Nameless gambit?

There is an opening, or rather a gambit, that appears to have no name. Yet, this series of moves is well-known among most chess players. But no matter what you may call it, Black doesn’t do that well.

Let’s look at it.

1.e4 b6

Now known as a Owen’s Defence, this move seeks to avoid main lines after 1.d4 and 1.e4. But as you will soon see, there are main lines that arise from 1.e4 b6 as well. And one of those lines is the gambit.

2.d4 Bb7

White takes advantage of the opportunity to take the center.

3.Bd3!?

Usual move here is 3.Nc3 e6 with similarities to a Nimzo-Queen’s Indian hybrid.

Before we get to the gambit line, let’s look at some tamer, and safer, Black lines.

Eliska Richtrova (2355)-Ewa Nagrocka (2145)
Wuppertal, Women’s, 1990
1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 b6 3.e4 Bb7 4.Bd3 Bd6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.O-O Bxc3 7.bxc3 Ne7 8.c4 O-O 9.Bb2 d6 10.Rb1 Nd7 11.Ng5 h6 12.Nh3 e5 13.f4 exd4 14.Bxd4 Nc6 15.Bc3 Qh4 16.Rf3 Nc5 17.Rg3 g6 18.Qd2 Rae8 19.Nf2 Ne6 20.Ng4 f6 21.f5 Ned4 22.Nxh6+ Kg7 23.Rxg6+ Kh7 24.Ng4 1-0

Zbigniew Gorecki (2005)-Augusto Caruso (2286)
Padova Open, Dec. 2 2000
1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 b6 4.e4 Bb7 5.Bd3 d5!?
(By far, the most common response is 5…e6. The text move is an attempt to throw White off his game by introducing a less common move. It works in this game.) 6.cxd5 exd5 7.Qb3 Nxe4 8.Nxe4 dxe4 9.Bc4 Qe7 10.Bd2 Nc6 11.Bc3 O-O-O 12.Ne2 Qg5 13.O-O e3 14.f4 Qg4 15.h3 Qh5 16.Bxf7 Qxe2 17.Rae1 Qd3 18.Qe6+ Kb8 19.Rxe3 Nxd4 20.Qe5 Qc2 21.Rf2 Qf5 22.Bh5 Qxe5 23.fxe5 Bc5 24.b4 Nf5 0-1

Daniel Ludwig (2338)-FM Miles Ardaman (2356)
U.S. Masters, 2006
Hendersonville, NC, 2006
1.e4 b6 5.Nc3 Nxd3+ 6.Qxd3 e6 7.O-O-O Ne7 8.d5 d6 9.Qc4 e5 10.Nb5 Kd7 11.f4 a6 12.Nc3 exf4 13.Bxf4 Ng6 14.Bg3 Qg5+ 15.Kb1 h5 16.Nf3 Qg4 17.Rd4 h4 18.e5 Qxf3 19.gxf3 hxg3 20.e6+ fxe6 21.dxe6+ Kd8 22.Qe2 Rh6 23.Rg4 Ne5 24.Rxg3 Rxe6 25.Re1 Rf6 26.Ne4 Rf5 27.Rg5 Rf7 28.Rxe5 dxe5 29.Ng5 Re7 30.Qd3+ Rd7 31.Qf5 Bd6 32.Nf7+ Ke8 33.Nxe5 Re7 34.Qh5+ Kd8 35.Nf7+ Kd7 36.Qg4+ 1-0

But now Black unleashes his gambit:

3…f5

Black stakes a claim in the center and has the possible threat of …fxe4

White can decline the f-pawn of course.

Schelli-Andrae
corres. 1985
1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.Nc3 Nf6! 5.Qe2 e6 6.f3
(As it turns out, slow and quiet moves do not work in this variation. Better is 6.Bd2 with the idea of O-O-O, as the kingside is rapidly becoming a mess.) 6…fxe4 7.Bxe4 Nxe4 8.Nxe4 Be7 9.Nh3 O-O 10.Nhf2 Nc6 11.O-O Nxd4 12.Qd3 Nf5 13.Bd2 d5 14.Nc3 a5 15.Rfe1 Ba6! 0-1

Zolnierowicz-Zvara
Prague 1990
1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.f3 e5?!
(The start of a bad plan.) 5.dxe5 fxe4 6.fxe4 Bxe4?! (Black was hoping for 7. Bxe4? Qh4+ 8. Kf1 Qxe4. White avoids this problematic check with a simple developing move.) 7.Nf3 Bxd3 8.Qxd3 Bc5 9.Nc3 Nc6 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Bxe7 Ngxe7 12.O-O-O Ng6 13.e6 O-O 14.exd7 Kh8 15.Qe4 Na5 16.Rhe1 Qf6 17.Qxa8 1-0

Owosina-Khamdanov
Moscow Ol.
Russia, 1994

1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.Qe2 Nf6 5.Nd2 (5.e5!?) 5…g6 6.Ngf3 fxe4 7.Nxe4 Bg7 8.Bg5 O-O 9.O-O-O Nc6 10.c3 Kh8 11.h4 Nh5 12.Qe3 Qe8 13.g4 Qf7 14.gxh5 Qxf3 15.hxg6 d5 16.Nd2 Qxe3 17.fxe3 e5 18.gxh7 Na5 19.Rhf1 c5 20.dxc5 bxc5 21.e4 c4 22.Be2 d4 23.Rxf8+ Rxf8 24.Rf1 d3 25.Rxf8+ Bxf8 26.Bg4 Kxh7 27.Bf5+ Kg7 28.Be6 Ba6 29.Bd5 Bb5 30.Be3 Kg6 31.Bxa7 Bh6 32.Bb6 Nc6 33.Kd1 Kh5 34.Bxc4 Bxc4 35.Nxc4 Kxh4 36.a4 Kg4 37.a5 Kf3 38.a6 Kxe4 39.a7 Nxa7 40.Bxa7 Kd5 41.Be3 Bf8 42.Nd2 Be7 43.c4+ Kc6 44.Ne4 Bb4 45.Bd2 Bc5 46.b4 Bd4 1-0 (Black can’t stop Kc1, Kb1, Ka2, Kb3, etc.)

4.exf5

This move lets Black spear the h1-rook. But this move is probably the best for White. Things now get very interesting.

Black cannot immediately take the g-pawn as he loses quickly.

Here is the game that popularized White’s response to Black’s gambit.

Greco-N.N.
Rome 1620?

1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 (White is willing to give up his rook to get the king.) 4…Bxg2 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6 Nf6 (This is a huge error. Black has to play 6…Bg7 7.gxh7+ Kf8 8.hxg8=Q+ Kxg8 and while White’s rook may fall, Black has to worry about his very exposed king. Amusing by the way, is 6.fxg6 e5? 7.g7+ Ke7 8.Qxe5+ Kf7 9.gxh8=N#) 7.gxh7+ (White is now willing to give up his queen for the forced mate. King safety is more important than safety for the rook or queen, and even both. Note: While 7.g7+ Nxh5 8.gxh8=Q Bxh1 9.Qxh7 would eventually win, the text move is faster, and fast attacks are always better for winning the game (less mistakes possible) and for one’s own ego.) 7…Nxh5 8.Bg6mate 1-0

So Black must do something other than to immediately take the g2-pawn or the h1-Rook. In fact, he can never the rook (due to the tempi needed to take the rook and the fact that his king ends up being a target). And probably can’t ever take the g2-pawn either.

Here is why he can never take the rook:

Hecker-Roos
Dusseldorf, 1935

1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 Bxg2 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6 Bg7 7.gxh7+ Kf8 8.hxg8=Q+ Kxg8 9.Qg5 Bxh1 10.f3 Rxh2 11.Qd5+ e6 12.Qxa8 Qh4+ 13.Kd1 Qf2 14.Qxb8+ Kf7 15.Ne2 Bxf3 16.Kd2 Bxd4 (16…Qxd4 17.Qe8+ Kxe8 18.Ke1 Rh1+ 19.Ng1 Qxg1+ 20.Bf1 Qxf1+ 21.Kd2 Qe2#) 17.Bg6+ (17.c3 Be3+ 18.Kc2 Bxe2 19.Bg6+ Kg7 20.Bd2 Bxd2 21.Nxd2) 17…Kg7 (18.Qg8+ Kxg8 19.Bh7+ Kxh7 20.Kd3 Qxe2+ 21.Kxd4 c5+ 22.Kc3 Qxc2#) 0-1

Zakeralo-Drevoricev, 1955
1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 Bxg2 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6 Bg7 7.gxh7+ Kf8 8.hxg8=Q+ Kxg8 9.Qg5 Bxh1 10.f3 Rxh2 11.Qd5+ e6 12.Qxa8 Qh4+ 13.Kd1 Qf2 14.Qxb8+ Kf7 15.Ne2 Bxf3 16.Nc3 Qf1+ 17.Kd2 Bh6mate 0-1

Standler-Muhin
corres. 1973
1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 Bxg2 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6 Bg7 7.gxh7+ Kf8 8.hxg8=Q+ Rxg8 9.Nf3 Bxh1 10.Ng5 Qe8 11.Nh7mate 0-1
(similar to the Greco game above.)

Kapitaniak-Mino
Romania, 1976

1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 Bxg2 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6 Bg7 7.gxh7+ Kf8 8.Nf3! Bxh1 9.Ne5 Bxe5 10.dxe5 Bd5 11.hxg8=Q+ Kxg8 12.Qg6+ Kf8 13.Bh6+ Rxh6 14.Qxh6+ Kf7 15.Bg6+ Ke6 16.Bh5+ Kxe5 17.f4+ Kf5 18.Qg5+ Ke4 19.Qe5# 1-0

Waller-Wurditsch
Austria Ch., 1977

1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 Bxg2 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6 Bg7 7.gxh7+ Kf8 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Qg6! Bxh1 10.Bh6 Rxh7 11.Ng5 Bxh6 12.Nxh7+ Nxh7 13.Qxh6+ Kf7 14.Qxh7+ Ke6 15.Qh6+ Kd5 (15…Kf7 16.Bg6+ Ke6 17.Be4+ Kf7 18.Qh7+ Kf8 19.Bg6 Bd5 20.Qh8+ Bg8 21.Qh6#) 16.Nc3+ Kxd4 17.Qe3mate 1-0

Jennings-Diebert
Columbus, 1979

1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 Bxg2 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6 Bg7 7.gxh7+ Kf8 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Qg6 Bxh1 10.Bh6 Rxh7 11.Ng5 Bxh6 12.Nxh7+ Nxh7 13.Qxh6+ Kf7 14.Bg6+ Ke6 15.Bxh7+ Kd5 16.Nc3+ Kc4 (16…Kxd4 17.Qe3+ Kc4 18.b3#) 17.Bd3+ Kxd4 18.Qe3mate 1-0

What happens if Black was to take the f3-knight instead of the h1-rook? The short answer is that it is better as Black loses at a slower pace.

Carlsson-Frausing
Denmark, 1977

1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 Bxg2 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6 Bg7 7.gxh7+ Kf8 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Qg6 Bxf3 10.Rg1 Rxh7 11.Qg3 Be4 12.Bxe4 Nxe4 13.Qf3+ Kg8 14.Qxe4 d5 (14…Nc6?! 15.Bf4 +-) 15.Qe6+ Kh8 16.Nc3 +- (16.Bg5? Qd7! ; 16.Rg2 Qd7 17.c3 e5) 16…Qd7 17.Qxd5 Qxd5 18.Nxd5 Nc6 19.c3 e5 20.Nxc7 Rc8 21.d5 +- Rxc7 22.dxc6 Rxh2 23.Be3 Rxc6 24.O-O-O Rc7 25.Rd8+ Kh7 26.Rgd1 Rh4 27.R8d7 Rhc4 28.Kc2 Kg8 29.R1d5 Kf8 30.Rxc7 Rxc7 31.b3 Ke7 32.c4 Ke6 33.a4 Bf8 34.a5 Bc5 35.axb6 axb6 36.Kc3 Rf7 37.b4 Bd4+ 38.Bxd4 exd4+ 39.Kxd4 Rf4+ 40.Kd3 Rf3+ 41.Ke4 Rf6 42.Rb5 Kd7 43.f4 Kc6 44.Rg5 Re6+ 45.Kf5 Re1 46.Rg6+ Kc7 47.b5 Rc1 48.Rc6+ Kd7 49.Kf6 Rh1 50.f5 Rh4 51.Kg7 Rg4+ 52.Kf7 Rf4 53.f6 Rh4 54.Kg7 Rg4+ 55.Kf8 Rf4 56.f7 Rg4 57.Rxb6 Rxc4 58.Rg6 Rf4 59.Kg8 Ke7 60.Rg2 1-0

Kolenbrander-Perrenet
corres.
Netherlands, 1979

1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 Bxg2 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6 Bg7 7.gxh7+ Kf8 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Qg6 Bxf3 10.Rg1 Rxh7 11.Qg3 Be4 12.Bxe4 Nxe4 13.Qf3+ Nf6 14.Qxa8 d5 15.Nc3 c6 16.Bf4 Nfd7 17.O-O-O e5 18.dxe5 Qc7 19.Rxg7 Kxg7 20.Nxd5 cxd5 21.Qxd5 Nf8 22.Rg1+ 1-0

Well, If Black can’t take the h1-rook, or the f3-knight, can he at least take the g2-pawn? Black must play this move to gain any material for the attack that is about to commence on his side of the board, so he is virtually forced to play into this variation with the queen check.

Maybe Black can play 4…Nf6 and wait a tempo or two before snagging the g2-pawn. Can that win the game for him? I don’t know, but with the games on hand, I wouldn’t count on it.

Ploder-Daikeler
corres., 1986

1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6 6.fxe6 dxe6 7.Qe2 Qe7 8.Bg5 Nbd7 9.O-O O-O-O 10.Ne5 g6 11.Ba6 Kb8 12.Bxb7 Kxb7 13.Nxd7 Rxd7 14.Qf3+ Rd5 15.Bxf6 Qb4 16.Nc3 Qxb2 17.Nxd5 exd5 18.Qxd5+ Ka6 19.Rab1 Qxc2 20.Rfc1 Qf5 21.Qc4+ 1-0

“TrustHim”-“MikeMinaev”
VOG Chess

1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 Nf6 5.Be2 Bxg2 6.Bh5+ g6 7.fxg6 Bg7 8.gxh7+ Nxh5 9.Qxh5+ Kf8 10.Qf5+ Bf6 11.Bh6+ Kf7 12.Qh5+ Ke6 13.Qg4+ Kd6 14.Bf4+ e5 15.Bxe5+ Bxe5 16.dxe5+ Kxe5 17.f4+ Kd6 18.Qg6+ Kc5 19.b4+ Kxb4 20.Qxg2 Qh4+ 21.Kd1 Nc6 22.Qd5 Qf6 23.Ne2 Qxa1 24.a3+ Qxa3 25.Nxa3 Kxa3 26.Qb3mate 1-0

Turner-Moreland, 1993
1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 Nf6 5.Be2 e6 6.Bh5+ Ke7 7.Bf3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 d5 9.Qe2 Qd7 10.Nf3 c5 11.dxc5 bxc5 12.Ng5 Nc6 13.Nxe6 Kf7 14.Ng5+ Kg8 15.Qe6+ Qxe6+ 16.fxe6 Nd4 17.Na3 Nxe6 18.O-O Nd4 19.Re1 Re8 20.Rxe8 Nxe8 21.c3 Ne2+ 22.Kf1 Nxc1 23.Rxc1 Nd6 24.Rd1 d4 25.cxd4 cxd4 26.Rxd4 Be7 27.Rd5 h6 28.Nf3 1-0

Ariel Mordetzki-Andres De La Torre (1692)
Marcel Duchamp Open
Montevideo, Feb. 12 2017

1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 Nf6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.O-O Bd5 (At this point Black has white squared holes in his position that will prove hard to cover.) 8.c4 Bf7!? 9.Nc3 c6 10.Qa4 Qc7 11.Qa6 Qc8 12.Qxc8+ Rxc8 13.Rfe1 g6 14.fxg6 hxg6 15.Bf4 Kd8 16.Ng5 Bg8 17.Bxg6 Bxc4 18.Bf7! +- Nh5 19.Bxc4 Nxf4 20.Nf7+ Kc7 21.Nxh8 Bg7 22.g3 Nh3+ 23.Kg2 Rxh8 24.Rxe7 Bf8 25.Re8 Nf6 26.Rxf8 Rxf8 27.Kxh3 Rh8+ 28.Kg2 1-0

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