King’s Gambit Game

The King’s Gambit has the reputation of being a wild, attacking, tactical opening. Of the many variations, perhaps the most violent of them all is the Muzio, where White freely gives up a piece and launches a fierce attack on the Black.

Sometimes the effort is successful, sometimes Black, despite having been under constant pressure for almost the entire game, wins it.

But it’s always entertaining.


During the summer I participated in a thematic team match. The opening chosen was the King’s Gambit. I, however, decided to make it into a Muzio.

Here is the game!


Live Wire vs. King’s Gambit Thematic Team Match, Aug. 2017
[Escalante and the computer]
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.O-O (This is the Muzio Gambit) 5…gxf3 6.Qxf3 Bc5+ 7.Kh1 d5 8.Qxf4 f6!? [After 8…Qf6, White has the advantage after 9.Qxc7. Worse are 8…Nf6 9.Bxd5 O-O (or 9…Be7 10.e5 O-O 11.exf6 Qxd5 12.Qg3+ +-) 10.Qg5+, 8…Nh6 9.Qxh6 dxc4 10.Qg7 Bd4 11.e5, and 8…Be6 9.Bxd5 Bxd5 10.exd5 Qxd5 11.Nc3 Qe6 12.d4 Bxd4 13.Nb5 Bb6 14.Bd2 Qf6 15.Qe4+ Qe6 16.Qxb7, all winning. The computer suggests 8…Qe7 9.exd5 f5 10.d4 Bd6 11.Qf2 11…Qg7 12.Bf4 Ne7 13.Nc3] 9.exd5 Bd6 10.Qh4 Nd7?! (The knight turns out to be misplaced here. White threatens 11.Qh5+ and gain a significant advantage. Best 10… Qd7 to lessen the appeal of the check.) 11.Qh5+ Kf8 12.d4 Nb6 13.Bb3 Qe8 14.Qh4 ( suggests this is a mistake., giving 14.Qxe8+ Kxe8 15.c4 Ne7 16.c5 Nf5 17.cxd6 cxd6 18.Nc3 Kf7. But I wanted to keep the queens on the board as it is easier to attack with a queen than without one. And I am playing a human, a person, a mistake-maker, not a computer. So let’s keep up the pressure.) 14…Qg6 (This move may be a mistake. gives 14…Qe2 as being better and gives the continuation of 15.Re1 Qg4 16.Qxg4 Bxg4 17.c4 Bb4 18.Nc3 Rd8 19.a3. But White can vary with 15.Bxh6+ Nxh6 16.Qxh6+ and now 17.Nc3 seems to be in White’s favor.) 15.c4 Nd7 16.c5 Be7 17.Nc3 f5 18.Qf4 Ndf6 19.Qxc7?! (Somehow this doesn’t look right!) 19…Ne8 20.Qf4 h6 (White’s past pawns in the center certainly gives him the advantage in the area of the board. But they also function as a blockade to any further White attacks in the center. Meanwhile, there is activity in the kingside and he should pay attention to that part of the board.) 21.g4 Bg5 22.gxf5 Qf6 (Here is an agreement with computer and myself. Best was 22… Qh5. And after 23.Qg3 Ngf6 24.d6 Rh7 25.Be6 Rg7 26.Bxg5 Qxg5 27.Qf2, White has some problems. Perhaps 19.Qxc7 was a mistake after all. Maybe the idea of establishing a strong pawn center is a mistake and White should keep open all the attacking files, ranks, and diagonals.) 23.Qe5 [23.Ne4 only works if Black decides to pawn grabbing adventure; 23…Qxd4?! 24.Nxg5 Qxd5 (Better, of course, is 24…hxg5) 25.Bb3 Qxc5 26.Ne4 Qe7 27.Bf4 fxe4 28.Bxh6+ +-] 23…Ng7 24.Bxg5 hxg5 25.Ne4 Qh6 (25…Qxe5 26.dxe5 Bxf5 27.Ng3 Nh6 28.Nxf5 Ngxf5 29.Bc2 Ng4 30.Rxf5+ and I don’t know who exactly has the advantage.)


26.f6! Nf5 27.d6 Bd7 28.f7! (A Black defensive knight is lost – White is winning.) 28…Nge7 29.dxe7+ Nxe7 30.Nf6 Rd8 ( computer declares a mate in nine moves. How do these silicon monsters find such mates in such a short time? Meanwhile, the same beastly monster suggests 30…Bc6+. But in this line too, Black has some serious problems; 31.d5 Bb5 32.Ng4 Qh5 33.Rae1 Ng6 34.Qd6+ Kg7 35.Qf6+ Kh7 36.f8=Q Rhxf8 37.Re7+ Nxe7 38.Qxe7+ Kh8 39.Rxf8+ Rxf8 40.Qxf8+ Kh7 41.Nf6+) 31.Nxd7+ Rxd7 32.Qb8+ Kg7 33.f8=Q+ 1-0

More Muzios

I posted a Muzio Gambit in my Miniatures page. It is an exciting gambit with lots of opportunities for Black to go wrong.

Here are four more recent games, with Black still failing to find a way to equality.

And I am still trying to find a better method of adding diagrams.


CCCA, 1953
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.O-O gxf3 6.Qxf3 Bc5+?! (The White king doesn’t mind going to h1; it’s safer for him.) 7.Kh1 Qf6 8.Nc3 c6 9.d3 Ne7 10.Qh5 Bd6 11.d4 Qg6 12.Qf3 Bc7 13.e5 d5 14.exd6 Bxd6 15.Ne4 Nf5 16.Bxf4 Bxf4 17.Qxf4 O-O 18.g4! Ng7 19.Nf6+ Kh8 20.Bd3 Ne6 21.Qe5 Qg7 22.Qh5 h6 23.h4 1-0



With the idea of 24.g5.


Von Buskirk-R. Safdie
Los Angeles, May, 1982
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.O-O gxf3 6.Qxf3 Qe7 (A more modern response to the Muzio.) 7.Qxf4 Nh6 8.d4 d6 9.Nc3 c6 10.Bd2 Bg7 11.Ne2 O-O 12.Rf3 Kh8 13.Rg3 f5 14.Rxg7! (This type of sacrifice is known as a clearance sacrifice.) 14…Qxg7 15.d5 (With the obvious threat of 16.Bc3) 15…Ng4 16.Qxd6 Nf6 17.Bc3 h6 18.Rf1 Kh7 19.Ng3 Nbd7 20.Bd3 (Nothing wrong with 20.Nxf5, except the knight is better placed on h5.) 20…Nb6 21.Nh5 Qd7 22.Nxf6+ Rxf6 23.Qxf6 cxd5 24.exf5 Kg8 25.Qh8+ Kf7 26.Qg7+ Ke8 27.Re1+ d8 28.Bf6+ Kc7 29.Re7 1-0


corres., 1990
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.O-O gxf3 6.Qxf3 Qf6 7.e5 Qxe5 8.Bxf7+ Kxf7 9.d4 Qxd4+ 10.Be3 (Believe or not, we are still in theory.) 10…Qg7 11.Bxf4 Nf6 12.Be5 Be7 13.Nc3 d6 14.Bxf6 Bxf6 15.Nd5 Nd7 16.Rae1 Qg5 17.Re7+ Kf8 18.Re6 h5 19.Nxf6 Nxf6 20.Rxf6+ Kg7 21.h4 Qc5+ (21…Qxh4 22.Rf7+ Kh6 23.Qe3+ Kg6 24.Qc3 ; 21…Bg4 22.Rf7+ Kg8 23.Rf8+ Kh7 24.Qe4+ Bf5 25.R8xf5 Rae8 26.Rf7+) 22.Kh1 1-0


Don Schultheis (2363)-Robert Miehm (2161)
2002 Golden Knights final
[Dunne, “All Chess Players Should Have a Hobby”, CL, Mar. 2010, pg. 38/9]
1.e4 e5 2.f4 (Yes, Virginia, such openings do exist, even at the top level. Fischer’s analysis of the King’s Gambit may have chased the grandmasters away from the opening, but 2.f4 hasn’t been refuted yet. But don’t breathe easily. There is more to come, much more.) 2…exf4 (Following sage advice: the only way to refute a gambit is to accept it.) 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.O-O (Paging 1860, paging 1860, come in 1860! The Muzio—White’s philosophy is very simple: developed pieces are more potent than undeveloped ones. There were two great periods for the Muzio Gambit—over-the-board (OTB) the gambit was played from 1840 to 1890 by some of the brightest stars of the game—Anderssen, Morphy, Blackburne, Zukertort, Chigorin, Marshall, Spielmann. The Muzio scored about 55% for White in my database.) 5…gxf3 (But around the turn of the century came the spoiler—Black found 5…d5! and suddenly White’s chances dropped to 42% and the Muzio largely disappeared from master play. It would have been interesting to see what Schultheis had prepared in answer to 5…d5. But there are more mysteries to come.) 6.Qxf3 (White’s plan is brutal and simple—open the f-file and play against f7.) 6…Qf6 7.e5 Qxe5 8.Bxf7+ [Schultheis is not content with one Muzio. He opts for the infamous double Muzio. The double Muzio had a reincarnation at correspondence chess (CC) play from the 1980’s to 2000. Although most of the players were not very strong, White scored an amazing 59% in a series of some 200 games. In the double Muzio, White’s strategy is very simple: mate.] 8…Kxf7 9.d4 Qxd4+ 10.Be3 Qg7 (Over the board in the last twenty years 10…Qf6 has been a catastrophe -White has scored 5–1. As an example of White’s resources, witness a young Alexey Shirov vs. J. Lapinski, Daugavpils 1990: 10…Qf6 11.Bxf4 Ke8 12.Nc3 Nc6 13.Nd5 Qg6 14.Rae1+ Be7 15.Bd6 Kd8 16.Qf8+ Bxf8 17.Bxc7 mate. Again, OTB 10…Qg7 is rare—only two examples from master play, both winning for White.) 11.Qxf4+ (This is the choice of Thomas Stock, one of the few masters playing the Muzio by CC. The alternative 11.Bxf4 has been scoring fairly well (54%) but Schultheis’ choice is relatively unexplored territory.) 11…Nf6 12.Nc3 Nc6 (With 12…Nc6 we are out of book. Black has two extra pieces and a badly exposed king. Previously played here has been 12…Rg8 as in Jewell-Hartmann, IECC 1999, which looks OK for Black but needs further exploration.) 13.Nd5 Be7 14.Qh4 Rg8 15.g3 d6 16.Rxf6+! (Now comes retribution—one piece falls prisoner to the White camp. After 16…Bxf6 17.Rf1 White will be down a rook with a winning attack after 17…Bd7 18.Qh5+!) 16…Ke8 17.Raf1 (Black has an extra piece and a difficult game. He is essentially playing without his a8-rook against a completely mobilized army. If he can get his rook into the fight, he has a chance. If not, the Muzio strikes again!) 17…Qg4 18.Qxh7 Rg7 19.Qh6 Kd8 20.Bf4! Rg8 (Black cannot take on f6—20…Bxf6 21.Qh8+ Rg8 22.Qxf6+ is a killer.) 21.Nxe7 Nxe7 22.Re1 Qg7 (It looks like the last chance to hold was 22…Ke8 23.Qh7 Rg7 but now Schultheis’ pressure finally breaks Miehm’s will.) 23.Qh4 Bg4 24.Bh6 Qh7 25.Rf4! (It is said the hardest attacking moves to foresee are the ones involving retreating a piece. Here the rook threatens both Rxg4 and Rfe4, the e7-knight is now pinned by the queen and Bg5 will place further pressure on e7. Black is lost.) 25….Rc8 26.Rfe4 Rg6 27.Bg5! (White avoids the strong-looking 27.Rxe7 Qxh6! in favor of a simply strong move.) 27…Qxh4 28.gxh4 Rxg5 29.hxg5 1-0