The Danish Gambit

The Danish Gambit

Jul 14, 2011, 12:58 AM |

I created the following diagram in the Danish Gambit to show the proper way to play the gambit for both the white and the black pieces according to some previous analyses on this opening. The 19th-century Danish Gambit was first popularized by Danish player Severin From (right) at the Paris tournament of 1867, with 1 e4 e5 2 d4 exd4 3 c3 dxc3 4 Bc4 cxb2 5 Bxb2 - an instant attack favored by swashbuckling masters such as Alekhine, Marshall, Blackburne, and Mieses.

I am currently participating in a Danish Gambit tournament, where the starting position is shown on the following diagram:


Black's best continuation is called the Schlechter Defence, named after Carl Schlechter (March 2, 1874 - December 27, 1918) who was a leading Austrian chess master and theoretician at the turn of the 20th century. He is best known for drawing a World Chess Championship match with Emanuel Lasker.






Schlechter recommended returning one of the pawns with 5...d5. Black gains time to complete development. After 6.Bxd5 Nf6 (Bb4+ is also possible) 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qxd8 Bb4+ 9.Qd2 Bxd2+ 10.Nxd2 c5, Black regains the queen. Most theorists evaluate this position as equal, but some believe that the queenside majority gives Black the advantage in the endgame (sample game below).

The popularity of the Danish plummeted after Schlechter's defense was introduced as the resulting positions are not what White generally desires from a gambit opening. There have been attempts, especially by German correspondence player Ingo Firnhaber, to revive the gambit idea with 7.Nc3, but according to Karsten Muller and Martin Voigt in Danish Dynamite, this line gives insufficient compensation after 7...Nxd5 8.Nxd5 Nbd7 (8...c6?? 9.Nf6+) 9.Nf3 c6, since the piece sacrifice 10.0-0 is dubious on account of 10...cxd5 11.exd5 Be7! If White instead plays 6.exd5, his light-square bishop is blocked and after 6...Nf6 7.Nc3 Bd6 Black can complete development relatively easily.

The big advantage of Göring's move order (Nf3 first, before c3) is avoiding Schlechter's defence, since after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.c3 dxc3 5.Bc4 cxb2 6.Bxb2 Black cannot safely play 6...d5 with the queen's knight committed to c6. The big advantage of 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 is the option to meet 3...d5 with 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.cxd4 Nc6 6.Be3 instead of 6.Nf3 transposing to the Göring Gambit Declined (the main objection being the Capablanca Variation, 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.Be2 Bb4+ 8.Nc3 Bxf3 9.Bxf3 Qc4, when White must exchange queens or give up castling rights). It also has the advantage of avoiding Blacks other options after 2.Nf3.

Many of my opponents playing white, opt to take the line that leads to an early trade of queens, which basically gives black the advantage.

Example of black's queenside majority advantage in the endgame



I am now playing with Gambit Lines. I encourage my friends to join Gambit Lines and let's continue the fun in TVC.