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   Play with Pawns

Five-hundred years ago chess was different. Pawns didn't cost as much as they do today. The best players started games with the gambits; pawns were only a small price to pay in order to open a file or a diagonal, or to create an immediate attack on the opponent's king. It was the so-called 'Italian style': all positions of the King's Gambit were very popular . But later on the best chess player of his days, Francois Andre Danican-Philidor - whose published chess strategy stood for a hundred years without significant addition or modification -preached the value of a strong pawn center, an understanding of the relative value of the pieces, and correct pawn formations. We still remember his motto, "Pawns are the soul of chess." Today we know that Chess game owes its extraordinary strategic depth to pawns. These only apparently humble pieces can take on many roles in the chess struggle. They can be blockers, battering-rams, self-sacrificing heroes, and can even be promoted to the rank of Royalty. Grandmaster Boris Alterman in his new series of lectures describes the rules and principles of playing with your pawns.

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   'Good and 'Bad' Bishops

Capablanca said: " When your opponent has a bishop you usually have to put your pawns on the squares with the same color of this bishop's square. On the contrary, when you have a bishop, you have to put your pawns on the squares of the opposite color of the bishop's squares, no matter if your opponent has a bishop or not." If most of your pawns (particularly the central pawns) are on the same color squares as one of your bishops, that bishop is considered a "bad" bishop. Similarly, a bishop that does not share the same squares color as most of your pawns is considered a "good" bishop. Why is that so? Because this 'color configuration' allows the player to control squares of both colors; allows the bishop to move freely among the pawns, and helps fix enemy pawns on squares on which they can be attacked by the bishop. Such a bishop is often referred to as a "good" bishop. Good bishops are often more advantageous than bad ones. Good bishops have more freedom of movement, and control squares that their allied pawns cannot. On the other hand, "bad" bishops can sometimes be useful, as they and their pawns can defend each other. Even when most of your pawns (particularly the central pawns) are on the same color squares as one of your bishops and your bishop is outside of its pawn chain, that is an active bishop! Active bishops have greater freedom and are generally better placed than those still trapped inside the pawn chain. In summary : Bishops can be classified as "good" or "bad" based on their relationship with their pawns. A bishop whose movements are cramped by its own pawns is a "bad" bishop. A bishop having freedom of movement along squares of a different color than those on which its own pawns stand, is a "good" bishop. A "good" bishop defends a number of squares against incursions by opponent's pieces. A "bad" bishop is entrapped in its own camp. Don't miss this interesting new series , where you will learn how to avoid bad bishops and how to improve your bishops activity !

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   Bishop Pair advantage

Bishop Pair advantage: from simple tactics to mastering the endgame. Most chess players know, thank to the study of master games, that two bishops are stronger than two knights or than bishop and knight. However, very few know the reasons of this advantage and how to turn it into account. There are many situations where pieces of similar stature perform differently. The Bishop is a long-range piece and its advantage over the Knight is mostly seen in open and sometimes semi-open positions. In the endgame, the Bishop pair is particularly superior in positions with pawns on both sides of the board. Placed in the center of a board, a Bishop can simply cover more squares than a Knight. A Bishop may perform both attacking and defending functions, while being far away from a target. The main rule you always have to remember: the Bishop Pair is a serious advantage (especially in endgame). If you the bishop pair, try to open the position. And if your opponent has it, try to close the position. GM Alterman's new series of lectures will help us study tactical combinations, middle game plans , endgame technique and ways to realize positional advantages thanks to the "Bishop Pair".

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   Exploiting OPEN FILES

One of the things that Steinitz made clear was the importance of controlling the open file: "Move your  rook to an open file! Controlling an open file is one of those little positional advantages which could decide the whole game". Rooks are more powerful on open files and often this factor decides the outcome of a game. This is because the side that controls the file has a natural invasion route for their pieces down the file... A common strategic objective for a rook or queen on an open file is to reach its seventh or eighth rank (or for Black, its second or first rank). As we already studied , controlling the seventh rank (or second rank for Black) is generally worth at least a pawn, as most of the opponent's pawns will usually reside there. Aaron Nimzowitsch , writing in his famous book "My System" said that the main objective of a rook or queen on an open file is "the eventual occupation of the 7th or 8th rank". However, seizing an open file is not easy, as your opponent can try to trade off the heavy pieces or take control over 7th and 8th rank, preventing your rooks from reaching those targets. Control in this instance means the ability to keep your opponent from trading off the heavy pieces, and leaving the file under your control. Typically, this is done through doubling the rooks on the open file, and in some cases, “tripling” on the file with your Queen. This can have the effect of forcing your opponent into “passive” defense, since if the rooks are able to penetrate to the seventh rank, the attack or the transition into the end game will almost always be favorable for you and result in a won game.

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   The Positional sacrifice

When we sacrifice tactically - we usually want to get immediate advantages, like winning material back or reaching a mating attack against our opponent's King. The positional sacrifices have a different nature - they are real. By giving up a pawn, a piece or an exchange, we look for some compensation in the form of more active pieces, controlling key squares, open files, initiative, development advantage or opportunity of attack. A disadvantage of positional sacrifices is that there is no forced win and there are many possibilities and continuations, so the defender can suddenly spring a surprise and even hold on to the material advantage and win the game. That's why before a positional sacrifice you have to evaluate precisely many factors, giving yourself the opportunity to keep successfully a long term compensation. Positional sacrifice is always risky. Sacrifice only when you believe in yourself : even a correct sacrifice could become a wrong one if you step back in a decisive moment. In this new series of lectures with GM Boris we will study the most common positional sacrifices: pawn sacrifice, exchange sacrifice, piece positional sacrifice; and also the less common ones, like Rook and Queen positional sacrifices. Don't miss this new and interesting series of GM Alterman's weekly show "Learn How to Win with GM Boris!

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   Queenside Attack

When both opponents castle short side , and both Kings are safe , an interesting  alternative to the classic Kingside operations is a Queenside attack. Goals of a Queenside attack are far less obvious that those of the Kingside's. We try to create a weakness , strong outposts for our pieces or achieve a  long term pressure over the opponents position. To help you master the Queenside attack, in this new series GM Boris Alterman goes through the main principles and the typical plans : Queen side pawns majority and ways to use it, Minority Attack , Queens side positional pressure, and more... Don't miss this new and interesting series of GM Alterman's weekly show "Learn How to Win with GM Boris!"

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   Space Advantage

In this new series, GM Boris Alterman focuses his attention on a very important concept in chess: space advantage. A space advantage simply refers to the possession of more squares than your opponent. Other things being equal, the side that controls more space on the board has an advantage. More space means more options, which can be exploited both tactically and strategically. The easiest way to gain space is to push the pawn skeleton forward. Capablanca said: If you have advantage in space avoid exchanges, which can lead to exemption of the play. When you have advantage in space your opponent’s figures choke of the lack of space and fetter in maneuvers. That is the reason why you should avoid exchanges in such situation. Every exchange should be motivated; it means it should bring some positional or tactical dividends. When you have lack of space, try to exchange pieces to give your forces more room for maneuvering. Be careful not to over-stretch your pawns structure, though! If the opponent succeeds in getting a protected square behind enemy lines, this strong outpost can become a serious problem for you. When you have a space advantage you can move pieces fast from one flank to another to create weaknesses . Opponent's pieces which have limited space hardly could be transferred back fast enough to defend a new weakness. Don't miss this new and instructive series of GM Alterman's weekly Chess.FM show "Learn How to Win with GM Boris!"

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   Strong Outpost

Many amateurs play for mate or for the win of material; however, many fail to recognize the importance of squares. Seizing squares is just as important as taking pawns, or getting a lead in development, or getting a better minor piece, etc.
Weak squares are those which cannot be defended by a pawn. These weak squares are thus open to occupation by an enemy piece. A square that cannot be defended by a pawn is often called a "HOLE". Such a square makes excellent home for a piece, because the piece cannot be chased away by opponent's pawn. From the attacking perspective we call it "outpost" for our forces. Outpost: A square that supports a piece, protected by a pawn, which cannot be attacked by an enemy pawns. Outposts are a favorable position from which we can launch an attack, particularly using a knight. Knights are most efficient when they are close to the enemy's stronghold.  One of the primary strategies of chess is securing strong outposts to your pieces. GM Boris, in this new and interesting series, teaches us how to create and use a strong outpost. Don't miss this new, interesting series!

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   The Art of Defense.

Everybody loves to attack, put pressure on the opponent, sacrifice lots of material and win brilliantly. But, what do we have on the other side? Forget about being a strong chess player if you don’t know how to defend properly and efficiently. Defense is an essential part of chess, just like attack. Rather than being afraid of it, you should try to treat it as an interesting opportunity. Sometimes "the best defense is a good offense". Obviously, there are different defensive scenarios. For example, one thing is to defend a solid position from dubious attacks, but having to fight back in an inferior position is much harder.

GM Boris, in this new series, illustrates the fundamental principles to learn how to defend in chess:

  • Don't panic! Reassess the position and look calmly for the best continuations;
  • Stay focused. Try to guess what's your opponents most dangerous threat;
  • Look for tactics, sometimes this is the only way to avoid immediate disaster;
  • Try not to weaken your position when you are under pressure: look for your own counter-play;
  • If you get a chance, trade off your opponents active pieces and get rid of the most dangerous threats.

Don't miss this new, interesting series!

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   Opposite Side Castling Attack 

GM Boris continues his chess course with a strategic approach to one of the important themes of the game: Opposite Side Castling Attack.
Often in the game opponents castle their Kings in different directions. Playing with opposite castling is fundamentally different from one-side castling. When we castle on the same flank, we mainly develop our attack with the help of pieces: pawns are rarely involved in this case. It is quite different when we castle opposite way: here the attacker could push his pawns forward. Such a pawn storm with the opposite castling is the typical strategy:  the pawns are "cheap" chess material, and is most advantageous to use them in order to destroy the enemy's position; even when we have to sacrifice pawns, that is done to achieve open files for our heavy pieces.
Here a few simple principles to remember :

  • Attack will be successful when your storming pawns help you get the initiative, and force your opponent into following the defending strategy instead of counterattacking.
  • Planning your pawn storm, you must take into account two important factors :control over the center and pieces development. The attack won't be successful without our pieces fast mobilization.
  • Try to open files against your opponent's King rapidly, using the weak spots in your opponent's position.
  • If your pieces are far away from attacking the opponent's king, then try to bring them as close as possible to the position of the enemy king's, so that they can effectively use the results of the assault and the breakout.

These are, of course, the main and general principles to follow. Each position has its own specific characteristics, but these considerations may help with solving problems arising during the struggle.

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   Learn how to Win with GM Boris

In the first series of his new show, “Learn how to Win with GM Boris!”, GM Alterman illustrates the power of passed pawns. As the great Aron Nimzowitsch said: "A passed pawn is a criminal which should be kept under lock and key. Mild measures, such as police surveillance, are not sufficient."

GM Boris begins with the simplest positions, eventually tackling the most complicated ones revealing, with his easy to understand method, how to take advantage of passed pawns.

The main topics that GM Boris shares in his new course are:

  • Passed pawns should be advanced as rapidly as possible
  • Passed pawns are an advantage because an opponent's piece must block them
  • The closer to the 8th rank, the better! Chess players say that a pawn on the 6th rank might be worth a piece, and a pawn on the 7th rank sometimes is worth a whole rook!

This is the motto, when understanding how important passed pawns are:

  • When you start calculating  in a position with a passed pawn - first
  • Look for a move which pushes the “criminal” forward!
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   Rook on the 7th Rank

After the pawns, let’s deal with the rooks! In a new 6-video series of his show “Learn how to Win with GM Boris!”, Alterman  teaches us how to use the rooks at their best potential. The course focuses on the following topics:

  • The rook is one of the most powerful pieces on the chess board, and to express its power usually needs to be placed on an open file.
  • It’s always worth placing a rook on the 7th rank! A rook on the 7th rank (opponent’s 2nd rank) is usually very powerful, as it threatens the opponent’s un-advanced pawns and hems in the enemy king.
  • If one rook on the 7th rank is a powerful weapon, then TWO rooks on the 7th rank are often sufficient to force victory, or at least draw by perpetual check. These rooks are sometimes colloquially referred to as “pigs on the seventh”, because they threaten to “eat” the opponent’s pieces of pawns.
  • In the rook endgames it’s said that having a powerful rook on the 7th tank, is worth a pawn!
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   Learn how to Win with GM Boris

In the first series of his new show, “Learn how to Win with GM Boris!”, GM Alterman illustrates the power of passed pawns. As the great Aron Nimzowitsch said: "A passed pawn is a criminal which should be kept under lock and key. Mild measures, such as police surveillance, are not sufficient."

GM Boris begins with the simplest positions, eventually tackling the most complicated ones revealing, with his easy to understand method, how to take advantage of passed pawns.

The main topics that GM Boris shares in his new course are:

  • Passed pawns should be advanced as rapidly as possible
  • Passed pawns are an advantage because an opponent's piece must block them
  • The closer to the 8th rank, the better! Chess players say that a pawn on the 6th rank might be worth a piece, and a pawn on the 7th rank sometimes is worth a whole rook!

This is the motto, when understanding how important passed pawns are:

  • When you start calculating  in a position with a passed pawn - first
  • Look for a move which pushes the “criminal” forward!
 
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   Alatorsev Gambit in the Botvinnik Semi Slav

Vladimir Alexeyevich Alatorsev (1909-1987), was a Russian chess grandmaster, organizer, teacher, author, and administrator. During his career, he became champion of both Leningrad and Moscow, and played nine times in the Soviet Chess Championship finals, with his best competitive results in the 1930s, as he placed clear second in the 1933 Soviet final. Alatortsev was an early Leningrad chess rival of Mikhail Botvinnik, who later became World Champion. The Botvinnik Semi Slav 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 e6 5.Bg5 dxc4 6.e4 b5 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Nxg5  is one of the most complicated Chess openings, with highly unbalanced situations and  double edge play. However, despite the main line with 9...hg 10. bg5 Nbd7, Black can try out the less known Gambit line 9...Nd5!?, named after Alatorsev. In the new  two-part Gambit Guide series,  GM  Boris Alterman  shows you the main ideas and  recent developments in this quite sharp and interesting line.

Alatorsev Gambit in the Botvinnik Semi Slav
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   Semi-Slav Noteboom variation

Dutch player Daniël Noteboom (1910-1932) is one of the unsung rising stars of the early 1930s.  He gained notoriety with an impressive début at the 1930 Chess Olympiad, scoring 11.5/15.  But after playing at Hastings 1931/32, he tragically died of pneumonia in London.  Aged only 21, it was a brief but tragic end to what looked a promising career.

His trademark was to play aggressively, and he left his legacy to the game with a wild and complex variation (with many gambit lines) in the Semi-Slav Defense: 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 c6 4 Nf3 dxc4 5 a4 Bb4 6 e3 b5 8 axb5 Bxc3 9 Bxc3 cxb5 10 b3 Bb7 - commonly known as the Noteboom Variation, that still packs a lethal punch for an unsuspecting opponent. 

Semi-Slav Noteboom variation
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   Hector Gambit: Caro-Kann

The swashbuckling Swede, GM Jonny Hector, firmly believes that playing chess has to be fun! With his enterprising style of play, he’s often described as “the last of the chess romantics,” with his wild, gambiting approach that certainly wouldn’t have been out of place at the tail-end of the 19th century in the game.  Jonny has featured prominently in many past editions of Gambit Guide, and yet again we turn to him for another of his specialities: the Hector Gambit in the Caro-Kann Defense with 1 e4 c6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Nf3 dxe4 4 Ng5 - a truly in-your-face, aggressive system that he’s pioneered, and with excellent results.   

QGA
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   Hector Gambit

The Ruy Lopez Exchange (or Spanish Exchange) was championed by two great world champions - first by Emmanuel Lasker as a secret weapon to take on the mighty Capablanca; and then arguably more famously by Bobby Fischer, who finely honed it by adding a cutting edge with his modern-day update of it in the 1960s. The concept of the opening is simple: Take all the pieces off the board and White wins the ending. But with the bishop pair, there are many ways for Black to counter the Exchange Lopez, and one enterprising way is to adopt an adventurous gambit made popular by the swashbuckling Swede, Jonny Hector, with 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Bxc6 dxc6 5 0-0 Bg4 6 h3 Bh5!? that features in a new three-part series for Gambit Guide.

QGA
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   Queens Gambit Accepted

Not all gambits need to be adventurous, swashbuckling all-out attacks.  Some are more in the mould of being positional and strategic in nature, and especially can be found in the Queen’s Gambit, whether that being declined or accepted variety. The Queen’s Gambit Accepted (1 d4 d5 2 c4 dxc4) is one classical opening that has had many famous elite exponents in recent years, such as Anand, Kasparov, Kortchnoi, Ivanchuk and Shirov.  The QGA is a postmodern opening, for it combines and reinforces classical and hypermodern ideas of positional play - not only that, it also offers a wealth of possibilities. And in an extended series for Gambit Guide, GM Boris Alterman will review the Queen's Gambit, starting with the Queen's Gambit Accepted.

QGA
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   Sveshnikov Sicilian Sacrifices on b5

For years it was known to all as the Sicilian Lasker/Pelikan variation, but the name-change to Sicilian Sveshnikov (1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e5 6 Ndb5 d6 7 Bg5 a6 8 Na3 b5) came into being after it was revived by the Russian Grandmaster Evgeny Sveshnikov.  He was the driving force and inspiration of the variation during the early 1970s when he was a young IM - and back then, it was his creative mind who developed this aggressive method of playing as black. Since then, elite stars such as Kasparov, Kramnik, Topalov, Leko, Radjabov and Shirov have all adopted this variation into their arsenal because it often leads to imbalanced positions.  There are many methods to combat the Sveshnikov, but one of the most macho involves the early sacrifice of either a knight or a bishop on b5.  And in his latest series, GM Boris Alterman checks the status of both the Nxb5 and Bxb5 gambits vs. the Sveshnikov.

Sveshnikov
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   Smith-Morra Gambit

The Smith-Morra Gambit against the Sicilian Defense (1 e4 c5 2 d4 cxd4 3 c3 dxc3 4 Nxc3!?) is perhaps not common in grandmaster chess, but at club level it can be a very potent attacking weapon.  The gambit is named after two players, Pierre Morra from France (1900-1969) and Ken Smith (1930-1999) of the Dallas Chess Club, who popularized it to the masses by writing nine books and fifty articles about it. At grandmaster level, the Nge7 variations are seen as best play against it - but at the recent US Open in Orlando, one of the world’s top grandmasters, Loek van Wely of The Netherlands, proved to be the highest-profile victim yet for the Smith-Morra, as he lost in a spectacular attacking game to IM Marc Esserman.  Last year, GM Alex Lenderman produced a hugely popular 3-part video series for ICC on the Smith-Morra Gambit (Part 1Part 2 & Part 3) that received many plaudits - the latest Gambit Guide series, however, will simply update the Nge7 variations in view of van Wely’s horrific loss. 

Smith-Morra Gambit
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   Marshall Gambit

One of the world’s first Grandmasters, America’s Frank J. Marshall (1877-1944) left behind a lasting legacy to the chess world with his revered gambit against the Ruy Lopez:  the Marshall Attack with 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 0-0 8 c3 d5! The myth goes that Marshall deliberately kept his analysis secret for seven years before playing it against Capablanca at New York 1918, but this has since been debunked by historians.  Regardless of its origins, it continues to wreck havoc both at club and elite level over 90 years on - and the latest high-profile victim is Ukrainian world No7 Vassily Ivanchuk, who got hit by some stunning new theory in it by Hungary’s Peter Leko at the recently concluded World Team Championship in Ningbo, China. ChessFM’s openings expert, GM Ronen Har-Zvi has comprehensively covered the Marshall Attack during his weekly openings show last year - but in a Gambit Guide special, GM Boris Alterman puts under the microscope Leko’s new novelty in the Marshall Attack that obviously wasn't covered during that particular series. 

Marshall Gambit
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   Krush Gambit

Alexander Beliavsky is a product of the legendary Soviet School of Chess and once a contemporary of Anatoly Karpov.  "Big Al" as he's affectionately know as, is a four-time USSR Champion (1974, 1980, 1987 and 1990), and has played at the Olympiad for three countries, first starting with the USSR, the latest being his now adopted homeland of Slovenia. In his time at the top, Big Al was a noted theorisist - and in 1996, he came up with an interesting line in the classical Nimzo-Indian after  1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 Qxd5 6 Nf3 Qf5 7 Qd1 e5!? that quickly got christened “The Beliavsky Gambit”.  The Beliavsky Gambit was quickly adopted by other top stars  such as Adams and Khalifman.  Although out of fashion these days, it has never been refuted outright. But top US Women’s player, IM Irina Krush, came up with her own counter-gambit to eschew the complications of the Beliavsky gambit, with the enterprising 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 Qxd5 6 Nf3 Qf5 7 Qb3 c5 8 a3 Bxc3+ 9 Qxc3 Nbd7 10 g4!?

Krush Gambit
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   Beliavsky Gambit

Alexander Beliavsky is a product of the legendary Soviet School of Chess and once a contemporary of Anatoly Karpov.  "Big Al" as he's affectionately know as, is a four-time USSR Champion (1974, 1980, 1987 and 1990), and has played at the Olympiad for three countries, first starting with the USSR, the latest being his now adopted homeland of Slovenia. In his time at the top, Big Al was a noted theorisist - and in 1996, he came up with an interesting line in the classical Nimzo-Indian after  1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 Qxd5 6 Nf3 Qf5 7 Qd1 e5!? that quickly got christened “The Beliavsky Gambit”.  The Beliavsky Gambit was quickly adopted by other top stars  such as Adams and Khalifman.  Although out of fashion these days, it has never been refuted outright.

Beliavsky Gambit
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   Cordel Gambit

Oskar Cordel (1843-1913) was not so much a top player in Germany but more thought of as a theorists on the game, with many published opening books and magazine articles to his name.  Nevertheless, the author did leave a lasting legacy of two variations in the Ruy Lopez he championed: the Cordel variation and the Cordel gambit with 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Bc5 4 c3 f5?! The Cordel gambit can lead to some very strange positions and there are many bizarre responses to it - but ultimately it has never proved to be strictly sound, though it is useful as a surprise weapon when you are looking for wild, tactical games.  The Cordel gambit has been adopted as such by modern-day grandmasters Ivan Sokolov, Ian Rogers and Jonny Hector.

Cordel Gambit
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   Schliemann Defense Deferred

The Schliemann Defense Deferred, with 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 f5 is, of course, very similar in nature to the more popular Schliemann Defense covered during an earlier series of Gambit Guide.  It has never had a good reputation, but it remains a surprise weapon with no clear refutation. The key difference between the two is that in the deferred form Black can have a timely …b5 available. The deferred was a favorite of the original chess thinker David Bronstein, and even Viktor Korchnoi used it to draw with Anantoly Karpov during their many world championship battles; lately, Alexei Shirov has played it.  And in a new series of Gambit Guide, we take a closer look at the nuances of the Schliemann Deferred.

Schliemann Defense
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   Taimanov/Flick-Knife Attack

In the Bible, Ben-Oni is the name Rachel gives her son as she lays dying in childbirth, and means “child of my sorrow” in Hebrew. And never has an opening in chess been more aptly associated with sorrow than the Benoni - especially nowadays, with the Taimanov variation (or the so-called ‘Flick-Knife Attack', as Dave Norwood graphically describes it in his 1994 book) almost proving to be the death knell for the Benoni. After 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 f4 Bg7 8 Bb5+, wild gambit play, sacrifices and all-out attack proves to be the order of the day in this aggressive line against the Benoni, and it features in a new series of Gambit Guide.

Flick-Knife
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   Neo-Benko

The candidates’ matches in Kazan are all over, and veteran Boris Gelfand, 42, emerged as the unlikely winner to become the oldest challenger for the world championship crown since Viktor Korchnoi.  One of Gelfand’s great strengths has always been his legendary opening preparation - and we saw just how deep this was in game three in the final against Alexander Grischuk. Grishuk played a relatively rare and obscure line in the Queen’s Gambit Declined, only to get hit on move 9 by the big novelty of Gelfand’s remarkable gambit of 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 d5 4 Nc3 Be7 5 Bg5 h6 6 Bxf6 Bxf6 7 Qb3 dxc4 8 Qxc4 0-0 9 g3 b5!! - although the game ended in a short draw, Gelfand’s gambit did its job in wasting one of his opponent’s crucial white games.  And in Gambit Guide, our guru looks at just how tricky Gelfand’s gambit is

neo-benko
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   Kamsky Gambit

Currently, all eyes in the chess world are focused on the candidates’ matches in Kazan, with one of the eight contestants going forward to challenge world champion Vishy Anand in a title match next year. With so much at stake, players bring their best preparation to the board - and one player in particular, US champion Gata Kamsky, came up with a new gambit idea in the Sicilian Najdorf with 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 a4 Nc6 7 a5!? that our gambit guru, GM Boris Alterman takes a closer look at in a new series.

Kamsky Gambit
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   Dilworth variation

You don’t need to be a superstar to receive immortality in the game – all you need is the ability to hitch your name to a popular opening system. One classic case was English amateur correspondence player and humble railway’s clerk Vernon Dilworth (1916-2004), who published analysis in the British magazine “Chess” during the early 1940s that rehabilitated an old line of the Open Lopez. Dilworth became famous overnight after his analysis was spotted by the great Mikhail Botvinnik, who used the tricky line (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.c3 Bc5 10.Bc2 0–0 11.Nbd2 Nxf2!?) as a surprise weapon against Vassily Smylsov during the  1943/4 Moscow Championship.  And the ‘Dangerous Dilworth’ is not only tricky but still alive and kicking today with many titled players over the years falling victim to it.

Riga Variation
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   Riga Variation

The Riga Variation in the Open Ruy Lopez (1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0-0 Nxe4 6 d4 exd4) was first played during a correspondence match in 1907 between the two cities of Berlin and Riga - and despite many believing it is ultimately unsound, its reputation is better than once thought and new discoveries in it were revealed in NIC YearBook 85 by Correspondence GM Peter Boll. The Riga variation is exciting and often leads to many wild sacrificial gambits galore, where, if White is unsure of what is going on, can easily lead to many a Black quick wins. 

Riga Variation
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   Siesta Variation

The Siesta Variation in the Modern Steinitz (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.c3 f5) is a dangerous weapon against the Ruy Lopez, and is anything but sleepy. It is very similar in style to the Janisch (or Schliemann) Gambit, but can prove more potent as accepting the gambit can see White getting a rude wake-up call by being hit with a quick and ferocious kingside attack. Many believe it has Spanish origins due to the name, but it is in fact derived from the location of the 1928 Budapest tournament, held in the Siesta Sanatorium, where Jose Raul Capablanca successfully deployed it against Andreas Steiner. Capablanca viewed it then to be “too risky,” but modern day champions of the Siesta, such as the Russian GM Valeri Yandemirov, have developed the shaper play around it.

Siesta Variation
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   Geller-Tolush Gambit

The Geller/Tolush Gambit (1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5 e4) has become enormously popular as a combative way for White to battle the solid Slav Defense, as White gives up the c-pawn for control of the center. The main ideas of the gambit was worked out by GM Alexander Tolush in 1947, and he played it against World Champion-to-be Vassily Smyslov during the USSR Championship of that year.But it was his fellow Soviet grandmaster (and noted theoretician) Efim Geller who worked the most to establish the gambit as a respectable opening by playing it consistently and finding many key improvements for White.

Geller/Tolush Gambit
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   Shilling Gambit

Joseph Blackburne (1841-1924) was one of the world’s best players, and he had a 50-year career as one of the strongest-ever British players.  But to supplement his meagre tournament prizes “The Black Death” played hundreds of simultaneous displays against amateurs.  To cut through the simul fodder he deployed some outrageous openings - the most infamous being Blackburne’s Shilling Gambit (1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Nd4?!) , the maestro’s standard fee for a game. Even in the 21st century Blackburne’s trick is still racking up the victims .  And in a one-off series of GM Boris Alterman’s Gambit Guide, our gambit guru takes a look at the Shilling Gambit - which, while not entirely sound, is a great surprise weapon for (online) blitz play,

Shilling Gambit
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   French - Alekhine Gambit

Through the 1920s and 1930s, former world champion Alexander Alekhine was a force of nature with phenomenal tournament results (he won 25 of 44 tournaments he played during his career).  Alekhine's attacking motifs in his games prove even to this day to be highly instructive. And in a new six-part series for Gambit Guide, our intrepid gambit guru, GM Boris Alterman takes a closer look at two very aggressive Alekhine gambits against the normally solid French Winawer.  First up will be a four-part series on 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Nge2 followed by a two-part series on the apocryphal 'fingerslip' variation, when Alekhine meant to play 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e5 c5 5 Bd2 against Flohr at Nottingham 1936, but instead touched his c1 bishop first so the game went 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Bd2 dxe4 5 Nxe4 Qxd4 6 Bd3 Bxd2+ 7 Qxd2.

French - Alekhine Gambit
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   Sicilian Moscow variation

A favorite of Gambit Guide is unquestionably the late great David Bronstein (1924-2006), who was nothing short of being a true chess genius. He was an independent thinker at the board, and our gambit guru, GM Boris Alterman has already showed in an earlier series from 2010 how his original ideas almost single-handedly re-invented the King's Indian Defence in the 1950s. Now, in a new series for 2011, he investigates two highly-respected (and typical) Bronstein gambits for rapid development in the Sicilian Moscow variation after 3. Bb5+.  First up will be 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bd7 Qd7 5. c4 Qg4?! 6. 0-0! followed by 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bd7 Qd7 5. 0-0 Nc6  6.c3 Nf6 7. d4!? 

Sicilian Moscow variation
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   English Openings

With the London Chess Classic in full-swing, it is fitting we pay homage to the English Opening, made famous by Howard Staunton, who organized the great London International Tournament of 1851, the world's first international chess tournament. Many are confused what to play against 1 c4 because it has a reputation of being solid - but in a new series of GM Boris Alterman's Gambit Guide, over the next few weeks our guru takes a closer look at three enterprising gambit lines against the English, where an unsuspecting and unprepared White player can easily be intimidated and terrorized:  
1) the Bellon Gambit with 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Nf3 e4 4 Ng5 b5!? 
2) English Symmetrical with….
3) the reversed Grand Prix Attack with 1 c4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 g3 f5 4 Bg2 Nf6 5 d3 Bc5 6 e3 f4!? made famous by Bobby Fischer after his famous 1969 New York Metropolitan League demolition job of Anthony Saidy. 

English Openings
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   Gajewski Gambit

As chess gambits go, the Gajewski Gambit with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0 0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0 0 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 d5!? is a relative newcomer to the game.  The position after White's tenth move had been reached thousands of times with 10...c5 being universally played, before the Polish grandmaster Grzegorz Gajewski revealed recently that Black has a fascinating, almost Marshall Attack-like gambit at his disposal with 10 …d5!? The introductory game came at the 2007 Czech open, when Gajewski uncorked it against the unsuspecting Kuznetsov, in a brilliant attacking game that soon became a hot candidate for novelty of the year.  It was then given the seal of approval at elite level by being taken up after this by Carlsen and Leko. And in a new series of GM Boris Alterman's Gambit Guide, our gambit guru takes a closer look at the adventurous Gajewski Gambit.

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   Ponziani's Opening

Ponziani's Opening (1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 c3) is regarded by many to be something of a relic from a bygone era in the game.  Ever since its creator -- Dominico Lorenzo Ponziani -- introduced the opening in the 1760s, it has struggled for survival in tournament praxis. But a new book just published on it, Play the Ponziani (by Dave Taylor & Keith Hayward), could well see more occurrences of this venerable old opening. In the 300 page tome, the authors devote 25 pages to 3 …f5!? - the ultra-sharp option advocated by Ponziani himself, and called in his honor the Ponziani Counter-Gambit. And in a new series of Boris Alterman's Gambit Guide, our gambit guru puts 3 …f5!? to the test.

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   Vienna: Frankenstein-Dracula

It's trick or treat time with a special Halloween edition of Gambit Guide this week, as GM Boris Alterman investigates the Frankenstein-Dracula variation in the Vienna Opening with 1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Bc4 Nxe4 4 Qh5 Nd6 5 Bb3 Nc6 6 Nb5 g6 7 Qf3 f5 8 Qd5 Qe7 9 Nxc7+ Kd8 10 Nxa8 b6. This particular hair-raising exchange sacrifice in the Vienna was given it's ghoulishly gothic title by correspondence guru Tim Harding, who wrote many articles about it during the late 1970s.  He explained that it is so-called because it is terrifying for both sides, and, much like those two famous gentleman of the night, has an incredible facility for rising - theory-wise at least - from the grave.

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   Grünfeld Gambit
The Grünfeld Defence (named after the Austrian hypermodern master Ernst Grünfeld, 1913-1961) is a dynamic and popular weapon for players who look to counterattack with the black pieces. It is no wonder then that it became a particular favorite of former World Champions Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov. Part 1: Boris takes a closer looks at three critical gambit lines in the Grünfeld Defence, first up being the Grünfeld Gambit Accepted with 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Bf4 Bg7 5 e3 OO 6 cxd5 Nxd5 7 Nxd5 Qxd5 8 Bxc7. Part 2: Boris takes a closer look at three critical gambit lines in the Grünfeld; the second of which being one of the big main lines of the Exchange variation with 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 cxd5 Nxd5 5 e4 Nxc3 6 bxc3 Bg7 7 Bc4 c5 8 Ne2 Nc6 9 Be3 0-0 10 0-0 Bg4 11 f3 Na5 12 Bd3 cxd4 13 cxd4 Be6 14 d5 Bxa1 15 Qxa1 - an exciting exchange sacrifice credited to the ever-inventive David Bronstein, who first played it on the big stage during the Budapest Interzonal of 1950.
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   Wagner Gambit
The Torre Attack is a very attractive - and easy - system for White as it allows him/her to set the agenda from the outset, preventing many counterattacking systems. It also has a deadly quick-strike potential if Black is careless or unfamiliar with the subtleties. One such can be the Wagner Gambit (1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bg5 c5 e4!?), named after the German master Heinrich Wagner (1888-1959), which leads to a sharp game, where a precise defense from Black is needed. And in a new series of Boris Alterman's Gambit Guide, our resident gambit guru explores Wagner gambit.
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   Lewis Gambit

In the venerable Bishop's Opening, the Lewis Gambit, 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 Bc5 3 d4!?, named after the 19th-century top English player William Lewis, is witnessing a renaissance of sorts with many new publications, such as Dangerous Weapons 1 e4 e5, and a recent volume of Secrets of Opening Surprises showing that it is still a force to reckon with even in today's modern game. One of the reasons for this is because it offers some tricky transpositions, chiefly to the Max Lange Gambit  - with 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 Bc5 3 d4 Bxd4 4 Nf3 Nc6 5 Nxd4 Nxd4 6 O-O - and it's not clear that Black can avoid getting into known lines. And also getting in on the "exhumation" of the Lewis Gambit is GM Boris Alterman, who takes a closer look at all those transposition tricks  in a new series of his Gambit Guide for ICC Chess.FM.

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   Torre Attack: Spassky Gammbit
The Torre Attack is one of those openings that deserves more attention than it gets. Over the years, it has featured in the repertoires of the likes of Petrosian, Spassky, Kamsky, and Yusupov. It suffers somewhat from a reputation as a stodgy variation, but white can play many of its lines in a sharp fashion, and black must have a solid understanding to reach equality.  One such line is the Spassky gambit with 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6 3 Bg5 c5 4 e3 Qb6 5 Nbd2!?  The idea is simple: by sacrificing the poisoned pawn on b2, white develops his pieces quickly and gets a good grip on the center, which in turn gives great attacking chances. And in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman demonstrates just how easy - yet lethal - the Spassky gambit is to play.
SpasskyGambit
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   Petroff's Defense Damiano variation

In volume 10 of the excellent NIC series Secrets of Opening Surprises, Israeli IM Or Cohen's article, "Petroff for Beginners," overviews the mirror-image opening of the Damiano variation with 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nxe5 Nxe4!? which is reduced to a small note in the ECO, but that can set many pitfalls for white, as black gets a lot more out of the “beginner’s mistake” of copying white’s moves than most players realize. Much of the new pioneering work on the Damiano variation can be attributed to the Austrian IM Friedrich Karl Volkmann, who almost single-handedly has changed the evaluation of many of the key lines once thought to refute the venerable Damiano, so-called as it is similar to the mainline of the Damiano gambit with 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 f6?! 3 Nxe5 Qe7. And in his latest series of GM Boris Alterman's Gambit Guide on Chess.FM, our resident guru on all things gambits takes a closer look at all the new developments in the mainline of the Petroff's Defense Damiano variation with 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nxe5 Nxe4 4 Qe2 Qe7 5 Qxe4 d6.

Damiano Gambit
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   Damiano gambit

One of the first chess books to be published in Italy, at the height of the Renaissance, was written by the Portuguese master Pedro Damiano back in 1512. In it, he noted that after 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 the reply 2…Nc6 is good, 2…d6 is not so good, and 2…f6 (the opening named after him) is worst. Many believed for years thereafter that the outright refutation of the Damiano to be 3 Nxe5. However, even today, the Damiano with 2…f6?! retains something of a cult underground following. Even Bobby Fischer played the recommended refutation of it during his legendary simultaneous tour of the US in 1964 and could only draw. The shock value alone of playing the Damiano with 2…f6?! in online play has seen a lot of positive results for Black. And following many requests from ICC members on what to do against it, our resident gambit guru, GM Boris Alterman, overviews it in his latest Gambit Guide series for Chess.FM.

Damiano Gambit
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   English Defense gambit

The English Defense (with 1 d4 e6 2 c4 b6) came into being during the height of the so-called "English Chess Explosion" of the late 1970s and through the 1980s, when it was championed successfully at elite level by top English grandmasters such as Tony Miles, Ray Keene, Jon Speelman and Nigel Short. While this hypermodern defense is as quintessentially English as fish and chips and high tea, that didn't stop it becoming universally played and pioneered in other countries - especially as it is full of dynamics for the player of the Black pieces with so many inventive ways to play it. And in a new series of GM Boris Alterman's Gambit Guide, our resident guru of all things gambits looks at one such line being the English Defense gambit with 1 c4 b6 2 d4 e6 3 e4 Bb7 4 Nc3 Bb4 5 f3 f5 6 ef Nh6!?

English Gambit
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   Anti-Benoni/Benko system

Looking to play a Benoni, Benko or perhaps a Blumenfeld gambit? Well, what happens when your opponent opts to be a spoiler by playing an Anti-Benoni/Benko system with 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 Nf3? There is the option of the aggressive 3 ...cxd4 4 Nxd4 e5!? - a gambit with a good reputation and pedigree, having being played and pioneered by a young Garry Kasparov. The Anti-Benoni/Benko Gambit often leads to sharp play with easy and harmonious development of the Black's pieces. And in a new series of Boris Alterman's Gambit Guide, our resident gambit guru takes a closer look at the Anti-Benoni/Benko Gambit with 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 Nf3 cxd4 4 Nxd4 e5!?

Vienna gambit
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   Trompowsky Attack: Vaganian Gambit
The Trompowsky Attack with 1 d4 Nf6 2 Bg5 - named after the Brazilian master, Octavio Trompowsky (1897-1984) - has risen from relative obscurity to become a popular opening due to its often wild complications. One of the key lines against the Tromp is 2 ..c5 3 d5 Qb6 where White has the option of the very aggressive Vaganian Gambit - named after the very strong Soviet player Rafael Vaganian, who played it in the early 1970s - with 4 Nc3!? Qxb2 Bd2. The idea is to activate all of white's pieces and make use of the open lines and space for an all-out attack.  And in a new series of Gambit Guide for ICC Chess.FM, GM Boris Alterman evaluates the latest developments in the Vaganian Gambit.
Vienna gambit
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   KID Sämisch variation

There's no question that the late great David Bronstein (1924-2006) was a true chess genius. He was an independent thinker at the board, and his original ideas almost single-handedly re-invented the King's Indian Defence in the 1950s. He was even willing to play dynamic gambits in the most important of situations, such as the 1956 Candidates Tournament in Amsterdam, when he shocked Boris Spassky and the chess world with a stunning queen sacrifice in the Sämisch variation with 5.f3 0-0 6.Be3 e5 7.d5 Nh5 8.Qd2 Qh4+!? - with Black getting two bishops and two pawns for the queen in a very unbalanced position. The variation is still unclear to this day, and it makes for a very good surprise weapon to have in your arsenal. And in an extended series of Gambit Guide for Chess.FM, GM Boris Alterman takes a closer look at the Bronstein influence in the Sämisch variation starting with his daring queen sacrifice.

Vienna gambit
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   Vienna Gambit

The Vienna Gambit with 1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 (or 2 …Nc6) 3 f4 is a wilder scion of the Vienna Game, and it firmly belongs to the 19th Century when Rudolph Spielmann was flying the lone flag of romanticism in the face of scientific chess. But the Vienna Gambit is still as deadly now as it was back ithen; where Black can very quickly become the victim of a bludgeoning whirlwind attack if he isn't careful. And in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman believes now could well by the time again to shock and awe your opponents with the Vienna Gambit.

Vienna gambit
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   Spielmann Gambit
If you are looking for swashbuckling gambit play, then look no further than 'The Master of Attack' Rudolph Spielmann (1883-1942), who once said that "A good sacrifice is one that is not necessarily sound but leaves your opponent dazed and confused." Spielmann came up with an almost caveman-like gambit to take on the hypermodern Alekhine's Defense when players tried to transpose into a classical French after 1. e4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. e5 Nfd7 with 4. e6!?  This is a dangerous gambit that gives White easy piece-play and can indeed leave Black dazed and confused, when just the slightest of slips can prove fatal and all roads leading to miniatureville. And in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman takes a closer look at the Spielmann gambit for White.
Spielmann gambit
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   Polugaevsky Gambit

Lev Polugaevsky (1934-1995) was one of the strongest players in the world from the late 1960s until the early 1980s. He was the originator of the meticulous opening study style Kasparov was later on to perfect and bring to great heights.In a bruising 1980 candidates' match against Viktor Korchnoi, Polugaevsky scored a valuable win with a powerful opening novelty against the Queen's Indian Defence (1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 b6 3. g3 e6 4. Bg2 Be7 5. 0-0 Bb7 6. d4 0-0) that involved a pawn sacrifice with 7. d5!? - a line that subsequently was given the stamp of approval by Kasparov and christened the 'Polugaevsky Gambit'. And in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman reviews the latest standing of the Polugaevsky Gambit.

Polugaevsky gambit
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   Kasparov gambit
These day's there's not many world championship games ultimately decided on the strength of a gambit for black - but in his quest to become the youngest world champion in 1985, Garry Kasparov refined one as he demolished old foe Anatoly Karpov's Sicilian Szen variation (1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nb5 d6 6. c4 Nf6 7. Nb1c3 a6 8. Na3) with 8...d5!? - a move that totally flummoxed Karpov and his team of analysts'.  The idea is simple: You sacrifice the d5 pawn for active piece play.  It was thus reborn the 'Kasparov gambit' after Kasparov scored 1.5/2 with the black pieces during that world championship tussle - and the game he won, game 16, is hailed by many to be one of the best-ever world championship games. Since then though, refinements have been found that give White an edge.  But in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman believes that despite this, the Kasparov gambit it is still a good surprise weapon for Black to have in his arsenal.
Kasparov gambit
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   Semi-Slav: Winawer variation

We all know of the Winawer variation in the French defense, but in 1901 at Monte Carlo against Frank Marshall, Polish legend Szymon Winawer (1838-1920) introduced us to his counter-gambit in the Slav defense with 1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 e5!? Although seldom seen at top level nowadays, even Garry Kasparov had to face the aggressive Winawer counter-gambit when its modern-day guru, Pedrag Nikolic, played it against the then world champion at the 1992 Manila Olympiad. Other players who have played it include Johnny Hector and Alexander Morozevich. And in his latest Gambit Guide, GM Boris Alterman takes a look at the Winawer counter-gambit in a new two-part series.

Sicilian Nimzowitsch
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   Sicilian Nimzowitsch

The Sicilian Nimzowitsch (or Nimzo-Rubinstein) variation with 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6!? is a relatively rare bird on the chess scene with some saying it’s on the verge of being unsound.  But it’s  a provocative line with great surprise value; and after 3 e5  often leads to sharp gambit-play that can pack quite a punch to the unwary facing it. In his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman reviews the standing of the variation  - and he even includes a look at how not to play it with the now infamous Becerra-Nakamura game recently in the USCL here on ICC, where the US Champion misplayed it to spectacularly lose in just 12 moves!

Sicilian Nimzowitsch
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   Grand Prix Attack

The Grand Prix Attack with 1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 (followed by 3 f4) was coined by the prominent British chess writer Leonard Barden, because it featured heavily in so many games during the 1970s & 1980s in the British Grand Prix weekend tournament circuit - and especially from David Rumens and GM Mark Hebden;  both these players literally devastated the opposition with it en route to many Grand Prix titles. And in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman takes a closer look at one of the main themes of the Grand Prix Attack, with the pawn sacrifice for White of f4-f5 followed by the launching of an all-out kingside attack. 

Grand Prix Attack'
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   Tal Gambit
Books and songs were written about him; and the Tal Memorial now underway in Moscow, the strongest tournament of the year,  further reminds us of the legacy of the incomparable genius that was Mikhail Tal. ("finger TalMemorial09"). Tal was also known as "The Magician from Riga" because of his extremely powerful and imaginative attacking style. And back in 1979 (against Englishman IM Bill Hartston), Tal unleashed on the world the “Tal Gambit” with 1 e4 c5 2 f4 d5 3 exd5 Nf6!; a move that practically overnight put 2 f4 out of business.  He only drew the game in question against Hartston - but Tal’s energetic play throughout proved to be a model for how to play against 2 f4 that soon players had to resort to 2 Nc3 first followed then only by f4. . And in a tribute to Tal during his memorial event in Moscow (covered live throughout on Chess.FM), GM Boris Alterman gives us a timely reminder in his new two-part series of Gambit Guide of why the Tal Gambit is such an effective riposte to 2 f4 in the Sicilian.
Tal Gambit'
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   Vitolinsh Gambits'

IM Alvis Vitolinsh (1946-1997) was a multi-time Latvian champion who was a friend of Mikhail Tal and worked alongside the Magician from Riga. His style of play was similar to Tal’s, and in the early 1980s he came up with some creative gambit play with b5!? for Black in two lines of the Nimzo-Indian Defence that bore his name. The first being in the Capablanca variation with 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3 6 Qxc3 b5!?, the other in the Reshevsky variation with 4 e3 0-0 5 Ne2 b5!? - both leading to the sort of dynamic play that can easily see White being overrun if not handled correctly. And in his next four Gambit Guide shows, GM Boris Alterman will look at this aggressive way of playing for Black in the Nimzo with the Vitolinsh Gambits’ - series 1 & 2 against the Capablanca variation with 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3 6 Qxc3 b5!?, followed by 3 & 4 on the Reshevsky variation with 4 e3 0-0 5 Ne2 b5!? 

Vitolinsh Gambits'
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   Tartakower variation

The "Fantasy Variation" of the Caro-Kann defense in chess, otherwise known as the Tartakower variation, begins with the simple 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 f3. The idea is to open the f-file with the pawn sacrifice and use rapid development to bring pressure on Black's kingside quickly. It isn't that difficult to learn, resembles the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit in many ways, and often leads to sacrifices and other fireworks not usually associated with the solid Caro-Kann. And in the latest of his Gambut Guide series, GM Boris Alterman takes a closer look at the Fantasy variation.

Tartakower variation Part 1
Part 2
   Kotrc-Mieses Gambit

The Scandinavian or Center Counter with 2…Qxd5 3 Nc3 Qa5 has a reputation of being solid for Black with the position going on to resemble a Caro-Kann or Slav Defense set-up. But for those looking for the cut and thrust of swashbuckling play, then there’s a more speculative approach to 3...Qa5 - the Kotrc-Mieses Gambit with 4.b4?! If Black plays correctly, White should have no compensation for the sacrificed pawn, but it can be difficult to prove this over the board. And in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman has a closer look at the Kotrc-Mieses Gambit.

Kotrc-Mieses Gambit Part 1
Part 2
   Belgrade Gambit

The Belgrade Gambit (1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 d4 exd4 5 Nd5!?) had its heyday in the 1970s, long before the Database deluge. Nowadays, every 'Russian Schoolboy' knows that 5...Be7 is a very effective antidote to this gambit. The main virtue though of obscure gambits, lies in the element of surprise when you play them.  And despite not being in vogue, former world champion Anatoly Karpov, writing in his 1988 book The Open Game in Action, heartedly recommends the Belgrade gambit: "...this gambit leads to quite exciting and lively play.  I think those who favor stormy complications should include the [Belgrade] gambit in their repertoire."  And in a new two-part Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman re-evaluates the Belgrade gambit and suggests, just like Karpov, that it should indeed be included in your repertoire for surprise value alone!

Belgrade Gambit Part 1
Part 2
   Blumenfeld Gambit

The Blumenfeld Gambit with 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 c5 4 d5 b5!? is a blood relative to the more universally popular Benko Gambit. While it was the invention of Russian master Benjamin Blumenfeld (1884-1947), it only became of interest after Alekhine used it to good effect as he destroyed Tarrasch in 1922 with a text-book advert for the gambit.

Modern master praxis has been to decline the gambit with 5 Bg5 rather than being faced with a strong pawn sacrifice for easy piece play and a direct attack a la Alekhine-Tarrasch. But in his latest Gambit Guide series for ICC, GM Boris Alterman shows that the Blumenfeld - even when White declines the gambit - has strategic depth beyond its first impressions.

Blumenfeld Gambit Part 1
Part 2
   Blackmar-Diemer gambit
"Play the Blackmar-Diemer gambit and mate will come by itself!" so wrote Emil Diemer (1908-1990), as he refashioned an opening once played by Armad Blackmar (1826-1888), which came to bear both their names. Diemer was an average player who shot to fame in the fifties and sixties through the popularity of his opening with the masses, especially in Germany and the Netherlands. The BDG with 1. d4 d5 2. e4!? has a large following and it does indeed go for the jugular early, as white plays for mate from move two. And in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman shows even today that the BDG can be just as lethal.tal.
Blackmar-Diemer gambit Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
   Goring Gambit
GM Boris Alterman looks at the Goring Gambit, one of the most swashbuckling options for White in the Open Games after 1 e4 e5. It is fun, easy to learn and virtually unavoidable since White can deploy the crafty move order 2 d4 exd4 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 c3 to avoid the Petroff Defense and the Philidor Defense. Even today, the Goring Gambit is still a strong practical weapon where with best play Black achieves no more than equality. However, the lively attacking positions insure that White will have a lot of pressure, even against best play, and a slight error by Black can prove fatal.
Goring Gambit Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
   Scandinavian Gambit
The Scandinavian or Center Counter with 1 e4 d5 is one of the oldest asymmetric defenses in chess history, dating back to 1475. It became a theory backwater though for many years until it was revitalized and rechristened "the Scandinavian" due to it being adopted by Denmark's Bent Larsen, who defeated World Champion Anatoly Karpov with it. It is now extremely popular at club level, and particularly the line 1 e4 d5 2 exd5 Nf6, the so-called Marshall Gambit (or Scandinavian Gambit) after U.S. Champion Frank Marshall. And in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman shows how the "Sizzling Scandinavian" can be a potent weapon for Black.
Scandinavian.png Gambit Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
   Latvian Gambit
The Latvian Gambit with 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 f5!? is one of the most exciting and fascinating openings with a long and storied history in chess literature. The name was a tribute to the Latvian players, notably Karlis Betins (1867-1943), who analyzed it in the early part of the 20th century. Although it is almost impossible to find in the repertoire of a professional player, amateurs, correspondence players and online aficionados here at the ICC have long found the tactical labyrinth of the main lines to be highly appealing. And in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman puts the Latvian under the microscope.
Latvian Gambit Part 1
Part 2
   Krejcik Gambit
In a new series of Gambit Guide, GM Boris Alterman again responds to ICC members who have asked our resident expert in all things gambits what to do in the Krejcik Gambit in the Dutch Defense!
Krejcik Gambit Part 1
Part 2
  Alekhine 4-Pawns Attack
GM Boris Alterman again responds to ICC members who have asked our resident expert in all things gambits what to do in the Alekhine 4-Pawns Attack if Black eschews the big main line with 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. c4 Nb6 4. d4 d6 5. f4 dxe5 6. fxe5 Nc6 7. Be3 Bf5 8. Nc3 e6 9. Nf3 Be7 10. d5 Nb4?! His answer? Look no further than a particularly aggressive gambit line with 11. Rc1 f6 12. a3 Na6 13. g4!? - originally a recommendation of the leading Soviet master of his day Alexander Zaitsev (1935-71), and lately given the big thumbs up by another top Russian in Alexander Morozevich!
Alekhine 4-Pawns Attack Part 1
Part 2
  Italian-Koltanowski gambit
GM Boris Alterman responds to the many requests from ICC members to delve into very aggressive lines such as the Italian-Koltanowski gambit with 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4. 0-0 Nf6 5. d4!? It looks like a complete throwback to a bygone romantic age of the 19th-century, but, surprisingly, two Super-GMs were slugging it out with it in the very modern setting of the Corus Wijk aan Zee tournament earlier this year, as Sergey Movsesian dusted off this forgotten variation to beat Michael Adams. Could it be a case of Back to the Future with this vicious line being brought back into praxis?
Koltanowski gambit Part 1
Part 2
   4 knight's Rubenstein
When the great "uncrowned king" Akiba Rubinstein introduced the variation that bears his name (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Nd4) into praxis at San Sebastian 1912, overnight the formal fearsome Spanish Four Knights, which up until then was a popular opening, went into rapid decline. And now, in the latest series of Gambit Guide, GM Boris Alterman shows why even today this is a good line to have in your arsenal, as the resulting pawn sacrifice allows Black to dominate the centre.
4 knight's Rubenstein Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
  King's Gambit
No adventure in chess is complete without deploying a King's Gambit sometime in your career; the history of which is almost as old as the modern game itself. It was first analyzed in Giulio Polerio's sixteenth-century manuscript, reached its zenith in the nineteenth-century when it was almost de riguer, had a brief renaissance during the 1960s thanks to Boris Spassky and David Bronstein, only now becoming unfashionable due to defensive techniques. But now, in his latest Gambit Guide series for ICC Chess.FM, Israeli GM Boris Alterman shows that this romantic of openings can still pack a hefty punch even today for those looking for a surprise weapon at club and tournament level.
Kings Gambit Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
  Staunton Gambit - Dutch defense
GM Boris Alterman takes a look at the Staunton Gambit against the Dutch Defense with 1 d4 f5 2 e4!? - one of the most direct and provocative lines against the normally solid Dutch. The Staunton Gambit has a long history having being named after Howard Staunton, who first played it against Horwitz in 1847. Basically, it is a bold attempt from the very first moves to demonstrate that by giving away the central pawn White can show that Blacks first move is misguided because it exposes the king. In practical experience it scores well at club level where an accurate defence is awkward to play when White is unleashing a rampaging attack, with Black having to play carefully as any little slip can often lead to a miniature
Staunton Gambit Part 1
Part 2
  Panov Attack Caro-Kann defense
GM Boris Alterman looks at the Panov-Botvinnik Attack against the Caro-Kann Defense - a line that can also be transposed to from many openings, including the Queen's Gambit and the Nimzo-Indian Defense The Panov-Botvinnik Attack has a unique important place in chess lore. After Capablanca adopted the Caro-Kann, it assumed a status as the solid way for Black to escape attacking efforts of e4 players. But Vasily Panov, a Soviet master, theoretician and Chess correspondent for Izvestia, took a different view of the situation and decided to test Blacks mettle with the direct action of 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 c4. Mikhail Botvinnik picked up on this and quickly formed it into a potent weapon that has since become the choice of determined king pawn players.
Panov Attack Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
  Milner-Barry Gambit
The Milner-Barry Gambit (1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Qb6 6. Bd3) is very popular at club level, and one of the sharpest white weapons against the French Defense. It was invented by legendary World War II Enigma Code breaker Sir Stuart Milner-Barry, who always liked to play with a sense of adventure. Now, in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman re-evaluates the Milner-Barry Gambit as a potent weapon for white - and especially for players who like to play actively.
Milner-Barry Gambit Part 1
Part 2
  From's Gambit
The Bird's Opening with 1 f4 can take on the positional characteristics of a reversed Dutch Defense. But rather than that, Black has the sharp option of 1...e5!?, From's Gambit, named after the Danish player Severin From (1828-1895). White can then transpose into the King's Gambit with 2.e4. If he prefers to stay in the Bird's Opening, play can continue 2 fxe5 d6, where white must play very precisely to squelch Black's attacking chances. Now, in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman looks at the From's Gambit as an ideal antidote to the Bird's Opening - and doubly so if black is a dedicated 1 e4 e5 player.
From's Gambit Part 1
Part 2
  Janisch Gambit Ruy Lopez
The Jaenisch or Schliemann Gambit in the Ruy Lopez with 3 ...f5 dates back to 1847. This provocative pawn sacrifice by black as early as move three often leads to games of a swashbuckling nature. Black dictates the action from the earliest moment - and often it can confuse the players of the white pieces. It has received a new lease of life with its adoption at elite level by Teimour Radjabov and others. And in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman takes a closer look at the Jaenisch/Schliemann Gambit.
Janisch Gambit Part 1
Part 2
  Chatard-Alekhine Attack
The Chatard-Alekhine Attack in the Classical French Defense with 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.h4!? is a formidable weapon in the hands of an aggressive player - and only a few years ago, Alexander Morozevich used it to demolish French expert Viktor Korchnoi in just 20 moves! White sacrifices his h-pawn for an immensely dangerous initiative. This leads to the complex struggle, where White has rapid and easy development. Now. in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman looks at the dangerous Chatard-Alekhine Attack.
Chatard-Alekhine Attack Part 1
Part 2
  Central Attack Philidor Defence
"Pawns are the soul of chess," once opined the mild-mannered 18th century French musical composer Francois-Andre Philidor, who was also the most famous chess-player of his day. He championed 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 as an alternative to the more common 2 ...Nc6. The seemingly passive defense went from obscurity to everyone having a closer look in the late 1960s with Bent Larsen's pamphlet, "Why Not the Philidor Defense?" Popular recent books though by GM Tony Kosten, and more lately The Philidor Files by GM Christian Bauer, has seen a revival in the Philidor at club level. And in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman takes a closer look at the Philidor's Defense, including his main idea of the counter-gambit with 3 ..f5!?
Central Attack Philidor Defence Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
  Albin Countergambit
Invented nearly 90 years ago by the Austrian master Adolf Albin (1848-1920), the Albin counter-gambit (1 d4 d5 2 c4 e5!?) gives up a pawn for space in the center and is generally thought to be unsound - but Black has many tricks and traps to hold the balance. For many years it was a big favorite at club level, but regarded as dubious at top level, as Black doesnt gain full value for the sacrificed pawn. But Alexander Morozevich soon changed all that by breathing new life into it. And in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman takes a closer look at the Albin Counter Gambit.
Albin Countergambit Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
  Two Knights Chigorin Gambit
4. Ng5 in the Two Knight's Defense is an interesting, sharp move that practically wins a pawn by force, but Siegbert Tarrasch called it a "duffer's move". We all know of the swashbuckling Wilkes-Barre Variation, Lolli Variation and the Traxler Counter-gambit that are all part of the sacrificial Fried Liver Attack. Now, in his latest Gambit Guide series for Chess.FM, GM Boris Alterman looks into what is regarded as a more common Black response, attributed to Mikhail Chigorin, the Father of Russian Chess, that eschews all of the complications with 4... d5 5. exd5 Na5.
Chigorin Gambit Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
  Two Knights Morphy Attack
4. Ng5 in the Two Knight's Defense is an interesting, sharp move that practically wins a pawn by force, but Siegbert Tarrasch called it a "duffer's move". A common response is 4... d5 5. exd5, and we all know of the swashbuckling Wilkes-Barre Variation, Lolli Variation and the sacrificial Fried Liver Attack. But Black usually eschews all this with the main-line counter-gambit with 5...Na5. Now, in his latest Gambit Guide series for Chess.FM, GM Boris Alterman looks into the Morphy Variation with 6 d3, where Paul Morphy, the "pride and sorrow of chess," advocated trying to hang on to the pawn. Can it really be so simple for White to hang on to the pawn, or does Black have sufficient counter-play?
Morphy Attack Part 1
Part 2
  Max Lange Attack
Some openings are so unbalanced that one false move can cost you the game. A prime example being the Max Lange Attack, one of the stormiest opening systems of the 19th century that was named after the German master of the same name, who first suggested it in 1854. And in his latest Gambit Guide series, GM Boris Alterman takes a closer look at the out of vogue Max Lange with 1. e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5. 0-0 Bc5!? - a position that can be reached by a plethora of openings, such as the Two Knights Defense, Petroff's Defense, Scotch Gambit, Bishop's Opening, Center Game and Giuoco Piano.
Max Lange Attack Part 1
Part 2
  Urusov Gambit
GM Boris Alterman explores the exciting Urusov Gambit in the Bishop's Opening with 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4!, a fertile training ground for those looking to improve their basic understanding of tactics. Documented by Ponziani in the 18th century, this gambit was first analyzed in 1857 by Russian aristocrat Prince Sergei Urusov, a close friend of the chess-playing literary icon Leo Tolstoy, and one of Russia's best players of his day. The gambit was deployed in a number of correspondence games between the two and mentioned in surviving letters in the Tolstoy collection, but alas the games themselves have been lost.
Urusov Gambit Part 1
Part 2
  Benko Gambit

GM Boris Alterman explores the Benko Gambit (1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 b5). Black's counterplay is very durable compared to many other gambits, in that the queenside pressure can last well into the endgame. The idea to sacrifice a pawn with ...b5 and ...a6 was an old favorite of Czech master Karel Opocensky in the mid-1930s. Then, the original name of the opening was the Volga Gambit - named after the Volga River - after an article about 3...b5!? by B. Argunow that appeared in the magazine Schachmaty in USSR of 1946. But it soon shot to fame and near universal club-level adoption at the end of the 1960s after its eponym, Pal Benko, honed and developed the gambit into a potent attacking weapon for black on the back of many big U.S. Swiss victories during this period.

Benko Gambit Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
  Traxler counter-attack
GM Boris Alterman continues to explore the tricky Two Knights Defense, as he moves on to the Traxler (or Wilkes-Barre) counter-attack with 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Nf6 4 Ng5 Bc5!? It's named after the Czech priest Karel Traxler, who first played a game in the line in 1890. However, it wasn't until Correspondence World champion Yakov Estrin wrote a famed book on the Two Knights some 80 years later that the main theory of the opening really developed. The idea is to ignore the early attack on f7 with the bold 4...Bc5!?, as a sacrificial blitz soon ensues.
Traxler Counter Attack Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
  Fried Liver Attack
GM Boris Alterman explores the legendary Fried Liver Attack in the Two Knights Defence with 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Nf6 4 Ng5 d5 5 exd5 Nxd5 6 Nxf7!? The Two Knights Defence is one of the trickiest tactical openings around. If White initiates complications with the so-called Fried Liver Attack, play becomes extremely sharp and gambits and counter gambits abound. Anyone who enters the murky waters of the Fried Liver must be well prepared for the mind-boggling complications that ensue.
Fried Liver Attack Part 1
Part 2
  Falkbeer Counter Gambit
GM Boris Alterman explores a reliable counter to the King's Gambit with 1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 e4, the Falkbeer Counter Gambit. Ever since 1850, when Ernst Falkbeer published his analysis, the Falkbeer Counter Gambit has been a theoretically important and reliable system against the King's Gambit. There is a certain spirit in this defense that not only thwarts Whites aims of quick development of the venerable gambit but is complicated by an offer of a pawn on d5. This spirit is consistent with the great attacking play of Anderssen and Morphy and their Falkbeer games can be found in many classic game collections.
Falkbeer Counter Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
  Hennig-Schara Gambit
Boris Alterman explores an aggressive way to disarm the Queen's Gambit with 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 c5 4 cxd5 cxd4!?, the Hennig-Schara Gambit. It was first noted by Austrian master Anton Schara, who used it to defeat Ernest Gruenfeld during an offhand game at Vienna in 1918. Then ten years later, the relatively little-known German master Heinrich von Hennig picked up on Schara's published analysis to be the first to do any serious study of the gambit and introduced it into tournament praxis at Duisburg 1929. With the dynamic complexities of this early gambit against the normally solid Queen's Gambit, you can confuse and dismay many a 1 d4 players, creating excellent preconditions for winning chess - for Black!
Hennig-Schara Gambit Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
  Budapest Gambit
GM Boris Alterman explores the Budapest Gambit (1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e5). The Budapest is popular with club and internet chess players all over the world, and it is easy to see why. It has surprise value, its not hard to learn, and it leads to sharp and dynamic play from the very start of the game. It was first played by Hungarian great Geza Maroczy at Budapest, 1896, but it was his fellow countrymen Abonyi, Barasz and Breyer who developed and popularized the opening in the early part of the 20th-century. While it is rarely seen at top level (though Mamedyarov deployed it in 2008 at the Amber tournament to beat Kramnik! Game HERE), it is not only solid and reliable, but you can also catch unaware opponents out in one of the myriad of opening traps to pick up a free win!
Budapest Gambit Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
  Cochrane Gambit
Boris Alterman explores the Cochrane Gambit against the normally staid Petroff's Defence with 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nxe5 d6 4 Nxf7!? - an idea that stunned the chess world not only when it was first played in 1848, but also when Veselin Topalov resurrected it again in 1999 against Vladimir Kramnik at Linares. A swashbuckler by nature, 19th-century Scottish master John Cochrane (1798 - 1878) - who is also associated with the confusing naming history of the Scotch Game - was the epitome of the early romantic era of chess, and his legacy lives on through the centuries with his daring tactical idea that survives unrefuted to this day. The Cochrane Gambit involves the sacrifice of a knight as early as move four to lure out the opponent's king in a complex board full of pieces, whilst pushing forward in the center with a mobile armada of pawns.
Cochrane Gambit Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
  Evans Gambit
GM Boris Altermans begins a two video series investigating perhaps one of the soundest of the romantic gambits from the 18th century that is still used at top level in the game today - The Evans Gambit with 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Bc5 4 b4!? Captain William Davies Evans was the captain of a sailing packet carrying mail between Milford Haven and Waterford in Great Briton in the 1820s. During one of these crossings the gallant captain suddenly discovered a promising new fourth move for White And so, the Evans Gambit was born coming at the height of the romantic period in the game, the swashbuckling gambit soon took the imagination of the chess world and was adopted by the likes of McDonnell, Labourdonnais, Anderssen, Moprhy, Chigorin and Steinitz. However, despite never being refuted, the gambit went out of fashion at the turn of the 20th Century only to come back in dramatic style in 1995, when Garry Kasparov rehabilitated this venerable old gambit.
Evans Gambit Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
  Danish Gambit
The Dashing Danish explores the 19th-century Danish Gambit, first popularized by Danish player Severin From at the Paris tournament of 1867, with 1 e4 e5 2 d4 exd4 3 c3 dxc3 4 Bc4 cxb2 5 Bxb2 - an instant attack favored by swashbuckling masters such as Alekhine, Marshall, Blackburne, and Mieses.
Danish Gambit Part 1
Part 2
 

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