Sunday, September 29, 2019

Chess960: The search for good opening gambits

I've always been interested in chess960 pawn gambits. At one time a few years ago I became negative that there were too few opening gambits available to be creative with for a few reasons including the problem of black playing symmetrically. After all a good opening gambit needs to trade pawn material for ongoing initiative or at least an ongoing development edge in the race to enter the middle game first. But in Chess960 there is also a bigger priority to increase piece harmony instead of giving material early. In standard chess, the pieces are already in harmony from the start and so opening gambits become more attractive.

I think Hikaru Nakamura is hunting for a good gambit line too and I hope over the coming years he finds plenty of them! Meanwhile I found one of my own and I could well be the first person in the history of chess to have found it (yeah for me).

SP158 white to move:
Find a good follow up move to the gambit
(note the break in symmetry so early)


Normally we don't like to move the queen early from our standard chess principals. But here she occupies a square that cannot be cheaply attacked. 

Even better, there is not a single reply black can make to protect the f4 pawn that doesn't either restrict development or risk a serious weakening of the pawn structure.

Candidate moves for black:
  • 3...Qf3?! {blocks the g8 bishop}
  • 3....g5?  {mistake because of Bd4 incoming}
  • 3...Qg5?! {but now white has Ne2 incoming}
  • 3...Bd6?! {blocks the c8 knight and the d7 pawn}
  • 3...c5?!  {ignoring the pawn but controlling d4}
    4.Nab3...Qc7 {white's bishops will be better}
So black really does get compensation. This is a good opening gambit line.


Enjoy 960.

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