Figure[White to move]

Exploiting a Pin.

Using Pawns to Attack the Pinned Piece.

Once you've imposed a pin, what can you do with it? Capturing the pinned piece is the most natural possibility and the one we mostly have seen so far. Usually when you threaten an enemy piece your opponent can choose between moving it or giving it more protection; a pin means the targeted piece can't be moved, so the quality of its protection is the sole determinant of its fate. In the simplest cases, where the pinned piece can be taken for free or where it's worth more than the piece inflicting the pin, the piece doing the pinning on move one simply takes the pinned piece on move two. But often the pinned piece will have protection (or will be supplied with protection right away once the pin appears), and trading it for the pinned piece is not so attractive. In that case more imagination may be needed to bring the pinned piece down.

There are three general ideas to grasp. The option of first resort typically is to go after the target with a pawn. Where this is possible it makes no difference how much protection the pinned piece enjoys, because trading it for a pawn always will be favorable to you. Second, if none of your pawns are available for the purpose, you may be able to pile up on the pinned piece with more of your pieces. Such positions become a race to see who can surround the pinned piece with more firepower; your task is get more pieces to the scene of the pin than the enemy can rally. Third, there are some other useful tools to consider: you may be able to drive defenders away from the pinned piece (especially if one of the defenders is the enemy king), and then there is the possibility of a cross-pin: you may be able to pin the pinned piece a second time in another direction. This chapter will examine all of those options, starting here with the use of pawns to bring down the pinned target.

In a perfect world the position looks like the one to the left. White scans the lines leading away from Black’s king and sees that the knight on d5 is ready to be pinned on the fifth rank. It’s a horizontal pin, and White has a rook at the ready for it; he plays 1. Ra5 and now the knight is paralyzed. But he won’t be able to play RxN because Black’s next move is c7-c6, protecting the knight. Since taking the pinned piece with the pinning piece isn’t practical, White looks for other ways to attack the knight. A pawn is best. White has 2. c2-c4, and now the Black’s knight protection is no consolation: he loses the piece (and then trades pawns).