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

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.



1.f4 e5




From’s Gambit coverage


2nd, 3rd and 4th-move alternatives

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.

From’s 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.



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