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Merry-Go-Rounds and Sacrificial Queens

Well friends, vacation time is over and it is back to work for me! It has been a while since I posted game commentary and much of that had to do with prepping for my vacation time as well as covering some extensive and stressful last-minute family items. Now, all that is gone and the grind has returned, although now I feel my batteries are recharged and I am ready to go!

The following game was annotated on the Carnival Magic cruise liner while at sea in the Bahamas! I have the sunburn to prove it! It was played on Chess.com in late March and I chose to annotate it because it has some cool tactical plays, it demonstrates how the balance of power on the board can change in a moment’s notice, and it ends with a exceptional Queen sacrifice. Play through the full game at the bottom of this post after the move-by-move commentary.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Nc3 Be7 5. d4 Nf6 6. O-O O-O 7. dxe5 Bxb5 In an unusual counter move, Black ignores the dangerous advancing pawn and challenges White’s relatively solid Queenside by taking the Bishop on b5.

8.Nxb5 d5 9. exf6 Bxf6 10. Bf4 Qd7 11. Nxc7 Black is powerless to stop the Knight from destroying the a8 Rook. Black’s best move here is to further develop his pieces to minimize the damage.

11…Nc6 12. Nxa8 Rxa8 13. Qd2 Rd8 14.Rad1 Bxb2 15. exd5 Ne7 16. Ne5 Qb5 17. d6 Now, White has a deadly passed pawn in enemy territory and his Queen-Rook battery remains intact.

17…Nd5 18. Bg5 Rxd6 19. Rfe1 f6 20. Bxf6 gxf6 21. Qh6 Bxe5 22. Rxe5 A devastating blunder! I felt my heart sink when this move was made. Trading the Rook for the Bishop in this case made almost no sense whatsoever.

22…Qb2 23. Re8+ Kf7 24. Qf8+ Kg6 25. Qxd6 Nc3 26. Qg3+ Kf5 27. Qf3+ Kg6 28. Rg8+ Kf7 29. g3 Nxd1 30. Qxd1 Kxg8 31. Qd8+ Kg7 32. Qe7+ Kg6 33. Qe4+ Kf7 34. Qxh7+ Ke6 35. Qg8+ Kf5 36. Qd5+ Kg6 37. Qg8+ Kf5 38. Qh7+ Ke6 39. f4 Qc1+ 40. Kg2 Qd2+ 41. Kh3 Qe2 42. Qg8+ Kd6 43. Qf8+ Kd5 44. Qf7+ Kd4 45. Qxf6+ Kc4 46. Qf7+ Kc3 47. Qc7+ Kd2 48. Qa5+ Kc1 49. Qa3+ Kd2 50. c3 Qh5+ 51. Kg2 Ke2 52. Qe7+ Kd2 53. Qd6+ Ke2 54. Qe6+ Kd2 55. g4 Qb5 56. Qd6+ Ke2 57. Qe5+ White thought long and hard about this move. Until this point, Black had been unwilling to accept any significant trades or sacrifices. If he foolishly chose to save his King by Kd2, then his Queen is lost and the game is over. On the other hand, capturing the e5 Queen is just as deadly since the recapture by the f-pawn guarantees a new White Queen and game victory.

57…Qxe5 58. fxe5 Kd3 59. e6 Ke4 60. e7 1-0 The King’s futile race to stop the pawn is over. Black resigned and the Queen sacrifice brought White a clear and decisive victory.