Chess Sacrifice as a Chess Tactics: to gain tempo

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Chess Sacrifice as Chess Tactics identified sacrifice as a tactics to gain tempo. Gaining a tempo is an important chess tactics that provides you with an initiative (see Chess Sacrifice as a Chess Tactics: to seize initiative) whereby you take a lead forcing the opponent to passively follow what your moves dictate! You achieve a tempo by threatening to capture a piece, or to gain substantial material, or to deliver a check – any of which will need the opponent to attend to these immediate threats, shelving for the time being the plans he wanted to pursue. Diverting the opponent’s plan, you get enough time to continue with your attack to a successful end.

In our recent posting of some Chess Trivia on current list of Grandmasters, we referred to Andre Lilienthal, the oldest living Grandmaster at 98! While fervently wishing him to complete his century, we thought that the best tribute we could pay is to use one of his brilliant games against a player no less than the great Capablanca.

The game hardly needs any comment and we use it to show the use of sacrifice as a chess tactics to gain tempo and how a tempo can continue to be maintained.

You have already been introduced to Lilienthal (b. 1911), and Capablanca (1888-1942) certainly does not need it, and if we were to start on those lines, this article could never be completed within bounds of reasonable space and time!

This game was played at Hastings tournament in 1935. Seeing that it is a short game of 26 moves and because of the way the game was played, we are reproducing the full game here.

1. d4 Nf6
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 Bb4
4. a3 Bxc3+
5. bxc3 b6
6. f3 d5
7. Bg5 h6
8. Bh4 Ba6
9. e4 Bxc4
10. Bxc4 dxc4
11. Qa4+ Qd7
12. Qxc4 Qc6
13. Qd3 Nbd7
14. Ne2 Rd8
15. 0-0 a5
16. Qc2 Qc4
17. f4 Rc8
18. f5 e5
19. dxe5 Qxe4


A queen sacrifice to gain tempo


20. exf6 Qxc2 White gains tempo by capturing the Knight that was providing support to the Queen. Now White was threatening to capture the unsupported Black Queen. That the reverse was also true was the point on which White made his Queen sacrifice! If Black captured the f6 pawn with his Knight to support his Queen, White could initiate Queen exchange leaving Black with a Knight short!
21. fxg7 Rg8 White continued to maintain tempo by threatening to capture the Rook, in the process promoting his pawn to Queen and delivering check to Black King – all in one move! So Black had to guard against this threat.
22. Nd4 Qe4 White still maintains tempo by shifting focus to other end to threaten the Black Queen. But there was a deadlier threat of quick mate starting with 23. Rae1+. Black had to give up his Queen to meet the multiple threats!
23. Rae1 Nc5 23. … Qxe1 24. Rxe1+ Ne5 25. Rxe5+
24. Rxe4+ Nxe4
25. Re1 Rxg7
26. Rxe4+ Kd7 and Black resigned with this. White’s 27. Bf6 followed by 28. Nb5 would pose problems too much to handle for Black.

It can be said that Lilienthal played a perfect game reminiscent of Capablanca in his prime!

Watch Actual Game


  1. sandy says:

    Interesting game. Nice to see such old games being discussed. Wish Lilenthal a century

  2. ChessTeacher says:

    @Sandy as the saying goes OLD IS GOLD.

  3. Hunter says:

    I hate this opening PERIOD.

  4. Paul says:

    Kramnik games are good examples of some postional sacs as well, I know he is not that great tactician but his positional game play is great, you should do some of his games.

  5. Art says:

    Now that is a good combination to beat the hero of that time Capablanca.

  6. Tal says:

    Hey the writer of this post can you please tell me if jose r capablanca was running out of time in this game?

  7. James says:

    Looking at the game, i see the guy playing vs raul was not bad at all, i am sure he had some harsh time in life otherwise he would have been probably in list of top players.

  8. ChessTeacher says:

    @Hunter why is it that you hate the opening? I for one love the opening it is a solid chess opening.

  9. Patrick says:

    thanks for the nice post. The video of the entire game at the end of the article is the plus as we can not only get to know of the old grandmasters, but also play the game instantly in this blog.


  10. ChessMaster says:


    We will keep it in mind.

  11. ChessMaster says:


    No, we have no such information. But it is a fact that in 1935, Capablanca was 47 yrs. old and certainly past his prime whereas Lilienthal was only 24 yrs. old. If you read the last sentence, you will see our comment that Lilienthal’s play was reminiscent of Capablanca in his prime.

  12. ChessMaster says:


    No, not bad at all if you consider that he played against most of World Men’s and Women’s Champions of his playing days and defeated Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Euwe, Botvinnik, Smyslov, and Vera Menchik.

    Though he played against Petrosian and Karpov also, I did not find any record of his win against them. I do not know if he at all played against Tal or Spassky.

    The game referred in the article was Lilienthal’s most celebrated victory.


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  2. Chess Lessons – Improve Your Chess » Blog Archive » Chess Sacrifice as a Chess Tactics: to seize initiative
  3. Chess Sacrifice as a Chess Tactics: to seize initiative | PoPChess
  4. Chess Lessons – Improve Your Chess » Blog Archive » Chess Sacrifice as a Chess Tactics: to gain time to promote a passed pawn

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