Grandmasterly Queen Sacrifice

During research of the Glek variation of the C46 Four Knights game, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.g3, I discovered a game played a few years ago between WIM Fiona Steil Antoni

and GM Mark Hebden,

which reached this position:

The Grandmaster has just played 24…Qxe4. Imagine you are sitting behind the white pieces facing a GM. How do you respond?

These are the moves which brought us to the position:

WIM Fiona Steil Antoni (2095) vs GM Mark Hebden (2498)

4NCL 2015

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.g3 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nxc3 7.bxc3 Bc5 8.O-O O-O 9.d3 Bb6 10.Re1 Qf6 11.Bd2 Re8 12.Qe2 h6 13.h3 Bd7 14.Nh2 Rad8 15.Ng4 Qg6 16.Kh2 h5 17.Be4 Qe6 18.Nh6+ gxh6 19.Qxh5 Kg7 20.g4 Rh8 21.f4 Ne7 22.fxe5 Bc6 23.Bf5 Qd5 24.Be4 Qxe4

With the Ginger GM Simon Williams

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.g3 (After black plays what Stockfish considers the best move, 4…Bc5, the Fish has black better by about a third of a pawn. SF considers 4 Bb5 best with white holding on to the usual small advantage with which white begins the game) 4…d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Bg2 Nxc3 7.bxc3 Bc5 8.O-O (SF 310519 at depth 34 plays the game move but SF 9 at D48 plays the infrequently played 8 d3) 8…0-0 9.d3 Bb6 (SF & Komodo prefer 9…Bg4) 10.Re1 SF prefers 10 a4) 10…Qf6 (Although the most played move according to the CBDB SF would play 10…f6 while Komodo opts for 10…Re8) 11.Bd2 (SF plays 11 a4; the Dragon prefers 11 Be3) 11…Re8 (SF 11…Bg4; Dragon 11…h6)

12.Qe2 h6 13.h3 Bd7 (13…Bf5 SF) 14.Nh2 Rad8 (14…Qg6 may be better) 15.Ng4 Qg6 16.Kh2 (16 Ne3!?) 16…h5 (The GM could have taken control of the game by playing 16…e4!)
17.Be4 (17 Ne3 looks OK) 17…Qe6 18.Nh6+ (Objectively speaking 18 Ne3 may be technically correct but where is the fun in making that move?!) 18…gxh6 (Although white is losing the lady does have the Queen and both Bishops firing at the GMs kingside)
19.Qxh5 Kg7 20.g4 Rh8 21.f4 Ne7 22.fxe5 Bc6 (22…Ng6) 23.Bf5 Qd5 (Maybe 23…Nxf5 24 gxf5 then 24…Qd5)
24.Be4 Qxe4??!? (24…Qe6 looks reasonable. The Grandmaster is now quite lost because of a case of “temporary insanity.”) 25.dxe4? (Fiona must have been in a state of shock. 25 Rxe4 is the winning move.) 25…Rxd2+ 26.Kh1 Ng6 27.Qf5 Rf2 28.Qh5 Rd8 29.g5 Rdd2 0-1 (It is mate in five)

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