Earlier this week I announced that International Chess Day was July 20th and I was requesting if any readers wanted a game to be published on this blog. The following is a submission that I am happy to post.
3…Nf6 3.Bb5+ c6 4.e4 (An interesting and original gambit. White should not be able to get away with it, but trying out new ideas and themes ultimately enriches the game and makes the adventurous player a better one.) 4…cxb5 5.Nxb5 Nxe4 6.Qe2 a6 7.Nd4 e5 8.Ndf3 Bc5 9.Nh4 Nxf2?
[Black doesn’t have to take the pawn at this time. The attack on f2 is not going away and Black can get better play after 9…Qxh4 or even 9…O-O.
It has been claimed that chess computers can attack but can never defend. And that a computer’s greed is often its downfall. These two allegations were more true back in the 1980s, but we still have examples of these memes. Like this game.]
10.d4 Bxd4 11.Be3 Nxh1 12.O-O-O (White can’t play 12.Bxd4? due to 12…Qxh4+ and 13…Qxd4. Black’s overwhelming material advantage then become obvious and unanswerable.) 12…Bxe3+ 13.Qxe3 Qxh4 14.Rxd5 (14.Qxe5+ is probably better and is definitely better after 14….Qe7? 15.Qxg7! Rf8? 16.Nf3! with the idea of 17.Re1! +-.) 14…O-O 15.Qxe5 Qf2 16.b3 Qxg1+? (Despite winning the knight with a check, this move is an error. Black’s queen finds herself out of play and White’s rook and queen instantly become more active and Black falls behind in development. He should consolidate with 16…Be6 and 17…Nc6.) 17.Kb2 Qxg2 18.Rd8 Rxd8? (Again, greed negatively affects Black’s position. Better is 18…Be6! and his position actually improves.) 19.Qe7 Nc6 20.h4 Rd4?? 21.Qe8mate 1-0
And don’t worry if you could not submit your game due to natural disasters, political upheavals, viruses, or alien abductions. You can still submit things to this blog.
If you have a game you want to be seen here, or have a question, or a request, just email them to Rob@TheNewChessPlayer.com
Most of us have played the King’s Gambit, and some of us still do. It’s a good opening to learn tactics and, occasionally, strategies. The majority of the games start with 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3. Black can continue with 3…g5 and try to hold on his extra pawn, or play for his own attacking possibilities.
A rarer response is 3.Bc4, known as the Bishop Gambit. This variation allows White to explore relatively unknown territory.
Black usually counters with 3…Qh4+ moving the king, preventing White from castling, and isolating the h1-rook for at least the time being. But a queen check rarely ends the game. Black needs more active pieces to start any attack. He can try, after 3.Bc4 Qh4 4.Kf1, with 4…d5 and 4…Nf6, both leading to strong tactical play.
But perhaps the stronger reply is also the rarest. Black can play 4…b5!? The idea is since Black is up a pawn, he can give one up and still be of material equality and can even gain a tempo if White plays 5.Bxb5 (which is the most common move). And the extra tempo comes when Black plays 5…Bb7. This puts the bishop on the long diagonal to the white king, unable to castle.
Does this mean the Black wins? Not by a long shot! White has a lot of momentum built up, just waiting for Black to slip.
Here is the Immortal Game!
Anderssen-Kieseritzky London, 1851 [The “Immortal Game”] [Chernev, 1000 Best Short Games of Chess, #945 ; Tartkower, 500 Master Games of Chess, #227 ; Seirawan+Minev, Take My Rooks, pg. ix-xi] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 b5 5.Bxb5 Nf6
[It is a toss-up whether the immediate 5…Bb7 or 5…Nf6, delaying the Bb7 until the knight is better positioned.
Here are two games with 5…Bb7.
Harrwitz-Kieseritzky London, 1847 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 b5 5.Bxb5 Bb7 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.d3 Bxc3 8.bxc3 Nf6 9.Nf3 Qh5 10.Rb1!? g5!? (Black attacks on the side which the White king resides.) 11.Bxd7+ Nbxd7 12.Rxb7 O-O 13.Rb5 c5 14.d4 Nxe4 15.dxc5 Nxc3 16.Qxd7 Rad8 17.Qf5 Rd1+ 18.Kf2 Rxh1 19.Bb2 Nd1+ 20.Ke2 Nxb2 21.Rxb2 Rxh2 22.Kf2 g4 23.Qxh5 Rxh5 24.Nd4 Rxc5 25.Rb4 Rd8! (White cannot set up an adequate defence.) 26.Ne2 Rxc2 27.Kf1 Rd1+ 28.Kf2 Rdd2 29.Re4 f5 30.Re5 h5 -+
7…Nh5 (Here again 7…g5 is a more natural way of defending the gambit pawn. – Tartakower ; Glazkov and Estrin recommend 7…Bc5!? 8.d4 Bb6, we suggest 7…Be7!? followed by 8…Nh5 or 8…O-O. – Seirawan+Minev) 8.Nh4 [A subtle guard against 8…Ng3+, but 8.Kg1 (or 8.Kf2) would be a blunder on account of 8…Qb6+, followed by …Qxb5. – Tartakower] 8…Qg5 [This simultaneous assault on two pieces proves illusory. Better would be 8…g5 9.Nf5 Qg6. – Tartakower ; According to Kieseritzky, the decisive mistake. He recommends 8…g6! and if 9.g4 (9.g3 Be7) Nf6 10.Ng2 Qh3 11.Bxf4 Nxg4 with advantage for Black. – Seirawan+Minev] 9.Nf5 c6?! [In our opinion, this is the decisive error. Better was 9…g6 10.h4 Qf6!? (Not 10…Ng3+ 11.Ke1! Qf6 12.Nxg3 fxg3 13.Qe2, obviously to White’s advantage – Kieseritzky), when Black is still kicking. – Seirawan+Minev] 10.g4 Nf6 11.Rg1 cxb5 12.h4 Qg6 13.h5 Qg5 14.Qf3 (Threatening to win the Queen by 15.Bxf4, as well as 15.e5 attacking the Rook with his Queen while his King Pawn bites at the Knight. – Chernev) 14…Ng8 15.Bxf4 Qf6 16.Nc3 Bc5 (Black seeks salvation in a counter-attack. Steadier, however, would be 16…Bb7 – Tartakower) 17.Nd5! Qxb2
18.Bd6! (“Ganz grossartig gespielt” says Gottschall. – Chernev) 18…Bxg1 [If 18…Qxa1+ 19.Ke2 Qxg1 20.Nxg7+ Kd8 21.Bc7# If 18…Bxd6 19.Nxd6+ Kd8 20.Nxf7+ Ke8 21.Nd6+ Kd8 22.Qf8# – Chernev ; Some confusion exists here. Several authors (e.g. Chernev in “1000 Best Short Games of Chess” and Glazkov, Estrin in Korolevsky Gambit, 1988) give the move order as 18…Bxg1 19.e5 Qxa1. We used the text from “Encyclopedia of Chess Games” and other sources that we felt more authentic. – Seirawan+Minev] 19.e5! (Have another Rook! – Chernev) 19…Qxa1+ (A slight chance of a draw is afforded by 19…Qb2, etc. – Tartakower) 20.Ke2 (With a renewed threat of 21.Nxg7+ Kd8 22.Bc7# – Tartakower) 20…Na6 (Defending against 21.Nxg7+ Kd8 22.Bc7#, but the final blow comes from the other side. – Seirawan+Minev] 21.Nxg7+ Kd8 22.Qf6+! Nxf6 23.Be7mate 1-0 [White has given up a Queen, two Rooks, and a Bishop for one single, miserable Pawn (and mate, the cynic might point out.). – Chernev ; A forced mate by three minor pieces against the full array of the black pieces. – Tartakower]
Philippe Jaulin-Frederic Coudray Avoine Open, 1996 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 Nf6 4.e5 Ne4 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.d3 (A move that is often overlooked.) 6…Ng5 7.Bxf4 Nxf3+ 8.Bxf3 d6 9.Bxc6+ bxc6 10.O-O (Even better is 10.Qf3! as White gains a tempo or two.) 10…dxe5 11.Bxe5 Bd6? 12.Bxg7! Qh4 13.Qe2+ [Black’s best is 13…Be6. (not 13…Kd7? 14.Rxf7+). But even stronger is 13.Qe1+! as 13..Qxe1 14.Rxe1+ is check and the White’s has the attack and the material advantage.] 1-0
Black also has 3…Qh4+. And like in the Bishop Gambit, the White is dislodged from a good hiding square. The downside, again copying from the Bishop Gambit, is the Black queen is slightly out of play and facing all of White’s pieces on her own.
Mr. Sutton-Blackburne Simpson’s Chess Divan London, 1884 [Blackburne, “Blackburne’s Chess Games”, #176] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 f5 (Although a favorite defence of mine I do not recommend it to the young amateur.) 5.Nc3 (Qe2 is stronger.) 5…Nf6 6.d3 g5 7.Nf3 Qh5 8.h4 h6 9.Kg1 g4 10.Ne5 Rh7 11.Ne2 (An attack on the Queen persistently followed up in White’s succeeding play.) 11…fxe4 12.Bxf4 Qf5 13.Qc1 d5 14.Bb3 Nbd7 15.Ng3 Bc5+ 16.Kh2 Nxe5 17.Nxf5 (Now White has attained his object, but the fruit is of the Dead Sea.) 17…g3+ 18.Bxg3 (Any other move is equally fatal.) 18…Neg4+ 19.Kh3 Ne3 20.Bf4 Bxf5+ 21.Kh2 Neg4+ 22.Kh3 Nf2+ 23.Kh2 N6g4+ 24.Kg1 Nxd3+ 25.Kf1 Nxc1 26.Rxc1 O-O-O 0-1
But perhaps the best response is 3…d5, aggressively opening up more lines for an attack. White meets this best with 4.exd5 Nf6, and usually 5.Nf3.
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 (5.Nf3)
Tartakower-Capablanca New York 1924 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.c4 c6 6.d4 Bb4+ 7.Kf1?! (7.Bd2) cxd5 8.Bxf4 dxc4 9.Bxb8 Nd5 10.Kf2 Rxb8 11.Bxc4 O-O 12.Nf3 Nf6 13.Nc3 b5 14.Bd3 Ng4+ 15.Kg1 Bb7 16.Bf5?! (White’s king needs some breathing room and a chance for activating his rook. He can do both, and even attack a piece, with 16…h3!) 16…Bxc3 17.bxc3 Ne3 18.Bxh7+ Kh8 (Even after 18…Kxh7? 19.Qd3+ Kg8 21.Qxe3 Black still has the advantage due to his more secured king.) 19.Qd3 Bxf3 20.gxf3 Nd5 21.Be4 Nf4 22.Qd2 Qh4 23.Kf1 f5 24.Bc6 Rf6 25.d5 Rd8 26.Rd1 Rxc6 27.dxc6 Rxd2 (Even Capablanca is known to make mistakes as Black does even better with 27…Qh3+ 28.Kf2 Qg2+. ) 28.Rxd2 Ne6 29.Rd6 Qc4+ 30.Kg2 Qe2+ 0-1
Mark F. Bruere (2250)-J.M. Vaassen corres., WT/M/GT/284 ICCF, 1990 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.Nf3 c6 6.dxc6 Nxc6 7.d4 Bd6 8.O-O (Castling seems to be overdone in the King’s Gambit Accepted. Better is 8.c4 claiming a stake in the center and still holding the possibility of castling on either side.) 8…O-O 9.c4 Bg4 10.Nc3 Rc8 11.Nb5 Bb8 12.b3 (12.d5!? needs to be investigated.) 12..a6 13.Na3?! (13..Nc3) 13…Re8 14.Nc2 Qc7 15.Bb2 Ba7 16.Kh1 Ne7 17.d5? (Opening attacking lines where Black is the only one who profits. And it also drops a pawn.) 17…Nexd5! 18.cxd5 Qxc2 19.Bxf6 Rxe2 20.Bd4 Bxf3! 0-1
C. Sánchez-A. Alexander IECC 2000 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bd6 6.c4 O-O 7.d4 b6 8.Ne5 c5 9.dxc6 Qc7 (9…Ne4, threatening, …Qh4+ is a possibility.) 10.Bxf4 Nxc6 11.Nc3 a6 12.Nxc6 (12.Bf3!?) 12…Qxc6 13.Bxd6 Qxd6 14.O-O Bb7 15.d5 Rae8 16.Qd2 Ne4 (> 16…c5.) 17.Nxe4 Rxe4 18.Bd3 Rh4? (Black is having problems and he needs to play 18…Re5. The text is simply a waste of time.) 19.g3 Rd4 20.Bxh7+ 1-0
I briefly touched on the Hennig-Schara Gambit in my last post (an opening named after two players).
But after I reviewed it, I thought it might be a fascinating subject to share. So here are some surprising opening moves for you, the good reader.
The gambit starts with the moves, 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4. White gets an early advantage while Black develops. The game can easily enter lines where tactics and unclear continuations come into play.
Basically, with the c-file and d-file open, Black’s dream position would be one that he would castle queenside and have the enemy king stuck in the center. This obviously cannot happen in all games as can White castle kingside and Black often has a problem developing his b8-bishop, necessary for him to castle queenside.
But before going over the main lines, let’s first take a look at well-known trap that many Black players fall into, especially in speed chess.
Which leaves White with taking the pawn. He can either take it immediately with 5.Qxd4 or the move after with 5.Qa4+ Bd7 (played to disrupt Black’s development and close the d-file, at least for the moment).
White’s first plan, 5.Qxd4 is an obvious move. Black’s response is overwhelmingly in favor of 5…Nc6, if only because 5…Nf6 fails.
One line which we DO NOT recommend for White is: 6.Qd1 exd5 7.Qxd5 Bd7 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Qd1 Bc5 10.e3? Qe7 11.a3 O-O-O 12.Be2? Bh3!
The following games demonstrate the reasons why.
Dr. A. A. Mengarini-M. Radoicic Third Forum Open New York, 1967 [Hans Kmoch, “Games from Recent Events”, Chess Review, July 1967] 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4 5.Qxd4 Nc6 6.Qd1 exd5 7.Qxd5 Bd7 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Qd1 Bc5 10.e3 Qe7 11.a3 (11.Be2 is urgent.) 11…O-O-O 12.Be2 (Now White returns the Pawn for no obvious reason. 12.Bd2 is indicated. White has a difficult job then but does after the text move also.) 12…Bh3 13.Qc2 Bxg2 14.Rg1 Bxf3 15.Qf5+ Kb8 16.Qxf3 Ne5 17.Qf5 g6 18.Qc2 Rd7 19.b4 Bb6 20.Bb2 Rc8 21.Rd1 Rdc7 22.Qb3
22…Bxe3!! (This brilliant breakthrough destroys whatever dreams of safety White has.) 23.fxe3 (On 23.Nb5, Black probably continues with 23…Bxf2+ 24.Kxf2 Ne4+) 23…Nf3+! 24.Bxf3 (Or 24.Kf2 Rxc3! 25.Bxc3 Rxc3 26.Qxc3 Ne4+, etc.) 24…Qxe3+ 25.Be2 (White has nothing better.) 25…Qxg1+ 26.Kd2 Qg5+ 27.Kc2 (Or 27.Ke1 Qh4+ 28.Kd2 Rxc3! or 28.Kf1 Qh3+ 29.Ke1 Ne4 30.Rd3 Qh4+ with a winning attack.) 27…Ne4 28.Rd3 Rxc3+! 29.Bxc3 Rxc3+! 30.Rxc3 Qd2+ 0-1
Eric Marathee (2068)-Herve Daurelle (2230) Paris Ch. France, July 24 1999 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qxd4 exd5 7.Qxd5 Nc6 8.a3 Nf6 9.Qd1 Bc5 10.e3 Qe7 11.Be2 O-O-O 12.Nf3 Bh3 13.Qb3 (13.Qa4 may be the only move here – RME.) 13…Bxg2 14.Rg1 Bxf3 15.Bxf3 Ne5 16.Bh1 Rhe8 17.Na4 Nd3+ 18.Ke2 Ne4 19.Bxe4 Qxe4 20.Bd2 Nf4+ 21.Ke1 Qf3 22.Qd1 Nd3+ 0-1
White has better luck with 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qxd4 as Black’s counter attack is slowed down by his bishop on d7.
“weiran” (1775)-“mrjoker” (1778) Blitz Game ICC, September 6, 2008 [The reason not to grab the “b” pawn, part 2. Louis Morin is presumably “mrjoker”.] 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4 5.Qa4+ Bd7 6.Qxd4 exd5 7.Qxd5 Nf6 8.Qxb7 Nc6 9.Bf4 Nb4 10.O-O-O (10.Rc1! was much better.) 10…Rc8 11.Kb1 Rxc3 (A little too fancy. I saw 11…Bf5+! 12.e4, but simply missed 12…Qxd1+! 13.Nxd1 Bxe4+.) 12.bxc3 (I was expecting 12.Rxd7. Even with the help of Fritz I cannot find anything better than a perpetual check after 12…Qa5 13.a3 Qf5+ 14.e4 Nxe4 15.Ka1 Nc2+ 16.Ka2 Rc5 17.Bb5 Nc3+ 18.bxc3 Nb4+ 19.axb4 Qc2+ etc.) 12…Bf5+ 13.Kb2 Qxd1 14.Qb8+ Kd7 15.Qxa7+ Kc6 16.Qc7+ Kb5 17.c4+ (Again it seems as if a perpetual check should be the logical outcome after 17.Qb7+ Kc4 18.e4+ Qxf1 19.Nf3 Nd3+ 20.Kc2 Nb4+ 21.cxb4 Qd3+ 22.Kc1 Qc3+ 23.Kd1 Nxe4 24.Nd2+ Nxd2 25.Qxf7+ Kd3 26.Qxf5+ Ne4 27.Qh3+ etc.) 17…Ka6 (Sorry, no more checks.) 18.Kc3 Qc2+ 19.Kd4 Qb2+ 20.Ke3 Qc3mate 0-1
Sometimes the opening is named after the pieces. The King’s Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4), the Queen’s Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4), the Two Knights Defence (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6), the Three Knights Defence (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6), the Four Knights Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6), the Bishop Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4), and the Bishop Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4).
Pawns are featured in the Two Knights Variation of the Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3), the Three Pawns Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7 4.Bc4 Bh4+ 5.g3 fxg3 6.O-O), and the Four Pawns Variation in the King’s Indian Defence (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4) and the Four Pawns Attack in the Alekhine’s Defence (1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4).
1-0 (White has a piece, two pins, and all the attacking chances; Black has nothing.)
But this, the opening names – not the opening play – can get boring.
Some openings are named after the first person who was successful with the opening moves. Others are named after a player or student of the game who first published the analysis.
Opening names such as Alekhine’s Defence (1.e4 Nf6), Fischer’s Defence in the King’s Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 and now 3…d6 instead of the usual 3…g5), Larsen’s Opening (1.b3), the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 Bb5), the Marshall Attack (a variation of the Ruy Lopez going 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.c3 d5), the Albin Counter- Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5), Anderssen’s Opening (1.a3), the Najdorf (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6), and the Benko Gambit (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5).
And that’s just for starters.
We also have the Smith-Morra (1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 – actually named after two players), the Caro-Kann (1. e4 c6, another opening named after two players), the von Hennig-Schara Gambit (yet another opening named after two players):
The Greco-Counter Gambit, by the way, is named after Greco who the first known person to write about the openings. The opening moves are 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5!?. And the opening is also known as the Latvian Gambit.
This is a good time to segue into another area where chess openings are named after not just one or two players, but after a group of localized players who studied and popularized these openings. Not only do we have the Latvian, but also the Budapest (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5), the French (1.e4 e6), and the English (1.c4).
Making things interesting is that some openings are named after cities and countries. We have the Catalan (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3), the Saragossa (1.c3), the Italian (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4), the Berlin Defence (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6), the Vienna (1.e4 e5 2.Nc3), and the London (1.d4 Nf6 and White will play an early .Bf4).
Openings are also named after animals. Most players know of the Dragon (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 and Black will soon play …g6, …Bg7, and usually …Nf6).
And some might even know the Chameleon (1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nce2, and now White can continue with the Closed Sicilian with .d3 and .g3, or the Open Sicilian with .d4 cxd4 .Nxd4).
But how many players are familiar with the Elephant Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5), the Orangutan (1.b4), the Pterodactyl Variation (1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.e4 c5 5.Nf3 Qa5), or the Vulture Defence (1.d4 c5 2.d5 Nf6 3.c4 Ne4)?
Some players would mistakenly add the Bird (1.f4). But this opening was named after the English player, Henry Edward Bird (1830–1908).
But there are some opening names that are mysterious.
For example, the opening moves 1.d4 Nf6 are collectively known as the Indian Defences, such as the King’s Indian Defence, the Queen’s Indian, the Nimzo-Indian, the Old Indian. But why? We don’t know either.
And who knows where the Fried Liver Attack (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Nxf7)? It is said that Black, playing this variation, is dead as a piece of fried liver But, why Fried Liver and not, say, Fried Chicken or even Fried Zucchini? Surely, more people know what chicken and zucchini than Fried Liver? Maybe Fried Liver is less desirable or digestible? And Black is surely not dead after taking the knight on f7 – there are ways for him to fight on, and even to win. Ok, back to tropic.
We also have the Benoni (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5). Where did that name come from and how did it become popular? We know the latter comes from “a Hebrew term meaning “son of my sorrow” (cf. Genesis 35:18) – the name of an 1825 book by Aaron Reinganum about several defenses against the King’s Gambit and the Queen’s Gambit”, as least according to Wikipedia. But why and how did it become popular if it concerns itself with the Queen’s Gambit?
Finally, we have the Halloween Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nxe5), where it is said that this gambit is scary. We agree – but to which side?
A couple of decades ago I was reading a short story titled, “The Three Pawns Gambit”. It featured mysticism and the usual crazy chess hero.
But what is the Three Pawns Gambit? Does is lead to insanity? Or, perhaps more important to the average chess player, can you win with it?
Let’s look into it.
To get to the starting point of the three pawn gambit (3PG), you have to begin with the Kings’ Gambit Accepted (1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4). Then we move onto the Cunningham 3.Nf3 Be7). And then onto one of the many main lines of the Cunningham with 4.Bc4 Bh4+)
And now White usually continues with 5.Kf1.
If White continues instead with 5.g3, then we have reached with position that leads to the 3PG.
Now, wait, you might say, “White has only gambitted only one pawn, not three.
You are correct. But Black almost always takes the second pawn with 5…fxg3. And why not? He is ahead by two pawns and is ready to invade White’s kingside with his pieces.
And now White castles with 6.O-O, offering up a third pawn.
Let’s review all the moves so far as we’ll proceed rapidly from this point.
Newton-V. Jurgenson, 1994 [Escalante] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7 4.Bc4 Bh4+ 5.g3 fxg3 6.O-O d6 (6…gxh2+ is considered best. But no matter how good accepting a sacrifice, some players will still decline it.) 7.Bxf7+ (White says, “So if Black won’t take my pawn, he might not take my bishop”. Actually taking the bishop is dangerous due to 7…Kxf7 8.Nxh4+.) 7…Kd7 8.e5 gxh2+ 9.Kh1 Nc6 10.e6+ Ke7 11.Nxh4 Bxe6 12.Bxe6 Kxe6 13.Qg4+ Kd5 14.Nc3+ Kc5 15.d4+ [Interesting is 15.Rf5+!? Kb6 (better, but still leading to mate is 15…Ne5 16.d4+ Kc6 17.d5+ Kd7 18.Rxe5#) 16.Rb5+ Ka6 17.Qa4+ Na5 18.Qxa5#.] 15…Kb6 16.d5 Nf6 17.Be3+ Ka6 18.Qc4+ 1-0
“Ben_Dubuque”-“subhankars”) Blitz Game Chess.com, July 14 2017 [“Ben_Dubuque”] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7 4.Bc4 Bh4+ 5.g3 fxg3 6.O-O gxh2+ 7.Kh1 (The Three Pawns Gambit or the Bertin Gambit whichever you prefer.) 7…Be7 (Any move other than d5 is a mistake but d5 still allows White some compensation. Most engines will evaluate the position after d5 as maybe -1 which is surprisingly good considering White is down 3 pawns. 7…d5 8.exd5 Bg4 9.d4.) 8.Bxf7+ Kxf7 9.Ne5+ Ke8 10.Qh5+ g6 11.Nxg6 Nf6 12.Rxf6 Bxf6 13.Nxh8+ Ke7 14.Qf7+ Kd6 15.d4 Bxd4 (15…Qxh8 16.Bf4+ Be5 17.Bxe5+ Qxe5 18.dxe5+ Kxe5 19.Nc3) 16.Bf4+ Be5 17.Qd5+ Ke7 18.Qxe5+ Kf8 19.Bh6+ Kg8 20.Qg7mate 1-0
Two popular responses after 6.O-O gxh2+ 7.Kh1 are 7…Bf6 and 7…Nh6
Reshevsky-Doery Simul Berlin, 1920 [American Chess Bulletin, Nov. 1920, p.170] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Be7 4.Nf3 Bh4+ 5.g3 (A lively continuation that is classified as Capt. Bertin’s Gambit. Steinitz was wont to play 5.Kf1 against Bird, one of the few masters who ever resorted to the Cunningham.) 5…fxg3 6.O-O gxh2+ 7.Kh1 Nh6 (Not to be recommended. The correct move is 7…d5) 8.d4 Qe7 9.Bxh6 gxh6 10.Ne5 Bf6 [The removal of Black’s King’s Knight has left the King’s Bishop’s pawn woefully weak and Rzeschewski (i.e. Reshevsky RME) knows full well how to take advantage.] 11.Qh5 Rf8 12.Nxf7 (In this fashion does the little fellow make the chess the “child’s play” which is beyond the comprehension of many who are highly accomplished along other lines, but cannot quite grasp the fundamentals of chess strategy.) 12…Qxe4+ (Rzeschewski had calculated upon the sacrifice of a piece and the gain of more than it’s equivalent a few moves later, viz.: 12….RxN; 13.BxR+ QxB, 14.QxQ+ KxQ 15.e5, etc.) 13.Kxh2 Qxc2+ 14.Kg3 (Fearlessly the White King marches out into the open. He does not dread Rg8+, for in that case the Knight is withdrawn with discovered check.) 14…Bh4+ (Black is in desperation, but if, to avoid the discovery, he were to play …Ke7, then Re1+ would force mate.) 15.Qxh4 Qxc4 16.Qd8mate (Short shift is meted out to the presumptuous one who takes a chance on anything escaping the keen eyes of the small “grand-master” as he was dubbed in Vienna two years ago.) 1-0
Dus Chotimirsky-Robine Hamburg, 1910 [Escalante] [White has a won game after his 12th move. But how he wins it is spectacular.] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7 4.Bc4 Bh4+ 5.g3 fxg3 6.O-O gxh2+ 7.Kh1 d5 8.exd5 Bf6 9.d4 Ne7 10.Ng5 h6? 11.Nxf7! Kxf7 12.d6+ +- Kf8 13.Qh5 Qe8
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.
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.
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.
You might not find it in a magazine. And you might not find it in a book. But there is a gambit that seems appropriate for Halloween. It is known as the Frankenstein-Dracula Variation (or FDV for short).
In this gambit (perhaps attack would be more descriptive), Black gives up a rook and a few pawns and then proceeds to gain control over a large portion of the board and threatens White’s queen in numerous ways.
Is it any good? Let’s check it (sorry, bad pun) out.
L. Janse-GM J. Hector Paskturneringen Open Sweden, Apr 20 2019 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Qh5 Nd6 5.Bb3 Nc6 6.Nb5 g6 7.Qf3 f5 8.Qd5 Qe7 9.Nxc7+ Kd8 10.Nxa8 b6 11.Nxb6 axb6 12.d3 (White wants to develop his Bc1. As events will show White will not have the time to develop this bishop. 12.Ne2 is the better choice.) 12…f4 13.Qf3 Nd4 14.Qd1 Bb7 15.Nf3 Nxf3+ 16.gxf3 Nf5 17.h4 Nxh4 18.Rh3 Qg5 19.Qe2 Bc5 20.Kd2 Qh5 21.Rxh4 Qxh4 22.Qxe5 Re8 23.Qb8+ Bc8 24.Bc4 Bb4+ 0-1
Ray Bott-Roger D de Coverly Match, Game 7 London, 1988 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Qh5 Nd6 5.Bb3 Nc6 6.Nb5 g6 7.Qf3 f5 8.Qd5 Qe7 9.Nxc7+ Kd8 10.Nxa8 b6 11.Qf3 Bb7 12.Qh3 Nd4 13.c3 Bg7?!
14.Bd1? (White has to play 14.cxd4 and while Black runs wild over the board with his pieces, he is doing so with one less piece. White’s sole developed piece, his queen, is stuck in the open and becomes a target. The end is swift.) 14…Ne6! 15.d3 Bxa8 16.Ne2 f4 17.Kf1 Ng5 18.Qh4 Nf5 0-1
Most players know of Froms’ Gambit [1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3), with continuation of either 4…g5 (to drive away the knight) or 4…Nf6 (to defend and ready to redeploy the knight to g4 or e4)].
But White can also offer a similar gambit after 1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3. This gambit is known as the Swiss Gambit. Because of its rarity, most players are not aware of it or it’s thematic ideas.
Let’s take a look the gambit after the opening moves (1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3).
If Black was to take the pawn, he would be a pawn up in the game. However, it would be hazardous to do so as both of White’s bishops (after 3…exd3 4.Bxd3) would be activated and his own kingside would be vulnerable. There are two things that slow down White’s attack. The first is the f-pawn, which unlike in the From’s Gambit (which does not have such an advanced pawn), blocks the bishop from going to f4 or g5. The second thing is that Black usually plays an early 4…Nf6, to stop the h5 checks.
Now, lets look at some games.
First, Black does not have to take the pawn. But such a plan can be risky as the d3-pawn can easily capture the e4-pawn and White has a nice center, without having to sacrifice a pawn.
R. Oberlin-R. Berggren US Open Los Angeles, 1991 1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3 d5 4.Nh3 Nf6 5.Nf2 exd3 6.Bxd3 Nc6 7.O-O b6? (This setup of the knight on c6 and the bishop going to b7 seems too slow and out of touch with a tactical opening such as this one. Black soon finds himself short of moves.) 8.Nd2 Bb7 9.Nf3 Qd7 10.Ng5 Nd8 11.Bxh7 e6 12.Bg6+ Ke7 13.Re1 Kd6 (Let the King Hunt begin!)
After the moves 1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3 exd3 4.Bxd3 Nf6 5.Nf3 e6, White has three excellent choices of 6.Ng5 (A brazen attempt at an attack, probably best for a blitz game), 6.Ne5 (a more cautious and shy approach to an attack), and 6.Be3 (a developing move that allows White to castle queenside if the need arises).
Bird+Dobell-Gelbfuhs Vienna, 1873 1.f4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.d3 exd3 4.Bxd3 Nf6 5.Nf3 (a very good move as the knight usually finds itself involved in White’s attack.) 5…e6 (this move is the most common as it allows his bishop to develop and bolsters his defense of his weak point on f7.) 6.Ng5!? g6 (not 6…Bc5? because of 7.Bxh7 Kf8 8.Nxe6+, winning) 7.h4 Bh6 8.h5 Bxg5 9.fxg5 Nd5 10.hxg6 Qe7 11.Rxh7 Rxh7 12.gxh7 Qb4+ 13.Kf1 Qh4 14.Bg6+ Ke7 15.Qh5 1-0
Gaudin-de Gency corres., 1925 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nf3 cxb2 5.Bxb2 e6 6.Bc4 b6?! 7.O-O Ba6 8.Nbd2 Bxc4 9.Nxc4 Nf6 10.Bxf6 Qxf6 11.e5 Qf4 (One can criticize this move as White has more pieces developed than Black. But if the Black queen goes back to d8, then Black has a very cramped game. But after the text move, he still has a very cramped game.) 12.Rc1 Nc6 13.Nd6+ Bxd6 14.Qxd6 (From this point onward, White’s game almost plays itself due to the cramped position of Black’s game.) 14…Rd8 (Not 14…f6, in attempt to flee to f7 or at least break the bind imposed by the e5 pawn, due to 15.Rxc6! dxc6 16.Qxe6+) 15.Rfd1 Qe4 16.Nd4 Nxd4 17.Rxd4 Qe2 18.h4 Qh5 19.a4 1-0