So, you're the sort of player who likes to play gambits, huh? Sacrificing a small (sometimes large!) amount of material to get the initiative and so, hopefully, win more material than you gave to the opponent. These days, computer analysis has refuted many of the swash-buckling gambits of the past, but a few remain where with correct play the opponent should not be able to do much more than equalise.
So, in this vein, we today look at the King's Gambit. Obviously not the whole thing- books can be written on such a topic! No, instead, we focus our minds to the line 1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5. Just 6 plys in, there are plenty of crossroads to be met and variations to be explored. So lets hop to it!
Before we look into these lines, what is the position like at the moment? As we can see, white has his claim in the centre, via e4, and his Nf3 is making it's mark on those squares the pawn doesn't assist with. On black's side of things, his latest move, g5, defends his f4 pawn and makes an important kingside stake. So, how do we play on?
The Kieseritzky is probably what most King's Gambit-ers would refer to as the main line of the 'accepted' trail of thought. White plays to dismantle the newly fortified black pawn-outpost on the kingside. Meanwhile, black drums up threats while directing his forces to this area.
The Philidor has vital differences to the Kieseritzky, which will completely alter the structure of the opening phase. This time, white decides to develop a little before striking out and g5- however, this gives black time to organise a defence, and therefore black has some nasty intrusions on white's space.
The Hanstein is an interesting offshoot from the Philidor Variation. This time, white refrains from ever playing h4 at all! Instead, he pushes forward on the queenside, and develops his pieces. Black also hops onto the development bandwagon, in this much quieter line of the gambit.
The Muzio Gambit (or, in this blog, Variation) has a bit of a reputation- it's just unclear what that reputation is. Many people will suggest that sacrificing a knight so early in the game simply does not work (decide for yourself whether the Fried Liver Attack supports or opposes this argument) and this gambit is anything but sound. White's idea is to put all his pieces in active, attacking positions, before black has time to bring in defensive resources, and so, win the material back and hopefully even more!
As we have seen, even if we look at a specific version of the King's Gambit, the Accepted Variation, 3... g5 Variations, there is much to learn and much to explore! The lines shown on these pages do not even cover all of the theory on these lines- there are deviations and crossroads all over the place; I have endeavoured to mention as many of the main ones as possible, so as to allow your own development.
Perhaps the King's Gambit is for you- however, if you plan on playing it, remember not all of your opponents will reply with 2... exf4 and 3... g5! There are many other lines that are just as good for black, and any pioneer of this attack must be prepared.
Whether you will start a new career with this opening, or think it's a pile of trash, I hope you enjoyed the blog either way. Remember to look out for later editions of similar posts on other openings- I'm sure there will be more.
But in the meantime, Happy Gambit-ing!