The From Gambit
The From Gambit is a popular response to
Bird’s Opening (1.f4), where Black replies with 1...e5. Over the years, some sources have regarded
this as the most fearsome and critical response to Bird’s Opening, while some others
have considered it to be refuted. As is
often the case, the truth lies somewhere in between. The gambit appears reasonably sound, but
probably not as objectively good as the popular positional alternative of
1...d5 followed by a kingside fianchetto, as White
appears to get a small edge in all lines.
It has been analysed extensively in Kaissiber
magazine no. 36.
White has various ways to decline the
gambit, but none of them promise more than equality. From a “practical chances” point of view,
2.e4 transposing to the King’s Gambit is probably the best way of declining, as
many players who meet 1.f4 with 1...e5 may not necessarily meet 1.e4 with
1...e5, and the King’s Gambit
After 2.fxe5, Black normally replies with
2...d6, against which the most critical continuation is 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 (or
3.Nf3 dxe5 4.Nxe5 Bd6 5.Nf3, leading to the same position). Black can then choose between three main
options. 4...Nf6 is sensible and can be
followed up in a reserved fashion with ...0-0 and ...Re8, although Black also
has the aggressive idea of ...Ng4, with tactics based on ...Nxh2 and
...Bg3+. 4...g5 is aggressive but risky,
aiming to prise open White’s kingside immediately with ...g4. 4...Bg4!? is a relatively unexplored
alternative, and the continuation 5.e3 c5!? has been examined by John
Watson. All three variations appear
playable and give Black good practical chances, but objectively White probably
gets a slight advantage in all cases.
For those interested in the 4...g5
variation an additional recent source is Abby Marshall’s article on From’s Gambit at Chesscafe.com: http://www.chesscafe.com/abby/abby41.htm
An alternative approach for Black is the
“Neo-From” with 2...Nc6. Against both
3.Nc3 and 3.Nf3, Black’s best option is probably 3...d6 4.exd6 Bxd6, followed
by 5...Nf6, which will generally transpose to lines arising from 2...d6 3.exd6
Bxd6 4.Nf3 Nf6 followed by 5...Nc6. The
line 3.Nf3 g5?! is dubious because of 4.h3!, as was demonstrated convincingly
in Kaissiber 36. For these reasons, the standard 2...d6 is
easier to recommend.
2nd, 3rd and 4th-move
Starting with the moves 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5, I
look at 2...Nc6, plus White’s alternatives to the continuation 2...d6 3.exd6
Bxd6 4.Nf3, and the line 4.Nf3 Bg4!?, which gives Black good counterplay although objectively White is slightly better.
Gambit Accepted- 4...g5 and 4...Nf6
The most important continuations after 1.f4
e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 are 4...g5 and 4...Nf6. 4...g5 is ambitious but risky, while 4...Nf6
is quite a flexible move as it can be followed up conservatively (with ...0-0
and ...Re8) or with the more aggressive but riskier ...Ng4. At present both moves look playable, though
not quite sufficient for full equality.
Back to chess homepage