Monday, June 2, 2014

Suicide Queens

I worked through some tactics recently and noticed a group of tactics having a similar theme. When queens of both sides are in danger, not necessarily about to capture each other, it pays to look at in-between moves where your queen sacrifices itself for a piece, instead of preserving your queen or capturing your opponent's queen. Although I've given away the key idea, try to work through these three diagrams in your usual systematic or haphazard way and decide which move is the strongest. The first two are possible positions from openings I study and the third is Chess Tempo #76859.

Diagram 1: White to play and find the best move

Diagram 2: White to play and win

Diagram 3: Black to play and win

The solutions are as follow:

  • Diagram 1: 1.Qxg6 - There isn't a great amount of advantage between this and simply 1.Bxd8, but Qxg6 is still the highest rated move
  • Diagram 2: 1.Qxc6+ Nxc6 2.Bxb3 - The rook is more tempting, but the knight comes off with check.
  • Diagram 3: 1...d6+ 2.Bc2 Qxf4! - A hard move to find in the middle of complications. If Black tries 2...Be4, 3.fxe3 removes Black's biggest advantage.

It's important if you're playing an in-between move, make sure that your opponent doesn't have a similar in-between move. In Diagram 1, notice that 1.Qxg6 protects the assassin bishop on f6 and Black has no checks. In Diagram 2, 1.Qxc6+ captures with check and limits Black's choices. In Diagram 3, the desperado queen playing 2...Qxf4 doesn't capture with check, allowing Black to check with 3.Bf5+, but Black would just capture 3...Qxf5. White's poor queen doesn't have any checks or in-between captures except for the measly pawn.

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