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Queen sacrifice

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White to move - White can checkmate with a queen sacrifice (taking knight) as follows:

1. Q-h7+  K-f8
2. Q-h8+  Nxh8
3. Rxh8#

In chess, a queen sacrifice is a move giving up a queen in return for tactical or positional compensation.

Queen sacrifice: real versus sham

In his book The Art of Sacrifice in Chess, Rudolf Spielmann distinguishes between real and sham sacrifices. A sham 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 line. Since any amount of material can be sacrificed as long as checkmate will be achieved, the queen is not above being sacrificed as part of a combination.

Possible reasons for a sham queen sacrifice include:

On the other hand, "real" sacrifices, according to Spielmann, are those where the compensation is not immediate, but more positional in nature. Because the queen is the most powerful piece (see chess piece relative value), positional sacrifices of the queen virtually always entail some partial material compensation (for example, sacrificing the queen for a rook and bishop).

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. 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 sacrifice.

Examples

Anderssen vs. Kieseritzky, 1851
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White to move

Anderssen vs. Dufresne, 1852
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White to move

Rudolf Spielmann vs. Jorgen. Moeller, 1920
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White to move
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Position after 13. h4
Pilnik vs. Reshevsky, 1942
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White to move

Donald Byrne vs. Bobby Fischer, 1956
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Black to move
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Position after 25... Nxd1

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