Friday, 3 May 2013

King's Gambit with Nf3 and ...g5

I have completed a sizeable "analysis and games" section at the King's Gambit part of my site on the various lines with 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5, or perhaps 3...d6, 3...h6 or 3...Nc6 followed by g5.  There are links to the individual articles/games/analysis for each of the lines, and I have also provided cross-links between the articles too.  As I quite often play these lines from the black side, I am interested in the resulting positions from both sides' point of view.

Although the King's Gambit does not provide a theoretical advantage, it often leads to a dynamic equality with best play, and many of these lines with Nf3 and ...g5 lead to wild complications, with White sacrificing further material in order to accelerate the attack.  But Black's idea of playing an early ...g5 is not just to hold onto the f4-pawn, defend and win the endgame- quite often Black gets counterattacking chances thanks to the advanced f and g-pawns, and opportunities to force White's king (which is relatively exposed thanks to White's early f2-f4) to go for a walk.

3.Nf3 and ...g5- A round-up from White's point of view

1) After 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5, 4.h4 g4 5.Ne5 is the sound and respectable Kieseritzky Gambit, which leads to interesting and equal play after 5...Nf6, 5...d6 or 5...Nc6, but I think generating good winning chances is tricky against 5...Qe7.

2) The Hanstein Gambit with 4.Bc4 is not as bad, or harmless, as its reputation.  There are various lines where Black castles queenside and White attempts to storm Black's queenside with the a and b-pawns, while the line with 4...Bg7 5.0-0 Nc6 6.d4 d6 7.c3 h6 8.Qa4!?, encouraging 8...Bd7 9.Qb3, wins the pawn back and probably suffices for dynamic equality.  Note that if Black plays 4...g4 then 5.0-0 gxf3 6.Qxf3, the Polerio or Muzio Gambit, is very dangerous.

3) A good alternative for White is to play d2-d4 and Nb1-c3, followed by g2-g3, challenging Black's f4-pawn.  The Rosentreter Gambit (4.d4) offers a piece sacrifice with 4...g4 5.Bxf4 gxf3 6.Qxf3, while the Quaade Gambit (4.Nc3) intends 4...g4 5.Ne5 and if 5...Qh4+ then 6.g3 fxg3 7.Qxg4.

4) The Allgaier Gambit with 4.h4 g4 5.Ng5, intending to sacrifice on f7, is somewhat dubious, but offers White dangerous attacking chances in over-the-board play.  The Hamppe-Allgaier Gambit, with 4.Nc3 Nc6 and then 5.h4 g4 6.Ng5, offers White better chances than the "pure" Allgaier, although objectively White probably falls a little short of full compensation for the sacrificed knight.

5) After 4.Nc3 Nc6, White's other main options are 5.d4, the Pierce Gambit (which strikes me as an inferior relative of the Rosentreter, for Black's c6-knight gives Black automatic counterplay against d4) and 5.g3!?, which appears reliable.

3.Nf3 and ...g5- A round-up from Black's point of view

1) I used to favour 3...Nc6 followed by ...g5, but against this, 4.d4 g5 5.d5 is rather irritating for Black, and often leads to queenless middlegames with a slight pull for White (though I'd point ambitious White players towards 5.h4 g4 6.Ne5 or 6.Ng5 in that line).  Those who prefer the early ...Nc6 lines should prefer 3...g5 followed by a quick ...Nc6 in most cases, and after 3...g5 4.d4 should settle for an alternative reply (4...g4, 4...Bg7 and 4...d6 are all reliable).

2) I don't think the Becker Defence with 3...h6 is particularly reliable because of 4.Nc3 g5 5.d4 (or 4.d4 g5 5.Nc3) with 6.g3 to follow, where ...h7-h6 is not particularly useful.

3) The Fischer Defence with 3...d6 is a good way to avoid the Kieseritzky and Allgaier Gambits, but commits Black to meeting 3.Nf3 g5 4.Nc3 and 4.d4 with 4...d6.  This is one of Black's better responses to those lines, but it means that Black's options there are more limited.

4) 3...g5 appears to be the most flexible of these continuations for Black, though it allows the Kieseritzky and Allgaier Gambits.  I don't think this should be much of a concern though, because Black has four good responses to the Kieseritzky, and the Allgaier leads to unbalanced play in which Black is theoretically better, though has to take care due to the exposed black king.


  1. Great site. I'll have to take a closer look to your treatment of the KG when I feel like. So now only a few comments on the Polerio-Muzio Gambit.
    -Somebody interested in the line with 7.d3 should find him/herself a copy of Bücker's Das neue Königsgambit (Dutch: Het Nieuwe Koningsgambiet). It contains deep analysis of this line.
    -There you'll also find that Harding's recommendation 8. Bxf7+?! Kxf7 9. d4 Qf5! stems from a game Showalter-Taubenhaus, New York 1889 and was praised by Steinitz.
    -The main line indeed is 9...Ne7 and 10...Nbc6. The safe option is the old 10...c6 11.Rae1 Qc5+ 12.Kh1 (Staunton gave 12.Rf2, but I don't see why a self-pin should be better) d5 13.Qh5 Qd6 14.Bxd5 O-O! 15.Rxe7 cxd5! 16.Nxd5 Nc6 17.Bxf4 Bxf4 18.Rxf4 Qg6! 19.Nf6+ Kg7 20.Ne8+ Kg8 draw, Edöcs-Glauser, SUI 1983. Alas I can't remember where I found this game. The magazine reported that both players used a lot of time and that the audience was thrilled. That's quite ironic as the line up to 18.Rxf4 was already analysed by Schlechter (and repeated by Bücker).
    -Bücker points at 13...Ng6 and 13...Nxd5, which according to his analysis both lead to draws.
    -Bücker points out that 14.Qf2 is an insufficient move - not because of 14...Qg4 but because of 14...Qg6! (Snosko-Borovski).
    -If that's correct the Polerio-Muzio old style is busted. After 14.Nxe7 Qxe7 15.Bc3 Qxe2 16.Rxe2 (Chigorin) d5! Black has the upper hand and 15...Rg8 16.Qh5 Qg5 17.Rf2 Rf8! might be even better.

  2. Two further remarks. More ambitious than 8.Qa4 Bd7 might be 8...Kf8 idea 9.b4 f5! Black seems to get the better development ánd keep the extra pawn.
    5.g3 in the Vienna/Quaade is important for yet another reason. I have come to the conclusion that 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 d5 4.fxe5 Nxe4 5.Qf3 is better than its reputation. Worst White can get seems to be an equal and imbalanced endgame. Thus Nepustil's idea (he is a strong and original player btw; I lost once in French Steinitz/Advance hybrid where I thought I had equalized) might become part of a Nc3 based repertoire: 2.Nc3 d5 3.e5 against the Alekhine and 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3 against the French.

    1. 8.Qa4 Kf8 applies to the Hanstein Gambit.

  3. OK, I really can't help myself. In the Nepustil game you analyse 5...g4 6.Nh4 f3 7.Be3 Be7 9.Qd2 Bxh4 10.gxh4 Qxh4 11.Bf2 with compensation, but should have addressed Qh6!
    a) 12.Be3 Qh4+ 13.Bf2 Qh6 draw.
    b) 12.Qxh6 Nxh6 13.Nd5 Kd7 14.h3 f5 15.Nf6+ Ke6 16.Nd5 Kd7 again a draw. White might try 14.Rg1 f5 (after Ne7 and Rg8 White plays 15.Nf6+ in slightly more favourable circumstances) 15.exf5 Ne7 16.Nf6+ Ke6 17.Nxg4 Nhxf5 18.Nf6 unclear.

  4. Sigh .... your stuff is very, very interesting.
    In the Claridge-Burkett game you have missed a transposition.
    8... Nf6 9.Bxf4 Bb4 10.Bd3 d5 11.O-O Bxc3 12.bxc3 Kg7 13.exd5 is just the game. Fortunately you do mention 13.Qd2 in the notes further below.
    Have you addressed 8...d5 9.Bxf4 Nf6 via some transposition? If yes I have missed it. 10.Be2 and 10.Bd3 dxe4 11.Bc4+ looks insufficient to me, but fortunately White has 10.Nxd5, which shows why the extra moves Nc3/Nc6 benefit the gambiteer.
    Here is a problem for White: in the Sanz Alonso-Franco Valencia game Black not only can meet 12.h5 with Na5 but also 12.Kd2 Na5 followed by 13...c5 and 14...Nc6. Black's pressure on White's centre is highly inconvenient.

    1. My provisional conclusion is that the most precise move order is 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 exf4 4.Nf3 g5 5.h4 g4 or 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.h4 g4 6.Ng5 h6 7.Nxf7 Kxf7 8.d4 f3 9.gxf3 Be7 10.Be3 and only after Bxh4 and Nf6 11.Bc4+. This avoids the ...Na5 and ...c5 idea. Thus White is able to develop the Queenside pieces. Sample line: 10...Bxh4+ 11.Kd2 d6 12.Bc4+ Kg7 13.Qg1 and now White is OK after Na5 14.Bd3 c5 15.Rf1.

    2. And after 10...d6 11.Kd2 Kg7 just 12.b3 eg Bxh4 13.Kc1 gxf3 14.Qxf3 Qf6 15.Qg2 Bg5 16.Kb2 Qg6 17.Rg1. A too long thus probably wrong analysis leads to a perpetual.

  5. I just noticed another transposition: 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 (the game actually went d6 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.d4 g5 6.g3 g4 7.Nh4 f3) 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.g3 (or 5.d4 d6 6.g3 g4 etc.) g4 6.Nh4 d6 (or f3 7.d4 d6) 7.d4 f3 8.Be3 Be7 9.Qd2 Zelbel-Beliavsky, Vlissingen 2009.
    I'm quite sure that there are more transpositions possible to this important system in the Fischer Defence.

  6. Hi Mark, just had a bit of a busy month but I've updated my coverage to incorporate your ideas and a couple of responses to them (in the Hanstein with 8...Kf8- certainly too important an alternative for Black to pass by unmentioned- I think 9.Nbd2 is better than 9.b4, since one key problem line after 9.b4 f5 is 10.Bd3 fxe4 11.Bxe4 Nf6, and with a knight on d2 White could play Nxe4 in that variation).