Chess gambits are an exciting way to play chess. A gambit in chess means a situation where a player gives up some material in the opening to seek compensation. This compensation may be a huge lead in development or a devastating attack that leads to significant material loss for the other side or even ends in checkmate.
Understanding what chess gambits are and how to identify them will significantly improve your chess game.
This article will examine 10 excellent gambits you can add to your chess arsenal.
10. Schliemann Gambit
The Schliemann gambit is a gambit for black that is derived from the Ruy Lopez opening that starts with 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc6 Bb5.
Usually, in the Ruy Lopez, black looks to play a6 (Morphy defense) or Nf6 (Berlin Defense).
However, in the Schliemann gambit, black plays the unexpected f5, which throws the white player off guard as they would not expect f5 to be played. The sequence then continues with white playing e×f5, and black then replies with e4, attacking the knight and limiting its available spaces as both the g4 and g6 squares the knight could go to are already protected by the queen.
White would have to retreat the knight to g6, giving the black a chance to dominate the game. So, if you struggle with black when playing against the Ruy Lopez opening, you should try out the Schliemann gambit.
9. Tennison Gambit
The Tennison gambit starts with 1. e4 by white, and black replies with d5, going for the Scandinavian Defense. By playing d5, black expects white to either capture the d5 pawn or advance the e4 pawn, but this is where the Tennison gambit comes into play. White plays Nf3 and black captures the e4 pawn. The sequence continues with black playing Nf6, developing a piece, and defending the e4 pawn.
White will then play d3, offering another pawn to black. Black captures the pawn with e×d3, and white responds with B×d3. At this point, black starts to get uncomfortable having the knight so close to his camp, and he plays h6 to chase away the knight.White then sacrifices the knight with N×f7 and black replies with K×f7. White then plays the crushing Bg6+, and no matter how black replies, their queen will be captured on the next move.
8. Halloween Gambit
The Halloween Gambit is one that attacking players will enjoy. It starts with 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6.
White then plays the shocking N×e5, sacrificing the knight for a pawn. After black accepts the sacrifice with N×e5, white starts the attack with a d4 push. The black knight retreats to c6, and white attacks again with d5. The knight returns to e5, and white launches another attack with f4. The Knight cannot go back to c6, so Ng6 is played.
White keeps true to the ways of this gambit by playing e5, chasing the knight the way back to g8. From here, although black has the material advantage, white dictates the game’s flow and can quickly develop pieces to start an attack on the black king.
7. Colorado Gambit
The Colorado Gambit starts with 1.Nf3 Nc6. From here, white plays e4 and black replies f5, hitting white from the flank. If white decides to capture, black then plays d5, opening an attack from the light square bishop to the undefended white pawn.
If white does not capture, black can easily capture the e4 pawn. If, on the other hand, white decides to advance the pawn with e5, then he loses his center control, and black can easily attack the over-extended e5 pawn.
The Colorado Gambit is an excellent way for black to counter whites’ center control early on in the game.
6. Steinitz Gambit
The Steinitz Gambit, named after the first official world champion Wilhelm Steinitz, starts with 1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6. The fun begins when white plays f4 on his next move. Black captures with e×f4, and white completely disregards the capture and plays d4. With d4, white completely controls the center. Black thinks they’ve seen an opportunity to attack and immediately jump in with Qh4+. The king moves to h2 (this is the best move in the position)
After this move, it looks like white is worse cause castling is off the books. However, the awkward placement of the black queen will allow white rapidly develop their pieces and gain a variety of attacking options in exchange for forfeiting castling privileges.
5. Smith-Morra Gambit
The Smith-Morra gambit is a gambit for white that is derived from the Sicilian opening. It starts with the moves 1.e4 by white and c5 by black.
White then offers the d4 pawn to black. Black captures with c×d4. White then offers another pawn by playing a3. After black takes, white can either choose to capture with the knight by playing N×c3 or play an even sharper line of the Smith-Morra by opting for bc4, giving up the b3 pawn for quick development of both bishops.
The Smith-Morra gambit is perfect for a very attack-minded player.
4. Danish Gambit
The Danish gambit is a gambit only the most daring of attacking players would try. It features a two-pawn sacrifice to gain rapid development and a possible devastating attack.
The Danish gambit starts with a calm 1. e4 e5. White then offers the first pawn, the d4 pawn, and black captures with e×d4. White offers another pawn with c3. This move initiates the Danish gambit.
Black continues with d×c3. White still disregards the black pawn and plays Bc4. Black continues with c×b2, and white plays B×b2. From this position, although white is down two pawns, the two bishops are directly eyeing the black king, and if black is not careful, they might find themselves losing a lot of material very quickly or even getting checkmated.
3. Englund Gambit
The Englund Gambit starts with 1. d4 by white, to which black replies e4, sacrificing the e5 pawn. White captures with d×e5, black attacks the pawn with Nc6, and white defends with Nf3. Black then increases the pressure with Qg7, baiting white to defend the pawn further.
White accepts the challenge and plays Bf4. From here, black plays Qb4+, checking the king and attacking the undefended bishop on f4. White plays Bd2 to parry both threats. Q×b2 follows, with black threatening to capture the rook. White now has to find the correct Nc3 move, or they will suffer substantial material loss or even checkmate.
The Englund gambit is a high-risk, high-reward gambit that you can destroy your opponent with if they aren’t familiar with the lines.
2. Evans Gambit
The Evans Gambit stems from the Italian game.
It is a very aggressive line that leads to an open game where white gets a lot of attacking opportunities.
The Evans gambit starts out with 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4The move b4, signifies the start of the Evans gambit. If black accepts the b4 pawn, white gets the license to start launching attacks on black’s position.
If a black player doesn’t carefully analyze the game, they will very quickly get into a bad position and suffer huge material loss or even lose the game.
The Evans gambit also enjoys use at the highest level (maybe not the world chess championship), as a lot of top-level players employ the Evans gambit in their games.
1. King’s Gambit
The King’s Gambit is a popular Gambit that goes way back in chess history. It starts with the moves e4 e5, f4.
The objective in the King’s Gambit after the move f4 by white is to gain immediate and quick control of the center squares while opening up lines for rapid development.
The King’s gambit has a variety of sharp variations and is one of the gambits that high-level players have regularly used. It has even been featured in a world chess championship match between Bobby Fischer and Borris Spassky.
Finally, I we wouldn’t advise you to use these gambits in a top level game or against an opponent with a 2200 FIDE rating.