Wild Chess Fights: Queen vs 2 Rooks
It's that classic chess battle between a queen and two rooks...

Wild Chess Fights: Queen vs 2 Rooks‎

Gserper
GM Gserper
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37 | Strategy

Positions with material imbalances are difficult to play, especially for less-experienced chess players.

You will never see a positional queen sacrifice or an exchange sacrifice in games played by people rated below 1700 or 1800. At this level, it is much easier to sacrifice a queen if it leads to a mating attack rather than just a pawn to dominate on the dark squares.

The position where a queen fights two rooks is one of those situations many chess players misunderstand.

chess rooks

Meanwhile, the games that feature such material imbalances are usually quite interesting. To some extent the fight between a queen and two rooks reminds me of the "wild animal fights" nature documentaries that show a tiger attacking a crocodile or a pride of lions chasing a rhino. The outcome of these fights in the animal kingdom depends on many factors. If the tiger-vs-crocodile fight happens in the water, I would put my money on the crocodile, but on dry land a tiger would be the clear favorite.

So let's talk about the factors affecting the outcome of the queen-vs-two rooks fight.

1. Safety of the king.

This is the most important factor. Even a remote possibility of an attack against the opponent's king tips the scale in the queen's favor.

A very impressive example is the recent game by Ding Liren. Look at the position below. It is clear that the black king is potentially vulnerable and white's queen on h6 is placed very close to the big target.

Can you find the brilliant way the Chinese grandmaster took advantage of these factors?

What a weird combination, you might say. Indeed, most combinations lead to a checkmate or to win some material. This combination just led to an unbalanced position—that's it! The game shows the enormous talent of Ding Liren, who managed to correctly evaluate the resulting position.

Watch how Black's rooks looked surprisingly helpless against White's queen.

2. Coordination of the rooks.

If the rooks are well coordinated and the king is safe, then a queen has practically no chance. At some point both rooks will attack a target and the queen alone won't be able to protect it.

Vladimir Kramnik gave a master class on this kind of endgames in two of his games.

3. Passed pawns.

Passed pawns are usually a decisive factor in these situations. For example, in the following game, White's rooks couldn't really fight two connected passed pawns supported by a queen.

From the other side, a queen has a chance to fight two connected pawns if the opponent's king is vulnerable. Vishy Anand almost managed to save a hopeless-looking game vs. Anatoly Karpov:

Yes, it is tough for a lonely queen to fight two rooks, but the addition of other pieces can dramatically change the situation. I remember that the following game made an extremely strong impression on me when I analyzed it the first time.

How would you evaluate this position? Like most, I thought that since Black is going to win the c4 pawn and restore the material balance (queen + pawn = two rooks), the position was about even.

Bobby Fischer proves that Black is actually winning. Can you find the correct way to proceed?

Even though Fischer missed the fastest way to win (but he mentioned it in his annotations), the outcome of the game was never in doubt.

These positions with material imbalances are not easy to master. I hope that this article will help you to better understand the games where a queen fights two rooks.

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