The AMAR Gambit

The AMAR gambit is a rarity in chess.

First, let’s talk about the name of the gambit. Many players are convinced that AMAR is an acronym for Absolutely Mad And Ridiculous. And they are at least half correct, it is an absolutely mad and ridiculous opening. But the opening is named after Charles Amar, a 1930s player from Paris.

What makes this opening so bad? Well, the opening starts with 1.Nh3. And with this move White gives up his claim for the center, loses a tempo with his knight, and retards his own development.

Black probably has the advantage after either 1…e5 or 1…d5.

After 1.Nh3 d5, the game can continue with 2.g3 e5 3.f4, and the position of the AMAR gambit has been reached. Let’s see what White has done. With 2.g3 and 3.f4, he not only has the same problems as before, but has also tacked on a few more problems. His kingside is considerably weakened, he has open lines to his king, namely the d8-h4 diagonal (the same one used in Fool’s Mate), and he has sacrificed (lost?) a kingside pawn.

What has White gotten for all this mess? If Black plays 3…exf4, then White can win back the f-pawn with 4.Nxf4. He then has an OK position for his knight. And White can try castling.

Black, however, doesn’t have to play 3…exf4, leaving White with an entirely lost position. White can still try to castle kingside and maybe have some play along the f-file. But he usually doesn’t have the time to castle or make any long-term plans.

Really, White does better with the King’s Gambit.


AMAR Gambit

1) 3.f4
2) 3.f4 exf4 4.Nxf4
3) 3.f4 Bxh3


Black can decline the gambitted pawn. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, Black has stronger moves.

B.C. Allison-M.H. Stubbs
Australia Ch. (reserves)
Cooma, 1974
1.Nh3 d5 2.g3 e5 3.f4 e4 4.Bg2 Bc5 5.e3 Nf6 6.O-O Bg4 7.Qe1 Nc6 8.Nf2 Be6 9.c4 Nb4 10.Qd1 Qd7 11.cxd5 Bxd5 12.Nc3 Qe7 13.a3 Nc6 14.Nxd5 Nxd5 15.Nxe4 Bb6 16.b4 O-O-O 17.Qc2 Kb8 18.Rb1 Nf6 19.Nc5 Rd6 20.a4 a6 21.Nxb7 Kxb7 22.b5 axb5 23.axb5 Qd7 24.Qa4 Ra8 25.Bxc6+ Rxc6 26.bxc6+ Qxc6 27.Qxc6+ Kxc6 28.Bb2 Ne4 29.Rbc1+ Kd5 30.Rc2 Ra2 31.Rfc1 f6 32.Kf1 Ba5 33.Bc3 Nxc3 34.dxc3 Rxc2 35.Rxc2 Kc4 36.Rd2 Bxc3 37.Rd7 c5 38.Ke2 Kb3 39.Kd1 c4 40.Rxg7 Bb4 41.Rxh7 c3 42.Rb7 1-0

Arthur Stobbe (1835)-David Hillery (2274)
Golden Knights, 1999
1.Nh3 e5 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 Nf6 4.f4 e4 5.Nf2 Bc5 6.e3 h5 7.d4 exd3 8.Nxd3 Bb6 9.Nc3 Bg4 10.Bf3 d4 11.Na4 Nc6 12.Nxb6 axb6 13.e4? Nxe4 14.Bxg4 hxg4 15.Qxg4 Qf6 16.O-O Kf8 17.b3 Qh6 18.Qe2 Nxg3 19.Qg2 Nxf1 20.Kxf1 Qxh2 21.Bb2 Ra5 22.a4 Rah5 23.c3 Rh3 24.Nf2 Qxf4 25.Qxh3 Rxh3 0-1

Stephan Mueller-Christoph Jablonowski
Oberliga Nord N 0506
Germany, Oct. 23 2005
1.Nh3 d5 2.g3 e5 3.f4 Bd6 4.fxe5 Bxe5 5.d4 Bf6 6.Bg2 Ne7 7.O-O Ng6 8.Qd3 O-O 9.Nd2 Be6 10.Nb3 Nd7 11.c3 Rc8 12.Be3 Be7 13.Na5 c6 14.b4 b6 15.Nb3 Nf6 16.Nf4 Bd7 17.Kh1 Qc7 18.Bg1 Rce8 19.Rae1 Bd6 20.Nh3 Ne4 21.Bf2 Bf5 22.Qf3 Qd7 23.Nf4 Bg4 24.Qd3 Bxf4 25.gxf4 Nxf4 26.Qe3 Nxg2 27.Kxg2 Nxf2 28.Qxf2 Bh3+ 29.Kh1 Bxf1 30.Qxf1 Re3 31.Qg2 Qf5 32.Nd2 Rd8 33.c4 Qg6 34.Qf2 Qc2 35.Rf1 f6 36.Nf3 Qxe2 37.cxd5 Qxf2 38.Rxf2 cxd5 39.Ng1 Rd3 0-1

3.f4 exf4 4.Nxf4

Certainly Black can take the pawn. Well, he ends up with a much better position than White, who finds himself on the defensive. It is not known if this is a forced win for Black, but it is close to one.

British Jr. Ch., 1965?
1.Nh3 d5 2.g3 e5 3.f4 exf4 4.Nxf4 Bd6 5.d3 h5 6.Bg2 h4 7.e4 Nf6 8.Nc3 Bg4 9.Qd2 hxg3 10.hxg3 Rxh1+ 11.Bxh1 g5 12.Nfxd5 Bxg3+ 13.Kf1 Nxd5 14.Nxd5 c6 15.Qg2 Qd6 16.Nc3 Qf6+ 17.Kg1 Qd4+ 0-1

3.f4 Bxh3

It took a while for Black to figure out the winning strategy. And that strategy to attack first, and then continue to attack, attack, and attack.

Paris, 1933
1.Nh3 d5 2.g3 e5 3.f4 Bxh3 4.Bxh3 exf4 5.O-O fxg3 6.hxg3 Nf6 7.d3 Nc6 8.Nc3 Bd6 9.Bg5 Bxg3 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.e4 Rg8 12.Nxd5 Be5+ 13.Kh1 Qd6 14.c3 Rg3 15.Qh5 Rxd3 16.Rad1 Rxd1 17.Rxd1 Ne7 18.Ne3 Qc5 19.Qxh7 Nc8 20.Qg8+ 1-0
(Forced is 20…Qf8 21.Rd8+ Kxd8 22.Qxf8#.)

H. Meyers-T. Alvarez
Dominican Republic, 1966
1.Nh3 d5 2.g3 e5 3.f4 Bxh3 4.Bxh3 exf4 5.O-O fxg3 6.e4 gxh2+ 7.Kh1 dxe4 8.Nc3 Nf6 9.d3 exd3 10.Bg5 dxc2 11.Qf3 Be7 12.Qxb7 Nbd7 13.Bxd7+ Nxd7 14.Bxe7 Kxe7 15.Nd5+ Kf8 16.Nxc7 Nc5 17.Ne6+ Nxe6 18.Qxf7mate 1-0

Guernsey Open, 1980
1.Nh3 d5 2.g3 e5 3.f4 Bxh3 4.Bxh3 exf4 5.O-O fxg3 6.e4 gxh2+ 7.Kh1 dxe4 8.d3 Nf6 9.Nc3 exd3 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Qf3 O-O 12.Rae1 Nc6 13.Qg2 Nh5
(> 13…Kh8) 14.Bxe7 Nxe7 15.Bg4 d2 16.Re5 Nf6 17.Rxf6 gxf6 18.Rd5 Qb8 (> 18…Qxd5) 19.Rh5 Kg7 20.Qxd2 Rh8 21.Ne4 1-0

William Preston-Roelof Westra
Hull Congress Open, Sept. 14 1996
1.Nh3 d5 2.g3 e5 3.f4 Bxh3 4.Bxh3 exf4 5.O-O fxg3 6.e4 dxe4 7.d3 Bc5+ 8.Kh1 Qh4 9.Qg4 Qxg4 10.Bxg4 Nf6 11.Bc8 Nbd7 12.Bxb7 Rb8 13.Bxe4 Nxe4 14.dxe4 gxh2 15.Nc3 O-O 16.b3 Bd4 17.Bb2 Ne5 18.Rad1 c5 19.Kxh2 Ng4+ 20.Kg3 Ne3 21.Rxd4 Nxf1+ 22.Kf2 cxd4 23.Nd5 Ne3 24.Ne7+ Kh8 25.Bxd4 Nxc2 26.Bb2 Rbd8 27.Nf5 f6 28.Kg3 Rd3+ 29.Kf4 g5+ 30.Kg4 Ne3+ 31.Nxe3 Rxe3 32.Kf5 Re2 33.Ba3 Rf7 34.Ke6 Kg7 35.Kf5 h5 36.Bc5 h4 37.a4 h3 38.b4 h2 0-1

William Preston-A. Bulbeck
Hull Congress Open, Sept. 15 1996
1.Nh3 d5 2.g3 e5 3.f4 Bxh3 4.Bxh3 exf4 5.O-O Bd6 6.e4 fxg3 7.d4 Qh4 8.Qf3 Qxh3 -+ 9.Qxf7+ Kd8 10.Bg5+ Ne7 11.Rf3

11…Qxh2+ 12.Kf1 g2+ 13.Ke1 g1=Q+ 14.Rf1 Qxg5 15.Qf3 Qc1+ 16.Qd1 Qe3+ 0-1

Igor Glazyrin-Artur Gataullin
Russia U26 Ch.
Ufa, May 10 2004
1.Nh3 d5 2.g3 e5 3.f4 Bxh3 4.Bxh3 exf4 5.O-O fxg3 6.e4 gxh2+ 7.Kh1 dxe4 8.d3 Nf6 9.Nc3 exd3 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Qf3 Nc6 12.Rae1 O-O 13.Qg2 Kh8 14.Rxe7 Qxe7 15.Nd5 Qe2 16.Nxf6 Qxg2+ 17.Bxg2 h6 18.Bh4 dxc2 19.Kxh2 Nb4 20.Nh5 Nxa2 21.Nxg7 f6 0-1




Fourth of July in the US is considered our Independence Day. A day we love to celebrate with parades, hot dogs, ball games, barbeques, and fireworks.


We can’t provide the parades, ball games, barbeques, and our hot dogs are reserved. But we can give you fireworks. Check out these games.


Estonia Jr. Ch.
Parnu, 1933
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nc3 (This opening is known as the Mason or Keres Gambit. By either name, it leads to many tactical games.) 3…Nc6 4.d4 Bb4!? 5.Bxf4 Qh4+ 6.g3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Qe7 8.Bg2 d6 9.Nf3 Qxe4+ 10.Kf2 Bf5 11.Re1 Qxe1+ 12.Qxe1+ Nge7 13.d5 O-O 14.dxc6 Bxc2 15.Qxe7 Rae8 16.Qxc7 Re4 17.cxb7 Rfe8 18.b8=Q Re2+ 19.Kg1 Rxg2+ 20.Kxg2 Rxb8 21.Qxb8mate 1-0


Here are is another Keres/Mason Game. Black has the advantage after 6.…Ba6+. Now try to find Black’s best moves from this point.


PCCA Gambit Tournament, 1911
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 Qh4+ 5.Ke2 b6! 6.Nf3 Ba6+ 7.Kd2 Qf2+ 8.Ne2 Nb4 9.a3 Nf6 10.Qe1 d5 11.Kc3 Nxe4+ 12.Kb3 Bc4+ 13.Ka4


13…b5+ (Alex Dunne, writing in the Dec. 2000 issue of Chess Life, notes that 13…a5 14.Nc3 Qxc2+ 15.b3 Qxb3# wins faster. Would you have found that idea?) 14.Ka5 Nc6+ 15.Ka6 b4+ 16.Kb7 Rb8+ 17.Kxc6 Rb6+ 18.Kxc7 Bd6+ 19.Kc8 Ke7mate 0-1


Victor Knox (2320)-Krzysztof Pytel (2381)
Manchester, 1981
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.Bd2 Ne7 6.Nb5 O-O 7.c3 (7.Bxb4 doesn’t seem to fare too well. Vasiliev (1703)-Lysakov (2032) Petr Izmailov Memorial, Tomsk, Russia, June 13 2013, continued with 7…cxb4 8.Nd6 Nbc6 9.Nf3 f6 10.Bd3 fxe5 11.dxe5 Nxe5 12.Nxc8 Nxd3+ 13.Qxd3 Rxc8 14.O-O-O Ng6 15.h4 Nf4 16.Qe3 Qf6 17.Qxa7 Ra8 18.Qd4 Ne2+ 0-1) 7…Ba5 8.dxc5 Bc7 (> 8…Ng6) 9.f4 Nd7 10.b4 b6 11.cxb6 Nxb6 12.Nf3 Bb7 (Black is coming close to equality, or at least an unclear position. However, he needs to either active his kingside or defend it. He does neither.) 13.Bd3 Nc4? (Now comes the thematic Bxh7+ and subsequent king walk.)


14.Bxh7+! Kxh7 15.Ng5+ Kg6 16.Qg4 f5 17.Qg3 Qd7 (17…Qc8 18.Nc7) 18.Nxe6+ Kf7 19.Qxg7+ Kxe6 20.Nd4mate 1-0


Escalante-“Me4ok” (1846)
corres., 2019
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 d6 5.Bc4 Nf6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Nh5 9.e6?


(This is what sometimes happens when I analyze a game in my head. Most of the time, this is not problem. But this time I thought he had played 8…Ng4, and 9.e6 works well in that variation.


By the way, after 8…Nh5, 9.Qf3 is considered the best move here. A few games illustrate the possibilities.


GM Fischer-N.N.
New York, 1963
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Nh5 9.Qf3 e6 (9…d5? 10.Nxd5! cxd5 11.Bxd5) 10.g4 Ng7 11.Ne4 Qa5+ (11…d5? 12.Nf6+ Ke7 13.Qa3+ Qd6 14.Qxd6#) 12.Bd2 Qxe5 13.Bc3 (The black queen is trapped.)


New Zealand Ch.
Christchurch, 1967
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Nh5 9.Qf3 e6 10.exd6 Qxd6 11.g4 Ng7 12.Bf4 e5 13.Bxf7+ Kd7 14.Rd1 exf4 15.O-O Ba6 16.Ne4 Bxf1 17.Nxd6 Bxd6 18.Qxf4 1-0


Mayerhofer (2203)-Klimes (2365)
IPCA World Cup
Czech Republic, 2003
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Nh5 9.Qf3 d5 10.Nxd5 e6 11.Nc3 Bb7 12.O-O Be7 13.Bh6 Bg5 14.Rad1 Qe7 15.Bxg5 Qxg5 16.Ne4 Qe7 17.Nd6+ Kf8 18.Nxf7 Qxf7 19.Qxf7+ Kxf7 20.Rd7+ Kf8 21.Rxb7 Ng7 22.Rd1 a5 23.Rdd7 Nf5 24.Bxe6 1-0


De Haas (2171)-Bakker
Nova Open
Haarlem, July 2 2004
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Nh5 9.Qf3 d5 10.Nxd5 cxd5 11.Bxd5 Rb8

12.Bxf7+ Kd7 13.Qd5+ Kc7 14.Qc5+ Kb7 15.Bd5+ Ka6 16.Qc6+ 1-0


Now let’s get back to the original game.)


9…fxe6! (Oops! Black definitely has the advantage.) 10.Qf3 (Trying to keep Black from castling.) 10…d5! (Another good move. This bolsters his pawn structure.) 11.Bb3 (Forced. White wants to keep the bishop on the diagonal.) 11…Bg7 12.Bg5 Nf6? (Black could have tried 12.Rf8, and forgo castling to use the open “f” file.) 13.O-O-O O-O!? [Seems safe. But White’s bishop is still on the diagonal. If Black’s plan is king safety (always important), then he probably should hide his king on h8.] 14.Qg3 c5? (Again, …Kh8 is called for. All this move does is loosen his pawn structure. Perhaps he wanted to push …c4, getting rid of the bishop. But this approach is too slow.) 15.Rhe1 (White’s development is now superior, for the cost of a pawn. His bishop is about to become very active.) 16…Bd7? 16.Bxf6! (The start of a combination to open lines against the enemy king.) 16…exf6
17.Nxd5! Kh8 [Now he moves his king to safer square. But he loses a critical tempo in the process. By the way, taking the knight leads to immediate disaster. I’ll let the reader figure it out the moves (it’s more fun that way!)] 18.Nc7 +- Qe7 19.Nxa8 Rxa8 20.Qc7 Rd8 21.Rxe6 Bh6+ 22.Kb1 Bxe6 23.Rxd8+ 1-0


GM Fabiano Caruna (2652)-GM Konstantin Landa (2664)
Torneo di Capodanno
Reggio Emilia, Italy, June 1 2010
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Be3 Nc6 8.Qd2 Be6 9.O-O-O Qd7 10.Kb1 Bf6 11.h4 h6 12.Nd4 Nxd4 13.Bxd4 Bxd4 14.Qxd4 O-O (So far, we are still in “book”.) 15.Rg1 [White played 15.Be2 in GM R. Ponomariov (2751)-GM Hao Wang (27433), Kings Tournament, Bucharest, Oct. 11 2013, with the continuation of 15…Rae8 16.Bf3 b6 17.g4 Qb5 18.g5 Qc4 19.gxh6 Qxd4 20.Rxd4 gxh6 21.Bc6 Rd8 22.Ra4 a5 23.b4 axb4 24.cxb4 Bd7 25.Bxd7 Rxd7 26.Re1 Kg7 27.Kb2 Kg6 28.Ra3 Kh5 29.Rg3 f5 30.Re6 b5 31.Kb3 f4 32.Rgg6 Rh7 33.f3 Rf5 34.c4 bxc4+ 35.Kxc4 Re5 36.Ref6 Kxh4 37.Rxf4+ Kh3 38.Rfg4 h5 39.Rg3+ Kh2 40.Rg2+ Kh1 41.Rg1+ Kh2 42.R6g2+ Kh3 43.Rg7 Rxg7 44.Rxg7 Re3 45.a4 Ra3 46.Kb5 c5 47.bxc5 1/2-1/2. Caruna’s move seems clearer and stronger.] 15…Rae8 16.g4 Qc6 17.Bg2 Qa6 18.b3 Bd7 19.g5 h5 20.g6 Re7 21.Bd5 Be6 22.Rde1 c5 23.Qd1 Rfe8 24.Qxh5! +- fxg6
25.Rxe6! (Black resigned as he gets checkmated after 25…Rxe6 26.Qxg6. Or he could play on by taking the queen first, and then still get mated after 25…gxh5 26.Rxe7+ Kh7 27.Be4+ Kg8 28.Rgxg7+ Kh8 29.Rh7+ Kg8 30.Rxe8# .) 1-0


“jovialdick” (2178)-“blueemu” (2297)
Team Malaysia vs The Canadian Team, Aug. 2018
[This game can be found in a forum titled, “A Heroic Defense in the Sicilian Najdorf – Kids, don’t try this at home!” on Notes in green are by Escalante, those in red by “blueemu”. I hesitate to include any diagrams, since virtually every move after White 10th would necessitate a diagram.]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Bb3 b5 8.O-O Be7 9.f4 (Another common move here is 9.Qf3, with the idea of activating pieces over using the kingside pawns to cramp and attack Black’s position.) 9…Bb7 (Black’s only good idea with his white bishop is to fianchetto it. He has play it soon anyway.) 10.e5 (This move is the direct result of White’s previous move. The attack, however, is double-edged as White’s king is not exactly safe if his attack should fail.) 10…dxe5 11.fxe5 Bc5 12.Be3 Nc6 13.exf6 Bxd4 14.fxg7 [Another crazy possibility (pointed out by one of the Master-strength players who was drawn by the carnage) was 14 Nd5!? instead of the piece sacrifice 14. fxg7 that White actually played.] 14…Bxe3+ 15.Kh1 Rg8 16.Bxe6 Rxg7 17.Bxf7+ Rxf7 18.Qh5 Ne5 [Florian, writing in Informant 19, game 453, gives this move “!!” and a -+. The game, Cervenka (2190)-A. Schneider (2266), Czechoslovakia, 1974, continued after 18…Ne5!! -+, with 19.Qxe5+ (19.Rae1 Qg5! -+ ; 19.Rf5 Qd2, are again Florian’s notes to the game.) 19…Qe7 20.Qh8+ Kd7 21.Rad1+ (or 21.Rxf7 Qxf7 22.Qe5 Bxg2+ 23.Kxg2 Rg8+ 24.Kh3 Qf3+ 0-1, as in Kaleb-Sostra, corres., Keres Memorial, 1982) 21… Ke6 0-1. Back to original game. ; Black is indeed winning after 18. … Ne5!! but I messed up on move 20 with 20. … Rd8?! allowing White to head into a very drawish position by swapping everything off on f7 after 21. Rae1 Kf8 and White takes on f7 then recovers his piece on e3.] 19.Qxe5+ Qe7 20.Qh5 Rd8 [20…b4?! is too slow. Miranda Rodriguez (2167)-Ruiz Sanchez (2392), Capablanca Memorial, Havana, May 11 2010 continued with 21.Rae1 bxc3 22.Rxf7 Qxf7 23.Rxe3+ Kf8 24.Qc5+ Kg7 25.Rg3+ Kf6 26.Qd4+ Kf5 27.Qf2+ 1-0 ; Black had a much better 20th move, playing 20. … Kf8! (instead of playing it one move later, as I actually did) 21. Rae1 Re8! and White is lost because he cannot recover his piece, while the Black King is now safe (for a given value of “safe”).] 21.Rae1 Kf8 22.Qxh7 Bd4 23.h3 Rd7 24.Qg6 Qh4 25.Re8+ Kxe8 26.Qg8+ Ke7 27.Rxf7+ Kd6 28.Qb8+ Kc5 29.Rf5+ Kb6 30.Kh2 Qe1 31.Nd5+ Rxd5 32.Rxd5 Bg1+ 0-1

The Daring Damiano

The Petrov (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6) has a reputation for being drawish. But that doesn’t mean that there no pitfalls.


Let’s take a look at one of them, sometimes called “The Daring Damiano” (don’t ask me why).


The moves are 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nxe4. Although White has several moves available to choose from, he almost always chooses 4.Qe2. The main reason is that it activates his queen and he can quickly win the game if Black stumbles.


Let’s take a look at a common (at least among beginners) trap from this position and let’s call it “Ancient Chess Trap” (or ACT). The moves that make this (bad) variation are (in case you need review all the move so far) are : 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nxe4 4.Qe2, and now Black can lose quickly lose with 4…Nf6??


5.Nc6+! +-


This trap is one worth remembering as it can come up in other openings and is a nice way to end a rated game early enough so you can enjoy playing blitz chess for the rest of the day.


After the better 4…Qe7, the game can continue with 5.Qxe4 d6 6.d4 dxe5 [Black almost has to take the pawn. After 6.d4 Nd7, White won nicely with 6.d4 Nd7 7.f4!? f6?! 8.Be2 fxe5 9.fxe5 dxe5 10.O-O exd4 11.Bh5+ Kd8 12.Bg5 Nf6 13.Rxf6 Qxe4 14.Rd6# 1-0 (Steinkuehler-Horwitz, Manchester 1961).] 7.Qxe5 Qxe5+ 8.dxe5 Bf5, giving Black a decent chance.

This was starting point for Hertan’s article in the February 1990 issue of Chess Life. By the way, his article was titled, “The Daring Damiano”. It may the first time anyone has used the term to describe this variation in the Petrov.


The big question here, is how should White continue? The answer is not clear.


9.Bb5+ doesn’t look so good after the obvious 9…c6. In addition, Sapfirov-Yaroslavsev, USSR 1971, continued with 9.Bb5+ Nd7!? 10.O-O Bxc2 11.Bf4 c6 12.Be2 Bf5 13.Nc3 Be7 = (ECO evaluation). So Black can at least equalize.

It turns out that 9.Bd3 is an error as Black can continue with 9.Bd3? Bxd3 10.cxd3 Nc6 and his development is no worse than White and Black may already have the advantage.


9.c3 has possibilities. After 9.c3 Nd7 10.f4 O-O-O 11.Be3 f6 (this move deserves either !? or ?!), Black won after 12.Be2 fxe5 13.O-O exf4 14.Rxf4 Re8 15.Rxf5 Rxe3 16.Bg4 h5 17.Kf2 Re4 18.Bh3 g6 19.Nd2 gxf5 0-1 (R. Oosting (1983)-FM S. Muehlenhaus (2199), HZ Open, Netherlands Aug. 6 2017).

Other games with 9.c3


Thessaloniki Ol., 1984
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nxe4 4.Qe2 Qe7 5.Qxe4 d6 6.d4 dxe5 7.Qxe5 Qxe5+ 8.dxe5 Bf5 9.c3 Nd7 10.Bf4 O-O-O 11.Nd2 Bc5 12.Nb3 Bb6 13.Nd4 Bg6 14.O-O-O Rde8 15.Re1 Nc5 16.Bc4 Rhf8 17.Rd1 Re7 18.f3 Rfe8 19.Rhe1 Nd7 20.e6 fxe6 21.Bxe6 Kb8 22.Bxd7 Rxe1 23.Bxe8 Rxe8 24.Bg3 Kc8 25.Re1 Rxe1+ 26.Bxe1 Bxd4 27.cxd4 Kd7 28.Bg3 Bd3 29.Be5 Bf1 30.g3 Be2 31.Bxg7 Bxf3 32.Kd2 Ke6 33.Ke3 Bd5 34.a3 Kf5 35.Be5 c6 36.Bb8 a6 37.Kd3 Ke6 38.Kc3 Kd7 39.Kb4 b6 40.Kc3 Kc8 41.Be5 Kd7 42.Kd3 Ke6 43.Bc7 b5 44.Kc3 Kd7 45.Bb6 Be6 46.Kb4 Kd6 47.Ka5 Bc8 48.Bc5+ Kc7 49.Kb4 Bf5 50.Kc3 Kd7 51.Kd2 Ke6 52.Ke3 h5 53.Kf4 Kf6 54.Be7+ Kg6 55.Ke5 a5 56.Kd6 Be4 57.a4 bxa4 58.Bd8 Bd5 59.Bxa5 Kg5 60.h3 Kf5 61.g4+ 1/2-1/2


Badenweiler Open
Germany, 1988
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nxe4 4.Qe2 Qe7 5.Qxe4 d6 6.d4 dxe5 7.Qxe5 Qxe5+ 8.dxe5 Bf5 9.c3 Nd7 10.Bf4 O-O-O 11.Nd2 Re8 12.Nc4 f6 13.O-O-O fxe5 14.Bg3 g6 15.Bd3 Bg7 16.Bc2 h5 17.h4 Nc5 18.Rhe1 e4 19.Bf4 a6 20.Ne3 Rhf8 21.Bg3 Bh6 22.Kb1 Nd3 23.Nxf5 gxf5 24.Bxd3 exd3 25.Rxe8+ Rxe8 26.Rxd3 Re1+ 27.Kc2 Re2+ 28.Kd1 Rxb2 29.Rf3 Rd2+ 30.Ke1 Rxa2 31.Rxf5 Bd2+ 32.Kd1 Bxc3 33.Rf8+ Kd7 34.Rf7+ Ke6 35.Rxc7 Be5 36.Bxe5 Kxe5 1/2-1/2


Jolanta Zawadzka (243200-Ewa Harazinska (2310)
Polish Women’s Ch.
Poznan, Apr. 1 2016
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nxe4 4.Qe2 Qe7 5.Qxe4 d6 6.d4 dxe5 7.Qxe5 Qxe5+ 8.dxe5 Bf5 9.c3 Nd7 10.Bf4 O-O-O 11.Bc4 Nxe5 12.Bxe5 Re8 13.f4 f6 14.O-O fxe5 15.fxe5 Bc5+ 16.Kh1 Bxb1 17.Raxb1 Rxe5 18.Bd3 h6 19.b4 Be7 20.Bf5+ Kb8 21.Bg4 Bf6 22.Bf3 Re3 23.c4 Rd8 24.a4 c6 25.a5 Kc7 26.b5 cxb5 27.Rxb5 b6 28.c5 bxc5 29.Rxc5+ Kd6 30.Rc6+ Ke7 31.Rb1 Rd6 32.Rc7+ Rd7 33.Rc4 Rd4 34.Rcc1 Ra3 35.Rb7+ Rd7 36.Re1+ Kd8 37.Rb8+ Kc7 38.Rb7+ Kd8 39.Rb5 Bc3 40.Rb8+ Kc7 41.Rb7+ Kd8 42.Rb8+ Kc7 43.Rb7+ 1/2-1/2
White can offer a pawn with 9.Nc3. Black should not take it and play the most reasonable development move; 9…Nc6. The c-pawn is still vulnerable, and Black is free to castle queenside, giving his king safety and his activity to his rook.


Finally, White can sidestep this variation with 6.d4 dxe5 7.dxe5 Nc6. But that is for another post.