Queen Sacrifice

Endgame Fundamentals: Queen Sacrifice

By Donny Gray

Nothing in chess is as impressive as sacrificing your queen!  Since the queen is the most powerful piece, its sacrifice is really something special.  Nothing will get a chess player’s adrenalin flowing as much as a queen sac!

There are three kinds of queen sacrifices in chess.  The first leads to a forced and immediate material gain or checkmate.  This kind of sacrifice could also be done to secure a draw.  Many times someone on the verge of losing will sac a piece resulting in a perpetual check or stalemate.

The second kind an opportunity may arise where a player trades off his queen for other pieces, which may together be of equal or greater value than the queen. The late Grand Master Bent Larsen remarks that giving up the queen for a 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 says it should not be considered a true sacrifice.

The third kind of queen sacrifice is more astounding to say the least.  Instead of immediate compensation, you get a positional advantage.  You don’t always get the material compensation with this type of sacrifice.  For example, sacrificing your queen for a rook and bishop or three minor pieces.

In our first example we see every chess player’s dream position.  Here white can perform the famous smothered mate.  All it takes is a timely queen sacrifice.




1.Ne5+           Kd8
2.Nf7+            Ke8
3.Nd6+           Kd8
4.Qe8+!!        Re8

In our next example white has 29 possible moves.  All of them lose except one!





Black’s back rank threats are so powerful there is no defense.  So when there is no defense, what is there to do?  Attack of course!


White sacrifices the queen for a winning ending.

1. …               Kb7
2.Nd6+        Kc6

Now white is a piece up and the rest should be easy.





This next position has white up a pawn, but seemingly black has a lot of fight left.  But with a timely queen sacrifice white converts this tough ending into an easy win.

1.Qh6+!!        Kh6

This is black’s best reply.  If Rh6 then white has 2.Rd7+ and picks off the bishop

2.Rd6+            Qd6

This fork picks off the black queen and sets up white for an easy win.  He is now two pawns up in a minor piece ending.

Sometimes a queen sacrifice can save you from defeat by forcing a draw.





Here is a game from 1942 that shows white down 3 pawns.  It is from the game Herman Pilnik – Samuel Reshevsky.

White seems to be facing sure death with black’s extra pawns marching down the board.  But Pilnik finds a forced draw!

1.Qf2!!            Qf2 Stalemate

Black has nothing better, as all other queen moves lose.

In our last example we see a position that has been said to be an Adolf Anderson game.  He was the famous German master back in the 1800’s that played what is called the Immortal Game and the Evergreen Game.  This example is just as spectacular as his other famous games.




Let’s take a look first at what black is threatening.  He has mate-in-one twice with his queen.  Either Qg2 or Qh2 is mate in one.  He is threatening to take the white knight for free.  And if all of that was not enough, he has a pawn that is about to queen in one move.

How many players would just resign and call it a day?  Anderson however finds a forced mate for white that starts with a queen sacrifice!!


Black has no choice.  He must accept the sacrifice.  This misplacement of the black queen gives Anderson all the time he needs to force the mate.  The key is, that black no longer has mate in one.

1. …       Qxe6

Now it is white who is threatening mate in one with Rb8++

2. …      Qd7

There is no other way to stop mate.  He must give up his queen to stop mate.  But now white has another way to mate.

3. Rb8+!!        Kb8
4. cd                 e1-Q
5. d8-Q++



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