25 July 2013

Going Astray (in the King's Gambit)

In a recent game, my opponent tried an offbeat line of the King's Gambit Declined. As the game developed, he or she missed the critical line, then I made some inaccuracies. With two minor pieces against a rook, I managed to outplay my opponent in the middlegame and endgame. However, in the spirit of learning through blitz, I spent some time in the databases after the game.

Stripes -- Internet Opponent
July 2013

1.e4 e5 2.f4 Nc6

This move is mentioned only briefly in my books on the King's Gambit. Neil McDonald mentions Gallagher -- Wohl, Kuala Lumpur 1992 that continued 3.Nf3 f5!? as an "ambitious alternative" (The King's Gambit [1998], 154).

2...Nc6 is a rare move, and yet I've faced it nearly 200 times in online play, and I've played it myself on half a dozen occasions. It seems to be sensible, classical development.

3.Nf3 d6 4.Bc4 Bg4!?

White to move

This position appears a handful of times during the classic era, when the King's Gambit was a leading opening, in Big Database 2011. In the most notable games, Ernest Falkbeer won with Black, Isidor Gunsburg won with White, and Mikhail Chigorin won in a nice miniature in the Russian Championship in 1903.

In none of these games did White play my move: 5.Nc3?!

My opponent followed with 5...Nf6 and I soon gained an advantage.

Database research reveals that in a handful of games that reached the position after 5.Nc3, Black played 5...Bxf3! White does poorly from the resulting position.

Moreno Garrido -- Magnelli Miranda 1996 offeres an interesting minature that shows how quickly it is possible for White to collapse in the King's Gambit.

6.Qxf3 Nd4 7.Qd1

Hiarcs suggests 7.Qd3 as offering equality for White.

7...Qh4+ 8.g3 Qh3

White to move

Something about Black's aggressive queen reminds me of a line that I have played in the Staunton Gambit.


9.Bf1 seems necessary.

9...dxe5 10.d3??

10.Bf1 was the only move.

Black to move

Black holds all of the cards. This game concluded 10...O-O-O 11.Be3 Qg2 12.Rf1 Nxc2+ 13.Qxc2 Qxc2 14.Rxf7 Bb4 15.Bd2 Nf6 0-1

My little inaccuracies could have given me a much tougher game.

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