Wayward Queen Attack & Defense for Beginners

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Table of Contents

The wayward queen attack is a direct attack upon Black’s weakest square, f7, with White’s strongest attacking piece-the queen.

  • White plays 2.Qh5 with an attack against Black’s e-pawn along with putting pressure on f7.
  • Developing the bishop to c4 will increase the pressure by threatening a checkmate.
  • However, this is not all one-sided, and black has plenty of defensive resources.
  • Even better for black is the fact these defensive resources are often developing moves.
  • Despite looking like a beginner’s opening, both Carlsen and Nakamura have played the Wayward Queen Attack – and lost!

Black Plays 3…g6

The starting position of the Wayward Queen Attack arises after 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 brings us to the starting position of the wayward queen attack.

2…Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Nf6

Although the queen looks aggressively placed on f3, white has lost time. Black now has the g7 square available for the bishop. The advance of the g-pawn was made with a gain of tempo by attacking the queen on h5.

Now White must decide to continue in an aggressive manner or ease back a little and develop.

Highlighted course

Winning Endgame Tactics 2: Advanced Queen Maneuvers

White Continues in Aggressive Fashion

Since one of White’s crucial strategies is to attack the f7-pawn, it makes sense to play 5.Qb3. Ths move establishes a queen and bishop battery against f7.

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Nf6 5.Qb3

Now it is Black’s turn to attack, and does it by ignoring the threat to the f7 pawn. White must be careful now as it is easy for him to go wrong.

Some deadly tactics could easily win the game for black in this position.

For example, after 5…Nd4 6.Bxf7+ Ke7 7.Qc4 b5! And the queen can no longer stay on the same diagonal as the bishop on f7.

Even if white does not get greedy and plays 6.Qc3, the game can end extremely quickly. In the Wayward Queen Attack debut game played in 1889, Adow lost in only nine moves.

White Chooses Development Over Attack

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Nf6 5.Ne2

Unsurprisingly, this developing move is best for white because it develops a piece and makes it possible for white to castle short.

5…Bg7 6.Nbc3 0-0 7.d3 Nd4 8.Nxd4 exd4 9.Ne2 d5

Centralizing your pieces and playing in the center of the board is an excellent approach in the opening—no matter which opening you are playing or at what level.

In this position, both sides have developed their pieces, and even though white hasn’t castled yet, the path to kingside castling is open.

Black Defends With 2…d6

Apart from 2…Nc6 to defend the e5-pawn, black has the natural 2…d6. Of course, after 3.Bc4 black must play another pawn move, 3…g6, to defend against a checkmate.

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 d6

3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Qe7 5.d3 Bg7 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Bg5 c6 8.h4 h5

Despite this being an equal middlegame position, both sides can play for the win because of all the pieces still on the board.

Black’s Third Defensive Option – 2…Qe7

1.e4 e5 2.Qh4 Qe7

Developing the queen to e7 is a dual-purpose move. The queen defends the e5-pawn and f7-pawn. Now even if white plays 3.Bc4, there is no checkmate threat.

3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Qd1 Nc6 5.Bc4 d6 6.d3 Bg4 7.f3 Be6

This variation is perhaps the easiest for black to play because it involves many natural developing moves. Black can always meet Bg5 with …h6, …g5, and then castle long.

Advancing the g-pawn will once again allow the bishop to develop to g7.

Final Thoughts

The Wayward Queen Attack is not a bad opening, and a well-prepared white player can undoubtedly make this part of his opening repertoire.

Since it is extremely difficult to gain an advantage without studying lots of opening theory, the Wayward Queen Attack can prove a good choice. Reaching an equal position with minimal theory to study is about as good as it gets.

Keep your opening ambitions modest, and the Wayward Queen Attack might prove the perfect opening for you.

There is always the chance your opponent will play the opening on auto-pilot, and your checkmate threat will work. Do not underestimate Black’s resources, or you could find yourself on the wrong side of a short game.

Check out our video with GM Johan Hellsten talking about other ways to bring out your queen early on in a safe and efficient way:

This video is from the Mastering Opening Strategy course

Highlighted course

Winning Endgame Tactics 2: Advanced Queen Maneuvers

The Wayward Queen Frequently Asked Questions

How do you respond to the wayward queen attack?

The best way to respond to the wayward queen attack is with natural developing moves. Always keep in mind that the pawn on e5 is under attack. Don’t get caught in focusing solely on the mate threats.

Is the wayward queen attack good?

The wayward queen attack is playable but bringing out your queen as early as move two is not good.

How do you stop a queen from attacking you?

You cannot stop the queen from attacking you; however, you can gain time by attacking the queen in return.

How do you punish an early queen attack?

The first step in punishing an early queen attack is to take care of the direct threats and then win time by attacking the queen with developing moves.

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