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A sacrifice of a Queen, Part I
A Queen is the most valuable piece in the chess game. An approximate value of a Queen is about 9-10 pawns, or about 25% of the entire force. Because of this, a sacrifice of that piece is often overlooked or underestimated.
Usually, the value of two Rooks is equal to that of a Queen, also value of three minor pieces or Rook + Bishop + Pawn combination, equals to that of a Queen as well.
There are two kinds of a Queen sacrifice:
1) A Queen sacrifice as a tactical solution.
2) A positional sacrifice of a Queen.
The biggest difference between those two is that in case of tactical sacrifice, immediate gain is expected, while in case of positional sacrifice a player usually hopes to develop some initiative, eventually converting it into a winning advantage.
Perhaps the idea that brings together all of positions below is this: there is some huge imbalance in the position. Most often, it is poor coordination between pieces. Another important factor is ability of attacking side to bring his pieces into action very quickly.
In this lesson we will take a look only at games where tactical sacrifice was executed.
I) A Queen sacrifice as a tactical solution.
- A. Alekhine,
Black to play
At a very first sight, Black is in trouble. Really, his Queen is under attack, his King is in the center and White seems to have a strong pressure along the e-file. But such an assessment is untrue! White Bishop on a5-Bishop is pinned and Black's b-pawn is dangerously close to her Queening square. Basically, White Queen is overloaded with too many functions here.
So the 4th World Champion strikes with...
This move attacks the Knight, but what about the Queen? She is sacrificed for a victory!
Also hopeless was 17.Rxe7+ Qxe7 18.Qxe7+ Kxe7 19.Bb4+ Ke6 as well as 17.Nc3 (d2) Rxa5! 18.Rxa5 Qxa5! and Black wins.
This is the key point of Black's combination. Now White can’t stop the promotion of the c-pawn.
Another way, 18.Bxe7 cxb1=Q 19.Bxf6+ Be6, brings White a loss as well.
Now, 19.Nd2 c1=Q is completely hopeless, therefore…
- L. Kussman,
White to play
Here White clearly dominates, but he has to be precise. If he plays 16.Nfg3 then 16...Bg7, and Black would be fine. The key to this position is a weakness of f6-square. Just as in the case above, Black Queen must watch too many squares.
A beautiful move! Now 16...Qxb5 instantly loses to 17.Nf6 checkmate!
A final blow, White now threatens checkmate in one move and Black is lost by force. If 17...Be7 then 18.Ned6+ Kf8 19.Rxe7! gxf5 (19...Qxb5 20.Rxf7+ Kg8 21.Nh6 mate) 20.Rxf7 Kg8 21.Rxd7 and White wins.
17...Bb4 18.Nf6++ Kf8 19.Nxd7+ Rxd7
Perhaps, Black hoped for 20.Qxd7 here, but…
Now both Qxh8+ and Qe8+ are deadly and at least one of them can’t be prevented.
A great American GM FRANK MARSHALL executed one of the most brilliant and beautiful sacrifices of all time.
Levitsky - Marshall,
Black to play
Black has a strong attack, with all pieces aiming at opponent’s King. Basically, White is simply overwhelmed here.
White resigned, in spite of the fact that he can capture opponent’s crazy Queen three ways! Remarkably, every single one of them loses.
If 2.hxg3 or 2.fxg3 then 2...Ne2 checkmates.
If 2.Qxg3 then 2...Ne2+ 3.Kh1 Nxg3+ 4.Kg1 Nxf1 5.gxh3 Nd2, and Black has a huge advantage in the ending.
In the next game White had to calculate many moves forward.
B.Larsen - T.Petrosian,
White had previously sacrificed a pawn and has some compensation due to a pair of active Bishops. Presently, however, his Queen is under attack and the outcome of 25.Qh3 f5! is rather dubious. Tigran Petrosian however, had something else in mind. He noticed that opponent’s Rook a8 and Queen d8 are far away and have no way of getting to the Kingside quickly, while White pieces are well-coordinated and mobile. He suddenly played...
Wow! Larsen was most likely surprised by this move.
This reply does not really make any difference if compared to 25…fxg6.
26.Rxf4 fxg6 27.Bxe6+ Rf7
Or else 27...Kh7 28.Rh4+ Bh6 29.Bxh6 Rf5 (29...g5 30.Rxg5 Qb6+ 31.c5!) 30.Rxf5 gxf5 31.Bf7!! e5 32.Rh3 Qb6+ 33.Kh1! with 34.Bf8 checkmate to follow.
28.Rxf7 Kh8 29.Rg5!
This beautiful move puts all doubts to rest. White has too many threats.
29...b5 30. Rg3
Now the threat of Rg3-h3+ decides at once.