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Absolute Pin

An absolute pin is a situation in chess where a piece is attacked by an opposing piece and cannot move because doing so would expose a more valuable piece behind it to capture. The pinned piece is forced to remain in place to protect the more valuable piece.

Related terms: Relative pin, Skewer, Discovered attack, X-ray attack, Sacrifice, Defender, Attacker, Line of attack, King safety, Tactical motif

Why is an Absolute Pin important?

Absolute pins are important because they can severely limit the mobility of the pinned piece, effectively rendering it useless until the pin is broken.

This can be a powerful tactical weapon, as it allows the attacking side to control key squares, restrict the opponent’s options, and potentially set up threats against the enemy king.

Examples of Absolute Pin

  • A rook pins a knight to the king on the same file.
  • The chess game below is a good example of an absolute pin. Here, the queen was pined by the bishop.

  • A bishop pins a pawn to the queen on the same diagonal.
  • A queen pins a rook to the king on the same rank.

How to exploit an Absolute Pin

  • Attack the pinned piece with other units to increase the pressure.
  • Use the restricted mobility of the pinned piece to control key squares and limit the opponent’s options.
  • If the pinned piece is a defender of the enemy king, use the pin to set up a mating attack or force material gains.
  • Consider sacrificing the pinning piece to destroy the opponent’s pawn structure or gain a decisive material advantage.

Famous examples of Absolute Pin

  • In the game Paul Morphy vs Duke Karl / Count Isouard (1858), known as “The Opera Game,” Morphy used an absolute pin to set up a brilliant queen sacrifice and checkmate.
  • In the game Boris Spassky vs Tigran Petrosian (1969), Spassky used an absolute pin to win a key pawn and ultimately secure a winning endgame.
  • In the game Garry Kasparov vs Veselin Topalov (1999), Kasparov exploited an absolute pin to launch a devastating kingside attack and force resignation.

How to defend against an Absolute Pin

  1. Try to break the pin by moving the more valuable piece to a safe square.
  2. Interpose a piece between the pinned piece and the attacker to break the pin.
  3. Attack the pinning piece to force it to move, thus breaking the pin.
  4. If the pinned piece is not essential for defense, consider sacrificing it to gain counterplay or activate your other pieces.

Related Terms

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