Cunningham Defense: 4 pawns Gambit

Mar 11, 2012, 5:40 AM |

The King's Gambit is one of the most aggressive openings in chess.  It contains many variations which I have posted about before and was extremely popular until the start of the 20th century.  It is still an excellent attacking weapon and creates some of the most enjoyable games you will see.

The main line of the King's Gambit runs 1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3.  White can also get away with 3. Bc4 (in fact, I prefer this move) but 3. Nf3 preventing the scary Qh4+ is the most natural and easiest to play.  After this move, Black has a decision to make.  3. . . d6 is the Fischer Defense, which has been proven to give Black a better position by move 6.  3. . . g5 is the Classical Defense, which gets to be dangerous for both sides as they are usually not able to defend their Kings.  The most aggressive for Black, however, is 3. . . Be7, known as the Cunningham Defense.

This move seems passive at first glance, but the Bishop threatens to go to h4 with check.  White has to allow his King to be kicked to f1.


This is the main continuation and White is actually better after sliding his King to f1.  But there is an extremely old idea which is not played often today which White also has at his disposal.  This is known as the 4 Pawns Gambit.


It may seem as though White has no idea what he is doing.  But he has better development and hopes to be able to beat Black quickly with these pieces developed.  Themes in the games include a sacrifice on f7 (usually a Bishop), the Queen coming out to h5, and a quick assault on the King with these 4 pieces.  Sometimes the other pieces come into the action, and e5 can be a strong move.  If Black can defend, he usually ends up several pawns to the good, so White must be quick.  If he is quick, the game ends quickly for Black.  If he isn't quick enough, he meets his demise at equal speed.  Here are a few examples of games in the 4 pawns, one of which is a classic and the other of which is one of mine.



This is not the type of opening one would want to play in a G/90 tournament.  But it is extremely fun for friendy games and blitz.  Enjoy!