Reginacide II: Jettisoning the Lady

by Jonathan Speelman
6/7/2020 – Star columnist Jonathan Speelman continues looking at queen sacrifices — or “reginacides”. In this instalment, he analyzes two from his games and two from games played by Ding Liren. Not to be missed! | Painting by Abel de Pujol: "La mort de Marie Stuart", 1587

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More queen sacrifices

As promised last time, we continue today with some more “Reginacide” starting with a tragicomic involuntary instance in a recent blitz game.

This was in my Bundesliga Club's (Munich 1836) monthly blitz tournament, which is held on a Monday and currently online of course.

The first one I played in went pretty badly for me, but this time I started well dropping just one draw in the first ten games before I lost a tough battle against Amin Tabatabaei. I won another couple, but about one and a half hours into the two-hour session I began to feel tired and attempted to remedy the situation with some chocolate.

This definitely didn't work — or at least not quickly enough — as I first walked into a back rank mate and then lost this absurd game. (I also lost a third in a row to Gawain Jones, who ended up winning the tournament. But that was a perfectly reasonable game and after it I  recovered  with two wins and draws against Parham Maghsoodloo and Gawain to finish seventh.)


It could be argued that Reginacide is the last refuge of the chess-playing scoundrel and certainly, given the choice between a vile position with material equality and jettisoning the lady, I tend to come over all Henry VIII.

Here (and I've resisted working in some more puns) it worked out surprisingly well in a Dutch League game against Zsuzsa Polgar.


Of course all strong players know that sacrificing the queen is sometimes the best practical chance. In the Magnus Crlsen Invitational in April, Ding Liren twice faced queen sacrifices for unusual amounts of material, having to bail out to a draw against Alireza Firouzja but catching Fabiano Caruana's rather wild slog a few rounds later.


Select an entry from the list to switch between games

First Steps in Gambits and Sacrifices by IM Andrew Martin

Gambit play and the joy of sacrificing is an important part of the improving process. In order to become a strong player you must learn to attack and make combinations. Many continue to play in an aggressive style throughout an entire chess lifetime!


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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