I made a bet with a non-neglegible stake that I will win a game against a friend without queen. My Elo rating is about 2000-2100, my friend's should be around 1400. Today I played with the black pieces with a rook odds and I won.

He didn't make big blunders and he played the opening quite well (e4, developed both knights and the white bishop and sacrificed on f7 for my 2nd rook), but he got lost in the middle game and did not know what to do.

These are my observations:

1) He knows that he wants to exchange as many pieces as possible even with slight material costs.

2) He knows how to play the standard textbook e4 - e5 opening, but I guess he is not familiar with other openings.

3) He didn't make huge blunders, so I cannot expect to sacrifice pieces and win in the opening phase.

4) The middle and endgame should be the parts of the game where he is less experienced.

5) I expect him to be weak in tactics and to loose pawns in not-obvious situations.

When I play without a rook odds, I try to keep the lines closed or to play with white a really aggressive e4, f4. However, I don't want to go into e4, since he knows that opening to a certain extent. I would rather go for c4, which is my standard opening. Ideally I would like to go for opposite castling with a pawns attack.

What should be my strategy for that game? / How can I prepare for that game?

In which variant of the english opening is it difficult for a beginner to exploit a queen?

3 Answers 3


Years ago my club in England ran a handicap tournament in the summer, which I organised and also played in. Had you and your friend been members, I think you would have played at Queen odds, or maybe Rook plus time handicap. In our tournaments the odds-givers did surprisingly well. Here is some advice based on that, although your own list is already pretty good.

  1. Dont go for a briliancy. If it happens it happens, but dont set your sights on it.

  2. Done even go for active development. Pieces out in the middle get exchanged off. Keep things closed, but retain the option to open them up.

  3. Dont set up direct threats unless they are well hidden or unstoppable. You may just force him to make good moves.

  4. Set up an unfamiliar situation in the opening. I had good results with 1. b3. English could be good also. And it still is an English without your Queen. You just wont be playing book lines.

  5. Keep central control and identify important squares.

  6. Stay mobile and flexible. Steadily improve your position. Wait for the opponent to make mistakes. He will. You are correct that he will not make good plans. He will be reluctant to sacrifice.

Playing like this you will probably win some material about once in every ten moves. Wait until material is fairly equal before you try for a mating attack.

  • 1
    Can you recommend something after 1. b3 d5 2. Lb2 e5? I don't want to be locked down, be able to develop my knights and bishops. Or what would be your idea after these moves?
    – cerv21
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 14:03
  • I would probably just play e3, which is the 'normal' move, following up with c4 and sometimes f4.. Obviously, in any kind of serious analysis, White is dead lost, but you are hoping he cant make use of his advantages. You have to wait and see what sort of mistake he will make. And, of course, he might not make any.
    – Philip Roe
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 0:51
  1. makes no sense. Opening theory is thrown off the window the moment you give material odds. All considerations about "knowing the opening" do not apply.

Play the type of game that allows you to put pressure without trading pieces. In the English opening, white has a queen. You won't be playing an English opening. I'd suggest you to go for a position with a closed center that allows for active play on the wings. Something like a King's Indian pawn structure assuming both sides castled short

  • 1
    My wording was not good. What I meant with 2) was that he knows how to develop the knights and bishops and he knew about the weak f7 point. I am not sure if castling on the same side is a good idea: Then I cannot use my pawns to attack his king, because I would be much weaker without a queen. But if we castle on opposite sides, I could attack with pawns, and if he attacks with pawns, I have a good chances to lock the position off around my king. What do you think about that? I thought about b3, Lb2, Nc3, 0-0-0 and a g4, h4 attack...
    – cerv21
    Commented May 7, 2020 at 8:53
  1. Don't trade material - It will make your handicap more apparent as the game continues.

  2. Attack. If you can overwhelm your opponent with your pieces, then that is the best way. You can't stand to be passive.

  3. Play openings that don't involve the queen much, e.g., The Scotch game clearly doesn't work for White as White loses a pawn with exd4.

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