Albin Counter-Gambit

Albin Counter-Gambit

| 29 | Opening Theory

by GM Magesh and GM Arun


The last few weeks we have studied some conventional openings such as the Lasker Defense, Caro-Kann and the Petroff, now it is time again to switch gears and study some Kamikaze attack.

The Albin Counter-Gambit, as suggested by its name, is employed by the black pieces. Any gambit is an initial sacrifice offered normally by white in the opening and most counter gambits are offered by black against white's gambits. Today we will take a look at the Albin Counter-Gambit which is used by black against white's solid Queen's Gambit opening.

Sources say that Mattia Cavallotti played the first ever game in this opening against compatriot Carlo Salviol in Milan in the year 1881. However, the earliest game that I can find in my database in this opening was Adolf Albin against Emanuel Lasker in 1893 in New York.

So here is the gambit we are talking about. Black has just sacrificed his center pawn, what could be the reasons? Firstly, he just wants to play d4. A black pawn on d4 would obviously curtail white's development quite a bit and secondly it is black's belief that he would be able to get back the e5 pawn eventually. The only way for white to get rid of black's strong central pawn would be to try and play e3, but it is practically not possible to do that early in the game; we will see the reasons in our annotations.

Secondly, moving his center pawn gives more scope to his f8-bishop and queen. In a free and open game, white's move c2-c4 will also become a valueless or worse than valueless move.

Let us start today's proceedings with the game where it all started.

Even though different names come up when we talk about the origin of any opening, there are always other strong Grandmasters who believe in its reasoning and try to make it their own. For the Albin Counter-Gambit that player would be Alexander Morozevich. It would be impossible for anyone to write about this opening without mentioning his name as he is one of the few elite Grandmasters to have tried this opening.

Morozevich has tried the Albin Counter-Gambit against several top players and his biggest scalp thus far is Veselin Topalov. Let us take a look at how Morozevich toppled Topalov.

Our next game for the day is Morozevich taking on Grandmaster Van Wely.

Our last game of the day is again Morozevich, this time taking on Grandmaster Ian Sokolov.

Hopefully our readers enjoyed the Albin Counter-Gambit ideas and Morozevich's creative playing style, next week we can see how white can handle this opening.

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