I always have problems in executing The Greek Gift. This a position which I got in a recent game :

rn1q1rk1/1b1nbppp/p3p3/1p2P3/3N4/2NB4/PPP1Q1PP/R1B2RK1 w - - 3 13

Even though the Knight is not there on f6 square and can't come here safely, I lost after scarifying the Bishop.

Can someone explain when and when not to use the The Greek Gift and give some tips regarding the same?

  • 1
    Just one general rule is to have three pieces in the attack. Since g5 is controlled and the rook can't safely enter, the attack should fail. b-ok.cc/book/5207921/127bf8
    – Mike Jones
    Apr 25, 2020 at 9:06
  • @Mike Jones but either of the Knights can join the attack in 2 or 3 moves.
    – AKP2002
    Apr 25, 2020 at 9:08
  • 2
    As the knight would normally need to use g5 as an attacking square, and one needs to cross e4/d5, their support is illusory. There is also the remote possibility that black can get the knight to f8 which is a strong defensive role.
    – Mike Jones
    Apr 25, 2020 at 9:11
  • 2
    Sorry, you just have to calculate the tactics. This is chess.
    – SmallChess
    Apr 25, 2020 at 11:26
  • 1
    Note that black's bishop controls the g5 square. This is the exact square that white needs for a knight in order to threaten an invasion on h7. This means that the attack will be severely slowed down, if not just stopped dead in its tracks. Therefore black will have time to consolidate.
    – Scounged
    Apr 25, 2020 at 12:03

1 Answer 1


The main tips are:

1) A pawn on e5 helps. Not only does it prevent ...Nf6, but it also takes away the f6-square from Black's king once it comes to g6 (via ...Kxh7-...Kg6).

2) The greek gift is usually followed up with Ng5+. So if the g5-square is defended by Black, or if you don't have a knight on f3, this idea won't work. In some cases perhaps you could make do without the knight, such as Qh5+ followed by bringing a rook to the h-file, but in the position you posted that doesn't look feasible. Rf3 is prevented by the b7-bishop, while Rf4-Rh4 runs into ...Bxh4.

3) Assuming that a Ng5 follow up is possible, calculate the position after: Bxh7+ Kxh7 Ng5+ Kg6. This is usually what happens in the greek gift, since Kg8 runs into Qh5 (with Qh7# threatened). In the position after ...Kg6, how will you follow up? If you play Qg4, can ...f5 be met well (perhaps with exf6 or Qg3)?

4) Make sure that if Black answers Ng5+ with Kg8, Qh5 would truly be winning. For example, can the king escape in any way, or can the h7-square be guarded?

5) Do a force count of the kingside - who has a stronger armada of pieces concentrated there? For example, in your diagram the f1-rook is opened on the f-file and can be a great contributor. But again, since there is no Ng5+ follow up, the idea doesn't work.

  • So, controlling the g5/g4 square is important ?
    – AKP2002
    Apr 27, 2020 at 10:17
  • 1
    @AKP2002 Yes, if you want to follow up with Ng5+/Ng4+. Apr 27, 2020 at 17:45

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