Takchess Chess Improvement

A Novice chessplayer works to get better at chess using an improvement program based upon the methods of Michael de la Maza and the teachings of Dan Heisman

Sunday, August 13, 2006

What I learned on my summer vacation about the King Gambit

I have been playing the King Gambit since March as my opening of choice. I learned it primarily through studying some classic games as well as lunch matches with some of my coworkers where we only play the King Gambit only. We often discuss the lines we played and would go through a period where we would play one variation such as the Muzio Gambit. I have played it a lot on Playchess.com and am developing fairly decent results with it.

The King Gambit is the opening I enjoy the most. In many positions , the King’s Gambit is a house of cards. One wrong pawn move and the whole structure can come tumbling down. I bet there are more miniature games as a percentage of games played in the KG than any other openings. At times a player must calculate whether a tempo spent capturing a piece will lead to a loss. Many KG’s leads to King marches, piece sacrifices combinations, battles over the entire board, and interesting mating patterns which appeal to my aggressive style and love of combinational play.

Also I believe there are better chances for me to beat higher rated players since many are less booked up against the KG and many position require extensive calculations which are tricky to find over the board. Even when the game becomes positional, I enjoy the positional ideas in the King Gambit which with a small misstep the game can become quite tactical.

As Pale Morning Dun says learning to play the King’s Gambit is like playing with a rocket launcher without an instruction manual . I often end up winning with some aggressive play and thinking I had played a nice solid game until I consult with Prof. Fritz who shows me how my opponent could of easily won except for one misstep. Case in Point game 2 in this blog 8...Qxg5 with a better game . I am finding that I am playing some classic lines which although fun do not stand up under proper defensive play. Occasionally a player with a better understanding of the KG will neutralize my play and turn the game to their advantage.

I just spent a week of vacation at Cape Cod where I spent some time learning more about the King Gambit. Very nice to sit in the sun playing through games with an analysis board, get hot, jump in the ocean and repeat 8).

I wanted to learn some book lines but more importantly understand, as Tempo says the Spirit of the Game. I felt I made strides at understanding the Falkbeer CounterGambit recently and wanted to extend that to the King’s Gambit Accepted, Knight Gambit which is the majority of what I play. The KGA-Knight Gambit follows this line 1. e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3. Nf3.

The variations I studied were

Kieseritzky Gambit and it’s dozen variations 3…..g5 4 h4 g4 5.Ne5 ….?
Fischer Defense 3…. d5
Modern Defense 3….d4,
Cunningham Defense 3…Be7
Vienna style King Gambit 3…Nc6,
Schallop Defense 3…Nf6

I used these books and this is what I thought about them.

Kornchoi King’s Gambit
Gallagher Winning with the Kings Gambit
Raingruber and Maser The King Gambit as White
Emms Play the Open Games as Black

For those wanting to play the Kings Gambit, all are worth having, Kornchoi book is an older flow chart style book which brings you through the common responses of both White and Black including lines that are dubious giving one a good historical perspective. I skipped over a lot of the lines where white play is poor and focused on the black responses to white good moves and blacks responses to them. It was published in the 70’s so is missing the modern KG theory.

Gallagher’s book is excellent and worth the trouble to find this out of print book. Gallagher writes from a GM viewpoint discussing the KG lines against best play. He uses a game format of his and other’s to discuss the reason behind each move. It is deeply annotated with multiple variations and offers a peek into how a GM weighs a position. He has an optimistic (but realistic) view of the Kings Gambit and writes with a sense of humor. Gallagher has been involved in the development in KG theory.

Raingruber book addresses the main lines of the KG and it not as personal as Gallaghers book. Each chapter involves a line in the King Gambit which is better described in Gallaghers book in game format. What I did like this book is the end of each chapter there are self study test questions. ie. Given this position can black safely play f4 ?. I would like to see this style in more chess books. If you search out this book make sure you get a later edition as they made some changes in the lines as theory has developed.

Emms book is just a good book to have if you respond 1…e5 to 1 e4 .It is a pragmatic book that recommends lines of play for black against all the open games openings. He recommends accepting and playing the Kieseritzky Berlin Variation.

In the next post I will tell you a little more about what I learned about the Ideas behind the King's Gambit

to be continued …….


  • At 12:09 AM, Blogger Temposchlucker said…

    In many positions , the King’s Gambit is a house of cards.

    That is funny. I play the KG for six years now and I feel it as one of the most solid openings. It never happens that the sealing comes down because of an opponent who walks over me tactically. If I lose with the KG, it is always after a long positional battle.

  • At 12:15 AM, Blogger Temposchlucker said…

    What I like the most about the KG is that it often LOOKS LIKE white is in an awkward position. Especially when that engourages my opponent to forget his development and launch an early attack. It always proofs to be based on an optical illusion. KG players have to learn to see thru this optical illusions, to see where the power really lies.

  • At 4:45 AM, Blogger takchess said…

    Thanks Tempo. I enjoy your comments on my blog especially when they are about the KG. I suppose the evolution of every opening makes it more positional. As my understanding evolves I am sure that it will become more positional. I see signs of that now. In my early stages of playing it I have often made a natural but fatal move. ... Hmmmm, I think I should play Bc4 now. Believe me, it can fall down like a house of cards especially when I overreach as white. As I learn more it has become a controlled chaos which I like.
    I like your illusion idea. I think its true. Especially black forcing white to move with an early check. Losing the right to castle and a mobile King for white even early in the game is not a bad thing. I was amazed at seeing some games with an early Nc3 forcing a King move to e2. The right to castle in some positions is highly over rated.

  • At 7:58 PM, Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said…

    Great post, especially for someone like me who is in their KG infancy stage. A few additions on extra resources:

    Chessbase CD ROM by Alexander Bangiev: Kings Gambit. To be honest I don't really like this CD because it has no text. However, there is a neat little section at the end which covers tactics, and it has a quiz format to it. The other nice thing is it has a database of 16,000 KG games.

    Neil McDonald also has a book out on the KG. I have enjoyed his book "The Art of Logical Thinking" but I have not gotten this book yet.

    For me, I've decided to play 3.Bc4 for now. It narrows down the choices for black a bit, but it always has that pesky 3...Qh4+ possibility followed by 4. Kf1, but as you've discussed, and tempo has commented, this is really an illusion, because black ulitmately wastes time moving his queen back after Nf3.

    It's amazing how often black tries to go immediately for the throat and pays for it.

  • At 1:30 AM, Blogger takchess said…

    The book that has alot of info on the Bishop Gambit the line you play is the Facinating King Gambit by johannson (sp?) I have never seen it but have seen some positive reviews. I like Niel Mcdonald work but read some comments that reviewers felt he did not have a great feel for the KG. In gallagher book there is a KG of mcdonalds and a comment that he gave some tips to him as to how to play it minutes before his first tourney kg.

  • At 7:53 AM, Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said…

    Ah ha! Thanks tak. I ordered the book. you can find the authors homepage about it here


    The idea of 3.Bc4 came from a DVD by Andrew Martin on the Kings Gambit. It's the Foxy Opening series. There he proposed 3.Bc4 and give some analysis. This book will hopefully help fully round out that introduction.

  • At 2:37 PM, Blogger takchess said…

    I am assuming you mean the idea for you to play it was from the Foxy Opening series. I think it was played premorphy in the 1500's .It would be pretty bold for martin to claim it as his own idea .

    In my profile I connected up to some other kg chessgames links listed here.If it doesn't show take a look at the profile for takkga.

    I linked to a foxy opening kg game collection. Johannson also had a book called kg for the creative agressor. I believe one of those links has games from that collection as well.


    Let me know what you think of the book. it would be fun to play sometime I always play 1...e5 to e4! on playchess as takchess.

  • At 1:40 PM, Blogger Pale Morning Dun - Errant Knight de la Maza said…

    lol. after I posted that last comment I realized how it could be interpreted as Martin claiming or even myself claiming (!) the innovation. Martin is very deferential to his predecessors, especially Bronstein, who has argued that 3. Bc4 is the way to go. I'm off to a wedding when I get back next week, I'll check out those links. And I will definitely give you a report on the book.


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