We are at the sea. Between Milford and Waterford. A grey autumn evening of 1824. It is a windy bad sea, and very cold. William Davies Evans is 34 years old and over 20 years he has spent at the sea. He is playing a game of chess. He will win it. It was in the sea, long ago, where young William was fond of chess. He will never be a high-level competitor, but he will leave a dip imprompta in the history of chess.
On the left, approximate location where it was discovered Evans gambit. On the right, Captain Evans
Captain Evans is scratching his beard. He is playing with the white ones. He opened with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5. The Italian defence.
He extend his hand naturally to play the next move, he probably want to move the pawn of c... Suddenly, a sudden blow on the sea tilts the ship. Evans touches the pawn of b2 carelessly with his fingers… “Hit piece, played piece” he minds.
The Captain takes the pawn on b2 and after he moves to two squares forward staring the opponent. It borns Evans Gambit, 4.b4!. A sacrificed pawn that it fits like a ring to the finger in the romantic spirit of the time.
Position after the blow on the sea: 4.b4!
Evans just find a hidden path out: the time that the blacks will lose to capture the pawn, is the time that there would need to the white ones after c3 (which prepares d4). The idea is to attract the black bishop to 4… Bxb4, after 5.c3 save a precious time with the intention of opening the centre with d4.
Expectations after 4… Bxb4
So the strategy will consist in timing versus matter.
If stabilising a strong centre with c3 and d4 pawns it will open dangerous attack diagonals by the white ones, for example:
Position after 4… Bxb4, 5.c3 Ba5 6.0-0,Nf6 7.d4,exd4 8.cxd4
The pawn is often accepted, but it is also possible to decline the gambit by playing 4… Bd6, 4… Be7 or 4… d5. There is something for all tastes.
Some years later after that incident, Evans knew Alexander McDonnell, relevant player in the romantic school, who influenced in the spread of this variant of the Italian opening. The Evans Gambit would usually played by the elite players from those years: McDonnell, Labourdonnais, Morphy, Staunton, Lewis, Anderssen and Blackburne, among others.
Let’s see some games played with Evans Gambit In those years
Captain Evans vs Alexander McDonnell. Two bearded of the chess.
Adolf Anderssen vs Jean Dufresne. The Everlasting, a lovely game
La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell. One of the games of the famous duel of the epoch.
The genius Paul Morphy vs Theodore Lichtenhein.
Hermann Clemenz vs Eisenschmidt in a romantic game.
Garry Kasparov vs Viswanathan Anand. A game of our time.
16 years later that the blow of the sea, Evans also played against Howard Staunton in London but there is not any game registered. It is a pity because I could have put here.
To know more about the Evans Gambit:
And an interesting Tournament in chess.com:
Captain Evans Tournament (1600-1800)