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The Queen in Chess

The Queen is by far the most powerful piece on the chess board. It is valued at 9 points. A player willing to sacrifice the Queen definitely has a trick or two up his sleeve. Because of this, Queen sacrifices are part of the most spectacular games of Chess.

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The Queen is placed next to the king on the board. ‘Queen on her color’ is a great way to remember the orientation of the Queen. This way, the queens face each other on the board. If the pawn ahead of these queens are sacrificed early on, an aggressive player might trade queen for queen. In the vast majority of documented games, this doesn’t add any value to the attack. So, it might be a psychological tactic to disarm the opponent.

Despite realizing the power of the queen, when their queen is captured, some players throw away the game.. Attributing the success of a game to the presence of the Queen on the board is prevalent among beginners of the game.

Shatranj

The game of chess as we know it today has evolved from shatranj which involved only male pieces. The position of the Queen was occupied by the mantri. The mantri was only an advisor to the king. It was seen as the weakest piece on the board since it could move only one square diagonally.

The fifteenth century brought about a large number of female monarchs throughout Europe. The game of shatranj was adopted by most parts of the world by now and improvised. During this period, a new version of the game titled, “Queen’s Chess” originated somewhere near modern-day Spain. This replaced the mantri with the Queen.

Queen’s Chess

Briefly, the mantri also received some enhancements, allowing it’s first move to be upto to squares diagonally as opposed to the one. This is very similar to having the pawns move two squares on their first move. The rule of En-passant as well made it into this version of “Queen’s Chess”.

It is amazing how history has had such a profound impact on a board game. Not only did the Queen make it’s presence on the board, but it also became an asset. The Queen was allowed to move unrestricted across the board and came to be known as the most powerful and valuable piece. Pawn promotion almost always results in a Queen making it’s way onto the board.

Interestingly, players objected the promoted pawns being traded in for a Queen when there was already one present on the board. They argued that this conveyed the polygamous nature of the king. This however was largely short-lived and in today’s game, we may have multiple pieces of the same kind after pawn promotion. It is possible to have a maximum of 9 queens of the same colour on the chess board! This is assuming that all the pawns available have been promoted to a Queen.

Tactical Characteristics

The Queen is an integral part of some of the quickest checkmates involving the Fool’s mate and Scholar’s mate. To watch the Queen in action, check out our post on the Shortest Chess games below!

Moving the Queen in front of the king is perhaps the worst move that one can commit to in the game of chess. It is the easiest thing for on opponent to pin the Queen by moving the rook out of it’s castling position. Below is a gif illustrating this.

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We moved the black queen ahead of the king. It was pinned by the white rook. Moving the black bishop to e6 in a last ditch attempt was useless. The white bishop was guarding the e6 square.

We must remember that while the Queen is the most powerful piece on the board, the absence of it shouldn’t be a pre-requisite for a loss. The gif above illustrates this well. The rook managed to pin the black queen leading to it’s capture, even with the loss of the queen.