Openings for Tactical Players: the Danish Gambit.

Openings for Tactical Players: the Danish Gambit.

Sep 6, 2009, 12:00 AM 27,952 Reads 24 Comments Tactics

Today we are going to talk about the Danish Gambit. The main concept of the opening is very simple. After the initial moves 1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. c3 dxc3 4 Bc4 cxb2 5. Bb2 White is down two pawns but he is ahead in development and his Bishops are dangerously looking towards Black's King's Side. When I was a kid I liked this gambit so much that I tried to play it even with Black. My games  started like this: 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 c6 3.dxc6 e5.  I doubt that this way to play is sound, but the games were sharp and interesting which at that point of my chess development was enough compensation for the sacrificed pawns.

Today the Danish Gambit is not played frequently.  Partially it is a matter of chess fashion, but also today most chessplayers defend much better than 120-130 years ago when the Danish gambit was extremely popular.  Nevertheless, since this opening is mainly forgotten, it can be a dangerous weapon against unprepared opponents.  In many lines just one mistake can be fatal. The next game is a good example:

As you could see in the previous game, the main point of the 5...d5 move was to trade the dangerous Bc4.  That's why in the next game White preferred to capture this pawn by 6.exd5 in order to keep the important Bishop.
A popular defensive strategy amongst modern Grandmasters is to accept just one pawn and ignore the second sacrifice. This way Black still has extra material and yet doesn't fall too far behind in development.  Yet, even in this case the game remains very complicated.  Look at the real slugfest that happened in the following game played by two leading US Grandmasters.
To sum up, if you are a sharp attacking player and getting an attack is more important for you than the question "is my attack sound?", then the Danish Gambit is exactly the opening for you!
Good luck!

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