Chess Sacrifice as a Chess Tactics: to open files or lines of attack

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Among the purposes listed for chess sacrifice in Chess Sacrifices as Chess Tactics, this is one of the most frequent of such uses and may occur sometime or other in a majority of chess games. The lines of attacks that are opened are usually diagonals for Bishops or files for Rooks or either type for the Queen. It is also common occurrence to see a sacrifice of a Bishop to open files for Rooks or Queen, and sacrifice of a Rook to open diagonals for Bishops or files for other Rook or Queen. In certain circumstances, even the Queen may be sacrificed if that brings a quicker checkmate by allowing easy passage for other pieces along the opened lines. Of course we are not excluding the sacrifice of pawns or Knights from the ambit of such chess tactics.

You need not think that such an attacking tactics ends with sacrifice of a Bishop or a Rook or something simple like that. There are famous attacking games involving double Bishop sacrifice or double Rook sacrifice or sometimes even more. Cornering the opponent’s King is the ultimate aim, so the attacking player can afford to give up everything that can clear his way to that goal.

The game used as example here shows a double Bishop sacrifice to open lines for Queen and Rook. It was played by Koltanowski against Defosse in the 1936 Belgian Championship match held at Ghent.

Georges Koltanowski (1903-2000) was awarded IM titile in 1950 and honorary GM in 1988. He was a Belgian Champion, but later moved to USA and became the President of USCF from 1975-1978. Marcel Defosse was the pseudonym of Denis Marion (1906-2000) who was noted as a literary person with a passion for chess. He co-authored with Frits van Seters a book titled “Le Jeu d’Echecs. Manuel du Débutant” (The Game of Chess: Guide for Beginners) published in 1945.

The diagram shows the position at the end of 19 moves.

preparing for double bishop sacrifice

20. Rad1 b4  
21. Be5 Bd6   Purpose of White’s 21st move will be clear, when you see his 26th move!
22. Bxh7+! Kxh7   The Bishop sacrifice opens the h-file
23. Qh5+ Kg8  
24. Bxg7! Kxg7   The second Bishop sacrifice opens the g-file.
If 24. … f6 then 25. Qh8+ Kf7 26. Bxf8 Bxf8 (if 26. … Rxf8 then 27. Qh7+ Ke8 28. Rxe6+) 27. Qh5+ Ke7 28. Qh7+ Kd6 29. Rxe6+ wins Black Q
Alternatively 24. … f5 25. Rxe6 Kxg7 26. Qh6+ Kg8 27. Rg6+ Kf7 28. Rg7+ Ke8 29. Rxc7 Bxc7 30. Qe6#
25. Qg5+ Kh7  
26. Rd4 Bh2+   If Black KB had not been diverted from c5 square by White’s 21st move, the 26th move would not be possible!
27. Kh1 Qf4  
28. Rxf4 Bxf4  
29. Qxf4 Rg8  
30. Re5 Resigns   White threatens mate in two.
If 30. … Rg6 then 31. Qh4+ wins the Rook on d8
If 30. … Kg7 then 31. Qg5+ Kh7 32. Qf6 Rg7 33. Rh5+ Kg8 34. Qxd8#


This game and similar others involving such Bishop sacrifice, besides being enjoyable, are also quite instructive. If you can identify the pattern that leads to such sacrifices, you may be able to deploy it in some game where your opponent is not wise to such possibilities!



  1. Maya says:

    “When you see a good move, look for a better one” I always obey this quote

  2. ChessMaster says:


    Good policy! Only thing we can add is that you should know when to stop looking!


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