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 Polerio Gambit is the Main Line of the King's Gambit Accepted. White has two major options when Black accepts the King's Gambit. They are 3.Nf3 and 3.Bc4. 3.Nf3 is the most popular of these two.
The Main Line continues 3...g5. Black also plays moves like 3...d6, 3...d5, 3...Be7, 3...Nf6 or 3...Nc6. 3...g5 is the most popular though as Black shores up his strong point on f4.
White continues with 3.Bc4 and the game has entered the Polerio Gambit. This is the trunk of the King's Gambit and has been thoroughly analyzed. The Polerio is the embodiment of all the main ideas in the King's Gambit.
The Muzio Gambit is the Main Line in the Polerio Gambit. It comes about after 4...g4 5.0-0. This favorite of Morphy's contains all of the hallmarks of Kingside attacking play. Open f-file, Bishop on c4, Knight to f3 poised for e5 or g5. Short castling with the Queen waiting to find herself on f3 or h5.
The square f7 is the focus of all your attention and the piece sacrifice is the means you will use to get there before Black can castle to relative safety. Black most often plays 3...g5 to hold his f4 strong point.
Very often 4.Bc4 is answered by 4...g4 threatening the Knight. Now the Muzio clicks into gear as you calmly give up your Knight by simply castling. This is a price worth paying for the big development lead and attacking opportunities against Black's ruptured Kingside.
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 you 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 Triple-Muzio Gambit sees you bring the Muzio game plan to it's fullest and logical conclusion. For a pawn and two pieces, you get a massive lead in development and a ferocious attack against Black's stranded King.
The game will come down to your ability force mistakes from Black due to enormous pressure exacted against his King. Only his King and Queen are in play, your forces are almost all in the fight. Furthermore, they are trained on the main target.
The Wild Muzio Gambit is an aptly named member of the Muzio family. It is also known as the Lolli Gambit. After the well trodden path 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 is played out you can do a number of things as White.
You have a number of moves in this position. The most popular by far is to sac the Knight with 5.0-0. 5.Ne5 is also commonly played.
The Wild Muzio (5.Bxf7) is perhaps the most interesting of the remaining options. This is a move which comes a little later in the Double Muzio. After 5...Kxf7 6.Ne5+ Ke8, you can continue with 7.Qxg4 Nf6 8.Qxf4 and a very good game.
The Ghulam-Khassim Gambit is another one similar to the Muzio idea of giving up the Knight for time, space and open lines. You go a piece down and in exchange your development is almost complete even as Black is just starting.
His King is central and unsafe while yours is tucked away in the corner. His Kingside is ruptured so there is no obvious way to solve the problem of his King.
You will attack swiftly, combining deadly threats with each developing move. This will serve to paralyze any hopes he has of developing and getting a foothold in the game. You will want to end things fast or force an overwhelming loss of material on your opponent.
The McDonnell Gambit is a cousin of the Muzios. Again the f3-Knight is offered to the g4-pawn as you play the developing move 3.Nc3. The recapture brings the Queen on to the open f-file. Your attack is in full flow after the short castle and a further Bishop sacrifice on f7.
This is an opening very indicative of McDonnell's playing style. Many of the games in the database played from this position are decorated with imaginative tactical variations.
Not least the games played by McDonnell himself. He and De Labourdonnais in particular demonstrate how to play great chess with material imbalances on the board.
The Salvio Gambit is similar to the Kieseritzky Gambit. There is one significant difference though. You play 4.Bc4 in place of 4.h4 as in the Kieseritzky. This little change has a huge effect as it allows Black's main reply to the Salvio.
Now Black can play 5...Qh4+. Black will try to use his Queen and two dangerous advanced pawns to cause trouble. You should have enough resources to hold him off and at the same time launch attacks of your own.
Black may sometimes try the more conservative 5...Nh6. You may have to deal with a more defensive opponent. Of course ...Qh4+ is coming soon, it's just a matter of when. Black scores well in this variation. Some clever tricks can be found here.
The Philidor Gambit, not to be confused with the Philidor Countergambit from the Philidor Defense, is a challenge to the g5-pawn. You are trying to undermine Black's strong point on f4.
The most common reply from Black is to shore up g5 with the move 5...h6. He is not worried about exchanging on g5 as his g7-Bishop is defending his Rook.
By playing 5.h4 you are indicating a willingness to compromise the integrity of your King's fortress in order to put a strong attack into place against the enemy.
In many of the games White's Kingside does indeed become flimsy but his King proves agile. He can get across to the other wing without too much danger. What this option does give you is a fearsome center that can be the platform to a decisive incursion into Black's camp.
The Hanstein Gambit is an idea you can use with the Black pieces to stem the attacking flow of White's King's Gambit. It's tempting after 3...g5 to continue later with ...g4, pressurizing the Knight.
This ploy is seen repeatedly in the various guises of the Muzio Gambits. However you can play a more solid system if the razor-sharp tactics are not what you're looking for.
4...Bg7 with a later ...h6 in mind gives you a semi-permanent pressure on the Kingside. You can even castle behind this formation and with clever piece play, defend the holes adequately. If you want a more secure King it is also possible to castle Queenside.
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 Kieseritzky Gambit, Allgaier Gambit and Three Pawns Gambit among others.