Latvian Gambit: Mayet Attack, Strautins Gambit


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 is known as the Latvian Gambit. If after 3.Bc4 (Mayet Attack) it ain’t tricky enough for you yet, 3. ..b5 is a dodgy little move that can stir up trouble on both sides of the board. Result: The Latvian Gambit: Mayet Attack, Strautins Gambit, or simply Strautins Gambit.

The three most common responses are 4.Bxg8 – exchanging a developed bishop for a knight on its original square, 4.Bxb5 – taking a free pawn but leading to good play for Black according to databases, and 4.Bb3 which is probably the safest way for White to defend against this tricky gambit.

Here are two fun miniatures I played with this opening. In the first one White chose the most cautious reply and responded with 4.Bb3 to my pawn-sacrifice. But 7. ..d4 pushed him in the wrong direction and his game quicky collapsed after that.

In this second game Black didn’t want to retreat and solved my b5 provokation with the exchange Bxg8. White did well until the mistake 11.g4? With 14. ..Rd3 Black took over the initiative and keymove 17. ..Rxc3!? introduced the end-choreography.

Conclusion: A prepared White opponent might give you a hard time finding compensation for this dubious opening. But who is well prepared to face the Latvian these days, let alone to affront a dark sideline such as 3. ..b5? Chances are you might enjoy whatever White comes up with to address your questionable 3rd move.