Typical Patterns Everyone Should Know : Double Rook Sacrifice

  • GM Gserper
  • | Oct 31, 2010

This is one of the most beautiful patterns. It happens when one of the players uses his Queen to capture one Rook with check and then immediately wins another Rook.  Usually it goes like Qb7xRa8 check and then QxRh8 for White or Qb2xRa1 check followed by QxRh1 for Black.  So what do you get in return for the two Rooks you've just sacrificed?  Usually one or two tempos your opponent spends to win your Rooks.  And then maybe another one that he will have to waste in order to return his Queen back from the successful mission.  Doesn't sound like a lot, right?  But in chess a move (a tempo) sometimes is an eternity. And while talking about eternity, it is a good moment to present the "Immortal Game" which is probably the most famous game where this kind of sacrifice happened.


(Just like in most of my articles I give you a chance to test your tactical skills, so the games are given as a Quiz.  Please remember that you can always replay the whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list.")


Many generations of chess players analyzed this game.  Of course it was found that Black could defend better, but you cannot help but admire White's attacking concept!
In the next game Alekhine used the same idea and produced a classical example of this sacrifice. The game is especially beautiful because his opponent was a very strong Russian Master (later Grandmaster and the Soviet Champion) Grigory Levenfish.
As you can imagine, this delightful combination doesn't happen too often and it is really amazing that GM Richard Reti managed to trap future World Champion Max Euwe twice using the same combo in the same match!!
As you can see, in most of the cases all the troubles start with the Qxb2 or Qxb7 move and the Double Rook Sacrifice is just a very efficient way to punish your opponent for 'pawn grabbing' (see my  article on this subject:
http://www.chess.com/article/view/the-deadly-opening-sin   ) The next Alekhine game is just another beautiful example of this pattern.
In conclusion I want to mention that some chess players are lucky enough to execute this combo more than once (like Reti or Alekhine) and some chess players (like me!) never had a chance.  I cannot promise that it will happen in your games, but I hope that if opportunity arises, you won't miss it. And what I can promise is that if you manage to play it, you'll enjoy that game till the end of your life! 
Good luck!


  • 10 months ago



  • 4 years ago


    When a wood pusher as me see this Adolf Anderssen game,  nothing to do but admire !

  • 5 years ago


    @mohand1:  It's so obvious looking at it 1 month later.  I don't know what I was thinking...

  • 5 years ago


    @5467chess: Euwe is still lost had he played 17. ...Kd8! Reti would have first delivered check with the bishop and not the queen! The variation goes as follow:

    17. ...Kd8 18.Be7+ Ke8 (if 18. ...Kc8 19.Qa6+ Kb8 20.Bd6#) 19.Bf6+ Be6 (delaying mate by one move) 20.Qxe6+ Kf8 21.Qe7+ Kg8 22.Qxg7#

  • 5 years ago


    Doesn't Euwe still have life after 18 ....Kd8 19 Qe7+ Kc8?  How can white get around the black bashop on d7?
  • 6 years ago


    @SCMaharaja: Actually, that would be underestimating Anderssen immensely.

    In fact, the variation 20 ... Ba6 only goes to show that this game is even more brilliant than many ever notice: the Immortal is not only brilliant, but also rock-sound (unlike Anderssen's other best-known game, the Evergreen, which is sadly flawed, most notably that 19 ... Qh3!, rather than 19 ... Qxf3?, virtually forces a draw - even computers never seem to come up with anything better than the repetition 20 Bf1 Qf5 21 Bd3 Qh3 etc. =).

    It is true that this move ultimately prevents a mate, but not the loss of the game. After 20 ... Ba6, White continues:

    21 Nc7+ Kd8 22 Nxa6

    Regaining a piece, and threatening again mate in three by Bc7+ etc. Black has two main defences:

    a) 22 ... Qxa2 (as the mate would be delivered on f7) fails simply to 23 Bc7+ Ke8 (Kc8 24 Nd6#) 24 Nb4 and Black must lose his Queen or be mated.

    b) 22 ... Bb6 is the toughest defence, and prevents all fireworks, but Black still loses: 23 Qxa8 (now White has regained all but one Rook sacrificed, and threatens mate on the move!) Qc3 (the only defence) 24 Qxb8+ Qc8 25 Qxc8+ Kxc8 26 Bf8 (threatening Bxg7 winning the Rook, after which he will be a piece ahead) h6 27 Nd6+ Kd8 28 Nxf7+ Ke8 29 Nxh8 Kxf8 30 Ng6+ Kf7 31 c3 Ke6 32 d4. Everything is safe, White has regained all major material and has won a Pawn into the bargain, and while it will take time the endgame is surely lost for Black (Rybka 2.3.2 gives an evaluation of about +1.95 in favour of White here). Granted, it is not the brilliant finish that one would have expected, and perhaps if the game had taken this turn, it might not have been as remembered, but it shows that Anderssen's earlier conceptions were indeed quite sound.

    @ray009: 20 ... f6 is found by Rybka 2.3.2 to lead to a mate in eight moves: 21 Nxg7+ Kf7 (21 ... Kc8 22 Bc7#) 22 Nxf6! (threatens mates in two and in four; Black can only delay it now two more moves by giving up the Queen and Bishop) Qe1+ 23 Kxe1 Bf2+ 24 Kxf2 Ne7 25 Nxd7+ Nf5 26 Qxf5+ Kxg7 and now White can mate in two in three different ways (27 Qf6+, 27 Bf8+, and 27 h6+ all do the trick).

  • 6 years ago


    Great one, but wouldn't castling avoid this?

  • 6 years ago


    I'm deffinitly bookmarking this!

  • 6 years ago


    really enjoyable keep it up

  • 6 years ago



  • 6 years ago


    I like this article.Wink

  • 6 years ago


    Excellent articles as always!

    Those games again show me why they are masters while I am not. I am still wondering what if the opponent takes only one rook and then realizes that he should not take the other one. Will he be able to defend or he will simply lose in another way?

  • 6 years ago


    The last puzzle was truly enjoyable
  • 6 years ago


    Good analysis, thanx for sharing this important article.

  • 6 years ago


    so difficult to find the next move in each puzzle..esp the first one...good thing i did not give up...

  • 6 years ago


    ray your an idiot!

  • 6 years ago



  • 6 years ago


    The first puzzel is a complete time wastage. Actually when I read the introduction it says your opponent will be tricked into taking both the rooks and in doing so u get enough tempi to get eternity. N what the eternity supposed to mean here? You will have a forced win!! So I thought that way. But you see in the first puzzel even after QXa1+...... n white plays Kd2. Black can still defend well enough by the move f6!!!

    I hate Anderssen and also the person who actually put this thing cause this puzzel has wasted me an hour just to find the forced variation to mate. But to my surprise I found that there isn't any.

    I love Paul Morphy though, he is more cool and very elegant and look at Anderssen so pathetic!!!!

  • 6 years ago


    Anderssen not so brilliant if 21 ... Ba6

  • 6 years ago


    I'm a little surpised that Ewue fell for it twice against Reti consecutive times. I've pulled this off once or twice before but not cause of my visionary brilliance but more due to my desperation to press on with an attack and leave my rooks behind for the queen to gobble up. I find sacfricing pieces as a great tool for opening up vicious attacking lines and this illustrates that perfectly.

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