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Do you think the Budapest Gambit is better than the Sicilian for club level?

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #1


    I just started playing chess this year but I've been playing every day, and up until recently I would only play as black against 1. e4 because I was trying to learn the Sicilian.

    Recently I decided I better learn an opening against 1. d4 so I could play against it as well, and without knowing anything about it, I picked the Budapest Gambit (the normal knight to g4 version not the Fajarowics variation). I figured I needed to learn an opening for d4 and I just needed to pick one and it might as well be the Budapest.

    So I got the Chessbase DVD on it and started reading about it. After this cursory research I had mixed feelings about my decision to learn the opening. On the one hand a lot of what I read on forums said the Budapest was a bad opening. On the other hand, in the Chessbase DVD, the instructor IM Andrew Martin sounds very enthusiastic about the Budapest, you can hear it in his voice. I have several other Andrew Martin DVDs and in none of them does he sound that enthusiastic and amused when he's talking about an opening. I also know IM Andrew Martin is friends with GM Nigel Davies, both being from the UK, and Davies plays the Budapest sometimes in high level games, so if players of the caliber of Martin and Davies think the Budapest is good, then there must be something to that.

    Most of the first 20 or so games I played with the Budapest I lost, but now that I'm becomming familiar with it I seem to be having more success with it, and I seem to actually have more success with the Budapest than the Sicilian.

    What makes the Sicilian a worse opening I think are all white's ready made attack plans. If you'll remember I talked about this in my last post here. The Sicilian has been analyzed and studied so much that white doesn't have to be creative in order to beat it, white just selects a ready made plan such as the Grand Prix attack, Alapin, Closed Sicilian, etc. I think it is very telling that when I went into Barnes & Noble last week looking for chess books, the only books I could find on the Sicilian were ways to beat it such as  "How to Smash the Sicilian" etc. There were no books about how to actually play the Sicilian as black. I find when I play the Sicilian I usually have to deal with a white attack from the start. Again, I've only been playing chess for about 6 months now, so all these people I play against have been practicing with their chosen "anti-Sicilian" for years and I'm having to go up against that.

    With the Budapest it seems like black has the initiative more. White actually responds to what I'm doing instead of the other way around, and a lot of people don't seem to know what to do against the Budapest. It's less common than the Sicilian and there aren't these ready made attack plans against it that white can choose from at their liesure. The only ready made attack plan in the Budapest I've read about is for black with the rook lift. I have more fun playing the Budapest and I seem to be having more success with it than the Sicilian despite studying it only a fraction of the time.

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #2


    the budapest is okay. go for it!
    it's not unsound and you can still play it against people who know what they are doing, though then white has a slightly bigger theoretical edge than usual which shouldn't actually matter that much.
    when over 50% of your opponents don't actually know what they are doing (like i feel that's the case at your level), that's a nice bonus.

    my main issue with having the budapest as a main staple of your repertoire is 2 Nf3.

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #3


    You will find that the better you get, the worse the Budapest becomes, especially in over-the-board tournament play. I know because I had this problem myself. If you want an initiative as Black, then perhaps you might like the Benko Gambit (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6) which leads to Black getting clear positional pressure on White's Queenside, at the cost of a pawn (Black will usually get that back if he plays well though). If you don't want to sac a pawn then you can try either the Dutch Defense (1. d4 f5 or 1. d4 e6 2. c4 f5) or the King's Indian Defense (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6). Both usually lead to initiatives against the White King, although for the King's Indian particularly you have to learn how to play against a few lines, and if you don't know how to play against certain ones well, you can often find yourself getting crushed.

    And yes, as LoveYouSoMuch pointed out, if your main reply to 1. d4 is the Budapest, then you're kinda screwed if White plays 2. Nf3.

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #4


    For 2. Nf3 what I've been doing is playing g6 and franchiettoing my bishop and going into a King's Indian type of thing. For open Sicilian games I always went into the Dragon variation and I feel the King's Indian is similar, though I prefer when I can play the Budapest instead.

    Am I right in thinking the Budapest is less theoretical and analyzed? From what I know the Sicilian became popular because GMs like Fischer and Kasparov started using it, and people wanted to be like them. And after Magnus Carlsen started playing the Dragon recently, the Dragon surged in popularity. But none of the GMs play the Budapest that much so noone wants to learn it, therefore there is much less theory. I doubt you'd ever be able to walk into a Barnes & Noble and find whole books about how to defeat the Budapest like you can with the Sicilian.

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #5


    Mashanator, when you say "the better you get, the worse the Budapest becomes" do you think you might just be giving up on the opening?

    Like when I first started using it I was losing a lot and I began to think "people are right, this opening sucks" but I kept using it anyway and got the hang of it. Maybe it's not so much the better you get the worse it becomes, but that you just have to put more effort into studying the opening as your level of opposition rises, and not give up on the opening.

    After all, Milan Vidmar beat Akiba Rubenstien with this. If Rubenstien can be beat with it, then anyone can.

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #6


    so what if white plays 2 Nf3 3 c4? were you just tricked into a main line king's indian?

    i like your approach of trying to stay "fine but out of fashion", but it's not easy to find the openings that you like, though it's definitely possible. :P
    of course the budapest is less theoretical and analyzed - it's not a super sharp line, and it never having been in fashion makes it so that massive theory wasn't really ever developed for it.

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #7


    What I'm saying is that as your chess improves and thus the quality of your opponents improves, those stronger opponents will usually quite simply refute the opening over the board. With the Budapest you are knowingly going into an inferior line for an initiative you can get in other lines.

    Back in Rubenstein's day, the Budapest was still new, and chess opening theory was still being developed. A sub-par opening that is new is a very good weapon because it is new, but a hundred years have since elapsed and now it is just sub-par. I recommend a different opening. You have to consider, would you play an inferior opening that opponents might not know, or a superior one that the opponent would probably know but promises you an advantage anyway?

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #8


    The main problem with the budapest is that black's pawn structure is passive (center with only d6) white the black pawn center is actice (c4 and often the possibility to play e4/f4 depending on whites plan). 

    This is somewhat compensated by active pieces (specialy in the Bf4 variations) but in general the active pieces are more temporarly than the passive pawn structure (against a player who knows how to avoid common budapest traps like a5/Ra6/Rh6). 

    In short white can choose where he plays (kingside attack/queenside etc) while black has to wait and react and has a hard time creating counterplay

    Though i think that objectively Bf4 gives an advantage against the budapest gambit i personally play Nf3 for the reason descriped below. Black will get his pawn back but the remaining position is passive. Not many budapest gambit players are happy to defend a slightly passive position against a experienced d4 positional player. 

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #9


    moonnie wrote a nice post.

    all in all, you have to consider the whole balance - how happy are you with the positions in the main lines, and how likely your average opponent is to go into them? are you also okay in the "scrub variations"?

    if you aren't satisfied with the main lines (or they are "busted"), then you probably shouldn't play the opening.
    the budapest isn't "busted", but is it worth learning when you can only get it after d4 c4 and the positions you get from it likely can't relate too much to the rest of your repertoire?

    it's a bit ironic that i rejected the budapest for myself for practical reasons (these above). :P

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #10


    IMO the budapest is analogous to the black version of the London system or a Colle. Black is not seeking all he can in the opening and generally accepting that the position will come out += (where the London the white player accepts =). Also similar to the London the player is banking on his greater experience in the limited set of resulting positions for compensation.

    I'd imagine that in the long run playing a defense like this will stunt your growth as a chess player. You're not being exposed to the whole range of ideas, especially those relating to maintaining central tension. It's a great surprise weapon, but keep it as #2 and find something that also works against 1. or 2. Nf3 as your main defense.

  • 12 months ago · Quote · #11


    I actually prefer the Albin rather than the budapest gambit. Anyway it's nice to know some gambits to surprise your opponents but generally when starting it's wise to study and play the main lines. A sound and solid opening reportoire will go a long way even against higher rated and experience opponents but gambits will be most likely be refuted outright and then your at a lose what to do after.

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