Reginacide: The art and the pleasure of sacrificing your queen

by Jonathan Speelman
5/17/2020 – Our author looks at three games that included a queen sacrifice ('reginacide' means 'the murder of the queen'), and shows a particular case in which a "mad rook" can be neutralized. | Send in your own games! | Jon welcomes submissions from readers. If your games are selected for the Agony column, not only will you get free detailed commentary of your games by one of chess’s great authors and instructors, and former world no. 4 player, but you also win a free three-month ChessBase Premium Account!

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Queen sacrifices

The first edition of this column came out on May 11th, 2016 and after four years it's undergoing something of a make-over.

When I first asked for games from readers I was inundated with material, but most of this has now been used and the flow has greatly reduced. If you sent me unused material a while ago then it's possible that it has got lost in my inbox or my not-entirely-perfect filing system so please, if you'd like, do resend either to the drop box below or directly to my new email address I'd also be delighted to receive new material especially (though this certainly isn't necessary) if you'd like to discuss the games with me in person like last time. Ideally there should be two games, one Agony and one Ecstasy, and please use the subject ‘Agony’ or ‘Agony column’.

I will return to the old format of Agony and  Ecstasy from time to time, but will more often be using wider material. This week we're going to branch out with some instances of “Reginacide” — the murder of the queen: a word which ChessBase editor Johannes Fischer reminded me that I used in my Best Games book.

I love sacrificing my queen for material and a good position, and of course sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. There's plenty of material for a couple of columns, if not more. And please if you've got a queen sacrifice which you're proud of, do send it in to me by one of the above methods.

Before the doomed queens though, a mad rook which was sent to me a few days ago by Artan Alushi, a 47-year-old Albanian electrical engineer, who wrote:

I started  playing chess as a pastime about 10 years ago, and when looking for chess sites found the wonderful It was bliss.

I read every article of ChessBase, downloaded Chessbase Light 9 or 10, with all games and explanations, and best of all was a PGN file with 100 legendary chess games. Unfortunately my old PC doesn't work anymore, and i can't find where to download this file again. (Any help for Artan?)

I think chess is about attitude, inspiration and stimulus. I have perhaps  a dozen good games (for my standard), played between 2017 and 2019 in PlayChess as The_Shah, mostly 5-minute blitz.


Here White played 49.a6? and after ...Rd8+ the “mad rook” saved the day: 50.Ke5 Re8+ 51.Kf6 Rf8+ 52.Kg7 Rg8+ 53.Kxg8 ½–½

I initially thought that there might be nowhere to hide, but when I lazily asked an engine it went beep beep and quickly showed me that there was a way. Can you see how? Answer at the end.

We've got two instances from my games and then briefly but more topically one from the recent Magnus Carlsen Invitational.


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Jonathan Speelman, born in 1956, studied mathematics but became a professional chess player in 1977. He was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980–2006 and three times British Champion. He played twice in Candidates Tournaments, reaching the semi-final in 1989. He twice seconded a World Championship challenger: Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.


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