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If White will just get a pawn back at no cost, why is the Queens Gambit a Gambit? Is it for historical reasons or something else?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think that it's just because it looks like a mirror version of the King's Gambit, nothing more.

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The fact that a gambit involves a sacrifice in no way means that the sacrifice is permanent. Very few mainline gambit openings for White leave the gambit player with no means of retaking his material.

While Wikipedia does not necessarily make the distinction between a gambit and a sacrifice, I would contend that there is a difference:

  • A sacrifice is intended as a permanent loss in material in exchange for a superior position.

  • A gambit is a temporary loss to hasten development or secure a position.

Based on this understanding, there is no reason NOT to consider the Queen's Gambit as a true gambit, unless you wish to state arbitrarily that there must be more than X number of plies between the loss and the subsequent regaining.

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A gambit is a chess opening where a pawn is sacrificed in order to grab the initiative. The Queen's gambit is called a gambit, because white sacrifices the c-pawn in order to get a better control in the center. After

[FEN ""]
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4

black has accepted the pawn with dxc4. The consequence is clear, without a pawn on d5, black has less control over the center squares e4 and d5. White can use this fact and soon play e2-e4, Nb1-c3 and Bf1-c4 to control these squares. Practice has shown that accepting the gambit is not the best option for black. Therefore, many opening systems have been developed where the gambit is declined, mainly using 2...e6 or 2...c6.

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