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Recently I've been watching a streamer who plays chess. He's been using an aggressive opening with 3. Qxf7 (when he's white). The opponent is forced to respond with Kxf7. And the streamer always wins even against strong masters so I think the position is strongly winning for white.

For an exmaple game, consider 1. e4 e5 2. Qh5 kf6 3. Qxf7 Kxf7.

Yes white is down a queen, but look at the compensation. Black is down a critical e pawn leaving a big hole in the middle. Black is forced to bongcloud and loses castling rights. Black is down a tempo or more, having to move the king to safety, allowing white to develop faster. And finally, black is in an unfamiliar position and taken by surprise (unless this opener catches on).

Is there anything black can do to stabilize and win, or if that's not possible, draw in this position?

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  • You mean Qxf7 and not Qxe7, right?
    – D M
    Sep 16, 2023 at 16:37
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    Is that streamer playing bullet?
    – Evargalo
    Sep 16, 2023 at 20:56
  • The interesting thing is, even though all experienced chess players will agree that this is completely winning for Black, it's not so easy to prove. I once tried to prove a win in 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Qg5 3.Nxg5 Kd8 4.Nxf7+ and even this seems out of reach with current software and hardware. It really makes you realize how hard it is to solve games.
    – koedem
    Sep 17, 2023 at 7:58
  • White has no compensation at all for his Q unless you count the f pawn. White could get more for his Q by playing 3.Qxe5+ Be7 4.Qxe7+.
    – bof
    Sep 17, 2023 at 22:34
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    Yes, you can be a queen down and win, given a sufficiently weak opponent or a sufficiently fast time control. Reminds me of the anecdote about the chess master who convinced a patzer that giving queen odds was an advantage to the odds giver, by alternately giving and receiving the odds, and only winning the games where he started without his queen..
    – bof
    Sep 17, 2023 at 22:38

2 Answers 2

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[FEN ""]
1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nf6 3.Qxf7 Kxf7

According to the lichess player database, White wins about 31% of the time, while Black wins 65% of the time. While this would indicate that White has some compensation for the queen, it's clearly not enough. Black is going to waste some time on their king safety, true, but White is actually down a tempo to start out, as Black's knight is developed but White has nothing developed. This makes it much harder to capitalize on the king exposure. The immediate 4.Bc4+ attempting to develop with tempo is countered by 4...d5.

Black's plan here is to survive and get to a more defensible position - having sacrificed a whole queen, White has no chance if they can't get to Black's king fast. If Black can develop the f8 bishop and get in Rf8 and Kg8, Black's as good as castled (and the half-open f-file can actually help Black's rook.) Playing d6 and Be6 can help guard the diagonal the king is on (and the d6 pawn guards e5.) Any piece trades are probably in Black's favor, as White can't afford to go to an endgame.

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White is clearly and totally lost after 1. e4 e5 2. Qh5? Nf6 3. Qxf7??. The statistics in the lichess database cited by DM above are very surprising in light of that fact (I would have expected a black winrate in the high 90 percent range, not in the range of just shy of 70 percent; LC0 is less generous than me, giving Black a winning probability of 99.9 percent).

However, looking at the actual games in the lichess database that end with a white win, it is worth noting that they seem to come from White players with lichess ratings < 1700 playing bullet. At that level, in bullet, I suppose a lot goes, especially if one side is very familiar with an opening the other side rightly thinks is totally losing.

A much darker, also possible explanation is that these are players who are substantially stronger than their rating and who use this opening as a kind of handicap to sandbag much weaker opponents.

In any case, there are no redeeming factors to this opening and Black is totally winning here, with no compensation for White to speak of.

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  • It's an interesting ratings curve; the lower rated and higher rated games have Black winning more (and at 2500 it's simply not played at all), but the middle ratings around 1600 are much closer, outcomewise, than you'd expect. After another queen-losing opening, 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qc6 4.Bb5, Black has lost a queen for a bishop and White has a win rate of 91%. That's why I said White has "some" (though obviously inadequate) compensation in OP's line; it's perhaps not quite as bad as the average opening where you lose your queen fast.
    – D M
    Sep 17, 2023 at 4:47
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    I would think those two lines do not differ substantially in the intrinsic amount of compensation that the queen-losing side has (indeed I think purely on those grounds, losing queen vs bishop in the Scandinavian is better). However, in the vast majority of 1.e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qc6 cases, Black didn't intend to lose their queen, whereas in the Qxf7+ "sacrifice" White goes into the losing position fully knowing what they are doing. They play with a handicap, and probably have some experience doing so, and they play bullet, against weak opponents, so they manage to win some.
    – Polytropos
    Sep 17, 2023 at 21:55
  • That's a valid point. It's hard to find lines with more than a couple of games where the queen is intentionally sacrificed early to compare, though.
    – D M
    Sep 17, 2023 at 23:28

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