Checkmate Chess Middlegame Tactics & Calculation

The Greek Gift: A Chess Sacrifice on Fire πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

The Greek Gift: A Chess Sacrifice on Fire πŸ”₯πŸ”₯πŸ”₯

We will look at an important checkmate pattern called the Greek Gift, sometimes referred to as “the Classic Bishop Sacrifice”. This tactic is the most dominant attacking theme against short castling in chess.

This “Greek Gift” consists of the sacrifice of the bishop for the h-pawn to destroy the opponent’s castling. Usually, the defending side has no choice but to accept this gift. Although, regardless of whether the sacrifice is accepted or not, the side that won the pawn is left with an advantage in the position. And in many other cases, this leads to a forced victory.

The Greek Gift
Schaakgrootmeester Dr. Max Euwe
*26 november 1981

“Whoever sees no other aim to the game than of giving checkmate to one’s opponent will never become a good chess player.” Max Euwe.

Model Game Greek Gift

One of the most famous examples of this sacrifice is found in the Edgard Colle-John O’Hanlon game played in 1930 at the Nice Masters tournament.

Edgard Colle- 1925

After the following moves: 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e3 c5 4. c3 e6 5. Bd3 Bd6 6. Nbd2 Nbd7 7. 0-0 0-0 8. Re1 Re8.

Greek Gift
Edgard Colle–John O’Hanlon

We can see that White has used the Colle system as an opening. And both sides maneuver calmly and have no problems. However, the game is about to take an unexpected turn.

9. e4! White executes the typical central break. dxe4 10. Nxe4 Nxe4 11. Bxe4

Greek Gift
White’s last move 11.Bxe4

Black has routinely exchanged on e4, thereby freeing up space for his knight on d7. So far, we could say that it is a very quiet game without anything special.

Greek Gift
Position after 11. dxe4?!

The Critical Moment

We have reached a critical position. It is White’s turn. The most logical move could be to capture the pawn on d4 with one of our pieces. Here Stockfish suggests 12. Bc2!? and he considers it to be of slight White’s advantage. However, here White played… 12. Bxh7!?

12. Bxh7+!?

This is the move that gives birth to the Greek Gift. White takes advantage of the fact that the black king has no defenders by castling it. In the game, Black accepted the gift. Not accepting the gift does not improve the situation. For example, 12…Kh8 would follow 13.Ng5!, attacking f7 and threatening to follow up with 14.Qh5!

12…Kxh7 13. Ng5+

12…Kxh7 13. Ng5+

Black now has a difficult decision to make: To go back to g8 or advance to g6. In the game, Black played 13…Kg6??, which turns out to be a terrible blunder. The correct move was 13…Kg8 and, after 14. Qh5Β Qf6!, with a complicated position.

So, the game continued 14. h4 with the huge threat of h5! …Rh8, and now White played the amazing move 15. Rxe6!!

Position after 15…Rxe6!!

The game continued with 15…Nf6. However, if Black captured on e6, then now 16. Qd3+ is winning because Black’s king doesn’t have an f-pawn to cover from the check. 16. h5!! Kh6 17. Rxd6!!, and Black it’s lost.

Position after 17. Rxd6!!

The game finish with the following moves: 17…Qa5 18. Nxf7 Kh7 19. Ng5+ Kg8 20. Qb3+ 1-0.

Final position. 1-0.

Conditions for the Greek Gift to Be Effective

  1. The opponent is castled.
  2. The opponent doesn’t have a knight or other piece defending the h7-pawn.
  3. Your bishop aims to the h7-square.
  4. You have more control of the g5-square than your opponent.
  5. Your queen is ready to join the attack on the king’s flank.




Greek Gift Exercises

Now is the time to apply what you have learned. Try to solve the following exercises.




Answers to the Exercises





Before you sacrifice the bishop, you must ensure that the position details presented above are fulfilled. The first variation that you must analyze in your mind is the capture of the bishop and the advance of the king to g6. If you see that it works, then explore the rest of the lines.

Now if you want to know how this Greek Gift sacrifice works in practice against the French Defense, you can watch the following video. πŸ˜€πŸ’ͺ


I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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