Queen sacrifice

Queen sacrifice

"Queen sacrifice" is the term used in chess when a player's queen (the most powerful piece) is deliberately sacrificed (allowed to be captured by the enemy without recapturing the enemy queen in return). A queen is too valuable to sacrifice for mere positional gain, unlike a pawn, or even a knight or bishop (although there are rare exceptions—see fortress for an example).

In "The Art of Sacrifice" Rudolf Spielmann distinguishes between "real" and "sham" sacrifices. In a sham sacrifice the sacrifice leads to a forced and immediate benefit for the sacrificer, usually in the form of a quick checkmate (or perpetual check or stalemate if seeking a draw), or the recouping of the sacrificed material after a forced variation. Since any amount of material can be sacrificed as long as checkmate can be achieved, the queen is not in any way above being sacrificed as part of a combination.

Possible reasons to make such a sacrifice include:

* A forced checkmate after the opponent captures the queen
* More than adequate material compensation (say, a rook and two knights) after a forced continuation
* Clearing the way for a pawn's promotion to a replacement queen, or
* The subsequent capture of the opponent's queen, resulting in some positional or material gain.

On the other hand, "real" sacrifices are, according to Spielmann, those where the compensation is not immediate, but more positional in nature. Since the queen is so powerful, positional sacrifices of the queen virtually always entail some partial material compensation, for example sacrificing the queen for a rook and bishop.

Note that the queen, unlike the king, is not above being traded off for other pieces which may together be of equal or greater value than the queen. Bent Larsen has remarked [cite book|author=Bent Larsen|title=Lærebok i sjakk no icon] that giving up the queen for rook and two minor pieces is sometimes called a "queen sacrifice", but since a rook plus two minor pieces is more valuable than the queen, he calls this nonsense.


Chess diagram small|=
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Rudolf Spielmann-Jorgen Moeller. White to make his 9th move
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Rudolf Spielmann-Jorgen Moeller. After 13.h4
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Pilnik-Reshevsky, 1942. White saves the draw with the queen sacrifice Qf2.

* Two celebrated games by Adolf Anderssen, the Immortal game and the Evergreen game, both featured a queen sacrifice as part of White's final mating attack.
* In the Opera game, Morphy's final blow is a deflection sacrifice of the queen.
* In a friendly game Edward Lasker played against George Alan Thomas, Lasker found a celebrated queen sacrifice which forced the Black king on a march to White's first rank where it was checkmated.
* Philidor's Legacy is a smothered mate involving a queen sacrifice.
* For an example of a successful positional queen sacrifice, Rudolf Spielmann presented his game against Jorgen Moeller in Gothenburg 1920. In the first diagram, White is threatened with 9...Bg4 which wins the queen since she must guard the f2 square against checkmate. Spielmann allowed Black to win the queen by playing 9.Nd2, and after 9...Bg4 10.Nxe4 Bxf3 11.Nxf3 Qh6 12.Nf6+ Kd8 13.h4, the position in the second diagram was reached. White has only a knight and bishop for the queen (and is also a pawn down), but White's minor pieces are very active and the Black queen is out of play. White won on move 28. [The full game can be played through [http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1006597 here] The game was annotated by Spielmann in "The Art of Sacrifice in Chess".]
* Queen sacrifices can sometimes be used as a drawing resource, in the third diagram Pilnik (White) is defending an endgame three pawns down, but played Qf2!, when Reshevsky (Black) has nothing better than ...Qxf2 stalemate.

ee also

* Sacrifice (chess)
* Chess terminology
* Chess tactics


*cite book|author=Rudolf Spielmann|title=The Art of Sacrifice in Chess

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