Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Playing two sharp gambits in serious games for the first time- without knowing much theory!

I had a couple of recent serious games when, true to form, I played gambit lines, but it was the first time I had used them in serious games, and I haven't covered either of them at my website.  The games contain a fair number of mistakes, but they were 25 minute rapid games.

Game/Gambit #1 - The Geller Gambit

The more successful experiment was in the Geller Gambit (yes, I've also re-added 1.d4, 2.c4 lines to my repertoire, having been attracted to some of them back in my childhood).  1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.e4 b5 is the normal move-order, but I stumbled into it via 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 dxc4 4.e4 b5 5.Nf3!? (5.a4 is the normal move, according to the database, where White generally regains the pawn) 5...Nf6.

I had a close look at this line with someone from my local chess club back in 2014, but have to admit that I don't recall much of the theory.  My 6.e5 Nd5 7.Ne4?! was clearly inferior to 7.a4 and 7.Ng5, but was not punished.  Also, I could have got a strong attack with 13.f5 or 14.Nxe6 (both of which I actually looked at during the game, but didn't see far enough ahead).  The experiment paid off in the end though, and I have every intention of continuing to try out these Queen's Gambit lines.

My impression is that the Geller Gambit has been held suspect for many years, but that "the Ginger GM" Simon Williams has advocated it in some recent videos of his.  I associate Simon Williams particularly with the Dutch Defence (1.d4 f5) and some crazy queen sacrifices, notably this one.  He also tried the interesting deviation 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.e4 b5 6.Qc2 against Andrey Sumets at Hastings 2013, but lost.

Game/Gambit #2 - Rubinstein Four Knights

The line goes 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Nd4, from Black's point of view.  It's well-known to be a sound line for Black, where White often ducks out of the complications with 5.Nxd4 or 5.0-0.  I had recently taken this up in my online games, and sacrificed the pawn on e5 in several of them with good results.  However, I hadn't learnt many of the ideas behind the sacrifice of the pawn on e5, and so in this serious game played too "automatically" in the opening and didn't get enough compensation. Indeed, if I had found 10...Bg4! I would probably have gone on to win.

The games are available here:


  1. 6.Qc2 of course is the Spassky Gambit. Mark Morss wrote about it many years ago:

    I have played a couple of games with it myself, though only as a deviation from the Botvinnik and Anti-Moscow 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 and a later Qc2. Sumets' 6...h6 looks very clever to me. Williams probably should have tried 10.Be3 iso 10.Bxc4.
    Spassky also played 4...dxc4 5.e4 b5 6.e5 Nd5 7.Ng5 once but 7...f6 looks like a big problem. I don't trust 7.a4 e6 8.axb5 Nxc3 9.bxc3 cxb5 10.Ng5 Bb7 11.Qh5 g6 12.Qg4 Be7 13.Be2 Bd5 14.Ne4 h5 15.Qf4 Nc6 and Black is ready for action while I don't see any action for White.
    The gambit lines after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 and 5.e4 are also big fun.

  2. Maybe there is a way to take benefit of the extra move a3 in that annoying line of the Urussov Gambit.

    1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3 Bb4+ 5.c3 dxc3 6.O-O O-O 7.a3 Be7 8.Nxc3 d6 9.h3 Nc6 10.Qc2 Be6 11.Nd5 Qd7 12.b4 with some pressure for the pawn.