King's Gambit – Take it easy!

by ChessBase
1/2/2023 – Online chess with its short time controls has also led to a renaissance of romantic openings like the King's Gambit. After the moves 1.e4 e5 2.f4 gxf4 3.Nf3 Black is faced with a fundamental decision. Should one try to hold the extra pawn on f4 with g7-g5 at all costs? With little time on the clock and against a potential theory expert, this involves some risks. So should one instead focus less on the material but on development and good piece play? With 3...Ne7!? Sergey Grigoriants recommends the second approach in his article for CBM #211 The "Bacrot Variation" is of course no refutation of the King's Gambit, "but it is an excellent practical choice for Black". Take a look!

ChessBase Magazine 211 ChessBase Magazine 211

Start of the Bundesliga season 22/23 with analyses by Eljanov, Van Wely, McShane, l'Ami and many others. "Special" on Mikhail Tal, opening videos by Ponomariov, King and Marin. 10 opening articles with new repertoire ideas and much more.


King's Gambit – Take it easy!

Sergey Grigoriants advocates 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Ne7!?

Our starting position arises after just three moves: 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Ne7!?

The King's Gambit - playing in romantic style - is coming back to fashion. Its most prominent adherent is Ian Nepomniachtchi who often employs it, mainly in fast control games. 3...Ne7!? is the favourite continuation of Etienne Bacrot. Black is not setting out to refute the King's Gambit (e.g. by clinging on to the pawn f4 with the radical g7-g5), but rather plays a natural move which is easy to handle in practice. Its main point is to prepare the centre push d7-d5 and after exd5 to recapture on d5 with the knight. In some variations, it's also possible protect the pawn on f4 with Ng6.

In the above diagram position, White has three moves: A) 4.Nc3, B) 4.Bc4 and the main variation C) 4.d4!.

A) 4.Nc3

A usual developing move, often transposing to positions which can arise after 4.d4. 4...d5! This is the typical reaction, and a very logical one - Black is fighting for the centre. 5.d4 dxe4 6.Nxe4 Nd5!.

The knight protects f4, but also, Black is ready to play ...Ne3 giving back the extra pawn and aiming for a slight edge, like in Rapport,R - Bacrot,E 1/2.

B) 4.Bc4?!

The secound most popular move is a bit illogical, as the typical d7-d5 now comes with tempo: 4...d5! 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.0-0 Be6!.

I like this tricky move, posing a trap against the undefended bishop c4. 7.Bb3 Bd6! Natural development. The f4 pawn is overprotected, and Black intends to castle. 8.c4 Ne7!. The knight retreats again, heading for g6. Black's position is slightly better, see Krzyzanowski,A - Gnilka,T 1/2.

C) 4.d4!

This is the most critical continuation, which is followed by the usual central counter 4...d5!.

Now the way splits for White. I will investigate C1) 5.e5?!, C2) 5.Qe2 and C3) 5.Bd3!?.

C1) 5.e5?!

The second most popular, but keeping the enemy d5 pawn on the board is the wrong idea because it gives Black a solid stance in the middle. Black can protect the f4 pawn with ...Ng6 and attack the centre with c7-c5: 5...Ng6! 6.Bd3 c5! 7.c3 Nc6

The position is similar to the French Advance Variation, with the main difference that the c8 bishop diagonal is open. The extra pawn gives Black a stable advantage, see Borisenko,V - Baron,T 0-1.

C2) 5.Qe2

This move looks a bit artificial. 5...dxe4. The simplest. 5...Ng6 is also possible, but more complex. 6.Qxe4 Nbc6. A logical move, 'humanly' very easy to understand and remember. 7.Bc4 Bf5 8.Qxf4 Qd7 9.0-0 f6.

A practical move that prevents some tactical complications. However, the pawn sacrifice 9...0-0-0 is also good, see Marchisotti,M - Kovernikov,B 1/2.

C3) 5.Bd3!?

This is the most challenging white attempt. 5...dxe4 6.Bxe4 Ng6!. The knight moves onto a stable square, opening the diagonal for the bishop f8 and preparing Bd6. 7.Qe2!.

If not 7.Qe2, Black comfortably develops their bishop to d6 and solves all problems. So, now Black has to block the e-file with 7...Be7!. Strangely, this move happened just four times in practice. 8.h4!.

The only idea for White, but is still quite dangerous. This is a new line, with just two games according to Mega 2022 so I did a deep analysis to fill that gap. It's a highly complex position with many exciting results. As usual, the engine gives 0.00 for most of the lines, but the middlegames which can arise are pretty tricky. Now 8...0-0, as it happened in the main game, is correct, but I think it's more practical for Black to play 8...h5!?. Let's have a look at the deep analysis of the encounter Nepomniachtchi,I - Hansen,E 1-0.

Conclusion: Of course 3...Ne7 (Bacrot Variation!?) does not refute the King's Gambit, but it is an excellent practical choice for Black. They usually give back the extra pawn, just aspiring to have an easy game. There are plenty of interesting lines. In the King's Gambit, White normally likes to attack, whereas after 3...Ne7 play tends to be pretty balanced. Also, it's a rare choice, so White will probably not know it as well as the main variations.

Apart from this article, I suggest analysing Nepomniachtchi games from the white point of view and Bacrot games from the black side to understand the King's Gambit and especially the line 3...Ne7.

You can find the complete article with all games and anaylses in the new ChessBase Magazine #211.

ChessBase Magazine #211

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Highlights of CBM #211

Analyses, videos, training exercises. From brilliant games of the eighth World Champion Mikhail Tal to current games of the new Bundesliga season: a rich training programme awaits you in ChessBase Magazine #211! Here are the editors' recommendations:

Bundesliga season 22/23: Stars up close - Eljanov, Van Wely, McShane, Jones, Kasimdzhanov, Cheparinov, Meier and many others comment on games from the first rounds - "Special" on Mikhail Tal: exclusive collection of 21 commented games + contributions on strategy and endgame - "The Scotch Gambit": Daniel King presents another gambit idea: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5. 0-0 (video) - "How to deal with opening surprises": Jan Markos continues his training series for tournament players (video + collection of exercises) - "Jumping across the centre line": over 50 tactics exercises + three selected combinations in video format with Oliver Reeh - Endgame good, all good: Karsten Mueller's new video series "Fundamental Endgame Knowledge" (Part 1: Rook vs. Pawn) – King’s Gambit: Take it easy! Sergey Grigoriants promotes 1. e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Ne7!? - Gambit time in the French Advance Variation: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.0-0!? and many more.

Special: Mikhail Tal

Mikhail Tal is the hero of this issue. Our authors comment on their favourite games of the "magician". An exclusive collection of 21 brilliant games analysed in detail!

Top games and master analyses

Bundesliga 22/23: The starting signal for the new Bundesliga season was given in October. Participants from various teams comment on their opening games, including the stars from the cover – Pavel Eljanov, Loek van Wely and Luke McShane – as well as Nils Grandelius, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Ivan Saric, Ivan Cheparinov, Gawain Jones, Nikita Vitiugov, Erwin L'Ami, Dennis Wagner, Daniil Yuffa, Georg Meier, Jan-Christian Schröder, Thai Dai Van Nguyen and Michael Prusikin.
In addition, David Navara presents his game against Luke McShane in a detailed video analysis! And Rustam Kasimdhzanov reviews his Black win against Julian Kramer in the video as well.

Practical tips for the tournament player: “How to deal with opening surprises?”

Jan Markos continues his video training series - Video + small collection of exercises.

Move by Move

Robson-So was probably the most spectacular game at the US Championship 2022. Test your attacking skills and play through the game move by move with the experienced trainer Robert Ris!

All in one

New opening ideas explained by means of a single game with detailed commentary. Alvar Alonso Rosell examines an aggressive approach for Black in the Modern Italian. Igor Stohl dissects the highly topical Ragozin Defence: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Qa4+.

Opening videos

Daniel King takes a close look at the time-honoured Scotch Gambit, which has recently been seen again in some top tournaments. Ruslan Ponomariov shows how he succeeded in the Spanish League against Alexander Fier with a rare Siclian with 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5. And Mihail Marin takes up an opening concept of Mikhail Tal's that used to be part of his own repertoire several years ago.

Daniel King: The Scotch Gambit
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.0-0
Ruslan Ponomariov: Sicilian 2.Nc3
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 4.Nf3 a6 5.Bd3
Mihail Marin: Saemisch Benoni
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0-0 6.Bg5 c5 7.d5

New ideas for your repertoire

From the English Opening to the Catalan - ChessBase Magazine #211 offers 11 opening articles with new ideas - everyone will find something exciting here!

Szabo: Sicilian O’Kelly Variation Part II: 3.c4
Hera: Sicilian 3.Nc3 e6 4.Bb5 Nd4 5.Bd3
Kuzmin: Sicilian Paulsen Variation 5.Bf4!?
Braun: French Advance Var. 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.0-0
Grigoriants: King's Gambit 2...exf4 3.Nf3 Ne7
Lorenzini: Philidor Defence 5.Bc4 Be7 6.0-0
Srinath: Open Ruy Lopez Part I
Schandorff: Slav Excnage Variation with 6.Bb5!?
Papp: Gruenfeld 5.Qb3 dxc4 6.Qxc4
Postny: Nimzo-Indian 4.f3 d5 with 6...c6
Sumets: Catalan 4...dxc4 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.0-0 Rb8

New series "Fundamental Endgame Knowledge" – Part I: Rook vs. Pawn

New video training series for all those who want to put their endgame technique on a sound footing. Plus endgame highlights by Mikhail Tal including video introduction.

Topical opening traps

“Innocent moves and tempting lures” – Rainer Knaak takes a close look at eight traps from current tournament practice, three of which he also presents in video format.  From Veressov to the Sicilian!

Mikhail Tal in strategy mode

What aspects distinguished Mikhail Tal's style of play? Mihail Marin examines, among other things. "The fight for space" and "Pawn play". Including video introduction. In addition, his section again offers numerous training tasks using Tal's games as examples!

Modern Classics #02: Botwinnik-Tal (1960)

Dorian Rogozenco takes up this issue's special and shows the sixth game of the 1960 World Championship match between Tal and Botwinnik. "A very impressive and spectacular game!"

Tactics: "Jumping across the centre line"

Oliver Reeh's tactics contribution contains 38 games with many training questions. The IM goes through three of his favourite combinations with you in the interactive video.

ChessBase Magazine #211

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ChessBase Magazine trial subscription with 33% savings advantage and thank you bonus!*

Try out ChessBase Magazine now! Order the ChessBase Magazine taster package!
Read ChessBase Magazine for 6 months (= 3 issues) for the special price of only 39.90 € (instead of 59,85 € for buying them individually). As a thank you, you will also receive 3 months ChessBase Premium Membership free of charge. 

*Bonus for new subscribers only, i.e. there was no CBM subscription for 12 months!

ChessBase Magazine one year subscription - plus original ChessBase USB stick with 128 GB *

Save twice with ChessBase Magazine: For the annual subscription to ChessBase Magazine you’ll pay only €99.70 per year (compared to €119.70 for the 6 individual issues).

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