The King's Gambit, Part I

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.



  • 3 years ago


    "10... 0-0-0!"

    Seems like Black is losing after this move. White has retained the pawn, 11. d4 will block Black's isolani and it's Black, not White with the weakened King's position.

  • 3 years ago


    King's Gambit 0-1

    1. e4 e5 2. f4 c6 3. Bc4? d5 4. exd5 cxd5 5. Bb5+ Bd7 6. Bxd7+ Nxd7

    Black has better development and center control; White has a weakened kingside.

    White has fallen behind by moving the same piece too many times, then exchanging it.

    7. fxe5 Nxe5 8. Nf3 Qe7 9. 0-0 Nxf3+ 10. Qxf3

    Material even. 10... Nf6 could maintain material balance.

    Instead 10... 0-0-0! 11. Qxf7 Qxf7 12. Rxf7 

    After refusing white's King's Gambit, Black plays a countergambit. 

    12... Bc5+ 13. Kh1 g6 (White rook has no targets)

    14. c3 Nh6 (wins time on Rook) 15. Rf1 Rhf8 16. Re1 Ng4

    Black has tactical threats (windmill, fork).

    (17. d4! wins time on the bishop and allows queenside devleopment.)

    17. h3? Nf2+ 18. Kh2 Bd6+ 19. Kg1 Nd3 fork

    20. Rd1 is only way to defend the bishop.

    ... Bc5+ 21. Kh2 Rde8 22. b4 Bd6+ 

    (23. g3 Re2+ 24. Kg1 Rf2)

    23. Kh1 Nf2+ 24. Kg1 Nxd1 

    White has no defense.

    25. Ba3 Re1#

  • 4 years ago


    I like the King`s Gambit, it leads to " a wide range of attacks" for white if black didn`t defend carefully.

  • 4 years ago


    I am a King's Gambiteer and I love it. Here's one of my games that as aestically pleasing to for me and similar to the open of this blog posting:

  • 4 years ago


    falkbeer countergambit!!!

  • 4 years ago


     I always give player at a medium level the advice to play KG - I can hardly imagine a better opening to learn sharp tactical play in open positions. KG is usefull expecially against young players - the chance is good that they do not even know it.

    The game naka against adams is incredible - no one except naka would dare to play KG against an ultra solid player like Adams

  • 4 years ago


    I like to play King's Gambit in bullet game (2 or 1 minute), black makes blunder often and I sometimes checkmate black under 20 moves. BTW, I'm under 1200 8b

  • 4 years ago


    I tend to think that there is enough going on for white to have sufficient chances for equality (it's certainly not a free pawn), but not more than that. I think GMs typically don't like it because white has to know about a lot of different black defenses, and yet even then white often doesn't get an advantage. But it wouldn't be fair to say that the opening doesn't have merit -- even at the top levels, players will occasionally play something equal for practical/psychological reasons, just like us amateurs.

  • 4 years ago


    Don't feel the need to apologize.  The KG is alive and doing well, even in the Modern or Abbazia Defense despite closed-minded, sycophantic comments.

    Chances of finding Morphyish games at the master level today are slim, and KG's tend to be drawish due to modern theory, but they aren't an automatic loss for White.  Statistically, I haven't seen any proof Black is better in KGs.

    Here is a Modern Defense game played last year at the London Classic. It seems Nakamura hadn't yet heard the news of the gambit's death.

  • 4 years ago


    LaserZorin, I respect that position and know that it's held by many people in the chess community.  There's certainly something to be said for playing a respected opening.  You'll be able to navigate the opening with good chances on both sides and will be able to refine your positional knowledge.

    I don't claim to be a strong player or an authoritative speaker on the subject.  I'm not addressing the people who aspire to be masters and get their rating over 2000.  I'm talking to the recreational player who enjoys chess as a hobby.  The King's gambit is a great opening for those players, as it presents an exciting game with excellent winning chances.

  • 4 years ago


    Oh, and of course after the simple 5...h6 (instead of 5...g4?), Black ends up with a better position through a series of fairly basic moves.  You don't need "chess engines" or "countless books" to discover that, either.

  • 4 years ago


    I always find it curious when weak players trump playing one-dimensional gambit openings as somehow being superior to more complex, interesting ones.  Setting aside their lack of strength for making such broad statements, I never understood why a simple, thematic combination or mating pattern was more "aesthetically pleasing" than some deep idea from a Botvinnik, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, etc.  

    By the way, if you play the King's Gambit nowadays, even at a 1700-1900 level, you will never get a result like that Morphy game.  That's because no one in a serious tournament plays the way Beaufort did.

  • 4 years ago


    What an aggressive and powerful game! Not once did he have to go on the defensive!

  • 4 years ago


    Wow! What a game. I especially enjoyed the knight sac at the end and the preparational idea of Re1.

  • 4 years ago


    Most interesting and instructive.  The Morphy game was a nice bonus to your post.  Many

    thanks.  Cheers.

  • 4 years ago


    Make sure that when you cover the Fischer Defense to include Spassky-Karpov from Hamburg 1982 for a good refutation to the Fischer Defense.

  • 4 years ago

    NM dcremisi

    excellent game from Morphy,  although I do disagree and think that to get to the next level,  most intermediate level players should try playing something a bit more profound,  maybe the Spanish game,  not exactly an exchange slav but not a Traxler counterattack either.  

  • 4 years ago


    I just luv the King's Gambit.  Statistics show that the King Knight's Gambit gets more wins than the Bishop's Gambit. And the King's Gambit overall wins more often for white than any other opening, even on the master level. Yet the masters tell us the KG is not sound!  On the club level he King's Gambit does make for exciting tactical games . I would appreciate it if you show more KG games and explain the strategy and tactics involved in each of the variations. And Paul Morphy did play some great KG games and the example you show was one of the best! 

  • 4 years ago


    Thank you. Very instructive. Annotation was very much like in the style of Understanding Chess Move by Move. Great for beginners like me, and more advanced players, I think. Keep 'em coming.Cool

  • 4 years ago


    Wow, I didn't know that!  Thanks for your insights batgirl!  Informative as always!

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