Greek gift sacrifice
Greek gift sacrifices, or the threat of them, occur relatively frequently in play, especially at the lower levels. One of the most famous examples of the sacrifice is found in the game Edgard Colle versus John O'Hanlon, Nice 1930. Less commonly, a Greek gift sacrifice may be the prelude to a double bishop sacrifice, as seen in the game Lasker versus Bauer, Amsterdam 1889.
|This article uses algebraic notation to describe chess moves.|
The position after the moves 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Nf3 Bb4 6.Bd3 0-0?? (see diagram) is a simple case where the Greek gift sacrifice works. White can play 7.Bxh7+! Kxh7 8.Ng5+ to force Black to give up the queen to prevent mate:
- 8...Kh8 9.Qh5+ Kg8 10.Qh7#
- 8...Kg8 9.Qh5 Qxg5 10.Bxg5 wins the queen.
- 8...Kg8 9.Qh5 Re8 10.Qxf7+ Kh8 11.Qh5+ Kg8 12.Qh7+ Kf8 13.Qh8+ Ke7 14.Qxg7#
- 8...Kh6 9.Nxf7+ wins the queen.
- 8...Kg6 9.h4 and there is no satisfactory way to meet the threat of 10.h5+ Kh6 (10...Kf5 11.Qf3#) 11.Nxf7+, winning the queen.
- 8...Qxg5 9.Bxg5 wins the queen.
Black could play 7...Kh8 instead, but due to poor king safety, it also leads to a lost position:
- 7...Kh8 8.Ng5 g6 9.Qg4 Qe7 10.Qh3 Kg7 11.0-0 Nc6 12.Nge4 f6 13.Bh6+ Kf7 14.exf6 Nxf6 15.Ng5+ Ke8 16.Bxg6+ Kd8 17.Bxf8 Qxf8.
These variations are typical of many Greek gift sacrifices, though the outcome is not always so clear-cut.
The etymology of the phrase "Greek gift" in this context is not entirely clear. The obvious explanation is that it alludes to the Trojan Horse, and specifically to Laocoon's famous "timeo danaos et dona ferentes" ("I fear the Greeks even [when they are] bringing gifts", Virgil's Aeneid II.49). The Oxford Companion to Chess, however, suggests that one explanation is that the sacrifice often occurred in Gioachino Greco's games.
- Vladimir Vuković, Art of Attack in Chess – chapter 6 is dedicated to the classical bishop sacrifice
- David Rudel, http://www.bishop-sacrifice.com - Website with information on Bxh7+, a book devoted to the classical bishop sacrifice
- Rudel, David (2009). Bxh7+. Thinkers Press. ISBN 1-888710-37-3.
- Rudel, David (2009). Zuke 'Em: The Colle-Zukertort Revolutionized. Thinkers Press. ISBN 1-888710-39-X.