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Glimpse at the Urusov Gambit

Mar 10, 2009, 12:00 AM 18 Opening Theory

The Urusov Gambit can prove to be a dangerous weapon to use against 2...Nf6 in the bishop's opening.  At the cost of a pawn can come a dangerous attack.  It is not as dangerous for white as the King's Gambit, itself.  The Urusov Gambit ensures a game full of tactics, and black will often find himself struggling to defend from attack.

The opening is shown below:














Now black has a number of responses.  For the sake of the article, I will present the two most common:



Nxe4 is the most natural response, but not the best.  Of course, Nc6 is an option for black, too.  Many books give Nxe4 as a sound response, but many modern chess players think white can give black a hastle.

























Now, let's take a look at 3...exd4.  This is a better response.  Although black wins a pawn, white wins an attack.  Good play by white here can give black major difficulties.  In this line, white gets a huge lead in development, a semi-open d-file and an open e-file on the black king.  White typically castles queenside in this line, although in chess, there are always exceptions to generalities.  If black isn't careful, he will fall victim to white's attack.  Careless play by black is punished by white's superior development and attack.  Below is one of my games as white where black played careless.  The game was less than 10 minutes.  Below is another game, also.  In fact, it is an old one.

















There are several variations of this particular 3...exd4 line.  They are shown below.













Here, 9.Rhe1 can also be played, which is the old main line.  Below is one last game, a master game with the Urusov Gambit.














There are many who might be unwilling to 'give up a pawn' in the opening.  Playing material down can be nerve-racking if one lacks self-confidence.  But it is clear that one gains compensation for the pawn he has lost in these lines given white plays accurately.  Black will find it difficult to fend off the attack.  For all those who strive for lively, tactically complex, exciting games the Urusov Gambit should be considered.

Hopefully this article has given you a good first look at the Urusov Gambit.  If anyone has any suggestions to improve this article, I would be grateful to receive input.

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