Edit: My mind played a trick on me after the fact. As Akavall notes in a comment, the Chadaev-Carlsen blitz game that I mention below actually proceeded
1. e4 g6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nf3, a different gambit than the one my question asks about. So please ignore the references to Chadaev-Carlsen in reference to the Roscher Gambit here. (Incidentally, this means that Carlsen didn't buck the trend of highly-rated players avoiding
3. ... Nxe4 in the Roscher Gambit; see below.)
The Roscher Gambit goes as follows:
[FEN ""] 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nf3
I just saw Nikolai Chadaev convincingly defeat Magnus Carlsen at the World Blitz Championship using this line (where Carlsen accepted the gambit with
3. ... Nxe4). I realized I've basically never seen this gambit, and that I know nothing about it. (I even had to look up a name for it to ask this question.)
It is very seldom played, and especially so among highly-rated players: my database of 5.2M games contains a mere 99 games reaching the position after
3. Nf3, with the average White (respectively, Black) rating in the games being 1953 (1976). But there are 7 games in which 2400+ players tried the gambit as White against equally strong competition (and 2 games with 2500+ players). The most popular response over all games is indeed the obvious
3. ... Nxe4, being chosen in 46 of the 99 games. (Second most popular is continuing in Pirc Defense fashion with
3. ... g6; these two moves account for almost all the games, 83 of 99.)
All of that is about what I would expect. But, interestingly, in the games I have in this line with the highest-rated players, Black consistently avoids
3. ... Nxe4, preferring the
3. ... g6 Pirc approach, or instead aiming for the Philidor with
3. ... e5 (or
3. ... Nbd7 followed by
4. ... e5), Czech Defense with
3. ... c6, or even the Nimzowitsch Defense with
3. ... Nc6. The highest rated player I find playing
3. ... Nxe4 has Elo 2245 (until this Carlsen blitz game of course).
The sample size here is quite small, and maybe the highly-rated players have avoided
3. ... Nxe4 just because they are worried about stepping in to a well-prepared trap, instead preferring to head for more familiar ground. Nevertheless, the fact that the strongest players consistently avoid accepting the gambit - except for Carlsen, who got stomped, though it's just a blitz game - has made me curious:
What is the the theoretical status of the Roscher Gambit? Or is it too seldom played to even have a theoretical status?
And if it's the case that
3. ... Nxe4isn't simply good for Black, then why doesn't the Roscher appear more often, or at least have the same popularity among amateurs as something like, say, the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit?
I had no luck finding any prose account of the gambit by a strong player, and would appreciate any pointers to such.