Typical Patterns Everyone Should Know : Double Rook Sacrifice
Oct 31, 2010, 12:00 AM
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:
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!