When I see the Evans Gambit, I don't see the point of it, maybe because I am a beginning player. It seems that after:

[FEN ""]

1. e4  e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Bc5
4. b4  Bxb4
5. c3  Bc5

Since the bishop can go back to c5, it seems we are just back to the beginning and white has already lost a pawn. After watching some videos on this, I have seen that white can build a strong attack if the queen moves to b3 which can then backup the bishop on c4 and eye the a1-h8 diagonal, and the critical f7 square. Is this it's main purpose (especially if it is accepted)? If it is, why is it accepted more than declined?

3 Answers 3


Black's choice of where to put the Bishop on move 5 is awkward, and any choice will give White some compensation:

  • 5... Ba5 would give White the possibility of Ba3 at some point to cut off the King from castling and the Bishop won't be very useful after White castles out of the pin on c3.

  • 5... Bc5 allows 6. d4, taking control of the center with tempo after which White can develop quickly and try to attack.

  • 5... Be7 is rather passive and blocks a square for the g8-Knight, and White can develop very naturally and aggressively.

The reason White is better off than before move 4 is that the c3-pawn supports d4. d4 is very strong especially when White can gain a tempo on the Bishop.

Declining it with 4... Bb6 is not unheard of, but 4... Bxb4 is generally considered more challenging.

  • I don't see the point of 5...Bc5 because then I believe your back to square one (no pun intended). Do you have any comments on by queen to b3 point I made?
    – xaisoft
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 20:39
  • Not quite. The c3-pawn supports the move d4, which was not the case before the pawn sacrifice. d4 is very strong because White takes control of the center, gains a tempo on the Bishop, and has several good development plans. Qb3 is sometimes possible without playing the gambit as well, though. Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 20:41
  • Can't white play c3 before b4?
    – xaisoft
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 20:44
  • Yes, but it has its downsides. Consider the two situations: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Bc5 6.d4 Now White has already played both c3 and d4 and Black's Bishop must move. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 White has not yet played d4, and Black can choose a developing move rather than being forced to move the Bishop. Play often continues 4...Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ followed by a trade of pieces. Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 20:47

Evans Gambit is NOT refuted despite what some stuffy theorists will say. In almost all lines black has to give back the pawn at one point or suffer a serious disadvantage. Besides, even if the gambit was totally refuted it would be ridiculous for anyone (even a grandmaster) to learn all of the lines that lead to an advantage for black.

The thing you have to remember when you play gambits is that humans are not computers. Even if they are very familiar with the lines they are bound to make tiny mistakes, gambits might not work against computers but chess is a human game.

  • "Evans Gambit is NOT refuted despite what some stuffy theorists will say" the fact that it hasn't been played much (actually it hasn't played at all) at 2700+ level in the last 20 years pretty much says it all, though. This said, as in every line, of course people can find new ideas and revive old openings.
    – gented
    Commented Nov 23, 2017 at 14:19

White gains time to develop his pieces (mainly the dark squared bishop, at the expense of a pawn whose absence won't hurt until the endgame.

The Evans has now been researched, and with correct play, Black can get to the endgame with an advantage. But before the "modern" understanding of theory, White could often get a winning middle game. Hence, the Evans can be used against inexperienced Black players, and in the "old days," opponents who were generally less well schooled than today's players.

  • 3
    When you say, "with correct play, Black WILL get to the endgame with an advantage," what line of play do you have in mind?
    – ETD
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 0:41
  • @Ed Dean: Black does OK in most of these lines: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evans_Gambit. But they've been discovered mostly in the last half century or so.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 1:19
  • 1
    Doing OK is one thing, but your answer suggests Black can guarantee an advantageous endgame. If you really do mean the latter, I am curious how Black achieves that.
    – ETD
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 1:38
  • 2
    @TomAu, the description in the second paragraph of your post would fit well for an unsound gambit. However, I believe that Evans Gambit is sound enough to the point where black does not get an advantage with correct play from both sides. Of course, I could be wrong. If you know of a line that refutes the Evans Gambit, I would be very interested to know.
    – Akavall
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 2:43
  • 2
    If anyone has a refutation for the Evan's Gambit, please email it to me marked Top Secret and whatever you do, don't post it here for everyone to see... ;)
    – Andrew
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 4:10

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