Recently in an infamous online charity simul, against Vishy Anand's Zukertort opening 1. Nf3, Indian billionaire Nikhil Kamath played the dubious 1...e5?, the so-called "Ross Gambit" by chess.com and Lichess opening explorers. This promptly led to 2. Nxe5, Vishy capturing the pawn and putting him in an advantageous position, with a knight in the center of the board and the opponent down a pawn with no development. The only reference to the naming of this I could find is strangely from Urban Dictionary, which explains the origin of The Ross Gambit in ironic terms:

A complex, higher level chess endgame maneuver in which the winning player sets up an unnecessary stalemate. Its primary use is in matches where a draw is more advantageous than a win. Originally scoffed at by modern players, the depth and creativity of the Ross Gambit is now hailed by chess theoreticians worldwide. The Ross Gambit is classified under post-pre-modern chess endgame strategies.

In the infamous game of "Ross's Folly" (McCarthy v. Crutcher, 2010), Ross McCarthy narrowly pulled out a draw against the near-vanquished Ian Crutcher. McCarthy's success in creating a stalemate when Crutcher had nearly achieved defeat is the first documented instance of The Ross Gambit.

Unfortunately I cannot find any information on this game or even who these players are. Oddly it is referred to as an endgame strategy. Is there (reliable) documentation on the naming of this gambit?

  • Just idle speculation, but "Ross" is a synonym for (classy) horse in German language. Commented Jun 15, 2021 at 8:11
  • I've also seen online speculation having to do with Ross from Friends playing chess, but I couldn't find any references to the opening.
    – qwr
    Commented Jun 17, 2021 at 0:37

1 Answer 1


The Name

It originates from "Ross" which it German means "Horse". This is basically because you gambit and the knight takes. Pretty unexciting. Definitely not like the Jalalabad as an example of a cool history.

The Idea The whole intent of the gambit is to start an immediate attack on the queen. There is the potential for some sharp lines but that's about it.

I tried to dig around for some history; early comes popularity etc; Based of the survey that i had to build because turns out there really aren't any; its really only been played about 200 times in top level games , mostly online.

Earliest Reference I can find to this opening is an Unknown player vs Lasker. This was during a simultaneous game he was playing in the US.

[Event "Lasker Emanuel sim tour"]
[Site "USA"]
[Date "1907.??.??"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "Lasker, Emanuel"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A04"]
[FEN ""]

1. Nf3 e5 2. Nxe5 c5 3. d4 cxd4 4. Qxd4 d6 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. Qd1 Nf6 7. Nc3 d5 8. Bg5 d4 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Ne4 f5 11. Ned2 f4 12. c3 dxc3 13. bxc3 Bg7 14. Ne4 Qa5 15. Qd2 O-O 16. Rc1 Bf5 17. Nd6 Rad8 18. Nxb7 Qa3 19. Nxd8 Rxd8 20. Nd4 Nxd4 21. cxd4 Rxd4 22. Rc3 Qb4 23. Rd3 0-1

Other "Ross Gambits" specifically the Scandinavian Marshall/Ross Gambit.

Named after Thomas Ross, and is derived from the Scandinavian Defense, it is effectively a reversed Danish Gambit but for black. Highly suggest looking into it;


  • Do you have a source to back up the claim that it comes from German and not from teh player Thomas Ross ?
    – Evargalo
    Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 9:55
  • Yes, It is refrenced in Chess Opening Names - Volume 2. Also refrenced in the Chessbase e4 gambits course but I haven't got it installed to pull who says it.
    – Dheebs
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 6:45

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