What is development? - Nordic Gambit

What is development? - Nordic Gambit

Mar 14, 2016, 4:18 PM |

On the right side you see the starting position of the Nordic Gambit. It is a serious opening but it has lost a lot of its popularity for several reasons. I want to look at this opening from the Black side.

A first look into the databases shows an over average percentage for white from the starting position of this gambit. It's about 57%. This is more than the over all average after 1.e4 which is about 54%.

The picture changes fast after some moves. Black should answer 2... exd4 and now White has two main options. 3.Qxd4 looks similar to the Scandinavian after 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5. But there's the important difference in the pawn structure. The pawn e7 can block on e6 the diagonal a2-g8, especially attacks against f7 by a Bc4. A Bc5 can't be blocked in the same way.

This allows Black to play (after 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Qxd4) Nc6 and after the main continuation 4.Qe3 Nf6 the White percentage is between 51%-52% in the databases.

Now how about the second mainline 3.c3. Accepting the Gambit with dxc3 gives White over 57%. The problem is the problem of many Gambits. The offer can be rejected. And a principled opening like the Nordic Gambit has to be rejected with principled measures.

Let's first look at the game played here in 15/10 modus and then give the summary for Black. (For comments see beyond.)

For whatever reason the editor didn't accept comments in the pgn-file. So here a copy of what was written. It should work with your normal pgn-viewer.

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. c3 {Now follows the equalising move for black in the open games, if it's a good move: d7-d5. As learning chess player you should try out this counter against the white center and study it's advantages and disadvantages.}
3... d5 {The best move imo. It needs little memorization and gives Black good play. So far we have no piece moved from both sides. And white again has to move a pawn.}
(3... dxc3 {This if a good move, only and only if Black knows how to continue!} 4. Nxc3 {The one mainline with good results for White, as long as Black doesn't know the good moves. It's not easy to find them otb.} (4. Bc4 {The second mainline, called Accelerated Nordic Gambit. 4... cxb2 5. Bxb2 d5 Again the counter d7-d5, giving Black time to develop the white squared bishop.} ))4. exd5 Qxd5 {Again white has nothing better than a pawn move.}
5. cxd4 {A lot has happened after 9 plies. Black has one piece out. But it's the queen, the most vulnerable piece to attacks. White has the pawn majority in the center. But it's an isolated queen's pawn, good for the attack, bad for the endgame as it lacks protection by other pawns. But before the endgame is the middlegame. And it's Black to move now.}
5... Nc6 {Develomnent with attack.}
6. Nf3 {Development with defense.}
6... Bg4 {Development with attack.}
7. Nc3 Bxf3 8. Nxd5 Bxd1 9. Nxc7+ {Now are two moves to remember. The king attacks the knight at d7 to attack the knight on a8 after two further developing moves with the Rh8.}
9... Kd7 10. Nxa8 {Now Black goes wrong.}
10... Bh5 (10... Bg4 {The move of Sir Stockfish 7th.} 11. d5 Nd4 12. f3 Nc2+ 13. Kd1 Bf5 14. g4 Bg6 15. Rb1 Nf6 {This is the engine line} 16. Bg5 Nd4 17. Rc1 Bd6 {and it gives a slight advantage for Black. But the position is difficult. The better player has good winning prospects.} )11. Bb5 {As usual on club level White returns the favor.}
11... Bb4+ 12. Kf1 (12. Bd2 {better than the game} )12... Ne7 13. Nb6+ axb6 14. a3 Ra8 15. g4 Bg6 16. Kg2 Be4+ 17. f3 Bd5 18. Bg5 Bd6 19. Rhe1 f6 20. Bd2 g5 21. Re2 Ng6 22. Rae1 Rh8 (22... Nh4+ )23. h3 h5 24. b4 Nh4+ 25. Kf2 Nxf3 26. Bc3 Nxe1 {and White throws the towel.}


1. Starting the attack with pawns before developing the pieces leads with the exception of some rare cases to problems.

2. The counter d7-d5 for black is a chance to equalize the game. You should keep it in mind.

3. Don't expect to have the better positon after one or two slight inaccuracies. Chess is a complicated game and there's place for a fight after a non optimal move.