The Albin: "One of the most underrated openings, gambits-wise"

by CHESS Magazine
8/2/2018 – 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 d4 — have you ever used this defence, which acts as a very big nuisance in the white position? In his latest Fritztrainer Lawrence Trent calls this “one of the most underrated openings, gambits-wise” and considers it perfectly sound, since he has not been able to refute it with some of the strongest computers in the world. He promises dynamic play, with the “most in-depth analysis I’ve ever done.” Review by SEAN MARSH, with live Fritz-board for you to train on.

The Amazing Albin Counter-Gambit The Amazing Albin Counter-Gambit

On this DVD IM Trent shows the Albin Counter-Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5). Trent found a number of extremely dangerous Theoretical Novelties which will truly put the Albin Counter-Gambit back on the map.

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The Amazing Albin Counter-Gambit

Review by Sean Marsh

The Albin Counter-Gambit is a sharp attempt by Black, in which a determined effort is made to seize the initiative with 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5. Black’s intention is to drag the opponent into unfamiliar territory after 3.dxe5 d4, when according to Trent the advanced d-pawn “Acts as a very big nuisance in the white position; a wedge” interfering with the smooth and natural development craved by 1.d4 players.

It is possible that some readers have already used the Albin as a one-off weapon in a club or tournament game, but it would be much more difficult to think of anyone who uses the sharp opening on a regular basis. Trent is out to change the standard opinion of this rare opening — and he has form to back up his mission, thanks to a history of being an Albin player himself.

Three immediate questions present themselves when dealing with gambits such as these, namely:

i. In what sort of shape are the main lines?
ii. Can it be effective at all levels?
iii. Can Black still find dynamic play if White declines the gambit?

Trent is quick to nail his colours to the mast, backed up with a rallying cry, claiming the gambit is “One of the most underrated openings, gambits-wise” and, furthermore, “Is absolutely sound and one I have not been able to refute after extensive weeks and months of studying this, with some of the strongest computers in the world.” He promises dynamic play, with the “Most in-depth analysis I’ve ever done” and is clearly very passionate about the whole project.

The early deviations are dealt with in the first lecture, with everything from the poor 3.e4 (“Absolutely garbage; nothing to worry about. Just take it!”), to the standard club player attempt to keep Black away from his dynamic plans with the potentially dull 3.e3. It’s interesting how the spectre of the French Defence manifests itself in some of these lines. Against 3.Nf3, for instance, 3...e4 is the recommendation with a reversed French, and 3.e3 exd4 4.exd4 Nf6 transposes to an Exchange Variation.


Try playing against the computer in the above window. Note that you have buttons for a number of functions: New game, Take back move, Play move forwards, Play now, Get hint, Very weak opponent, Serious amateur, Club player, Master, Switch colours, analyse with a chess engine. Choose an opponent to match your playing strength and try your luck with Albin's Counter-Gambit. Read the notes below while you are doing so. This is a good way to prepare for your next beach game, a more serious encounter, your next club tournament, or the international GM event.


It is clear even from this segment demonstrating the non-critical lines just how much effort Trent has put into this DVD, as evidenced by a strong novelty he casually introduces on move 19 in one of the lines. We then move through the fourth move alternatives, including Spassky’s old favourite 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 d4 4.e4 on the way to the major split on the fifth moves, with (after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 d4 4.Nf3 Nc6) 5.g3, 5.Nbd2 and 5.a3.

The most critical of all is the last of these, especially as it is recommended in various repertoire tomes for White. Here we see Lawrence keeping the Albin afloat against the analysis of Boris Avrukh. After 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 d4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.a3 Nge7 6.b4 Ng6 7.Bb2 the threat is clear: White intends b4-b5 and simply capturing the pawn on d4. Black can keep afloat but has to tread a narrow path with 7...a5 8.b5 Ncxe5 9.Nxe5 Nxe5 10.Bxd4 Nxc4 11.e3 Be6 12.Qc2 Nd6 13.Bd3 Qg5 14.f4, reaching what Trent calls the “Absolute main line of the main lines of the main line; the most critical; the most ambitious way for White to proceed.”


Play here against an engine of your choice – following the advice of Lawrence Trent.


White is on the way to consolidation and a stable advantage, so Black must cause some trouble. The DVD recommends 14...Qh4+ 15.g3 and now 15...Qh3 instead of the usual 15...Qh5, which Lawrence finds insufficient. Admittedly, in this critical line there are ways for White to force a draw, but Trent did not find any way to put Black under severe pressure. Time and experience will tell whether or not all of his analysis holds up to the scrutiny of the higher levels, but at the moment it does seem as if Black could indeed play the Albin with confidence at any level.

In answer to my initial questions at the start of this review, it appears to be a positive outcome on all three fronts.

There is a lot of analysis on this DVD with copious amounts of brand new moves and ideas of Trent’s own. He reiterates the need to prepare by “Repeat(ing) the lines time and time again” to breed familiarity with the material, while the DVD helps by concluding with fifteen quiz positions to test the viewer’s new Albin skills.

Lawrence Trent is an experienced presenter and commentator. There have been times when I have found his style and content a shade on the shallow side (possibly informed by the entry-level standard required for an online audience of keyboard warriors), but this DVD has definitely seen him move up to another level entirely. The depth of his research is very impressive and his delivery consistently strong, making this product a certain hit.

The Amazing Albin Counter-Gambit
Lawrence Trent, PC-DVD;
running time: 5 hours, ChessBase
RRP £26.95 SUBSCRIBERS £24.25

Sean Marsh

Order Lawrence Trent The Amazing Albin Counter-Gambit from
The London Chess Centre or Chess4Less (USA) – or in the ChessBase Shop


About CHESS Magazine

The above review is reproduced from Chess Magazine July/2018, with kind permission.

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CHESS Magazine was established in 1935 by B.H. Wood who ran it for over fifty years. It is published each month by the London Chess Centre and is edited by IM Richard Palliser and Matt Read.
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ngnn ngnn 8/7/2018 11:52
I used to play it and I would argue it's good as a surprise weapon. But when your opponents start preparing for it, it's a different story. Pretty often it happens, that around move 10 you already end up regretting your opening choice. I gave up playing Albin after a game where my opponent smashed me in 15 moves or so... of course, that was no forced win, you can always find improvements for black, but the main problem is that there is almost no error margin at all. Because the opening is already suspicious in itself, one slip can lead to huge troubles, whereas in sounder openings you can normally still fight back and find some resources even after some inaccuracies.
Dutch Windmill Dutch Windmill 8/5/2018 03:26
Yes, but every move that avoids the 'real' Albin is just equal...
yesenadam yesenadam 8/5/2018 04:13
I've noticed that the word "simply", when used by someone writing about chess, is 99% of the time inappropriate at least. It's a filler word, or a bragging word, or shows overconfidence etc.

"Underrated" refers to a gap between how good something is, and how good it's commonly believed to be.

I'm having trouble making sense of your comment, kbala. Maybe if you can flesh it out a little, I'll be able to understand. I guess maybe if the word had been "neglected", "unfashionable" or something, what you say would make sense. Thanks :-)
Rama Rama 8/3/2018 06:23
The gambit is 'sound' because it hasn't been refuted. However in games against masters it will remain an occasional surprise weapon because statistically, White scores better against the Albin than against 2...c6 or 2...e6 or 2...dxc4
At least this is true according to database.chessbase.com
kbala kbala 8/2/2018 09:12
It is underrated simply because white can avoid it very easily
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