The Göring Gambit


The Göring Gambit was endorsed by Gary Good over at Mark Morss’s “Hard Chess” site, although sadly “Hard Chess” closed down shortly after Gary wrote his first article (he focused on 4…Nf6 5.e5 Ne4) and so we never got to see the other two articles that he had planned.

When the Göring Gambit is accepted, White has to generate active piece play and maintain the initiative at almost any cost in order to justify a deficit of one or two pawns, often leading to complete chaos on the chessboard.  When it is declined, White often ends up with a typical “isolated queen’s pawn” type of position, requiring White to generate active piece play in order to compensate for the isolated pawn on d4.  “Isolated queen’s pawn” positions occur frequently in chess, even at the highest levels of play, so it is well worth getting used to the dynamics of such positions.  Thus, the Göring is a good opening for purposes of getting to grips with active piece play and use of the initiative.  Furthermore, in a theoretical sense I believe that White’s resources have generally been underestimated in the line 4…dxc3 5.Nxc3 Bb4 and in the declining line 4…d5.

In this Göring Gambit article I refer to the move-order 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.c3, but the opening can be reached via the move-order 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.c3, and 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 will often transpose to it, especially if White intends to meet 3…dxc3 with 4.Nxc3.

Some variations of this gambit have been explored at Mark Morss's "Hard Chess" column, and there is a very extensive (albeit "variation-heavy") analysis of the whole opening in the book Danish Dynamite.


1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.c3 (or 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.c3)

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Göring Gambit coverage



Coverage of Black’s alternatives to 4...d5 and 4...dxc3.  These options generally fall short of full equality, but 4...Nge7 and 4...Nf6 are reasonable tries for Black and are worth knowing about, and are also relevant for the theory of the Ponziani Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 Nge7 4.d4 exd4, and 3...Nf6 4.d4 exd4, are the respective transpositions).


A close look at Black’s most tried and trusted way of declining the gambit: 4...d5.  White cannot get a theoretical advantage against it, but has ways to keep the play unbalanced and sharp.  Most variations lead to positions where White has an isolated pawn on d4 and temporarily falls behind in development, but is then able to generate active piece play into the middlegame.

4...dxc3 5.Nxc3

Recapturing the pawn and developing a piece at the same time makes sense.  White will generally follow up with Bc4, with ideas of Qb3 and/or Ng5 putting pressure on f7, and other motifs include Nc3-d5 and hitting a premature ...Nf6 with e4-e5.  The main objection has traditionally been the line 5...Bb4 6.Bc4 d6, but I think White is doing fine there after 7.Ng5.

4...dxc3 5.Bc4 others

White sacrifices a second pawn in order to accelerate development.  5...cxb2 is the most theoretically critical response but it is also very dangerous, so Black often prefers to decline the pawn on b2.  In most cases White’s best is then to play 6.Nxc3 transposing to 5.Nxc3 lines, but there are some independent alternatives; in particular after 5...Bb4, both 6.0-0 and 6.bxc3 are promising for White.

4...dxc3 5.Bc4 cxb2 6.Bxb2

This line is very hard to assess, as Black gets two extra pawns but White gets a very strong initiative.  The standard motifs are generally the same as in the 5.Nxc3 lines, but White has additional pressure on the a1-h8 diagonal.  6...Bb4+ and 6...d6 are the only lines that seriously test the soundness of the 5.Bc4 variation.



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