Thursday, 24 April 2014

Another outing in the Göring Gambit, Scandinavian Gambits coverage completed

The Göring Gambit revisited

After many years of trying, I finally got a game in my favourite line of the Göring Gambit, which reaches this position after move 10:

Black's main options are 10...h6, 10...Ng6, 10...cxb5 and 10...Neg4, all of which lead to fascinating complications, though they have been heavily analysed.  My opponent went for 10...Neg4:

As is usual for club-level internet games, there were numerous mistakes, but it was certainly the sort of bloodthirsty and tactical game that I associate with the line.  Black's best response at move 12 is generally considered to be 12...b4, preventing White from taking on b5, after which White often ends up regaining the gambit pawn on h7 instead, whereupon the knight on h7 can turn out to be misplaced.  However, I don't see much wrong with 12...h6, which appears to lead to interesting and equal play.

I had previously intended to meet 10...Neg4 with 11.Be2, whereupon after 11...h6 12.Nf3 d5 13.h3, White hits out at the knight on g4, but Black has a few options that involve a tricky piece sacrifice, starting with 13...dxe4.

As well as adding coverage of "new" lines, I also intend, when I get time, to update the coverage of lines that I have previously covered at my Gambiteers' Guild site, with the aim of making the coverage more readable, with more explanations of the key ideas for both sides, cleaning up move-order issues, and doing a bit of trimming where I went into too much detail on some minor sub-sub-variation, and also getting some more practise with the ChessBase publishing format.   I have updated the Göring Gambit coverage at,, and but my opinions on most of the lines have not changed significantly since I last looked at them extensively.  

 Scandinavian Gambits revisited

I had posted earlier that I needed to put up coverage of White's important third-move deviations after 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6.  Otherwise, players itching to play 3.c4 e6 or 3.d4 Bg4 may be very disappointed if White wheels out 3.Be2 and then what?

I think the "Scandinavian gambits" and the Göring are quite closely related, as both involve challenging the opponent's e-pawn with the d-pawn and then offering it as a gambit, and Carl Theodor Göring, according to Stefan Bücker, also introduced the line 3.d4 Bg4 into master play.  The key difference, though, is that as Black has a tempo less, the approaches with an early ...c7-c6 tend to be unsound unless White plays c2-c4 first.

The last of those four links contains the analysis of 3.Nc3, 3.Nf3, 3.Be2 and 3.Bb5+.  Three of the four illustrative games feature the Australian grandmaster David Smerdon on the black side, who is the leading exponent of these lines from Black's point of view nowadays.  His games have suggested that the line 3.Nf3 Bg4 is probably as playable as 3.d4 Bg4.

My verdict, in short:

The Icelandic or Palme Gambit, 3.c4 e6, is reasonably sound, but White might be able to get a small theoretical advantage with best play.  The critical line is 4.dxe6 Bxe6 5.Nf3.  Black's objectively best tries are then 5...Qe7 6.Qe2 Nc6 7.d4 Bf5, and 5...c5, which lead to an early queen trade, but Black's piece activity comes close to providing full compensation.  The lines with 5...Nc6, and 5...Qe7 6.Qe2 Nc6 7.d4 0-0-0, are more double-edged, but concede a larger advantage to White.

The Portuguese or Jadoul Gambit, 3.d4 Bg4 is theoretically dubious, but if it can work at grandmaster level, it should be sound enough for use at club level.  The main line, 4.f3 Bf5 5.Bb5+ Nbd7 6.c4, gives Black just a small theoretical disadvantage and good piece play after 6...e6 7.dxe6 fxe6.  5.g4 requires rather more courage to play from the white side, but is more theoretically critical.

If Black is happy to risk 3.d4 Bg4 then I think there is a compelling argument for meeting 3.Nf3 with 3...Bg4 as well, which is similarly dubious, but similarly offers good practical chances.

3.Be2 wipes out Black's gambit ideas but Black can get a combative game with 3...Qxd5.

3.Bb5+ can be met by either 3...Nbd7 or 3...Bd7.  Dave Smerdon's preference 3...Nbd7 is more likely to lead to double-edged play, while I don't think much of Black's winning chances in the line 3...Bd7 4.Be2 Nxd5 5.d4- though I am left wondering if Black can get away with playing 4...Bf5 before recapturing on d5.


  1. Ah, that final position .... Black has three pieces plus the king on the back rank, you none.

  2. I just looked at the new format (not the content) of the Göringgambit and it looks excellent.

  3. Thanks again for the feedback- I've also had positive comments from Michael Goeller on the format- I'm pleased to have found a way that works. I'm gradually going through the critical lines of the Morra Gambit Accepted at the moment, with the idea of clearly establishing the key ideas for both sides. I have a high overall opinion of Marc Esserman's book and have so far failed to find any holes in his analysis, but it is often far from obvious what he regards as best play for both sides unless the reader looks very closely.

    1. At the end of the week I hope to send you a page on 3...d5. It was even more work than I thought, not only because of all the bewildering transpositions, but also because all authors on the Morragambit take it way too lightly. In what I have always seen as Black's best (...e6 and ...Qd6) it's close to equal.
      Have you already decided what's your choice against 6...a6 ? I prefer 7.O-O Nf6 8.Bf4. After checking my old analysis I will send you that as well.

  4. Your stuff on 3...d5 will probably be very useful. Esserman does cover the line, but like other authors, only covers it sparsely. In my experience it's also quite a common line at club level since many players know that 3...d5 is a good equalising reply to the Danish Gambit and so play by analogy with the Danish, and it is probably no worse than 3...d3 which tends to be taken more seriously.

    I think I'm almost certain to feature 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Bf4 as my main line against 6...a6, especially as both Esserman and Langrock recommend the line and Esserman's case for it looks quite convincing to me.