The Greek Gift
Hello everybody Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.......sounds weird right?written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC. It has been paraphrased in English as the proverb "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts". Its literal meaning is "I fear the Danaans [Greeks], even those bearing gifts" or "even when they bear gifts". As everybody can recognize the picture on the top. It's from the Battle of Troy where the Greeks offered this wooden horse to the Trojans as a gift with their finest warriors hidden inside it. The Trojans brought the horse inside the city.And at that night, the Greeks burned Troy to the ground.
So what does this has to do with chess? A typical bishop sacrifice on h7 is named as the Greek gift sacrifice, which if accepted will spell certain doom! This sacrifice generally occur from white side and specially in 1 e4 openings. Lets see the step by step build up of this deadly tactic
This is the typical position before the Greek gift sac. This position here came from the French Defense advanced variation . The key checklist before the sac is-
a) Bxh7+ immediately possible, h7 square must not be defended by any piece except the king
b) Assuming Kxh7 immediate Ng5+ is possible , so g5 square must not be defended by any piece/ pawn other than queen.
c) If the black queen does cover the g5 square ( it generally does) , then white dark square bishop must control it too
d) Irrespective of where black king moves after Ng5+, white queen must arrive within a move to h5/g4 square.
Another important thing is if the possibility of a Greek gift sac occurs IT HAS TO BE EXECUTED IMMEDIATELY !! Any delay may allow black to play a number of simple move to spoil the chances...such as if white delay by one move black may simply play h7 stopping everything .
Now lets see the follow ups after Bxh7+..........
Lets see the obvious move Kxh7....... Ng5+
a) Kh8?? the worst move ...after Qh5+ there will be mate in 2 Kg8 Qh7#
b) Kg8 is the most played move, there after Qg5 black has to give up the queen for the white knight to prevent checkmate...so white wins the black queen for two minor pieces
c) Black does not accept the sac and play Kh8....Qh5 threatening discovered attacks
d) The most bold move Kg6, Qg4 threatening to move the knight for powerful discovered attack
So we can see that black is lost in all variation.
I recently played a 3/2 blitz game on chess.com where I was able to execute a Greek gift sacrifice, the game is presented below for your consideration
Until next time......