Is the King's Gambit really busted?

12/5/2007 – After looking at double king pawn openings in the past weeks our our Playchess lecturer Dennis Monokroussos is ready to take aim at the granddaddy of f-pawn pushes in the Open Game: the King's Gambit. Did Fischer really refute it back in 1960? We get to see two deliriously successful outings by Yugoslav legend Svetozar Gligoric with 'Fischer's bust'.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

The last few weeks have seen us take a critical look at double king pawn openings where Black plays an early ...f7-f5, and the results haven't been pretty. This week we take aim at the granddaddy of f-pawn pushes in the Open Game, the King's Gambit. It's a wonderfully entertaining opening with a great history, but its soundness has certainly come into question the past few decades.

To claim that it's completely busted would be an overstatement, but it's not for want of trying. The most famous pronouncement of the KG's death came in 1961, when in the wake of his 1960 KG loss to Boris Spassky (though from a won position!), Bobby Fischer proclaimed that he had refuted it with 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 d6! Fischer never got the chance to try his refutation – in fact, he subsequently played the King's Gambit on several occasions, but with 3.Bc4 – but another world class grandmaster did, with great results.

That player is Yugoslav legend Svetozar Gligoric, a 3-time candidate and elite grandmaster for more than 30 years. Gligoric's resume as a player, theoretician, writer and even as an arbiter places him as one of the great figures of chess in the 20th century. (A rigorous proof: Kasparov devotes a mini-chapter to him in part III of My Great Predecessors QED.)

Putting it all together, we'll look at Gligoric's two deliriously successful outings with Fischer's "bust" of the King's Gambit: his 27-move win over Albin Planinec (a remarkable player in his own right) and his even faster win over Ricardo Calvo; both games played in 1977. They're entertaining, of theoretical interest, and they remind us that there is no guarantee that White will have all the fun in the King's Gambit!

Whether you’re a gambiteer or a pawn-grabber, you’ll enjoy the show, and I look forward to seeing you there. The show time, as always, is Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET; that’s early Thursday for those of you "across the pond" in Europe.

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST, which translates to 02:00h GMT, 03:00 Paris/Berlin, 13:00h Sydney (on Thursday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).



Monokroussos in Mexico: world championship 2007
 

Dennis Monokroussos is 41, lives in South Bend, IN, where he teaches chess and occasionally works as an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University-South Bend.

At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S. and has reached a peak rating of 2434 USCF, but several long breaks from tournament play have made him rusty. He is now resuming tournament chess in earnest, hoping to reach new heights.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for ten years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.


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