An offer you can't refuse...

by ChessBase
5/10/2024 – In their search for ways to throw their opponents off balance and create unusual positions, players such as the American GM Brandon Jacobson and Magnus Carlsen have recently tried out the so-called 'Meadow Hay Gambit' in blitz games: 1.a4 e5 2.Ra3!? An offer to win the exchange that Black cannot really refuse though White gets a surprising amount of compensation. Gambit expert Robert Ris has now made a 60-minute video course on this variation, and ChessBase readers who want to surprise their opponents with this sacrifice - or don't want to be surprised by it - can get this course for free now until Sunday.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


A surprise weapon: The Meadow Hay Gambit

Sacrificing an exchange on the second move is not easy, but in their search for ways to surprise their opponents and cause problems in the opening, the young American grandmasters Andrew Hong and Brandon Jacobson one day came up with the idea of playing 1.a4 in order to sacrifice an exchange after 1...e5 (or 1...e6) with 2.Ta3.

One might think that such opening moves only occur in games played by players who have just learnt the rules of chess, because after 2...Bxa3 Black is clearly better, if not already winning, if the engines are to be believed.

But as is so often the case in chess, things are not so simple and White has a surprising amount of compensation for the exchange and can exert pressure on the black squares as the game progresses.

This opening caused quite a stir when Brandon Jacobson, who played on the platform under the name 'Viih_Sou', tried this unusual manoeuvre over and over again in a long blitz match against Daniel Naroditsky on 2 May - with White and with Black. With White Jacobson played 1.a4 and 2.Ra3 in all games, while with Black he always opened with 1...a5 and 2...Ra6.

Naroditsky is not only a well-known and popular commentator, but also one of the best bullet and blitz players in the world, but he still couldn't find a recipe against Jacobson's provocative play and lost the match 29-40 (+26, -37, =6). This in turn led to Jacobson's 'Viih_Sou' account being banned for suspected cheating, which then led to long discussions on the internet and a detailed statement from Jacobson about the issue.

However, Magnus Carlsen was inspired by Jacobson's opening treatment and followed the American Grandmaster's example in the 'Early Titled Tuesday' on 7 May, playing 1.a4 and 2.Ra3 with White and 1...a5 and 2...Ra6 with Black in all 11 blitz games of the tournament. With 8.5 out of 11 this opening experiment was successful at first glance, but in the end the world number one only finished 14th.

In the "Late Titled Tuesday" Carlsen then shied away from too many opening experiments and won the tournament with 9.5 out of 11.

Robert Ris has now taken a closer look at this variation and explains in a 60-minute video what White and Black have to watch out for in this variation. At the same time, he warns "use at your own risk"!

To mark the occasion, ChessBase is making this video by Robert Ris available to all readers free of charge until Sunday!

Get the brand new edition of Robert Ris' 60 Minutes: The surprising Meadow Hay Gambit. Free until Sunday!

Here's how you do it:

If you already have a Chessbase Shop account, click on this link and log in. Then click on the front banner and the 60 Minutes course will be added to your downloads.


If you do not yet have a shop account, click on this link to create one. Once the account is verified, click on the front banner and the 60 Minutes course will be added to your downloads.


For starters, here's the intro to the course:

Robert Ris in the ChessBase shop...

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.
Discussion and Feedback Submit your feedback to the editors