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I was studying the Danish Gambit recently. The Wikipedia page about Danish Gambit listed the first moves as: 1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3...

[FEN " "]
1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3

I am a beginner and I didn't what to do after. The page itself listed a few variations.

  • 4...d6 5.Bc4 Nc6 6.Nf3
  • 4...Bc5 5.Bc4 Nc6 6.Nf3
  • 4...Nc6 5.Bc4 and 6.Nf3
  • 4...Bb4 5.Bc4

But I could not understand them (I mean, I couldn't make out the use of making those particular moves). Could anyone help me to decode the underlying tactics of making such moves?

  • 2
    This is hard for beginners to play well. The reason is that amateurs waste moves. But the point of a gambit is to make productive use of the time lost by opponents when they take pawns. Black has won a pawn in the opening variation but has lost a little time. But White is likely to fritter her advantage away before too long. White must conjure an attack that keeps Black back on her heels. At the very least the attack must equalize material, and hopefully gets a little more. – Tony Ennis Dec 5 '13 at 1:36
  • This is actually closer to the Goring Gambit. The Danish goes 4. Bc4 cxb2 5. Bxb2. – Herb Wolfe Oct 4 '17 at 21:45
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    A good general rule for studying opening: do not look at variations, look at games. If possible, games with comments from one of the players. 1.It is less boring 2.You will understand ideas better 3.You can always go back to theory after and have a better feeling about the pluses and minuses of each moves. – Evargalo Oct 26 '17 at 7:30
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Well, both sides are trying to develop their pieces.

For White, Bc4 develops his bishop and points at the important f7 square. Nf3 develops his knight and controls d4 and e5. He could also eventually now play Ng5 aiming again at f7.

Black also wants to develop his pieces. ...Nf6 is often one of the first developing moves Black makes, clearing out pieces from his kingside back rank so that he can castle, but right now 4...Nf6 would be silly because White would just play 5.e5 and Black's knight would have nowhere to go except back to g8. So other ideas of his include

  • 4...d6, controlling e5 to make ...Nf6 possible, and also clearing space for his light-squared bishop to develop
  • 4...Bc5, developing his bishop and taking one step towards castling kingside
  • 4...Nc6, developing his knight and controlling the central squares d4 and e5
  • 4...Bb4, with some of the same ideas as ...Bc5, also creating a pin so that White's knight can't move and e4 is less defended.

No crazy tactics, just getting your pieces all out there so you can start fighting.

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The general idea of a gambit is to sacrifice a pawn in order to grab the initiative. The goal of the Danish gambit is to attack the black king before it has time to castle. Try the more sharp

[FEN ""]
1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Bc4 cxb2 5.Bxb2

Next, the idea is to attack the black king, mainly the f7 square using the light squared bishop, the queen and perhaps the knight from g1. Also, to control the center, castle and then include the rooks in the attack. Try this in your games and explore these positions.

  • I don't think suggesting a different line answers the question... – Evargalo Oct 26 '17 at 7:28
  • @Evargalo Yes, you are right, feel free to downvote my answer. – Rauan Sagit Nov 21 '17 at 17:50
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The idea of whipping up a quick attack with threatening moves may not the best approach, unless Black creates weaknesses or wastes more time. For sure the Danish/Goring/whatever is not a forced win for White, and few masters would risk it against an equal opponent, who they expect to defend well. You will only get the chance to pile up on f7 against a weak opponent. Nevertheless its an idea to bear in mind. Black should not allow it and if he does allow it, White should probably go for it. And if Black does defend well, just make moves that improve your position, as always.

Strong Black players will often try to put you into a situation where you have no better alternative than just playing to get your pawn(s) back, and leaving you as the one with weaknesses. But by all means play some gambit games with a friend, taking turns to be the attacker. You will observe two fundamental chess concepts, material and mobility, struggling against each other. Play through some well-played Evans Gambits by some of the late nineteeth century players, Steinitz, Anderssen, Blackburne, Chigorin,...

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