Openings for Tactical Players: Albin Countergambit

Openings for Tactical Players: Albin Countergambit

Gserper
GM Gserper
Mar 6, 2010, 12:00 AM |
20 | Tactics

The Albin Counter Gambit is one of those openings that people love to hate.  It starts with the moves 1.d4 d5 2. c4 e5!?, so Black sacrifices a pawn as early as move two!  Indeed, it breaks one of the major rules of the classical school of chess that states " Black should equalize first and only then play for an advantage."

I remember as a kid I liked to play this sharp opening.  To tell you the truth, part of its appeal to me was a primitive trap that appears on the board after the natural and yet careless 3. e3? move.  I mentioned it in one of my previous articles (http://www.chess.com/article/view/the-unsung-heroes), but I like the trap so much that I am going to show it again:

 

 

Unfortunately pretty quickly I realized that in the main line of the Albin it is usually White who has all the fun.  Look at the next game:
I know what you think: " Victor the terrible was 465 rating points stronger than his opponent, so it is not about the opening it's all about the difference in the playing strength."  Let me show you a game which I saw live and where the White player was an underdog.  As a matter of fact, I was playing at the next board to the following exciting game:
The game was so one-sided and the massacre so severe that at some point I thought that practically any legal move would finish the game!
After seeing dozens of games like this I stopped playing the Albin Counter Gambit completely and thought that the whole opening was not sound.  But many years later GM Alexander Morozevich, who has many interesting ideas in many different openings, started playing the Albin.  And his results were very good.  He beat such outstanding players as Topalov, Gelfand, I.Sokolov and Van Wely!
But instead of the old main line, he played the tricky 5...Nge7 trying to eliminate White's central e5 pawn right away.
It is amazing how Black got a very strong attack out of nowhere! And this is exactly what happened in the next game as well!
To sum up, the main old line of the Albin Counter Gambit gives Black more headache than a real attack, but the new Morozevich main line is a dangerous weapon.  Which only proves the old chess adage: there are no good or bad chess openings, there are only good or bad chess players!
These days many strong chess players employ the Albin Counter Gambit when they are in an adventurous mood (GM Hikaru Nakamura is one of them), so you can give it a try as well.
Good luck!
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