Obviously if you get checkmate from it it's fine, but at what point does it become unacceptable?

  • 3
    While the question is good, it is very broad. Could you please specify more? Oct 19, 2014 at 16:40

3 Answers 3


If you can't calculate a clear win after sacrificing your queen, do not do it.


There are (basically) two ways to justify a sacrifice: checkmate, or win the material back.

When you sac a queen you are probably not winning the material back unless it's part of a little combination, like setting up a knight fork (although it is possible, especially if you have a far-advanced pawn), so generally you won't do it unless you can mate your opponent as a result.

(I assume that you are talking about "real" queen sacrifices and not something like trading your queen for two rooks.)

  • a nitpick - if you can get similar material back, then it isn't a sacrifice - it's just an exchange.
    – Tony Ennis
    Oct 18, 2014 at 16:20
  • 3
    @TonyEnnis Yeah, I think we are agreeing - that's what I was getting at in my last sentence. In my first sentence, I was referring to the opponent having to return the material further down the road in order to defend. "My attack will be so strong that I'll either mate him or eventually win back even more material" is a valid reason to embark on a speculative sacrifice, and I still call that a sacrifice.
    – dfan
    Oct 18, 2014 at 16:48

It's the queen, the best piece on the board. Sacrificing it is almost always bad!

I think most people never play a correct queen sacrifice in their lives, apart from those cases where it checkmates immediately or the threats are so large that it wins the material back immediately.

There are cases where a pure positional queen sacrifice seems to work, for instance there are some lines in the King's Indian where Black sacrifices the queen for two pieces and two pawns, which is not usually considered equivalent to a queen. This is known as Bronstein's queen sacrifice line:

[FEN ""]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 O-O 6.Be3 e5 7.d5 Nh5 8.Qd2 Qh4+
9.g3 Nxg3 10.Qf2 Nxf1 11.Qxh4 Nxe3

Black will also win the pawn on c4. I don't know what current theory thinks of this line, but I don't think it's refuted.

But, again, there's a reason this line is famous -- positional queen sacrifices almost never work.

  • In the final position after Nxe3, the white king is statically weak while the black king is statically safe. This is important in the evaluation of this position. Black has a clear plan, to open up diagonals and files with c7-c6xd5 and f7-f5xe4, plant a knight on d4 or f4, invade with the bishops and rooks and deliver a checkmate. White will have a harder time finding a good plan.
    – user2001
    Oct 30, 2014 at 20:44

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