The Cochrane Gambit

The Cochrane Gambit

61 | Opening Theory

by GM Magesh and GM Arun

Are you the kind of player who wants to attack, attack, and attack more? Are you the kind of player who wants something happening in your game every single moment? Are you the kind of player who would take an unclear position any day over an equal position? Okay! Firstly I think I sound like a voice from an advertisement trying to sell Advil or something and secondly, I think you get my point already. Today's article is for all those people who care more about playing an entertaining game than a perfect game; for those who are driven to playing chess to stimulate their imagination; for all those who enjoy chess as an art as much as a sport.

John Cochrane was a nineteenth century Scottish chess master. And he was a strong one too, ranked only below Howard Staunton who is very well known for his design of the chess pieces that we still use in tournament play. Cochrane was a well known name in the Calcutta (now known as Kolkatta) chess club as he played against several Indian players there while he lived in India. The first appearance of the Cochrane gambit against the Petrov's defense according to Wikipedia and my Mega Database was in the year 1848 against an Indian master Mohishunder Bannerjee.

An idea to sacrifice your knight on move three would pretty much be ridiculed in modern computer-assisted opening preparation. However, it does promise a a game full of action and adventure. Let us start from where it all began,





Interestingly in the last four moves of the game there were three huge blunders that would have drastically changed the end result of the game. An inspiring idea in the opening, but an imperfect game. I guess we did not promise anything different in this article.

Our next game is from a very familiar name around here on, IM David Pruess. David is exactly the kind of player who puts a lot of emphasis on getting an exciting game and he proves that by choosing the Cochrane gambit in the following game.


A very nice finish, but if you have an uncastled king and undeveloped bishop and rooks sitting idle by move twenty, then you are just inviting trouble. It's only what's on the table that counts. All your undeveloped extra material can only make you feel worse when your king is left abandoned.

An interesting idea overall which can definitely be refuted with a few hours of preparation using our little friend "Rybka," obviously! Nevertheless, most positions arising out of this opening can cause quite a few practical problems for the players facing it.

(For a different view point on this opening, check out Pruess's three videos on this subject).

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