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King's Gambit is a great opening after 1) e4 and 1) ... e5.
There's not that much theory to learn and your opponent probably won't know how to respond to it anyway. After 2) ... exf4, I always play 3) Nf3 but some people like 3) Bc4.
King's Gambit games tend to be very tactical so if that is your strong suit, it'd be a great opening to try.
DrSpudnik: fair point, although "statistically reliable" is a bit ambiguous. I'm fairly confident that such a large disparity in win/loss ratio between a sample size of 354 and a sample size of thousands (Ruy, Italian etc.) would be a statistically significant difference. Honestly that's a guess, but I'd bet on it.
Regardless, though, I can't see past giving black a free developing move. I hate to be a closed-minded negative nancy, but retreating to e3 as the best move after allowing a solid developing move would just feel horrible.
Furthermore, with rare openings, I suspect that if anything, white should be slightly more likely to win than if the opening become more popular, as white has presumably studied the opening more thoroughly than black (on average), so black would be operating under a time disadvantage.
In the case of the Ponziani I'd be open to the argument that there just aren't enough games, because the very close win/loss ratio is all I'm going on, but in the center game after Nc3, black has won more AND there's an identifiable weakness in the opening: giving up a tempo. [I realize that I'm looking at this very superficially and simplifying perhaps to an erroneous degree]
...Regarding 1. c4, I agree with AnthonyCG that a 1...e5 response is great for black.
Anthony, I played the first 3 moves of the Italian game for a while, but it can be annoying against a 3...Bc5 4... Nf6, which gives Black an excellent game (at least against me). I wound up switching to the first 3 moves of the Scotch with a 3. d4 because of it. Your live standard rating is where I realistically want to be, soon-ish, so your opinion matters a great deal. Would you recommend learning more than 3 moves of the Italian game under the assumption that black plays those 3rd and 4th moves, or is there anything else that makes it more difficult for black to equalize?
I should note that I'm not completely committed to 1. e4. I just am used to it so I wrote that instinctually. I'm not allowed to change the title of the thread to remove that qualification :-(...
After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 you can play 4.d3 and transpose back to the usual setup. Black can try 4...d5 but I don't really trust it because the e5 pawn is an easy target.
The four knights is also a great suggestion just getting your knights out before your bishops.
FurryKittens: My last comment was posted before I read your last comment. Good point that if I'm trying to avoid lots of theory, Game Explorer probably isn't the greatest way to analyze an opening's potential.
For what it's worth, the look and feel of those first 6 moves are enticing. Also, you've expressed more fervent advocacy of it than anyone else has of a different opening, which totally counts. Oh, and extra points for sweet name & avatar.
I've tried 4.d3, and I guess I would need to man up and learn the followthrough, because I was generally unhappy with how my light-squared Bishop felt afterward.
Four Knights feels good, but it still begs the question of what to do next. I almost feel like it doesn't really count as its own opening until you decide where to move your d pawn and fist bishop. [eg: 4.Bb5 I'd call a "Ruy Lopez" rather than a "4 Knights", and 4.d4 I'd call a "Scotch"... I'm almost certainly wrong, but you get my point]
4.d3 is very very old and the ideas of the opening are way more important. White has MANY interpretations of playing it. Watching master games is a good way to start.
In the four knights what to do next is the question! Usually White will decide where to develop his light-squared bishop so he can castle. There is 4.Bb5 and 4.g3 for that. 4.Bc4?! is not an option because of the "fork trick" 4...Nxe4 5.Nxe4 d5. Then he can try 4.d4 just trying to control more center space. Even 4.a3 has been tried but I don't recomend that for now. Basically you just choose which way you want to go.
The game develops differently based on which move you try so watching games is really helpful.
It al depends what you consider as not too much theory and your style as a player.
Trying out a new opening isn't getting married. You don't have to make a commitment to it at all.
Forget "learning theory" if you mean opening books and memorized variations. Play over games by your favorite masters in the openings you want to learn. Play over many of them, quickly but not blitzing, just enough to watch what unfolds over the entire game - win lose or draw. Then try to employ the same ideas in your own games.
Then go back over your games to see where you departed from your masters, and what went wrong as a result. In this manner you can learn the positions, not memorize reams of analysis you will soon forget - and which most opponents will not play into anyway.
What do you play (or intend to play) against, e.g., the Sicilian, or the French? Knowing how you play against other popular openings might help guide our choices in a direction you're more likely to enjoy and have success with.
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