Did the former World Champion play chess with a gun next to the board to intimidate opponents? No, don’t worry. Alekhine’s Gun, also known as RRQ (codes of pieces that form this specific configuration), is a well-known piece structure that is created when a player places their major pieces on the same file, ergo creating a battery. The setup “queen behind both rooks” is the most powerful one, but it is also possible to place the queen between the rooks – RQR.
The game in which the configuration first occurred, sometimes dubbed “AA Battery”, was played between Alexander Alekhine and Aron Nimzowitsch in San Remo 1930. See the position after White’s 26th move. The pressure on the c-file is so high that the game was already lost for Black:
The Alekhine’s Gun appeared in many other games played by well-known masters and grandmasters (Karpov vs. Spassky in 1979, for example). And, as usual, I did a quick check at the BrainKing.com database, and found something there as well. Have a look:
How can you defend against this strong attack formation? Well, the most straightforward way is to prevent the opponent from creating it in the first place. It shouldn’t be too difficult because to place both rooks and a queen on a single file usually requires a long sequence of moves. The intention to build the battery can be spotted at the early stage, so you have enough time to counter it. However, in case the attacker is successful, try to block the file with connected pawns (a pawn wedge) to make the opponent sacrifice at least one rook to pierce it. This kind of block was actually used in the BrainKing.com game (see above), but White made a mistake allowing Black to break the pawn structure (see below):
Fun fact: Alekhine’s Gun (formerly Death to Spies 3: Ghost of Moscow) is also the name of a third-person stealth action game for Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Despite the attractive title, it received negative reviews, and has nothing in common with chess at all.