All gambits are inherently unsound

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Fred Henderson View Post

    Putting aside the question of whether 3...Nf6 is any better than 3...a6, Surely if White sidesteps the Marshall by playing the Anti-Marshall, and I suspect Whites % is pretty good here, then can we not say that The Marshall Gambit begins with ...0-0, and is thus another "unsound" gambit?




    • #32
      The Schliemann, with 3...f5!?, is another sharp line in the Spanish (Ruy Lopez). Often successful in practice, although not so highly regarded by theory.

      I was called upon to face it in a critical game more than 20 years ago. For your pleasure!

      Frank Dixon (1978) -- Patrick Kirby (2065)
      Kingston Whig-Standard Championship, Kingston 1998 (6)
      Played 1998-12-19
      Time controls: 30/90', SD/60'
      TD: Frank Dixon, Organizer: Kingston Chess Club
      Clock times in brackets
      Spanish, Schliemann, C63
      Notes by Frank Dixon

      1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5!?
      [An excellent combative choice from Patrick, an Ottawan studying at Queen's University in Kingston. The event was a 7-player round-robin that year, and we both had four points for this round six meeting. But this was Patrick's last game; I had one more to play. He plays for the win with a sharp, rare variation.]
      4.Nc3 Nd4!?
      [This line is a real barrel full of monkeys. Another main line goes 4...fxe4 5.Nxe4 Nf6.]
      5.exf5 Bc5 6.Nxe5 Nf6 7.O-O O-O (7,5)
      [ECO Volume C, 2nd edition (1981) has several options at this point. My choice is indicated but not expanded with a game or evaluation: they simply gave 8.Be2 d5. The site has no games with 8.Be2, even now, 24+ years after this game.]
      8.Be2 d6 9.Nd3 Bxf5 (11,9) 10.Nxc5!? Bxc2! 11.Nxb7! Qb8 12.Qe1 Qxb7 13.d3 Rae8! (33,28)
      [White's last move was forced; pressure down the e-file was looking very strong.]
      14.Qd2 Ba4!? 15.b3 Bc6! (42,46)
      {I think Black has at least sufficient compensation for his pawn. His pieces are very actively placed, he has a development advantage, and White is forced onto the defensive.]
      16.f3 Nd5! 17.Bd1 Nf4! (51,58)
      [Creating all manner of nasty possibilities, including possible knight sacs on f3 and h3.]
      18.Qf2! Qb6 (56,71) 19.Bxf4!
      [One tempting but losing line I saw and avoided here was 19.Be3? Rxe3!! 20.Qxe3 Nde2+ 21.Kf2 Qxe3+ 22.Kxe3 Nxc3, likely winning for Black.]
      19...Rxf4 20.Na4! Bxa4 21.bxa4 Ne2+! (71,83)
      [I didn't like the looks of 22.Bxe2 Rxe2 23.Qxb6 axb6, fixing Black's pawn structure and closing the b-file, with an active rook on my King's doorstep.]
      22...Qxf2 (80,88) 23.Rxf2
      {I wanted to play the seemingly clever zwischenzug 23.Bb3+, but couldn't see if this was clearly better than the text.]
      23...Nd4 24.Bb3+ Nxb3 25.axb3, 1/2--1/2.
      [White's draw offer was immediately accepted. Black was down to 30 seconds on his clock to reach move 30. Although White is still a pawn up, he has weaknesses on b3 and d3, a problem with his back rank, and Black's rooks are more active than White's. So, I was pleased with the draw, a fair result after creative, original play from both players, with no significant mistakes from either side! Patrick and I tied for the title, after I lost to Rob Hutchison in my remaining game; my only loss to Rob in ten years at a full time control. He played a great game.]


      • #33
        Originally posted by Fred Henderson View Post
        Thanks for the games, Frank. I enjoyed your commentary. Would love to put our ideas on gambits to the test. I happily take Black in Smith-Morra Gambit or King's Gambit. We could even do it here. Maybe a little "trash talk" to amuse the hordes?

        Best wishes,

        I think in practice Id believe in the kings gambit over the smith morra, but either way I dont feel like black (as long as they know whats up) ever really has many issues with either of these gambits, I would happily take black in either line. (game nine in this study) I got to play against it most recently in Round 9 at the zonal last April. gave me a chance at second place so I was happy to see Hal bond 2. d4 on the board.


        • #34
          Originally posted by Roger Patterson View Post

          Looks like you have missed the point of the discussion, or maybe just haven't read it. Why do you suppose I put the word "unsound" in quotes?

          My database shows this...


          My database shows that after 7...0-0 8.a4 The percentages are 37.4% win for white, 40.2% draw, 20.9% win for Black, more favorable for White than 8.c3 d5, Chigorin's or Breyer Variation


          • #35
            Originally posted by Henri Hughes View Post

            I think in practice Id believe in the kings gambit over the smith morra, but either way I dont feel like black (as long as they know whats up) ever really has many issues with either of these gambits, I would happily take black in either line.
   (game nine in this study) I got to play against it most recently in Round 9 at the zonal last April. gave me a chance at second place so I was happy to see Hal bond 2. d4 on the board.
            So would I.


            • #36
              Originally posted by Fred Henderson View Post
              Gambits by White throw away his advantage, gambits by Black give White the advantage out of the opening, such as the Smith-Morra the King's gambit, and the Budapest

              prove me wrong, or if you prefer convince me otherwise.
              The best thing about chess is you don't have to convince anyone of anything. Just play the games and prove it or don't prove it.

              Keep in mind however that there's more to "advantage" than what the computer evaluates if you think of chess as a competitive venture.


              • #37
                Originally posted by David Ottosen View Post

                The best thing about chess is you don't have to convince anyone of anything. Just play the games and prove it or don't prove it.

                Keep in mind however that there's more to "advantage" than what the computer evaluates if you think of chess as a competitive venture.
                sure. agreed. You still have to win the game, and in any of these gambits I suppose the better player will win, most of the time. Looks to me like, if you go by the stats, people are playing it and proving it. Just a few games doesn't prove much. Too small a sample. As for computers, well I say that kind of begs the question, no? Of course in a "real-life" timed game anything can happen,

                HOWEVER, the Marshall has inferior win/loss ratios to both the Breyer and the Chigorin, and a computer eval will back that up. I cold have put that in my first post in my discussion, but I have backtracked just a little on my original claim.

                Best wishes...



                • #38
                  Here is a really drastic example of an obscure gambit working pretty well, in a sub-miniature!!

                  Yuri Rusakov -- Boris Verlinsky
                  Moscow 1947
                  King's Pawn Opening, Macleod Attack, C20
                  Brief comments by Frank Dixon

                  1.e4 e5 2.c3
                  [Just wondering if the name of this line is after the 19th century Canadian Master!?]
                  2...Nf6 3.d4 Nc6 4.Bg5 h6 5.Bh4 g5 6.Bg3 exd4 7.e5 dxc3 8.exf6?
                  [GM Paul Keres in ECO indicates 8.Nc3! with advantage to White.]
                  8...cxb2! 9.Qe2+ Qe7!! 10.fxe7 Bg7, 0-1.
                  [The Black player in this game was among the strongest Russian and Soviet players in the 1910s and 1920s. He was Soviet champion at Odessa 1929. According to GM David Bronstein, in his wonderful book 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' (1995), Verlinsky (1887-1950) was a deaf mute, stricken with meningitis as a child. His life must have been very difficult; all the more impressive are his chess achievements!! He is perhaps best known for his wonderful win over World Champion J.R. Capablanca at Moscow 1925, the first Soviet-organized international tournament. For his Odessa victory, he was awarded the title of Soviet Grandmaster by the USSR Federation, but this was removed in 1931, so as to award Mikhail Botvinnik the title of FIRST Soviet Grandmaster!!! FIDE awarded Verlinsky the IM title in 1950, the year of his death.]


                  • #39
                    This game is also the theme of the glorious passed pawn. I have used this game for teaching many, many times over the last 35 years and I title it "Which Passed Pawn has more Power". There are many beautiful brevities among passed pawn games. Another "immortal" is Schlechter - Perlis 1911 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Qb3 Qb6 6.cxd5 Qxb3 7.axb3 Bxb1 8.dxc6 Be4 9.Rxa7 Rxa7 10.c7 1-0 Schlechter war besser. Thanks for posting that brilliant game Frank.


                    • #40
                      It was nearly 50 years ago now (yikes!), when a last-round matchup for a high school championship brought me up against a good friend, who was trailing me for first place by half a point. Ron and I had played a lot of friendly chess, were HS teammates, and had analyzed together as well. I was somewhat stronger based on recent play, but he was a dangerous opponent, especially in tactical games. He was two years older, one grade ahead, and graduating in a few weeks, while I had two more years to go. I prepared carefully; Ron had told me in the days leading up to the game that he was going to win this game! I replied: "I'll make sure you will have to play well to do it!" He was on a high, after gaining admission to his chosen post-secondary program, the Radio College of Canada, where he graduated and build a good career in the broadcast industry. At stake as well for Ron was a paid trip to Toronto for the upcoming Ontario HS Championship in a few days; I had clinched my spot for that event. The school covered costs for up to five players. Several team members from our Renfrew County league team had passed up this event (under parental pressure, which wanted more studying and less chess), in favour of the provincials, and Ron, normally fifth or sixth board, was having a great tournament.]

                      Ronald Walker (5.0/6) -- Frank Dixon (5.5/6)
                      Deep River 1974
                      Mackenzie High School Championship (rd. 7 of 7)
                      TD/Org: James Hegney, MHS Chess Club Teacher Supervisor
                      Played 1974-05-14
                      Time controls: G/60'
                      King's Gambit, Cunningham Def., Euwe Var., C35
                      Clock times in brackets
                      Notes by Frank Dixon

                      1.e4 e5
                      [I had been playing the Sicilian exclusively for more than a year, including this event, and Ron knew this. I knew Ron was preparing intensively, since he had both the 1965 and 1972 editions of 'Modern Chess Openings' signed out of the school library! I tried to cross him up, and knew that a King's Gambit was a possibility. From his grimace, I succeeded!]
                      2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7
                      [I had previously played only 3...d5 here against Ron in casual games, and this was my first time with the Cunningham, which has some trappy lines, as this game shows! My dad coached me in this line.]
                      4.Bc4 Nf6 5.e5 Ne4!? (9,2)
                      [The Euwe Variation, named for the former Dutch World Champion (1901-1981) Very rarely seen. 5...Nh5?! is weak, and the usual move here is 5...Ng4, heavily analyzed.]
                      6.d3?! Bh4+! (14,3)
                      [White's choice may be playable, but 6.O-O led to a good game in the later GM game D.Reinderman -- I.Sokolov, Netherlands Championship 2002: 6.O-O d5 7.exd6 Nxd6 8.Bb3 O-O 9.d4 c5 10.Bxf4 cxd4 11.Nxd4 Nd7, drawn in 42. Traps with similar lines to the game continuation bishop check on h4 have been known since the mid-1800s. White must be very careful.]
                      [Ron wants to mix it up, but perhaps better is 7.Kf1.]
                      [Although White is now attacking two pieces, he is not winning, as Black creates a stronger tactic!]
                      [Not 8.dxe4? g2+! 9.Ke2 gxh1Q 10.Qxh1 d5 11.exd5 Bg4! with great advantage to Black. Ron said later he had seen this, but not at move 6.]
                      8...Nf2! 9.Qe2 O-O (27,8)
                      [I was happy here, since Ron has used nearly 20 minutes more. I have been thinking on his time, and have a very good position.]
                      10.Nc3 Nc6 11.Be3 Nh3+ 12.Kh1 d6 13.exd6 Bg4! 14.dxc7 Qd7 (34,26)
                      [My original intent was 14...Qf6?, but I saw, fortunately, in time, that 15.Nd5! would be too strong for White. Returning the two gambit pawns, I aim for quick development, figuring I can deal with the c7 passer later.]
                      15.Rad1 Rae8! 16.Qd2
                      [Black is creating strong threats, such as 16...Nd4, 16...Ng5, and 16...Bg5, all of which would win material, exploiting the several pins. Another line which does not work is 16.Bb3 Nd4! 17.Qd2 Nxf3 18.Ba4 Nxd2 19.Bxd7 Bxd7 20.Bxd2 Bc6+ 21.Ne4 Rxe4 22.dxe4 Bxe4+, mating. I don't think White has a way out from move 16.]
                      16...Nf2+! (48,29)
                      [Back for a return visit, with more support!]
                      [Likewise, White is losing in all alternative lines.]
                      17...Bxf3+ 18.Kg1 gxf2+ 19.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 20.Qxf2 Qg4+ 21.Kf1 Qh3+ 22.Kg1 Nd4!, 0-1. (56,34)
                      [Ron very much wanted to win, but he congratulated me sincerely. He also gained a paid trip to Toronto with his third place showing. It meant a lot to him, since he had been commuting for two years, 40 km. every day, each way, from CFB Petawawa, for MHS's superior academic programs, and extracurriculars, and he had raised his grades, to reach the Radio College. His father was a Canadian Armed Forces member., and he didn't want that career. The game saw sharp tactics right from the outset.]


                      • #41
                        Frank, are these annotation old, or did you just do them now from memory?

                        I like 2...Nf6 for Black to decline the King's gambit. Have you ever played or faced that? Hope I haven't missed it in an earlier post.


                        • #42
                          A1) The posted annotations for Walker -- Dixon, Deep River 1974, are a blend of old and new. I recently found the game score, with my notes from that time, then added some up-to-date comments for this site discussion.

                          A2) The move 2...Nf6 is rare, but playable in my opinion. I've never faced it, nor played it. Plenty of unexplored paths. The late IM Robert Wade played it frequently; it is sometimes called the Wade Defense. Two games I know of with it: Fischer 1-0 Wade, Vinkovci 1968; and Bronstein 1/2 Yusupov, USSR 1980.


                          • #43
                            The Halloween Gambit -- I believe it is dubious.

                            Wayne Coppin (1973) -- Frank Dixon (1971)
                            Kingston 1997
                            Kingston Fall Active (rd. 3 of 4), G/30', played 1997-09-22
                            TD: Frank Dixon, Org.: Kingston Chess Club
                            Clock times in brackets
                            Four Knights' Game, Halloween Gambit, C47
                            Notes by Frank Dixon

                            1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nxe5?!/!?
                            [I have never been so startled by a chess move in my life! Not only did I not know this line, but had never contemplated that it existed. Now I have to meet it with the clock ticking. Both players had 2/2, and met on board one. The KCC at that time hosted a Fall Active Open event in September, usually played over two or three Mondays, with no entry fee. The Kingston Whig-Standard Championship was due to start the next week.]
                            4...Nxe5 5.d4 Ng6 6.e5 Ng8 7.Bc4
                            [I later learned that this line is called the Halloween Gambit, named by FM/IA Dr. Eric Schiller, a prolific American author, in his book 'Unorthodox Openings', with co-author GM Joel Benjamin (1987). I have met Eric on a couple of occasions; he is one of the true originals in the chess world. It is quite a departure from the normally quiet Four Knights'!]
                            7...Bc4 8.Qf3 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Qe7 (2,5)
                            [By now I had thought a bit, and was virtually certain that this line was NOT IN the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings, second edition. I had spent a minimum of an hour playing through each of the 500 openings codes in ECO. Lines such as the Elephant Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5) and the Latvian Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5) are contained there. If this line was any good, it would be in ECO, and Masters would be playing it. But that doesn't mean it is NOT dangerous!]
                            10.O-O Nh6 11.a4 O-O 12.Ba3 d6 13.exd6 cxd6 (4,9) 14.Rfe1 Qc7
                            [Looking at now, we have left previous games, so this may turn out to be an important game in the theory of the variation! I have just made my first threat. White is emphasizing open lines and piece activity, especially his bishops, since both his knights are exchanged off.]
                            15.Bd5 Bg4 16.Qg3 Rad8 17.Rab1 b6 18.a5 Ne7 19.axb6 axb6 (11,12)
                            [The material situation remains the same as after the sacrifice on move four: White has a pawn for his piece, but Black has several weaknesses, such as b6 and d6, both targets. Black has a good development, but is somewhat passive, and needs to continue staying alert. I am aiming improve the positioning of my pieces, and to chase White's light-squared bishop around; it is often his most dangerous piece in Open Games.]
                            20.Be4 Rfe8 21.c4 Bf5 22.c5 bxc5 (22,17)
                            [The good news for Black is that White has slowed down significantly in his clock usage, perhaps reaching the end of his preparation. He has used 11 minutes for his last three moves, and has now used more time than Black. A significant clash of forces is now beginning.]
                            23.dxc5 Bxe4! 24.cxd6 Qxc2! 25.dxe7 Ra8 26.Rbc1 Qd3! 27.Re3 Qd5! (28,23)
                            [Black has gotten through the crisis with his pieces mostly active, and the material situation stable. White, now down to two minutes, has one major advantage, his passed e7 pawn. I told myself to not fall into cheap tactics, and if I did that, I would probably win on time.]
                            28.Qf4 Bg6 29.g4 f6 30.Rce1 Nf7! 31.Qg3 Ne5 32.f4 Nc6 33.f5 Bf7 (29,25)
                            [White pulls out all the stops and advances his kingside pawns, trying to force a breakthrough. Black creates a blockade and escape squares.]
                            34.h4 h6 35.Kh2 Ra7! 36.Rd3 Qa2+! 37.Kh3 Ne5!
                            [At move four, White sacked a knight on this square, which Black now proudly occupies with his knight!]
                            38.Rde3 Raxa7!
                            [Giving up the exchange to eliminate this passed pawn.]
                            39.Bxa7 Rxa7 40.R1e2 Qd5 (29:55, 26)
                            0-1 (time).
                            [It would be a tough position to win for Black, with two pieces for a rook. But, no matter, I met the conditions of the game, and survived a dangerous line I did not know, from a strong player. One final point: this game was played with a Kingston Chess Club clock!]


                            • #44
                              Correcting two typos in the previous post: should be 38...Raxe7! 39.Bxe7 Rxe7. Sorry about that.