The King's Gambit, Part I

Jul 13, 2012, 7:41 AM |

Chess just isn't what it used to be.  With the advent of chess engines and countless books dedicated to moves of opening theory, many players have decided to minimize risk in the opening and play only openings that are considered "sound."  While that is definitely a fair approach to the game, I feel that this may not be the best strategy for recreational and club players like me (OTB rating under 1900).  Instead, sharp openings that are considered unsound to grandmasters should be not only played, but encouraged at the club level.

Why do I believe this?  First of all, playing tactical games allows players to refine their attacking skills and gain a proper understanding of the relative value of material.  Sure, the opponent may have an extra rook and bishop, but it doesn't matter if they are sitting in the corner doing nothing while he gets checkmated!  Secondly, chess is about having fun and exercising the mind; who doesn't enjoy aesthetically pleasing checkmates and benefit from unclear variations where precise calculation is required?  Third, and most importantly, sharp gambit openings that are considered unsound give a player better winning chances OTB.  While an engine or grandmaster may evaluate the opening as a slight disadvantage, you aren't going to be playing a computer or grandmaster OTB.  (If you are, then you don't need to be reading this! Laughing)  You're going to be playing someone who plays imprecise moves and won't know the themes of the opening as well as you do. 

With that in mind, I would like to begin a series on the King's Gambit.  I feel that the King's Gambit offers many attacking chances that often prove decisive.  The King's Gambit was played very frequently in the 19th century, where attacking was the name of the game.  You definitely didn't get a lot of boring games then!

The following game was played by Paul Morphy, the greatest player of his generation.  Morphy, although not always technically accurate, had scores of brilliant wins and his games remind us why we enjoy chess in the first place.  See move list for variations and further annotations.