Greek Gift Sacrifice In Chess

The Greek gift sacrifice (also called the classical bishop sacrifice) is a common sacrifice in the middlegame of chess. Let’s find out why this sacrifice is so powerful and what to be aware of, when performing it.

What is The Greek Gift Sacrifice?

The main motive of the classical bishop sacrifice is the capture of the h7 (or a2) pawn after the opponent has castled kingside:

  • White plays Bxh7+ after Black castled kingside
  • Black plays Bxh2+ after White castled kingside

This is the basic concept behind the bishop sacrifice:

greek gift sacrifice - basics
Simplified Animation of The Sacrifice

White gives up material in the form of the bishop to lure the king into the open.

Obviously, it makes little sense to blindly give up a bishop for a pawn. There needs to be sufficient compensation in the form of attacking possibilities to justify the greek gift sacrifice. Let’s look at an example.

Example of a Greek Gift Sacrifice in Game

In this position, White plays the classic Greek gift sacrifice by capturing the black pawn on h7 with check, resulting in a completely winning position:

greek gift sacrifice in chess
Example of a Greek Gift Bishop Sacrifice

Black recaptures the bishop on h7 with his king, thus allowing a knight check on g5 by White.

Black now needs to capture the knight with the queen to prevent a forced mate. White simply recaptures with the remaining bishop and now has a significant material advantage, which is easily converted into a win.

Why is it Called A Greek Gift Sacrifice?

The meaning of the Greek gift sacrifice is hotly contested, with no clear answer yet. However, it might allude to the Trojan Horse, a wooden horse used by the Greeks against the Trojans to smuggle an army into their city.

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