Your Questions Answered: The Budapest!?

Your Questions Answered: The Budapest!?

| 27 | Opening Theory

Derek Silsby asked:

One of my friends at a local chess club often plays the Budapest against me and wins. He is certainly a stronger player than me, but I feel like if I knew this opening better I could beat him. What do you suggest?

Dear Mr. Silsby:

Unfortunately, you are labouring under the serious misconception that the Budapest Gambit is unsound. However, it’s perfectly playable! In fact, at the moment (after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5) both 3…Ng4 and 3…Ne4 are strutting their stuff internationally.

This newfound popularity can be shown by Lev Gutman’s 287-page book (Batsford, 2004) on just 3…Ne4, while Moskalenko’s opus on the Budapest (NIC, 2007), which covers both 3…Ne4 and 3…Ng4, has created a whole new generation of Budapest Gambit addicts.

Still not convinced that good players actually use this opening? Let’s take a look at the year 2008 and see if we can spot some big names trotting it out as Black: Mamedyarov (rated 2742), Miezis (2540), Meduna (2465), Solomon (2468), Short (2655), Moskalenko (2568), Ponkratov (2530), Bricard (2453).

Okay, perhaps they all played very weak opponents? But no, just looking at Mamedyarov’s results for that year – we see him beating a 2507, a 2799 (Kramnik!), a 2716 (Eljanov), and drawing a 2781 (Ivanchuk) and a 2664 (Tkachiev). Doesn’t look so bad now, does it?

(Don't forget to click on MOVE LIST to see all the text and moves)




Personally I’ve done very well against the Budapest over the years, but then again, I never had to face monsters like Mamedyarov or Short. Here are some examples from my own practice that might give you an idea or two about how to react to the gambit in a safe manner. Of course, if you're just sick of the whole thing by now, then play 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3, which stops the gambit in its tracks!


Since you state that your opponent is stronger than you, you should realize that you would lose the majority of games to him no matter what the opening was. Thus, instead of pointing to your lack of a good reply to the Budapest as the reason for your defeats, you should look over those games carefully and try and ascertain just how he outplayed you. Losses to a stronger player are invaluable learning tools, and you can get a lot from them if you treat them accordingly. Since he's your friend, ask him what you did wrong. Never be shy about this. Always try and get as much information from your stronger opponents as you possibly can!

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