Chess Terms
Queen Sacrifice

Queen Sacrifice

If there were something such as "style points" in chess, queen sacrifices would get all of them! Learn everything about this sacrifice that is easily one of the flashiest and most surprising moves that can happen in chess.


What Is A Queen Sacrifice?

A queen sacrifice happens when a player voluntarily lets the opponent capture their queen. The player offering the queen sacrifice does so to try to gain an advantage like more material, a better position, or checkmate.

Queen Sacrifice
Morphy-Duke Karl/Count Isouard, 1858. Morphy sacrificed his queen to checkmate on the next move with 17.Rd8#.

Like other types of sacrifices, queen sacrifices can be sound or unsound. Sound sacrifices give the player enough advantage to compensate for the loss of the queen. Unsound sacrifices, on the other hand, fail to do so.

Why Are Queen Sacrifices Important?

Queen sacrifices are not only important because they look good. They are also a powerful surprise weapon that players often overlook. Since the queen is the most powerful piece in chess, it's not uncommon for players to dismiss the idea of giving it up voluntarily. For this reason, queen sacrifices can catch an opponent off guard and pave the way for a brilliant victory!

Below is a well-known example of this kind of sacrifice. It comes from a 1911 game between Edward Lasker (a distant relative of world champion Emanuel Lasker) and George Thomas. The game reached the position below:

Queen Sacrifice
Lasker-Thomas, 1911. The position would be roughly equal if it were not for one detail. Can you spot it?

It was in that position that Lasker uncorked the stunning sacrifice 11.Qxh7+. After that move, there was no way for Black to save his king. You can see the continuation of the game below with annotations by NM Sam Copeland.

As you can see, queen sacrifices can turn the game upside down and create wonderful chess masterpieces. If you want to see more jaw-dropping moves like the one above, check out this video by NM James Canty III explaining GM Mikhail Tal's top-five queen sacrifices:

Test Your Knowledge

Now that you know the power of a queen sacrifice, it's time for you to test your skills. Try to find the best move in each of the puzzles below:

Puzzle 1

Puzzle 2

Puzzle 3

Conclusion

You now know what a queen sacrifice is, its importance, and a few examples of it. Head over to our Puzzles page to practice your tactics so that you can spot beautiful sacrifices, too!