When Two is Not Enough

Every player values his queen. And there is little wonder why. It is the most powerful piece of the game and with it, sometimes by itself, quickly mate the opposition. Take a look at Scholar’s Mate (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Qf3 Nd4 4.Qxf7#), Fool’s Mate (1.f4 e5 2.g4 Qh4#), even a trap in the Petrov (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nxe4 4.Qe2 Nf6 5.Nc6+).

It stands to reason that a player would welcome another queen joining his ranks. Even more so if the opponent fails to do the same. Imagine the possibilities!

But chess is not so simple. A second queen does not automatically confer or guarantee victory.

Let’s look at some opening examples.

England 1981
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bg4 5.Bxc4 e6 6.h3 Bh5 7.Nc3 a6 8.O-O Nbd7 9.e4 e5 10.g4 exd4 11.gxh5 dxc3 12.e5 cxb2 13.exf6 bxa1=Q 14.Bxf7+! Kxf7 15.Qd5+ Ke8 16.f7+ Ke7 17.Re1+ Ne5 18.Bg5mate 1-0

Sprenger (2199)-Danner (2369)
Austrian Ch., 2002
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Nc6 8.e5 h6 9.Bh4 Nxd4 10.exf6 Nf5 11.fxg7 Qxh4+ 12.g3 Nxg3

13.gxh8=Q Ne4+ 14.Ke2 Qf2+ 15.Kd3 Nc5+ 16.Kc4 b5+ 17.Nxb5 axb5+ 18.Kc3 b4+ 19.Kc4 d5+ 20.Kb5 Bd7+ 0-1

So, what happened? Well, in both cases, the promoted queen finds herself in a corner on the board. A corner, as you probably know, is a square in which the queen has less moves, less mobility, and less power than existing on the side or in the center of the board.

And since the promotion occurred in the opening, there are many pieces on the board that block or hinders the movement of the newly born queen.

The side with the extra queen usually has to spend an extra tempo or two to get the brand-new queen into play.

All of which subtracts from usually positive aspect of an additional queen.

Let’s take a look at two other games.

The first shows a White king under tremendous pressure from Black’s knight, passed pawn, and sole queen. It also shows how fond some players have for their multiple queens, and an unwillingness to give one of them up.

Vienna, 1898
1.e4 e6 2.Qe2!?
(Chigorin is credited with coming up with this move. Its main goal is to harass Black’s development as the queen on e2 can easily be put into play on either side of the board.) 2…b6 (2…c5 is an alternate move.) 3.Nc3 Bb7 4.Nh3 Nc6 5.d3 g6 6.Bg5 Be7 7.Qd2 Bxg5 8.Nxg5 Qe7 9.f4 O-O-O 10.O-O-O f6 11.Nf3 Nh6 12.d4 d5 13.e5 f5 14.Bb5 a6 15.Be2 Nf7 16.h3 h5 17.Rhg1 Rdg8 18.g3 Kb8 19.Kb1 Ka7 20.Ka1 Nb8 21.Rb1 Nd7 22.b4 b5 23.a4 c6 24.Qc1 Ra8 25.a5 Rag8 26.Na2 g5 27.Qe3 Nf8 28.Nc1 h4 29.gxh4 gxf4 30.Qf2 Rxg1 31.Qxg1 Rh6 32.Nd3 Ng6 33.h5 Nh4 34.Nxh4 Qxh4 35.Qg7 f3 36.Bxf3 Qxd4+ 37.Rb2 Nd6 38.Qxh6 Nc4 39.Qf4 Qc3 40.h6 c5 41.h7 cxb4 42.h8=Q b3! (Counterplay!) 43.Qf8 bxc2 44.Qc5+ Ka8

45.Qfd4?? [Chigorin himself analyzed his blunder. White wins after 45.Qfxc4! bxc4 (45…dxc4 46.Qc8+) 46.Qb4 Qxb4 47.Rxb4 cxd3 48.Kb2. 45.Qc1 +-.] 45…Qxa5+ 0-1

The second one demonstrates how a queen in the corner can still be more of a spectator on the corner than a contributing member, even in an endgame. And how an Initiative can trump the extra material.

WFM Natalya Tsodikova (2196)-FM Jon Jacobs (2200)
Mechanics Institute vs. Marshall match
chess.com, Oct. 15 2019
[GM Nick de Firmian. “Mechanics’ Versus Marshall”, CL, Jan. 2020]

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 g6 3.b3 Bg7 4.Bb2 0-0 5.Bg2 d5 6.0-0 c5 7.c4 d4 8.b4 Nc6 9.bxc5 e5 10.d3 Nd7 11.Nfd2 Nxc5 12.Ba3 Qa5 13.Ne4 Nxe4!? (An interesting Exchange sacrifice for the initiative. Black has active pieces for the material and dark square play.) 14.Bxf8 Bxf8?! (Even stronger was 14….Nxf2! 15.Rxf2 Bxf8. The weakness of e3 would add to Black’s compensation for the Exchange.) 15.Bxe4 Qc7 16.Nd2 a5 17.Bg2 f5 18.a3 a4 19.Qc2 Bc5 20.Rfb1 Qe7 21.Qb2 Ra6 22.Qc1 Kg7 23.Rb5 Na7 24.Rb2 Nc6 25.Raa2 g5 26.Rb1 Kg6 27.Rb5 Na7 28.Rbb2 Nc6 29.g4?! (White goes for the win! This was a hard-fought match and the players go all out, yet the position now becomes very sharp.) 29….Bxa3 30.gxf5+ (Bad is 30.Rxa3 Qxa3 since 31.Rb6 is not check.) 30….Bxf5 31.Ne4? Bxb2 32.Qxb2 Qb4 33.Qc1 h6 34.Ng3 a3 35.Nxf5 Kxf5 36.Be4+ Kf6 (Black is winning on the queenside, but his king is unsafe on the opposite wing. Natalya quickly switches fronts.) 37.Qf1! Kg7 38.Qh3 Ne7 39.Qd7 Kf6 40.Qxb7 Rb6?! (Here Jon misses his best chance. He should play for the endgame where his king is safe. 40….Qxb7! 41.Bxb7 Rb6 42.Be4 Rb3 is difficult for White, e.g. 43.Kf1 Ke6 44.Ke1 Kd6 45.Kd2 Kc5 46.Kc2 Kb4 with full control of the board.) 41.Qa8!? Qb1+ 42.Kg2 Qxa2 43.Qf8+ Ke6 44.Qxh6+ Kd7 45.Qxb6 Qb2 46.Qa7+ Ke8 47.Qa4+ Kf8 48.Qd7?! (Best was 48.Qa8+ Kf7 49.Qa7 a2 50.Bd5+ Kf6 51.Qa6+ Kg7 52.Qa7 Kf8 53.Qa8+ Kg7 54.Qa7 forcing the draw.) 48….a2 49.Bd5 Nxd5 (Black still has winning chances after 49….Qb6.) 50.cxd5 a1=Q

51.Qd8+ Kf7 52.Qd7+ Kf6 53.Qe6+ Kg7 54.Qe7+ Kg6 55.Qe6+ Kg7 56.Qe7+ Kg6 57.Qe6+ Kh5 58.Qh3+ Kg6 (Black is a whole queen up, but his king cannot escape the checks.) 59.Qe6+ 1/2-1/2

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s