Study of the Month - Double trouble queens

by Siegfried Hornecker
5/28/2022 – Polarchy or Polyarchy is the idea to have the burden of government on the shoulders of multiple people, as opposed to the monarchy that only sees one king or queen with all the burden. In chess, the king remains the sole objective of the game, but in rare cases one might be faced with the constellation that said king is joined not only by one but two queens. | Photo: Pixabay

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Double trouble queens

Practical play takes over currently in the local leagues, every Sunday in May is a playing day, as the lockdowns here are lifted. As such, my attention was taken away from chess composition, and I decided to again write an article that doesn't require much research but will yield results that readers could enjoy. Chess composers hold a monthly Zoom meeting where I showed the following study in April, being reminded of it when I saw the award in the newest issue of "EG". My fascination will be conveyed by putting my thoughts into an explanatory text.


Gady Costeff. Tourney of the Polish Chess Federation 2020, 1st prize

White to move and draw

After the introduction 1.Bd4+ Ka2 2.Nc3+ Kxa3 obviously taking on a4 loses, but it is not easy to see that White has the resource 3.Bxe3! d1Q 4.Bc5+ Kb2 5.Bd4


Black to move

Black has two queens against knight and bishop, supported by four pawns. Black has the move. The material advantage is so huge that even losing a queen for a minor piece leaves Black winning. And yet, studying this position reveals its intricacies. First of all, White threatens to take a queen with double check, which means that we can rule out any queen move to b3 or c2. Taking on c4 or d3 remains as an idea. Taking on c4 fails to the double check on d1 and afterwards retaking on c4. So we are left with 5.-Qxd4 6.Nxa4+ but now any move of the king has a weakness. Certainly 6.-Kb3?? 7.Nc5+ loses even. After 6.-Ka3 7.Nc3! the clever warrior saves the clergyman with a defensive fork on b5. So Black might get clever, but now a foot soldier can shine: 7.-Kb3 8.Be5! Qf5 9.f4! defends everything. Draw!

Black is left with moves by the king, but where? If he goes to b3 or c2, the queens stop defending each other. But neither 5.-Ka3 6.Bc5+ Kb2 7.Bd4 nor 5.-Kc1 6.Be3+ Kb2 7.Bd4 change the situation. An incredible positional draw! How can this be? Again, Black has two queens against two minor pieces. He has a win by material even if a queen is traded for a minor piece. But the position is such that he can't even receive a minor piece if he wants to trade. Perfect geometry, and an unexpected domination of the three royal pieces. A well-deserved first prize for this composer who specializes in tasks and geometrical patterns!

Searching the database of Harold van der Heijden with "Chess Query Language" - a tool also useful for practical play databases, as long as they are in PGN format - brings up more studies with two black queens. I added that they must remain for at least two full moves, so immediate trades, or after a single check or zwischenzug, are excluded. The other examples this month all stem from this search. But this month again there is a twist: I will give an opportunity to readers to solve the finales of the studies. The complete solution is replayable at the end of the article.


Alain Pallier, Victory Tourney 2020, commendation

White to move and draw

This study fits perfectly, as after 1.b7! b1Q the queens remain on the board. How does White continue after 2.Nxd4 Qeb4! to secure the draw?

This seems to be a refined version of a study of the same author from the UAPA Internet Tourney 2019. The "UAPA" is the Argentinean problem chess federation.

Let us return to Gady Costeff. A few years later he showed an interesting idea that made use of the two queens.


Gady Costeff. Hoch JT, Variantim 2016. 1st prize

White to move and win

After the introduction 1.e7+ Ke8 2.f6 hxg5+ 3.Ke5! Rxf6 4.Kxf6 f1Q+ 5.Ke6 Qa1 the mate on h8 is protected against. White continues his attack with 6.e3! g1Q 7.Be2 Qgb1 but now b5 also is protected.


White to move

With only bishop and rook against two queens, how can White finish his mate attack?

Chess studies can include tactical battles that are far removed from anything that could be seen in a game, especially when stalemate ideas are involved. A Dutch composer that also is known as a world-class practical player comes up with such fantasies often. Such was also the case in the following 2013 study:


Jan Timman. New in Chess 2013.

White to move and win

After 1.Kf6 Rf8+ 2.Ke7 e1Q+ 3.Kxf8 Bc5+! 4.bxc5 Qg3 the stalemate idea shows, but both players dance now with their pieces: 5.Rf4! Qg4! 6.Nc2 a1Q sees the birth of the second queen. White cleverly continues with 7.d4! Qf1


White to move

The tension is high. How should White proceed?

The following study, ending in stalemate, is from one of the modern prodigys of chess composition. The Ukrainian star rose fast, never shied away from telling his opinion on his blog or website. It seems that both of those publications are down now due to the war in Eastern Europe.


Sergiy Didukh, Skrinnik 50 JT 2006, 1st honorable mention

White to move and draw

After 1.Kf6 b1Q the solution is very much forced. Can you find it?


Sergey Borodavkin. Gurgenidze JT 2004, commendation

White to move and win

David Gurgenidze created some endgame studies with systematic manoeuvers himself, and Borodavkin's study received a commendation for one - an earlier version from Shakhmatnaya kompozitsiya 2000 had turned out to be incorrect before after only four days. The position is very heavy, and after 1.b8Q b1Q 2.axb5+ Qbxb5 the four queens will have a cunning fight. How can White utilize checkmate ideas to win?


Ladislav Salai jr., Československý šach 1999, 2nd prize

White to move and win

After the introduction 1.d8Q b1Q 2.d7 b2 3.Qa8+ Qa2 4.d8Q b1Q four queens are on the board. White is a pawn down but has the initiative. How can it be converted into a winning endgame?

We will end with a study by Mario Matouš. Long-time readers already will know how to deal with his mad queen and also the biography and a few selected studies of him.

How about two queens who might not be mad but crazy? Have a look!


Mario Matouš, Philidor 200 Anniversary Tourney "Pour Philidor" 1994, 1st to 3rd honorable mention

White to move and draw

Both sides must push their pawns first, but when the second queen appears after 1.a7! c2 2.b6 Qd7 3.b7 c1Q White seems to be in dire straits. He has to become a sultan of swinging this game around: How can the draw be achieved?

Martin Minski has provided two of his own endgame studies when I presented him my idea for this article. Both show tactical tense battles, and both received the highest honors, so I hope that readers will find pleasure in solving them.


Martin Minski, Sozyura 120 MT 2018, 1st prize

White to move and win

1.e8Q g1Q 2.Qa4+ Kxd5 3.h8Q is a normal enough introduction. But now Black can play for a draw. What is his idea, and how can White thwart it?

Jan Sprenger is a German practical player and philosopher who once [told me his views on aesthetics]. His collaboration with Martin Minski led to the following study that has a petite combinaison as an ending.


Martin Minski & Jan Sprenger

"In Memory of Generation" tourney, section 5: Iuri Akobia MT 2021. 1st prize

White to move and win

The tourney "In Memory of Generation" honored many deceased composers of the generation 1920-1940: Gia Nadareishvili (1921-1991), Iosif Krikheli (1931-1988), Velimir Kalandadze (1935-2017), Vazha Neidze(1937-2020) and Iuri Akobia (1937-2014). Each had a thematic tourney assigned, judged by David Gurgenidze.

The awards can be found for example at the ARVES page (see the tab for "Memorial Tys" there below the recent awards) where also PGN files are available as well as pages where the studies can be replayed. You can replay our studies below and then head there to replay the uncommentated award studies if you want, while reading the PDF files to understand why they were selected. For this article, however, the study above is relevant.

White wants to checkmate, so 1.Kg6! h1Q 2.e8Q Qhxd5 leaves only one option to continue the attack: After 3.Qc8+ Kg3 the authors designate the position as "position x", hinting at something that will reference this position in either a sideline or the future mainline. Indeed, White can continue the attack, but there is not only a correct solution but also a thematic try. Can you find both?

With this, we indeed reach the end of the article. I was unable to write about anything this month that would have needed extensive research, but I hope that I made up for this with the selection of endgame studies. If not, you can feel free to post other good studies in the comments below.



Siegfried (*1986) is a German chess composer and member of the World Federation for Chess Composition, subcommitee for endgame studies. His autobiographical book "Weltenfern" (in English only) can be found on the ARVES website. He presents an interesting endgame study with detailed explanation each month.