At this point much of my interest in chess comes from what I call “Chess Oddities” or irregularities in the game (ie. glitches in the matrix). These gems are what makes chess interesting to me, it’s a big part of the reason I play. I’m always elated when I’m playing and I find some beautiful or exotic idea and reach some beautiful position where the art of the game can truly be appreciated. Today I will examine one such gem, “The Queen sacrifice”.
Combinations with a queen sacrifice are among the most striking and memorable … – Anatoly Karpov
Today we’re going to talk about one of my favorite chess topics: Parting with the lady (Queen sacrifices). Much has been written in chess literature about some of the games I’m going to be showing/examining, so I won’t be providing a ton of analysis in regards to the games themselves (unless they are my own). Think of this post as more of a highlight reel than anything else and just try and appreciate the beauty and risk involved in creating each one.
I was doing some research prior to writing this post and I came across something written by Rudolf Spielmann in regards to Queen sacrifices which I had not seen before (but quite liked). In his book, “The Art of Sacrifice in Chess” he distinguishes between “real” and “sham” queen sacrifices. A sham sacrifice is one where there is an immediate payout for the sacrificer (regaining the queen, mating the king etc). He defines a real sacrifice as one where the compensation is not immediate. The clearest example of a real sacrifice that I can think of is this game (and one of my favorites) from Rashid Gibiatovich Nezhmetdinov:
Now many of you are probably questioning the “correctness” of the sacrifice. Much research and analysis has been done on this game since it was played. According to much analysis (by strong engines) black should be slightly better after the astonishing 12. Qxf6!! Of course such decisions are not taken lightly and sitting at home with a computer running and proving that over-the-board (OTB) is another story entirely.
Of course there are other famous examples of real queen sacrifices (this one even includes another chess gem called a windmill which I write about in the future):
I also have an example of a real queen sacrifice from one of my games (I’ve removed my opponents name because I hope in similar situations someone would do me the same kindness):
There is of course a lot to be ridiculed about this game. I want to focus our attention on the queen sacrifice itself 21. bxa6!! is actually completely correct (and gives white an edge). My follow up was rather poor I got sidetracked and believed I could mate my opponent; instead of playing a7 and making a new queen which was my original plan.
The rest of the games I’ve given are more queen sacrifices I’ve made online in blitz as well as some queen sacs in the longer time controls. For the most part the queen sacrifices are all the “correct” choice in the given position. I’ve always found it interesting how when working together a few minor pieces can easily overwhelm a queen; when done correctly the pieces all react with perfect coordination and behave as a single fighting force on the enemy king. As I mentioned above the games themselves should not be gleaned for some eternal truth but rather should be enjoyed on the merit of the sacrifice and the power of the remaining pieces.
When sacrificing your queen it’s of the utmost importance that your king is safe and cannot be easily attacked. When the queen lacks targets she becomes fairly useless, and even gets in the way of the minor pieces:
Something else to keep in mind when sacrificing anything, it’s important to make sure that your pieces are coordinated well and can work together easily.
See how easily the rooks and bishop were able to attack the f7 square? My opponent even let me double up on the f-file with tempo.
Another example where I didn’t need to give up the queen, but what is life without a little risk?
Finally I would like to leave you with a game where there were 3 queens sacrificed in one game! I had not seen this game until today; I hope you enjoy:
Did I miss any games? What are some of your favorite Queen sacrifices?