When gambits are played he/she wants them to be accepted. Accepting the gambit usually allows the Gambiteer to move the game into a prepared line of theory, where they know the tactics, strategy and traps. In many respects any player who declines the gambit is doing so to keep away from this preparation. It is therefore imperative that the Gambiteer is equally prepared in the declined as well as accepted lines.
The 2…e5 move forces White to decide whether to accept the gambit or decline the gambit.
If you are playing an opponent who knows of the BG or is of a relatively high rating they will most likely accept this gambit. However, not all of the BG games you play will be accepted gambits, some will be declined.
Declining the gambit gives Black equality through standard opening practice and in certain lines we can see Black gaining an advantage. Black will most likely have the first opportunity to castle, gain an equal control of the centre and good mobilisation of the pieces. In short, White loses the initiative.
We will now look at the options that White has when choosing to decline the gambit pawn. Each of these variations will be explained separately, but you will notice similarities between a number of them, e.g. castling kingside, the King’s Bishop moving to b4 or c5 and most importantly exd4 (where possible). This post concentrates solely on 3.Bg5 (with 4.Qxe4).
There are a number of options for White:
- 3.Bg5 – immediately pinning the knight
- 3.e3 - supporting the d4 pawn
- 3.Nf3 - supporting the d4 with a Knight
- 3.d5 - pushing the pawn.
Other options like 3.Be3 can be dismissed, for now, as they block pawns or development and simply taking the d4 pawn and developing naturally will give Black an advantage.
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.Bg5
The pin on the Black Knight threatens to weaken Black’s early control of the e4 square, but any exchange here would be better for Black as the game is likely to become open and beneficial to Bishops.
The pin should be met with the immediate pawn exchange
White has 2 sensible options. He can either choose to take the pawn immediately with 4.Qxd4 or develop first with 4.Nf3. We examine 4.Nf3 in our next blog!
Other variations, such as 4.Nbd2 or 4.g3 allow 4…Nc6 and the Pawn is difficult for White to win back.
White puts more pressure on the Knight at f6, but his Queen is out early and can be kicked off the d4 square whenever Black chooses.
Immediately threatening the Queen, with a developing move, where a retreat gives Black a tempo.
After a retreat by White’s Queen the moves Be7, d6 and 0-0 will serve Black well, giving a solid playable position with open lines and an advantage in development.
We will examine 2 possible continuations where White chooses not to lose the tempo; firstly he may take the Knight on f6 and secondly the Queen move with check on e3.
If White takes the pinned Knight we recommend removing the Queens from the board.
5…Nxd4 6.Bxd8 Kxd8
The lose of the castling is not an issue as the White King must now play 7.Kd1 or 7.Kd2 to avoid the Black Knight move 7…Nc2 winning the Knight-Rook exchange.
Black will have equality at least, having the Bishop-pair and a target with the White Pawn at c4.
Another 5th move option for White in the position shown on Board #7 is to move the queen with check.
This is the White Queen’s 2nd move and blocks the e2 pawn. Here the Black Queen developing to the e7 square.
This leaves White with a problem:
- Firstly, he can either immediately exchange Queens with 6.Qxe7+ Bxe7 leaving Black ready to castle and 3 pieces to 1 developed.
- He may choose a developing move (e.g. 6.Nc3) where Black should exchange Queens and force White to either double his pawns on the e file or take with the Bishop and continue to block in his e2 pawn, e.g. (6…Qxe3 7.Bxe3 b6 preparing to fiancetto the bishop).
- Play 6.Bxf6 where the exchange of Queens would leave Black with doubled pawns on the f-file and White with doubled pawns on the e-file, i.e. 6…Qxe3 7.fxe3 gxf6.
- The final choice would be to move the queen for a third time, e.g. 6.Qd2 and lose a tempo.
The move 3.Bg5 in the declined Budapest Gambit causes Black little trouble and in many lines aids with development, due to the Queens early development.