A tactical gambit for all tastes

mida
mida
Jun 26, 2007, 12:00 AM |
23 | Opening Theory

The Albin Counter Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5) is quite rare in GM practice and only very few “dare” to play it. Russian GM Alexander Morozevich is one who plays it occasionally and with success. American GM Hikaru Nakamura is likely the second strongest player who is willing to surprise his opponents with it.
Although this opening was originally played by Italian master Mattia Cavallotti against compatriot Carlo Salvioli at the 1881 Milan tournament, it takes its name from Adolf Albin, who played it against Emanuel Lasker in New York 1893. Albin was born in Bucharest on September 14, 1848, into a wealthy family that came from Frankfurt. After completing his studies in Vienna, he went back to Romania, where he ran the Frothier Printing House in Bucharest. Later on, he returned to Vienna, together with his wife and three children. Albin came to chess relatively late: according to the "Oxford Companion to Chess" he only learnt the game in his 20s and did not play in international events until his 40s. His best result came at New York 1893, where he finished second behind Lasker (who scored a perfect 13/13). He played in the very strong tournaments at Hastings 1895 and Nuremberg 1896, winning individual games against several notable players, including world champion Wilhelm Steinitz. Albin died at age 72 in a Vienna sanatorium.
The usual continuation of the Albin countergambit is 3.dxe5 d4 4.Nf3 Nc6, where - in exchange for the gambit pawn - Black has a central wedge at d4 and gets some chances for an attack. Often White will try to return the pawn at an appropriate moment in order to gain a positional advantage. I often played this opening when I was a young and fighting candidate master and I suggest everyone who wants to improve his or her tactical skill to try it.
The game I'm going to show has been published on the book “Unusual Queen’s Gambit declined” by GM Chris Ward (Everyman Chess, 2002). Perhaps that's not a notable one, but this is one of my sweetest (chess) memories and I think it should be called my "Immortal game" :-) (just kidding!).

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