The Queen: Her strengths and weaknesses

queen strength and weaknessThe queen is the most powerful piece on the board since she combines the power of the rook and bishop. However, the honor of being the strongest piece also has a drawback in that she is vulnerable to threats and tactics against her.

The Queen’s strengths

The queen is a strong attacker – particularly in positions with a lot of open lines. The queen is even more powerful if she can get close to the action since she can then use her multi-direction abilities in that part of the board. The queen is very effective in making multiple threats.

Examples of her strengths

Example 1

This example shows why the queen is such a powerful attacker.

queen strength 1

Black plays Qb4 and creates 2 threats: Qxe1+ and Qxf4. There is no way for black to defend against both threats with his next move. Black will win material.

Example 2

The next example illustrates why a queen prefers to get close to the action.

queen strength 2

White can now play Qh5 and make various threats:

  1. Qxh7+
  2. Bxh7+
  3. Qxf7+
  4. Qxc5

A queen can attack from a distance but it is even better if she can get close to the action – since then her ability to move in any direction then makes her even more effective.

Summary of her strengths

  1. The queen is the strongest attacker on the board – particularly when she can get close to the action.
  2. Queens can make threats in various directions, which is particularly useful in positions with lots of open flies, ranks and diagonals.

The Queen’s weakness

The immense power of the queen has a drawback – she is a vulnerable target. This drawback is the reason why the queen usually can’t join the action too soon. Instead, you will generally develop other pieces first and plan a safe square to where you can develop her.

Examples of her weakness

This example shows how the queen can easily be attacked by the smaller pieces:

queen weakness

Black gets a “free move” to develop his bishop since he will attack the queen and white will be forced to retreat the queen to g2 or h1. The smaller pieces can often attack the queen and in so doing gain a “free move” (tempo-move).

Example 2

The example below we saw in the lesson about the strengths of the knight. Here it can be used to illustrate a typical weakness of the queen – due to her high value she is often vulnerable to various tactical combinations:

Qxg2+ wins a piece since after Kxg2, black will play Nxe3+ followed by Nxc2, getting back the queen.
Qxg2+ wins a piece since after Kxg2, black will play Nxe3+ followed by Nxc2, getting back the queen.

Black used a tactical combination and the position of white’s queen to win material.

Summary of her weaknesses

  1. Due to her high value the queen is a vulnerable target in tactical combinations.
  2. Smaller pieces can gain “free-moves” by harassing the queen.
  3. The queen is a weak defender. This is not because she can’t defend, but because it isn’t ideal when your main attacking piece is subjected into a defensive role.

Next Lesson – The King: His strengths and weaknesses

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