Kings Gambit chess brings you on a wild ride full of intense tactical calculations. A gambit that itself contains more than 30 gambits in it's interior. A whole family of gambits distinct from other gambits.
In previous times the King's Gambit was one of the most important openings in chess. It enjoyed this status from the 1500s right through to 1900. It was at it's height in the 19th Century during the Romantic Era.
Then sacrificial chess with it's glittering combinations were the staple diet of the great masters. But suddenly everything changed. In the late 19th Century and throughout the 20th, positional chess became the norm.
This put paid to the King's Gambit at the top table. The ocean of theory that was amassed during it's heyday survives though. It contains ideas that can win many games for us amateurs.
The King's Gambit is a risky but aggressive opening salvo for White. While it compromises White's Kingside somewhat, it offers exciting attacking options. The result usually goes to whoever plays the stronger game.
Philidor claimed that this play does not offer either side any inherently decisive advantage. It later fell out of favor at the highest level with players such as Tarrasch and Fischer rubbishing it.
It is used only sparingly between masters probably because those players know all of it's possible lines inside out from both sides. But it is a good weapon to have in your arsenal down at the club. You will most likely be confronted with it from time to time when you are playing with Black. As White you can spring it on an unprepared opponent.
The Allgaier Gambit shows some of the many interesting ideas in the King's Gambit. After 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.h4 g4 5.Ng5 you've got the position shown in the diagram.
You can expect Black to play 5...h6 trapping the Knight. So why play the Allgaier with 5.Ng5 in the first place? What, apart from the f7-pawn, do you get for the sacrificed Knight?
You strip the Black King of his castling rights. He is now stuck out on a broken and open Kingside. And you have the means to maintain your development lead. Your next move after 6.Nxf7 Kxf7 will be one of four main options. You can go with 7.Qxg4, 7.Bc4+, 7.Nc3 or 7.d4. The Chess Czar gives a nice demonstration.
The Blackburne Gambit is a good variation of the Allgaier for White. You've given up your Knight. Black's Kingside is open. He has lost his castling rights. You've got to get to him before his Queenside pieces get into the game.
This could mean 7.Qxg4 straight away with the threat of Qxf4+. 7.Bxc4+ also looks juicy. But why castle on the Kingside where your King could be moving into the eye of a storm? You have time to develop your Queenside and to give yourself a long term advantage in King safety.
7.Nc3 followed by the entry into the game of the dark square Bishop and Queen prepare for long castling. After that the exposed Black King will feel the full force of your entire army.
The Cunningham Defense begins with the interesting 3...Be7. This move puts heavy pressure on h4. As White you may feel the urge to castle Kingside at all costs. 3...Be7 will therefore furrow the brow of many an amateur. Yes ...Bh4+ Nxh4 ...Qxh4+ is intended.
You must resist the temptation to make a positional or material sacrifice to castle. 4.Bc4 Bh4+ 5.Nxh4 Qxh4+ Kf1 is perfectly fine for White. It's true your King is still in the center and your Rook is hemmed in. Black's attack is harmless however and you have a minor piece in play.
The Bertin Gambit or Three Pawns Gambit is a crazy line of the Cunningham Defense. It runs 4.Bc4 Bh4+ 5.g3 fxg3 6.O-O gxh2+ 7.Kh1. The resulting position is almost identical to the Four Pawns Gambit in the Bishop's Opening and play is very similar.
Your King is out in the open but you have good defensive resources. Believe it or not your lead in development gives you the better of the position.
The Bertin Gambit or Three Pawns Gambit is a counter-intuitive way to deal with Black's annoying pressure on h4 after 3...Be7. Black usually plays this move to gain control of h4 and stop your natural Kingside development.
He is threatening to do this by 4.Bc4 Bh4+ trading this Bishop for your defensive Knight on f3. After 5.Nxh4 Qxh4 you must play 6.Kf1 or 6.Ke2 and your King is stuck in the center. While this is playable it is not what every player dreams of when he chooses the King's Gambit.
You can answer 4...Bh4+ with 5.g3 fxg3 6.O-O gxh2+ 7.Kh1. You castle anyway and get your Rook centralized for 3 pawns. Black's 7th rank pawn is actually providing cover for your otherwise open King. You've developed your whole Kingside and Black has only one piece in play.
The Bishop's Gambit is available by way of 3.Bc4. This looks a little surprising maybe. It seems like your top priorities should be to win back the pawn and keep the Black Queen out of h4. This you would achieve in the Main Line with 3.Nf3.
And yet some people say 3.Bc4 is the better move. Sure after 3...Qh4+ you lose your castling rights but this is not a dangerous line for you. Your King remains quite safe on f1 and the Black Queen often becomes a target. Eventually your King will get to g2 and you will have a harmonious set-up.
3...Qh4+ is not so popular for these reasons. There are two main responses from Black. The old Main Line is 3...d5. This has been replaced more recently by 3...Nc6. GM Simon Williams gives a great overview on the Bishop's Gambit.
The Breyer Gambit sees you play 3.Qf3 when Black accepts the King's Gambit. It might seem strange developing the Queen so early. And what's more to a square your King's Knight is rather fond of. What are you trying to do with this move?
Your Queen is there to strengthen the long diagonal. Black can play 3...Nc6, 3...d5 or 3...Qh4+ in response. Richard Reti used this opening a number of times a century ago. His opponents tended to favor 3...d5. Reti would go for 4.Bb5+ Nf6 5.exd5 with pressure on the long diagonal.
Recent master games show 3...Qh4+ is more popular now. This is answered by 4.g3 and in the following skirmishes the Queens tend to come off early. These days White struggles to obtain a lasting advantage at master level but you can use it to good effect.
After 4...g4 you have three main choices. You can go with the Allgaier which is 5.Ng5 or the Muzio which is 5.0-0. Another popular way to play is the Kieseritzky Gambit. You enter this line with 5.Ne5.
The centralized Knight again puts pressure on f7 along with the g5-pawn. Black must act quickly before you overwhelm him. Your Bishop will go to c4 and turn up the pressure.
Black has counterplay too in this double-edged opening. His two advanced pawns on the Kingside, though vulnerable, are dangerous. Both players must tread carefully through a jungle of sharp variations.
The Bryan Countergambit is an option for you when you have the Black pieces. The whole point of this move is to drag White's light square Bishop out of position. Then you will attack the White Kingside with ferocity.
Your light square Bishop can go to b7 with tempo. Your Queen and King's Knight will make tactical trouble for White's King. You can often make it really difficult for White to castle.
Black scored heavily with this system in the 1850s with Morphy, Anderssen and Kieseritzky among those who enjoyed success with it. It has failed miserably in it's brief appearances modern chess however. Black has repeatedly lost against inferior players. For all of that, if it could shine in the Romantic Era, it has a future in amateur chess.
The Charousek Gambit is reached when you sacrifice your d-pawn with 6.Qe2. When Black takes with 6...Qxd5 you play for a lead in development by 7.Nc3 trying to steal a tempo from the Queen. Black will respond with 7...Bb4 pinning the Knight.
A tactical arm wrestle will follow with you trying to prove that your sacrifice was justified. Black will try to show that it wasn't. The Queens are often exchanged and the game can evolve into a tense positional affair.
This opening has been seen fairly regularly at 2000 and above level in the last 20 years. Black's best bet is to accept the gambit where White still wins almost half the time. Any other move has not been successful for Black.
You sacrifice a Knight on f3 in the Muzio Gambit after 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.O-O gxf3 6.Qxf3 to gain a strong initiative. The Double-Muzio Gambit comes into play after 6...Qf6 7.e5 Qxe5 8.Bxf7+ when a second piece is sacrificed.
The situation is clear. You have now gained a powerful attack against the misplaced King. You can bring your remaining pieces into the game with tempi gained against the Black Queen and f-pawn.
You will also take full advantage of the x-ray attack of the Queen and Rook battery against Black's stranded King. You must attack swiftly and accurately to ensnare your target before Black has a chance to get his extra pieces into the game. Clearly if he were to survive long enough to do this you would be sunk.
The King's Gambit shows promise of fighting chess on the road to the Black King's stronghold. The squares f7 and h7 are the targets for entry to the citadel.
The Rook on the open f-file, the c4-Bishop, the f3-Knight and the Queen on the d1-h5 diagonal feature again and again. Recognizable patterns and tactical motifs are ever present in the works.
You've had a taste of the King's Gambit and it's sacrificial possibilities. And yet we're only getting started. More gambits lurk in it's halls and corridors. Famous lines in their own right like the Falkbeer Countergambit, Kieseritzky Gambit and Muzio Gambit among others.