Figure 4.4.3.3[White to move]

Another tricky one. Start by looking at and through everything White attacks so that you see what lies behind any possible targets. You notice that his rook on e1 attacks Black’s bishop, and that behind it is Black’s queen. The bishop is pinned. One useful thing to do to a pinned piece is take something it guards. Here the pinned bishop protects the rook on d5. White can’t take the rook with his queen because his own knight is in the way. The challenge again is to find a violent way to vacate the knight, this time to give Black no chance to avoid the coming capture of his rook. Yet White also mustn't disrupt the pieces in the pin.

So examine the knight’s circle of possible moves, and consider Nc6. It has the needed forcing quality, because it threatens Black’s queen and also threatens a knight fork (always the question when you are moving your knight around) at e7, where the piece would attack Black’s king and rook. If Black wants to avoid that result he has to move the queen where it still can guard the forking square, e7. So suppose he plays it to d7 or g5. Either way, what does White do? Remember the objective: we want the same position as at the start, but with White’s knight out of the way; but now Black’s queen has moved and so has unpinned the bishop. White therefore restores the original position by going ahead and playing the fork Ne7+, planting a piece on the square where he wants Black’s queen to return. If Black does capture the knight with his queen, White’s mission is accomplished: Black’s bishop is pinned to his queen again, and now White’s queen has a clean line on which to play QxR, winning the exchange after Black plays BxQ and White replies RxQ. If Black doesn’t bite and keeps his queen away from e7, White wins the exchange nevertheless by playing NxR.

The key to the position is to imagine threats and their consequences. Don’t dismiss Nc6 because Black’s queen then moves. Note where it will move, and what you might do next. Putting one of your pieces on the square where you want an enemy piece to come is a useful technique we have seen before and will see again. It is known as a decoy.

By the way, you might have noticed that White’s knight is itself subject to a relative pin: when it moves to c6, Black has RxQ. But this isn’t as troubling as it sounds. White can reply NxQ+ at the other end of the board—and since the move gives check, Black has to spend a turn relocating his king. This gives White a chance to then play RxR. White wins a rook.