IM Martin Neubauer on Simon Williams’ Budapest Gambit

by Martin Neubauer
12/17/2020 – The Budapest Gambit is an excellent opening if you want to have as much fun as you have success — the ideal opening for Simon Williams. IM Martin Neubauer watched the DVD and sent a review, noting that the fun factor makes this a system especially suited for blitz games on the internet.

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More than just fun

In his opening course, Simon Williams evokes the romantic spirit of chess: a couple of fearless warriors who send their pieces into fierce battle. The appeal created by this mindset is connected to a sense of enjoyment, as the English grandmaster promises that the exciting Budapest Gambit helps us rediscover the desire to play chess. Simon Williams himself conveys his enthusiasm for the gambit through his appearance — his hairstyle and beard would even qualify him for the wrestling ring.

The Budapest Gambit DVD is divided systematically in six lessons. The general introduction includes sample games, strategic plans and typical tactical motifs. The critical variations are presented with an intro, followed by sample games and theory. Williams had never played the Budapest Gambit himself until he prepared this course, but he made up for his lack of experience with analytical zeal. Thus, he presents the best possible solutions for all white attempts to refute the gambit. Against the 4.Bf4 variation, he only takes a close look at 4...Nc6, as he has no confidence in 4...g5. Even if Black doesn’t always achieve 0.00, he nevertheless finds himself in a playable position — and it is White who has to avoid tactical pitfalls early on.

 

In the now 10-year-old book Squeezing the Gambits, GM Kiril Georgiev deals intensively with the gambits against 1.d4. His verdict on the Budapest Gambit should be taken seriously, but every weakness can also turn out to be a strength. First, he thinks that the resulting pawn structure for Black is solid but defensive, as he has nothing but active piece play to enter the fight. And that is exactly what Williams promotes: quickly get out with the pieces and, in the best case scenario, mate your opponent!

In addition, the Bulgarian grandmaster considers that the Budapest Gambit has a limited repertoire of strategic ideas, offering only clear, simple plans. By stating this fact, he  addresses what many want from opening courses: clarity and comprehensible plans. Does this limit chess development? Not necessarily, as every Black player must have a second system against 1.d4 in his repertoire anyway — many will play 2.Nf3 to avoid these lines.


The Exciting Budapest Gambit

The Budapest Gambit is an exciting and fun way to play against 1.d4 and 2.c4 - replying with 1...Nf6 and 2...e5. In this video you will learn how to pose problems for White with this fascinating opening.


In any case, the Budapest Gambit is perfectly suited for blitz and rapid chess. Nonetheless, it has been tried in the highest level in classical games: the victories with black achieved by Rapport against Gelfand or by Shirov against Bacrot are just a couple of examples.

Those looking for even more adventure can try the Fajarowicz Gambit with 3...Ne4, which is also examined by Williams. With the best continuation White gains an advantage, but who remembers the refutation of such a rare opening?

During the pandemic, chess has moved almost entirely to the internet. Williams took this opportunity to test his lines. In blitz, he uncorked 3...Ne4 against two lower-rated players and won, but this was not necessarily due to the opening.

Even more impressive was the experiment that Israeli GM Postny tried in internet blitz, as he scored 16/18 playing 3...Ne4, mainly against players in the 2100-2400 range.

 

One of the two defeats was inflicted by GM Jobava, but here too Black had achieved a comfortable position. However, he often won not because of but despite of the Fajarowicz Gambit.

I was naturally curious to see how the Budapest Gambit worked out in practice. Blitzing on the internet, I started with some defeats, but after repeating the variations a few times, the tide turned and the gambit gave me some spectacular attacking victories. A big plus is the manageable theory — it is enough to overview the three most important variations, namely 4.Nf3, 4.Bf4/Nd2 and 4.Bf4/Nc3.

By the way, about a third of the opponents refuse any theoretical discussion and go for 3.e3, 3.Nf3 or 3.d5. Of course, Williams also analyses these sidelines, but not in as much detail as they occur percentage-wise.

For those who want to expand their black repertoire with a dangerous weapon, I highly recommend Simon Williams’ Budapest Gambit FritzTrainer.


The Exciting Budapest Gambit

The Budapest Gambit is an exciting and fun way to play against 1.d4 and 2.c4 - replying with 1...Nf6 and 2...e5. In this video you will learn how to pose problems for White with this fascinating opening.


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Martin Neubauer is an International Master who played for the Austrian national team from 2000 until 2012 and coached the Austrian youth squad from 2006 until 2008.
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