A cold gambit

I am still trying to figure out the best way to insert a diagram into the games here. So, you’ll see different type of diagrams until I find the best way to do this.


The Icelandic Gambit is defined as the moves 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.dxe6 Bxe6. Black gives up a center pawn in the opening and gains great compensation for the missing pawn.


The first time I encountered this gambit, I thought it was a blunder by my opponent. But the more I studied the possibilities in the opening during the start of the game, the more I realized that I didn’t know any “book moves”, nor the theory behind the moves in this sideline of the Center Counter game and my opponent loved studying off-beat opening. I realized I was in trouble.


Here is that game.




Escalante-M. Henebry (1892)
Mid-Summer Classic
La Palma C.C., Aug. 18 2006
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.dxe6 Bxe6 5.Nf3 (After the game, I learned that 5.d4 Bb4+ 6.Bd2! is perhaps best. But this move is only slightly worse. It’s the next few moves that make White’s position much worse.) 5…Nc6 6.d4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3?! Qe7! (And White is suddenly worse!  It’s an uphill battle as Black knows what he is doing and White is only starting to learn this theory.) 8.Be3 O-O-O 9.a3 Bxc3+ 10.bxc3 Ng4 11.Be2 Nxe3 12.fxe3 Bg4 (Of course, now White’s backwards “e” pawn is very weak. His game hangs by thread.) 13.Qd2 Rhe8 14.Kf2! (This brave move by the King prevents a total collapse of White’s game. He might even have a slight advantage.) 14…f5 15.Rhe1 Ne5 (15…Bxf3 16.Bxf3 Qh4+ 17.Kg1 g5 18.Bxc6 bxc6 19.Qf2 +/-) 16.Nxe5 Qxe5 17.Bxg4 fxg4 18.Kg1 g3 19.h3 Qe4 20.Qe2 Rf8 21.Rf1 h5 22.Rf3 Rxf3 23.gxf3 Qf5 24.Kg2 h4 25.e4 Qf4 26.Re1 Re8 27.Qe3 g5 28.e5 Qxe3 29.Rxe3


29…Kd7 30.Re4 Re6 31.Rg4? [Thinking Black’s Rook would go to a6, and would win after 32.Rxg5 Rxa3 33.Rg7+. But a better idea is 31.d5 Rb6 32.Re2 Rb3 33.c5 Rxc3 34.e6+ Ke7 35.d6+ cxd6 (35…Ke8 36.d7+ Ke7 37.Rd2) 36.cxd6+ Kxd6 37.e7 Rc8 38.e8=Q] 31…Rb6 32.Rxg5 Rb2+ 33.Kg1 Rb1+ 34.Kg2 Rb2+ 35.Kg1 Rb1+ 1/2-1/2

A lesson from this game –  White still needs to learn this gambit.




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