Chess Opening Theory/1. e4/1...e5/2. f4

King's Gambit
a b c d e f g h
8a8 black rookb8 black knightc8 black bishopd8 black queene8 black kingf8 black bishopg8 black knighth8 black rook8
7a7 black pawnb7 black pawnc7 black pawnd7 black pawne7 black kingf7 black pawng7 black pawnh7 black pawn7
6a6 black kingb6 black kingc6 black kingd6 black kinge6 black kingf6 black kingg6 black kingh6 black king6
5a5 black kingb5 black kingc5 black kingd5 black kinge5 black pawnf5 black kingg5 black kingh5 black king5
4a4 black kingb4 black kingc4 black kingd4 black kinge4 white pawnf4 white pawng4 black kingh4 black king4
3a3 black kingb3 black kingc3 black kingd3 black kinge3 black kingf3 black kingg3 black kingh3 black king3
2a2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 white pawnd2 white pawne2 black kingf2 black kingg2 white pawnh2 white pawn2
1a1 white rookb1 white knightc1 white bishopd1 white queene1 white kingf1 white bishopg1 white knighth1 white rook1
a b c d e f g h

King's GambitEdit

White attacks black's pawn on e5 with their f-pawn, but the pawn on f4 is attacked and undefended. A gambit - which is not the same thing as an opening - involves a sacrifice of material (chess pieces, usually pawns) for positional gain. In this case, White seeks to tempt Black's pawn away from the centre onto f4, which would give White the freedom to play d4 and e5. The move d4 will then uncover an attack by the c1-bishop on Black's f4-pawn, and Black will have to make further non-developing moves to retain it.

Unfortunately for White, after Black accepts the gambit with

King's Gambit
 a b c d e f g h  
8        8
7        7
6        6
5        5
4        4
3        3
2        2
1        1
 a b c d e f g h  
Ouch.

White cannot yet play 3.d4. This is because the move 2.f4 also weakens the e1-h4 diagonal, and 2...exf4 weakens it further by controlling the g3 square. Black can therefore respond with 3...Qh4+! and since White cannot play 4. g3 due to the Black pawn on f4, White's king is forced out to the second rank in the opening, leaving Black with a better position (diagram left). 2...exf4 is considered best in high-level chess, but Black must defend accurately.

It's also possible for Black to decline the gambit.

  • 2...Bc5 is the usual way of doing so, taking advantage of the fact that Black's e-pawn isn't really threatened (3.fxe5? gets hit by 3...Qh4+! again). Black makes sure that White won't be able to play d4 or to castle kingside without going to some considerable effort to shift the bishop from its new diagonal.
  • 2...d5 gives the position a different flavour. Normally Black only manages to get in one of the moves ...e5 and ...d5 this early in the opening, but since 2.f4 did nothing to prevent ...d5, why not play it now? Since it attacks the undefended e-pawn, Black will still get to take one of White's pawns if she wants to.
  • Black could also reasonably play 2...Nc6, a variation that is rarely explored.

Theory tableEdit

For explanation of theory tables, see theory table and for notation, see algebraic notation.

1.e4 e5 2.f4

2 3 4 5 6 7
King's Gambit Accepted f4
exf4
Nf3
g5
h4
g4
Ne5
Nf6
d4
d6
Nd3
Nxe4
King's Gambit Declined ...
Bc5
Nf3
d6
Nc3
Nf6
Bc4
Nc6
d3
Bg4
Na4
O-O
+/=
Falkbeer Countergambit ...
d5
exd5
c6
Nc3
exf4
Nf3
Bd6
d4
Ne7
Bc4
O-O
+/=
King's Gambit Declined ...
d6
Nf3
 
+/=
...
Nc6
Nf3
f5
exf5
e4
Ne5
Nf6
d3
Qe7
dxe4
Nxe4
Panteldakis Countergambit ...
f5
exf5
 
+/=
Norwalde Variation ...
Qf6?!
+/=
Keene Defence ...
Qh4+?!
g3
Qe7
+/=

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ReferencesEdit

  • Nunn's Chess Openings. 1999. John Nunn (Editor), Graham Burgess, John Emms, Joe Gallagher. ISBN 1-8574-4221-0.