King’s Gambit - How to Play the e-pawn Openings - The Complete Chess Course From Beginning To Winning Chess! (2016)

The Complete Chess Course From Beginning To Winning Chess! (2016)

Book Seven

How to Play the e-pawn Openings

King’s Gambit

This is the classic attacking line in the e-pawn openings. White offers a pawn early in the opening in order to obtain a powerful pawn center and an attack via the f-file. Superior development for White generally gives him a winning attack. Superior development for Black generally gives him a winning defense.

(a) King’s Knight’s Gambit with 3…g5

This is the oldest and most complicated form of the King’s Gambit.

King’s Gambit

White - Black

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5

Black’s idea is to guard the gambit pawn at f4.

White can try to break up the black pawn formation with 4.h4, but Black has a good reply in 4…g4, driving the knight back. If then 5.Ng5?! h6 and White is forced to play 6.Nxf7 (Allgaier Gambit), which leaves him with inadequate material for the knight after 6…Kxf7.

More reasonable is 5.Ne5 (Kieseritzky Gambit); but after 5…Nf6 6.Bc4 d5! 7.exd5 Bg7 8.d4 Nh5! Black has a splendid game.

4.Bc4 (D)


Position after 4.Bc4

White aims to develop quickly, while Black hopes to maintain his extra pawn safely.

Black must be wary hereabouts. The over-anxious 4…f6?? leads to disaster after 5.Nxg5! fxg5 6.Qh5+ Ke7 7.Qf7+ Kd6 8.Qd5+ Ke7 9.Qe5#.

After 4…g4 (too hasty) 5.0-0!? gxf3 we have the famous Muzio Gambit. Then, after 6.Qxf3 White has a magnificent development in return for his sacrificed piece. Black does well to avoid this hazardous line of play. Therefore:

4…Bg7 5.0-0 d6 6.d4 h6 7.c3 Nc6 (D)


Position after 7…Nc6

Black’s sober development has given him a solid position which seems shatterproof.


Logical: he tries to break up Black’s pawn chain. Naturally Black does not oblige by replying 8…fxg3 and thus opening the f-file for White.


By attacking White’s rook, Black gains time to complete his development. The game is complicated, with approximately even chances.

(b) Cunningham’s Gambit

This line and variation are favored by modern players as being simpler and less risky than Variation (a).

King’s Gambit

White - Black

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7

There is more to this innocent looking move than meets the eye, for if 4.d4? Bh4+ and White’s king is forced to a bad square.


As usual, a developing move is best. If now 4…Bh4+ 5.Kf1 and White stands well despite the loss of castling. Black continues the policy of sound development with:


If now 5.d3 d5! with an excellent game.

5.e5 Ng4! (D)


Position after 5…Ng4!

Black’s advanced knight is well placed. For example 6.Nc3 Nc6 7.d4 d6! 8.h3? Bh4+! 9.Kf1 Nf2! and Black wins.

6.0-0 Nc6

Also good is 6…d6 7.exd6 Qxd6 and Black has a fine development with nothing to fear.

7.d4 d5

If now 8.Bd3 g5! and Black stands well.

8.exd6 Bxd6 9.Re1+ Ne7 10.h3 Nf6

Black has a splendid position, and White still has the vexing problem of recovering the gambit pawn.

(c) King’s Knight’s Gambit with 3…d5

King’s Gambit

White - Black

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.Nc3

White can now try to complicate matters with 5.Bb5+, but Black simply replies 5…c6, with a splendid game after 6.dxc6 bxc6 7.Bc4 Nd5!.

For example 8.Qe2+ Be7 9.d4 0-0 10.Bxd5 cxd5 11.Bxf4 Ba6!. Or 8.0-0 Bd6 9.Qe2+ Be6 and Black has a fine game.

5…Nxd5 6.Nxd5 Qxd5 7.d4 (D)


Position after 7.d4

White hopes to regain his pawn by 8.Bxf4, for if then 8…Qe4+ 9.Qe2 pins Black’s queen.


This sound developing move indirectly guards the gambit pawn, for if 8.Bxf4?? Qe4+ wins the bishop.

8.c4 Qe4+ 9.Kf2 Bf5 10.c5

With the powerful threat of 11.Bb5+ followed by 12.Re1.

10…Nc6! 11.Bb5 Qd5!

Prudently removing his queen from the open e-file.

12.Bxf4 0-0-0 (D)


Position after 12…0-0-0

Black has a fine game because of his pressure on White’s weak d-pawn. If now 13.Be3 Bf6! etc.

Black has escaped unscathed and has a fine game. A remarkable variation here is 14.Qa4 Be4! with this possibility: 15.Bxc6 Qxc6 16.Qxa7 Bxf3 17.gxf3 Bxd4! 18.Bxd4 Rxd4 19.Qa8+ Kd7 20.Qxh8 Qxc5! and though Black is a rook down, he has a winning attack!

(d) King’s Bishop’s Gambit

King’s Gambit

White - Black

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 (D)


Position after 3.Bc4

This opening is out of fashion as Black has easy counterplay with …Nf6 and …d5.

3…Nf6! 4.Nc3 c6!

Preparing the counter-thrust …d5!. If now 5.e5 d5! with an aggressive game for Black.


Vainly trying to stop Black’s next move. If instead 5.d4 Bb4! 6.Qf3 d5! 7.exd5 0-0! and Black is well ahead in development.

5…d5! 6.exd5 Bd6 7.d3 Bg4 8.Qf2 0-0

Black’s marked lead in development gives him much the better game. A plausible continuation to emphasize this advantage is the following:

9.Bxf4 Re8+ 10.Kf1 b5 11.Bb3 b4 12.Nce2 Nxd5 13.Bxd5 cxd5 14.Qg3 Bxe2+ 15.Nxe2 Qf6!

Black wins, his chief threat being 16…Rxe2!.

The moral of all these variations is that if Black fosters his development carefully and avoids confusing complications, he remains with much the better game.