little which allows for a nice tactic.
  • Lesson 16

    Here's a tricky exercise that uses three themes to win material: PIN, FORK, and SKEWER.
  • Lesson 17

    Black has two minor pieces for white's Rook and pawn, a roughly even position. But white can win material by setting up a skewer or a fork (depending on how black responds). Do you see how?
  • Lesson 18

    Normally it's good to have two Bishops in an open position (one where the diagonals are not blocked by pawns). But here the Bishops and Queen are lined up on one file, making them vulnerable to a skewer. Just be sure to do it precisely!
  • Lesson 19

    Pins and skewers can be combined with attacking the King, too. The pin of the Queen against the King may not look very productive for white, but in fact by combining it with a checkmate idea he can win in just two moves! Do you see how?
  • Lesson 20

    Black's situation looks desperate, but in fact black has an amazing move that turns the tables! And yes, it uses both the pin and the skewer...
  • Lesson 21

    We can imagine black licking his chops here: Once white moves the Queen, Black will cement the Knight into the strong d3 square by pushing the pawn to c4, then get the Queen out of the pin, and then... But white has another idea.
  • Lesson 22

    White can win a piece with a deadly pin in conjunction with a devilish fork. Do you see how?
  • Lesson 23

    In this innocent position white has a tricky move that wins material by setting up a pin. Do you see it?
  • Lesson 24

    Black would like to exploit the pin of the Knight on d2 by the Bishop on b4, but the Knight looks solidly defended. Plus black is in his own pin. How can black overcome both these hurdles to win material?
  • Lesson 25

    White can force his opponent to surrender major material on the very next turn. How?
  • Lesson 26

    Here white wins material not exactly by a pin but by the THREAT of a pin.
  • Lesson 27

    White's Rook attacks black's Queen, which cannot move lest white play Qxb4 . However, black can use the tactical power of a pin to institute a winning counterattack.
  • Lesson 28

    Black has a way to checkmate the white King in 4 moves! Can you find it?
  • Lesson 29

    This exercise will test your alertness to counterattacking possibilities. White just played Nxe6, forking your Queen and Rook. He's counting on you playing ...fxe6 when he will continue Bxe6 forking and winning the g4 Knight. What to do?
  • Lesson 30

    It looks like black actually has the material advantage but white has some very strong pins in store to take total control.
  • Lesson 31

    Black is up an exchange here but white can take advantage of the black King position. Do you see how to proceed?
  • Lesson 32

    White threatens checkmate by Qd7 followed by Qd8 but it's Black's turn to move. Make the most of it!
  • Lesson 33

    White just captured a pawn, Bc2xa4. Was that a good idea?
  • Lesson 34

    Believe it or not, but the Black knight at e7 will fall victim to a pinning attack very shortly. Show how.
  • Lesson 35

    Does black take a2? Or defend his passed h-pawn (Rh2)? Or is there something else?
  • Lesson 36

    White has just played Qxh6, threatening mate, relying of course on the fact that Black's g-pawn is pinned. Must black accept that he has lost a pawn?
  • Lesson 37

    White has sacrificed a piece and stands to lose even more in view of the forking Knight. However, there is a way he can exploit the weak dark squares around black's King that renders the material count irrelevant.
  • Lesson 38

    Think carefully. There are a couple factors here: Fork and Skewer. How can black win white's Queen?
  • Lesson 39

    Black played ...Ra2+, then white retreated Rc7-c2. What happens next?
  • Lesson 40

    Surprisingly perhaps, the decisive factor here is that white's Queen is undefended. Can you see why?
  • Lesson 41

    Material is even but black has a way to set up a winning skewer. Do you see it?
  • Lesson 42

    Show how the undefended Queen is a decisive flaw in black's position.
  • Lesson 43

    For this exercise the problem is not so much what to play as what NOT to play.
  • Lesson 44

    White's major pieces on the 7th rank look very menacing but in fact white has left his rear exposed. How can black exploit this?
  • Lesson 45

    A piece that is pinned against its King literally has no legal move if moving exposes the King to check. A piece that is pinned in some other way, say against its Queen, may not be really, absolutely pinned. For example...
  • Lesson 46

    If a piece is pinned in two directions at once we speak of a "cross-pin." Cross-pins imply great tactical pressure, and often they gives rise to surprising and beautiful moves. How can black create a decisive cross-pin from this position?
  • Lesson 47

    In this difficult and rather involved exercise white wins by a combination that culminates in a brutal "cross-pin" (a black piece is pinned in two directions at once).
  • Lesson 48

    Black can make a short term investment to gain material.
  • Lesson 49

    Is e4 strong or weak? Find a move that proves your answer.
  • Lesson 50

    The pressure on b7 combined with the awkward task that faces Black in trying to maneuver in tight quarters on the queenside is enough for white to bring about an immediate gain.
  • Lesson 51

    Black has won a piece but his King is exposed and it would seem white might somehow drum up counterplay. Find a simplifying combination that assures black a chance for safe exploitation of his material advantage.
  • Lesson 52

    White has two Rooks for the queen but Bd5 menaces very strongly. Can the position be saved?

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