A Foundation for Beginners Ninety

We’ll end our examination of the pin this week by looking at Black’s best ideas regarding White’s treatment of the pin. Black’s seeming good pin has one major problem, it can be completely ignored. White’s Knight on f3 can ignore the Black Bishop on g4, as we saw last week. Black’s biggest problem was his unquenchable thirst for material gain. This is a huge problem for young beginners. They tend to think of a winning game as one in which the potential winner has more material than their opponent. They think that having more material guarantees an easy victory.

We’ve already seen how White wins the game (see last week’s article). Set up your chessboard and play through the following moves: 1. e4…e5, 2. Nf3…d6, 3. Nc3…Bg4, 4. Bc4…Nc6. Stop and take in the position (don’t play through the remainder of the game 5. Nxe5…Bxd1, 6. Bxf7+…Ke7. Nd5#)! White has both his Knights on strong central outposts, and a well-positioned Bishop on c4. However, the White Knight on f3 really can’t defend or attack the board’s center because should it move, Black will surely use his Bishop on g4 to capture White’s Queen on d1. This is a typical relative pin seen during the opening. Black should question the fact that White has done absolutely nothing about the pin. White hasn’t blocked the pin by moving his light squared Bishop to e2, nor has he played h3, trying to force the Black Bishop off the pinning square. Therefore, White’s next move should come as no surprise.

White plays 5. Nxe5! Obviously, if you’re an experienced player, you’re going to question this move. However, the beginner sees the winning lottery numbers, never stopping to ask why White would give away the Queen. They capture the White Queen and consider the game won. While I talked about what you should do if you were in Black’s shoes last week, it bears repeating. Beginners certainly hang and blunder pieces. Beginners often drag their Queen out early and lose it due to negligence. However, this situation is a little different. First off, the pinning Black Bishop is right next to the White Knight, and the White Queen is nearly as close, so it’s not as if White wouldn’t see the piece doing the pinning. Also, White has demonstrated good opening play, controlling the board’s center with a pawn, developing the Knights and Bishop toward the center, generally doing exactly what you need to do during the game’s opening phase. Playing 5. Nxe5 not only exposes the White Queen to capture but puts White’s Knight on e5 in the line of fire. The move should make no sense, until?

As I mentioned last week, Black was looking at the wrong side of the board. If your opponent makes such a strange, illogical move as 5. Nxe5, look at your side of the board, especially the squares around your King. Chances are you’ll find the reasoning for White’s seemingly weird move. In the case of our game, White is setting up a fast-mating attack that will easily win the game, if Black grabs the bait, White’s Queen. What should Black do if he doesn’t capture the White Queen?

Once the beginner sees how easily they will be mated if they capture the White Queen, they scramble for a game saving move. They often first think about moving the Black Bishop to safety. Their move ideas tend to wander away from the bigger problem, getting check mated! A potential checkmate trumps all threats, and losing the game is the biggest threat of all.

The first thing the beginner should do is identify all the problems they are facing. Black’s problem is multifaceted. Black needs to stop the mating attack and deal with the hanging Bishop of g4. Look for a move that does both! Take your time and look at simple solutions. That move is 5…Nxe5. When Black uses the c6 Knight to capture White’s Knight on e5, Black removes one of the two White attackers of f7. With the Black Knight now on e5, it is in position to defend the Black Bishop on g4 and attack the White Bishop on c4. White now must also deal with the Black Bishop on g4 attacking the Queen. The big difference now? There’s no quick checkmate for White should Black capture the Queen. White also must deal with the fork created by the Black Knight on e5. Therefore, White must deal with a plethora of problems, and checkmate is no longer on the table.

Black’s fifth move prevented a fast checkmate, created problems for White, and protected Black’s hanging g4 Bishop. The reason this move worked was because Black analyzed the position carefully, determining the problems that needed to be dealt with immediately, and came up with a move that did just that. More importantly, Black didn’t grab the White Queen. As in life, if it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t. This adage holds true in chess as well as in life. Next week, we’ll look at the skewer. See you then!

Hugh Patterson

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Hugh Patterson

Author: Hugh Patterson

Prior to teaching chess, Hugh Patterson was a professional guitarist for nearly three decades, playing in a number of well known San Francisco bands including KGB, The Offs, No Alternative, The Swinging Possums and The Watchmen. After recording a number of albums and CDs he retired from music to teach chess. He currently teaches ten chess classes a week through Academic Chess. He also created and runs a chess program for at-risk teenagers incarcerated in juvenile correctional facilities. In addition to writing a weekly column for The Chess Improver, Hugh also writes a weekly blog for the United States Chess League team, The Seattle Sluggers. He teaches chess privately as well, giving instruction to many well known musicians who are only now discovering the joys of chess. Hugh is an Correspondence Chess player with the ICCF (International Correspondence Chess Federation). He studied chemistry in college but has worked in fields ranging from Investment Banking and commodities trading to Plastics design and fabrication. However, Hugh prefers chess to all else (except Mrs. Patterson and his beloved dog and cat). View all posts by Hugh Patterson

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