King’s Gambit – Mistakes & Blunders Explained

Once again, chess players in the Decorah area will be gathering for some chess magic at Pulpit Rock Wednesday, 1/12/2022 , from 6:00-8:30pm. We’ll look at some puzzles, examine a few strategies, and then play as many games as you have time for. Come join the fun!

Last week, I explored King’s Gambit as far as 1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3, and offered a few alternatives to Black’s accepting the gambit 2. … exf4 with either a counter gambit 2. … d5 or just not accepting.  I wanted to dive into some possible mistakes and blunders that could occur during this opening for White.

King’s Gambit Mistakes and Blunders for White

Let’s say that after 1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4, that white makes the move 3. d4 in hopes of gaining control of the center while at the same time attacking the black pawn on f4.

An error by white

As we saw last week, the answer to this would be 3. … Qh4+.  At first, this may not seem like that big a deal for white, but it is a bigger debacle than one might think, especially given that the best move here for white is 4. Ke2 giving up any castling opportunities on the 4th move!

Let’s see why 4. Ke2 is the only good move. The only other two options are 4. Kd2 or 4. g3. 

Black’s Answer to 4. Kd2

In this situation, black answers with 4. Qf2+! If white plays best, they will lose only the pawn on d4 and have a difficult game after that. While better than 4. g3, it is worse than 4. Ke2.

Black’s response to 4. g3

This attempt at blocking black is the worst move. Black will accept this piece with 4. … fxg3 giving white an illusion of an opportunity to recover. It turns out that the best response is to get in the way of this pawn with 5. Bg2. Why? Let’s instead try the knight attack with 5. Nf3.

What is Black’s best move?

Since the queen is being attacked you may think that 5. … Qxe4+ is the best move. While it isn’t horrible, Black has a much bigger opportunity with 5. … g2+!!  After White’s knight takes Black’s queen with 6. Nxh4, Black gets it right back after capturing the rook with 6. … gxh1=Q. 

Black is now up a rook and a pawn.

This shouldn’t discourage white from playing the king’s gambit! It should only offer strong reason-backed encouragement for playing 3. Nf3 on the third move! 

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