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In chess, the Greek gift sacrifice (or as it is more commonly called, the classical bishop sacrifice) is a typical sacrifice of a bishop by White playing Bxh7+ or Black playing Bxh2+.

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.

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IllustrationEdit

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After 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.Nf3 Bb4 6.Bd3 0-0??, the Greek gift sacrifice wins.

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 threatening 10.Qh7#, to which the only feasible responses are
    • 9...Qxg5 10.Bxg5 wins the queen, and
    • 9...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.

EtymologyEdit

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 Laocoön'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.

ReferencesEdit

  • Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1996) [First pub. 1992]. "Greek gift". The Oxford Companion to Chess (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 158. ISBN 0-19-280049-3.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit