King's Gambit Talk


— from "The Chess Players' Compendium: A Practical Guide to the Openings"
 By William Cook in 1907


The King's Gambit:

"This opening gives birth to the most ingenious and complicated combinations that can arise in Chess." (Carl Jaenisch, "Jaenisch's Chess Preceptor.")

"Beyond doubt, the multifarious variations arising from this opening are the the finest and most beautiful that can arise in Chess, and for this reason the King's Gambit has ever been an especial favourite with the best players of all times. The object of the sacrifice of the Pawn on the second move is to enable the first player rapidly to occupy the centre of the board with his Pawns, and at once take up an attacking position. By the nature of the game the sacrifice should lose, but in actual play, so intricate and difficult are the positions evolved that without the most extreme care on the part of the defence the first player will obtain the advantage." (George H. Selkirk,  "The Book of Chess." )

"Formerly the Gambits were played very frequently, but with a spread of the knowledge of the defences, through increased diffusion of close analysis, the safer openings are resorted to in preference—a tacit admission that the Gambits are for the most part doubtful for the first player, though they give rise to ingenious combinations and interesting positions." (Leopold Hoffer, "Chess."—from "The Oval Series of Games.")

"In the main these Gambits are regarded as unsound, and in consequence they occupy no very conspicuous place in present-day play. In what is probably the strongest of them, the Bishop's Gambit, there are many defences speedily establishing equality; and there is always the danger of counter-attack upon the Gambit player's King, weakened in position by the sacrifice of one of his naturally protecting Pawns." (James Mason, "The Art of Chess.")"

"It is generally now admitted that the second player may, after accepting the Gambit, defend and preserve his surplus Pawn to the close of the party. Still the superiority of position on the side of first player so narrows the line of defence,
and so multiplies the sources of attack, that the King's Gambit, although really hazardous, may be fearlessly played." (Carl Jaenisch, "Jaenisch's Chess Preceptor."")

"At the present time the King's Gambit is rarely played in important contests, because when there is a great deal at stake few players dare venture into the shoal of intricate and hazardous positions to which it gives rise. Accordingly if anyone more venturesome than his fellows ventures to offer it, the usual plan is to resort to one or other of the numerous methods of declining. It is just as well for the young player to accept the Gambit and defend it in the ordinary manner, as no other opening affords greater scope for ingenuity or leads to more entertaining Chess. Nothing is better calculated to improve his game than plenty of skittle or off-hand practice at this opening with a player somewhat superior to himself. When the novice can play P-KB4 (f4) with an idea in his head of what is to follow, he has begun to understand Chess." (Joseph Blackburne, "Mr. Blackburne's Games at Chess.")

"We must admit that it is a sound policy for Black to avoid the opening which White selects, and thus minimise the advantage of the first move by getting rid of his opponent's book knowledge, real or presumed. It may also be admitted that there is no opening which causes greater uneasiness to an average manipulation of the Black forces than the King's Gambit ; the attack is so immediate, and while it lasts so violent, that a single weak move in the defence is liable to entail utter disaster. It follows that the refusal of the Gambit is a little disappointment for which White should be prepared. Nor can this reasonable precaution on Black's part be ascribed to a purely modern lack of spirit, since even in Greco's treatise (1619) we find four games devoted to the examination of the Gambit Declined." ("Hobart" aka Francis Joseph Young, "BCM Guide to Chess Openings")

King's Bishop's Gambit

"The oldest examples of the opening are to be found in the works of Lopez (1561) and Greco (1619); also in the MSS. of Polerio (1590-1600), who was very distinguished for his time. In a later age the celebrated McDonnell brought to bear new lights, by inventing novel forms of attack and defence, but we owe to Jaenisch the elaboration of this most complex opening, which he eloquently styled ' an imperishable monument of human wisdom.'" (William Cook, "Synopsis of Chess Openings.")

"This beautiful, ingenious, and attacking debut has, always been a favourite amongst the best players." (Samuel Boden, "Popular Introduction to Chess.")

"It is probably the strongest of the Gambits." (James Mason, "Chess Openings.")

"This Gambit is difficult both for attack and defence. Considered as a Gambit, we think the attack has more chances than in many variations of the ordinary King's Gambit. The play becomes very complicated, and mainly resolves itself into a struggle for position." (Isidor Gunsberg, "The Chess Openings" from "The Club Series of Games." )

"The remarkable point in this Gambit is that White exposes his King to a check, which compels him to move his King, and thus lose the privilege of Castling, without such an apparent immediate attack as in the Salvio. This opening illustrates, more than any other, the principle not to make an attack with insufficient forces. White voluntarily gives up the attack temporarily in order to resume it with intensified vigour, owing to the exposed position of the Black Queen. The check with the Queen was therefore abandoned as unsatisfactory, and only resorted to in conjunction with 4...P-Q4 (...d5), a Counter-Gambit which furthers Black's development." (Leopold Hoffer, "Chess." —from "The Oval Series of Games.")

"White, in this opening, is enabled to establish an enduring attack abounding in difficult and critical positions. His Pawns and minor pieces occupy the centre of the board, and Black must be prepared to dispense with Castling and utilise his King for defensive purposes. The Gambit Pawn is usually defended, but cannot be maintained unless another Pawn is given for it." (Edward Freeborough, "Chess Openings: Ancient and Modern.")

Lasker declares this Gambit unsound. "By what right should White, in an absolutely even position, sacrifice a Pawn whose re-capture is quite uncertain, and open up his King's side to attack, and then follow up this policy by leaving the check of the Black Queen open? The idea of the Gambit, if it has any justification, can only be to allure Black into the too violent and hasty pursuit of his attack." (Em. Lasker, "Common Sense in Chess.")

King's Knight's Gambit

"This, the most ancient branch of the King's Gambit, is justly considered unsound. We find it first in Lopez, 1561. It leads to the most interesting attacks in Chess." (William Cook, "Synopsis of Chess Openings.")

"This is the simplest form of the King's Gambit. The defence 4...B-K2, with soon ...P-KR3, is the classical defence, relying upon the superiority of Pawns on the King's side for a winning ending." (James Mason, "The Art of Chess.")

"The Gambit proper is undeservedly rejected. Very interesting play may arise in the steady variations, when, in spite of the fact that Black has retained the Gambit Pawn, we should be inclined to favour White's game." (Isidor Gunsberg, "The Chess Openings" from "The Club Series of Games.")

'' This form of the Gambit is almost out of date. Tchigorin, however, occasionally plays it with success. The Allgaier or Kieseritzky variations are, however, now more frequently adopted." (Joseph Blackburne, "Mr. Blackburne's Games at Chess.")