Ending the Englund Gambit
Willum Morsch, for Chessable

Ending the Englund Gambit

IndreRe
IndreRe
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9

When you play 1. d4 in Bullet and Blitz you're sure to see a lot of 1...e5?. Some people of course just play it as a premove. However, the majority try to make you waste a lot of time and beat you in their pet line.

In fact, 1...e5? leads not to a single gambit, but a complex of at least three different types of tries, following the critical and obvious 2. dxe5 or 2. dxe5 Nc6 3. Nf3.

These can be categorized depending on whether Black plays for fast development (...d6 & ...f6 lines), a few traps (3...Qe7), or tries to recapture the pawn with an unorthodox position (3...Nge7 & 3...Bc5). You can read some history on all of these tries here.

Of course, objectively, none of the above continuations are any good or even decent and White gets a sizeable advantage in all the lines, if he knows what he's doing.

A good source for learning what to do is Valeri Bronznik's excellent "1. d4 - Beat the Guerillas" (New in Chess 2012).

However, time has moved on, engines are stronger, and Stockfish can find multiple improvements on Bronznik's lines as well as some interesting alternative plans.

This is why I decided to make a Chessable move-trainer course that covers all the lines and shows in each how White gets a considerable material or positional advantage, giving several alternative options along the way.

It's available for the tiny price of 1.99$ HERE. Please check out the reviews as well.

In this blog post, I'll introduce the opening and course further by showing a few lines and presenting a series of tactical puzzles (make sure you click through the lines leading to the puzzle afterward, to see some of the theory).

2...d6 & 3...d6 and 2...f6 & 3...f6

In the d6- and f6-lines Black plays for fast development. The key is not to help him by refraining from taking until it is the right time (or, in some cases, not at all).

Here are two puzzles from the 3...f6 line. First, a simple, but easy-to-miss two-move combination:

Second, a line very similar to the famous Traxler Counterattack which, paradoxically, is considerably better for White here, due to missing (!) the right pawn.

3...Qe7

This is the actual Englund Gambit and the reason why this line is mostly played. Black aims for a few traps which can be seen in the following line:

True to his style at the time, a young Keres tried this line at least once, but this time, in comparison to his experimentation with the Tennison Gambit (see here), he didn't have a lot of success:

Instead of the standard 4. Bf4 I recommend the more forcing 4. Bg5!. Even though it will likely transpose, this move has some advantages. The bishop is protected on that square which means White can meet 4... Qb4+ with 5. Nc3 and only has to retreat the bishop after 5...Qxb2. This, in turn means that you're never tempted to fall into the silly trap above.

Here are two puzzles demonstrating what can happen in some of the ensuing lines:

 

3...Nge7 and 3...Bc5

Finally, in these two lines Black's idea is to regain the pawn on e5 with an unorthodox position either by playing directly for ...Nge7 to ...Ng6 or developing the bishop to c5 first and then going for the same maneuver.

White has several paths to an advantage. Let's start with an interesting opening idea discussed by Bronznik:

To conclude, here's a puzzle in the 3...Bc5 line:

I hope you found this instructive and fun. If you want more, please check out the course, HERE.

Best,

Indrek