The King’s gambit is classified under the Open games opening categories characterized by an e4 pawn push. The opening creates one of the most aggressive games on the board with fierce exchanges and battles in the center of the board.
The maneuver involves a pawn sacrifice aimed to set a scene for a battle for colonization of the central squares. In the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings, the Kings’s gambit is covered under volume C and numbered from C30 to C39.
Legend of King’s Gambit
Legend has it that the gambit was first played in the latter years of the 15th century and was covered in one of chess’s oldest printed books Repetición de Amores y Arte de Ajedrez con CL  Juegos de Partido (“Repetition of Love and the Art of Playing Chess with 150 Games”) written by Luis Ramírez de Lucena and published in Salamanca around 1497.
Several players including the famous Italian chess theorist and player Giulio Cesare Polerio unpacked the game and help develop exciting ideas around the opening.
The popularity of the game grew well into the 19th century in line with a surge in e4 opening picked up after the second World War thanks to David Bronstein and former World Champion Boris Spassky who used it his 1961 famous win against the American Grandmaster, Bobby Fischer.
Some of the greatest and most famous chess games ever have been played in this opening, such as the “Immortal Game” between Anderssen and Kieseritzky. The opening has also seen giants play, slay and fall before it. Magnus Calsen has used it his blitz games. Morozevich has once crushed the famous Anand, and if Nakamura outplayed Adams with the opening,
How it’s played
White sacrifices a pawn by playing 1.e4 e5 2.f4. First, White must move the King’s pawn two squares (1. e4).Then, Black’s reply should be to move his King’s pawn two squares as well (1…e5).In return, White sacrifices a pawn by moving his f-pawn two squares (2.f4)
The idea behind the King’s Gambit is: White sacrifices a pawn to get counterplay and an advantage in development with the main aim being to control proceedings in the center of the park while creating more room for development of major pieces.
The f file is also opened and quickly become a safe passage for white’s rook after completion of castling. It must be noted that black may or may not accept the pawn sacrifice, and this changes the character of the game.
Four Main Variations
The King’s Gambit can be divided into four major variations, depending on Black’s options
- King’s Gambit Accepted: Classical Variation
Where Black plays g5 to protect the pawn on f4. This opening runs into a lot of issues for Black since White can get his Knight to e5 and force Black’s pawns to over advance.
- King’s Gambit Accepted: Fischer Defense
Black first takes away the e5 square from the White Knight. Then proceeds to protect the f4 pawn with his g pawn. This variation prevents Black from dealing with a lot of headaches when White’s Knight gets on the e5 square.
- King’s Gambit Accepted: Bishop’s Variation
Bishop’s Variation, White develops the Bishop instead of the Knight. The idea is: White is okay with losing the right to castle since he will be up in development by two pieces over Black.
- King’s Gambit Declined
Black decides not to accept White’s sacrifice.He will try to exploit the fact that playing f4 weakens the King, by playing moves like Bc5 (to prevent White from castling) or immediately open up lines for attack by playing d5.
Why the gambit Should be considered
The King’s Gambit is a very surprising opening. Most players often have no repertoire against the King’s Gambit which gives you a huge advantage. The King’s Gambit is a very forcing and sharp opening.
The King’s Gambit is an opening that will sharpen your tactical eye. If you are a materialistic or positional chess player, playing the King’s Gambit helps you to develop a more universal style – a key component if you want to become a very strong player. In the opening, you often sacrifice material and play with compensation.
A regular playing of the King’s Gambit ensures that a lot of experience is gained in dealing with difficult positions. The King’s Gambit not only helps a player to steer away from mainstream theory but the King’s Gambit also definitely carries a lot of theoretical bite in many lines. It is a common occurrence that most intermediate players try to develop naturally against the King’s Gambit and soon find themselves in a tactically lost position.
The King’s Gambit is a lot of fun, try it.