All gambits are inherently unsound

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  • All gambits are inherently unsound

    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.

    Last edited by Fred Henderson; Tuesday, 10th January, 2023, 03:47 PM.

  • #2
    Gambits may be unsound for a certain time frame - gambits usually (always?) provide some level of compensation
    in the form of one or more temporary advantages:

    - initiative
    - attack
    - space
    - mobility
    etc.

    If the gambiteer squanders those things then of course that course of action is unsound.
    ...Mike Pence: the Lord of the fly.

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    • #3
      Here is the result of playing an unsound gambit.
      Click image for larger version

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      "We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office." - Aesop
      "Only the dead have seen the end of war." - Plato
      "If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination." - Thomas De Quincey

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      • #4
        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.

        I don't think the top players think that the Queen's gambit is unsound or throws away white's edge. Similarly, I think the top consensus is that the Marshal is a draw.

        In any case, the general feeling is that chess is fundamentally a draw and most reasonable gambits don't change that assessment. [and in that view, not sure that you can really talk of a white advantage.]

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        • #5
          Many gambits are a bit unsound in theory, but can be very effective in practice, with the clock ticking, and an opponent outside comfort zones on knowledge, and / or away from the style of game they prefer!!

          I have mostly enjoyed playing either side of a gambit, and some of my most enjoyable games -- win, lose, or draw -- have seen gambits employed. My late father played them extensively against me in my youth, during our family encounters at the dining room table!! He said it was a great way to learn both attack and defense, and he was skilled at both!

          At the top level, GM Boris Spassky (World Champion 1969-72) was for many years a practitioner with the King's Gambit, and usually very successfully. He defeated GM David Bronstein (also a KG wizard!!) at Leningrad 1960 in less than 25 moves. Boris also won over GM Bobby Fischer at Mar del Plata 1960 with the King's Gambit; the two went on to tie for first place. Fischer himself later employed the KG successfully in tournament play against IMs and GMs. Spassky beat then-World Champion GM Anatoly Karpov with the KG at Hamburg TV 1982 (G/60'), when Karpov had an advantage on the board, but by move 23 had only two minutes left on his clock, to finish the game!!! Karpov was taken out of his comfort zone by Boris!!

          Canadian IM Lawrence Day was widely feared for his King's Gambit play, scoring many notable wins over strong players; none better than his triumph over Rubinetti of Argentina at Buenos Aires Olympiad 1978.

          GM Pal Benko made a living with the gambit for Black, now bearing his name, from the late 1960s onwards; he knew more about it than his opponents, and by playing ten moves in one minute of clock time, he could avoid his familiar time trouble. The Benko Gambit remains widely seen at events around the world today, at all levels of play. GM Lev Alburt rode it to success in U.S. Championships in the 1980s.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Kerry Liles View Post
            Gambits may be unsound for a certain time frame - gambits usually (always?) provide some level of compensation
            in the form of one or more temporary advantages:

            - initiative
            - attack
            - space
            - mobility
            etc.

            If the gambiteer squanders those things then of course that course of action is unsound.
            hmmmm...

            Well, I suppose it depends what you consider "an advantage". For a gambit, I would suggest that the gambiteer has lost something permanently, and I expect that the statistics will back me up. SO the "initiative" is not enough compensation for the pawn, but of course in a timed game there are other factors. Are there any pros on the circuit that would play a gambit in a critical "neo-classical" time control game.?

            And I agree with Frank pretty much. I will concede that I am saying theoretically unsound. But yeah, there are practical issues.

            But then I play only correspondence chess. :)

            ANother poster mentioned the Queen's Gambit, well yes, but it is not a real gambit, except maybe Avrukh in book 2 of 1.d4 GMR did find an obscure line that required extended defensive trench warfare to realize his material advantage.

            But Mr McKillop carries the day. LOL
            Last edited by Fred Henderson; Tuesday, 10th January, 2023, 08:48 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Roger Patterson View Post

              In any case, the general feeling is that chess is fundamentally a draw and most reasonable gambits don't change that assessment. [and in that view, not sure that you can really talk of a white advantage.]
              And, it's tuff to win a chess game if it isn't unbalanced in one form or another.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by Neil Frarey View Post

                And, it's tuff to win a chess game if it isn't unbalanced in one form or another.

                Me three. in order for one side to win, the other side must have made a mistake. Unless one is Carlsen, of course.

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                • #9
                  I suppose the "least unsound" gambit is the Marshall?

                  Hah! probably the most "effective" in practice, but least effective theoretically? I mean, the advantage of the first move AND a pawn should count for something.
                  Last edited by Fred Henderson; Wednesday, 11th January, 2023, 05:51 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Here is a delicious gambit game I found, while going through my chess archives recently!

                    Frank Dixon (2069) -- Geoff McKay (2159)
                    Kingston 1999, played June 21, G/30', Kingston Chess Club Summer Rapid (3)
                    King's Gambit, Fischer Defense, C34
                    TD: Frank Dixon, Org: KCC
                    Light notes by Frank Dixon

                    1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 d6
                    [Geoff had just won the 1999 Kingston Championship with a 2300+ performance rating, while I was second, with 2200+, and he defeated me in our head-to-head game, so this was a bit of payback! Geoff plays the King's Gambit as well, and is effective with it. Black's third denotes the Fischer Defense, analyzed but never actually played by Fischer in a tournament game!]
                    4.Bc4 g5
                    [Spassky -- Karpov, Hamburg TV 1982, G/60', saw 4...h6 5.d4 g5 6.O-O. I have an interesting game in that line as well, which I plan to post here soon.]
                    5.h4 g4 6.Ng5!?
                    [This can lead to a piece sacrifice depending on how Black responds. I had an idea I wanted to try out.]
                    6...Nh6 7.d4 Qe7 8.O-O f6
                    [This is it; the knight is trapped. I am going to let him win it, for hopefully good compensation!]
                    9.Bxf4 Nc6 10.Nc3 fxg5 11.Bxg5 Qd7 12.Qd2 Bg7 13.e5!
                    [White threatens 14.e6! winning Black's Queen. White could have simply played 13.Bxh6 regaining the piece, but that allows 13...Bxd4+ with play for Black.]
                    13...dxe5 14.d5!?
                    [White has excellent compensation for the piece, with a safe King, a lead in development, and pressure on open lines; Black's King is in some jeopardy, and I am not referring to the TV game show!]
                    14...Nf5
                    [Perhaps 14...Na5!? is a better try. Possible then is 15.Bb5 c6 16.dxc6 Nxc6 (not 16...Qxd2?? 17.cxb7+!! winning), and now 17.Bxh6 looks fine for White. The text allows a spectacular finish!]
                    15.Rxf5!! Qxf5 16.dxc6! Be6
                    [White threatened 17.Qd8#.]
                    17.Rf1! Qg6 18.cxb7! Rb8 19.Bb5+!, 1-0.
                    [Black can delay mate but not prevent it!]

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Frank Dixon View Post
                      Here is a delicious gambit game I found, while going through my chess archives recently!

                      Frank Dixon (2069) -- Geoff McKay (2159)
                      Kingston 1999, played June 21, G/30', Kingston Chess Club Summer Rapid (3)
                      King's Gambit, Fischer Defense, C34
                      TD: Frank Dixon, Org: KCC
                      Light notes by Frank Dixon

                      1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 d6
                      [Geoff had just won the 1999 Kingston Championship with a 2300+ performance rating, while I was second, with 2200+, and he defeated me in our head-to-head game, so this was a bit of payback! Geoff plays the King's Gambit as well, and is effective with it. Black's third denotes the Fischer Defense, analyzed but never actually played by Fischer in a tournament game!]
                      4.Bc4 g5
                      [Spassky -- Karpov, Hamburg TV 1982, G/60', saw 4...h6 5.d4 g5 6.O-O. I have an interesting game in that line as well, which I plan to post here soon.]
                      5.h4 g4 6.Ng5!?
                      [This can lead to a piece sacrifice depending on how Black responds. I had an idea I wanted to try out.]
                      6...Nh6 7.d4 Qe7 8.O-O f6
                      [This is it; the knight is trapped. I am going to let him win it, for hopefully good compensation!]
                      9.Bxf4 Nc6 10.Nc3 fxg5 11.Bxg5 Qd7 12.Qd2 Bg7 13.e5!
                      [White threatens 14.e6! winning Black's Queen. White could have simply played 13.Bxh6 regaining the piece, but that allows 13...Bxd4+ with play for Black.]
                      13...dxe5 14.d5!?
                      [White has excellent compensation for the piece, with a safe King, a lead in development, and pressure on open lines; Black's King is in some jeopardy, and I am not referring to the TV game show!]
                      14...Nf5
                      [Perhaps 14...Na5!? is a better try. Possible then is 15.Bb5 c6 16.dxc6 Nxc6 (not 16...Qxd2?? 17.cxb7+!! winning), and now 17.Bxh6 looks fine for White. The text allows a spectacular finish!]
                      15.Rxf5!! Qxf5 16.dxc6! Be6
                      [White threatened 17.Qd8#.]
                      17.Rf1! Qg6 18.cxb7! Rb8 19.Bb5+!, 1-0.
                      [Black can delay mate but not prevent it!]
                      hmmm, that was 24 years ago. and rapid to boot.

                      I don't like that early opening by Black.

                      I used to have fun in casual games, with the Fried Liver Attack, when I wanted to destroy duffers, but that's about it. Thanks Frank

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                      • #12
                        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.

                        counterexample: 1. d4 d5 2.c4

                        you stupid?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Richard Holman View Post

                          counterexample: 1. d4 d5 2.c4

                          you stupid?
                          https://www.google.com/search?q=Is+t...t=gws-wiz-serp

                          duhhh....

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Roger Patterson View Post

                            I don't think the top players think that the Queen's gambit is unsound or throws away white's edge. Similarly, I think the top consensus is that the Marshal is a draw.

                            In any case, the general feeling is that chess is fundamentally a draw and most reasonable gambits don't change that assessment. [and in that view, not sure that you can really talk of a white advantage.]
                            Like I replied already, Queen's Gambit is not a true gambit, because it is almost impossible for Black to safely keep the pawn, imo.

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                            • #15
                              Somebody somewhere, I can't find the post, says that 2.Bc4 is not bad, it's just played by players that don't know to play it. Does that not mean that those who do understand it don't play it? Sure I imagine the better plaer might win regardless.

                              But if anyone knows the "right" way to play the 2.Bc4 line for White, I'd love to play them. PM me and we'll play it on some chess website and report the results here.

                              :)

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