We all known that Bobby Fischer has published the famous "A Bust to The King's Gambit", where the gambit is said to be losing for white. Why is it so? Is there any line that can secure black an advantage in the opening, assuming best play from white from today's point of view?


3 Answers 3


We all known that Bobby Fischer has published the famous "A Bust to The King's Gambit", where the gambit is said to be losing for white. Why is it so? Is there any line that can secure black an advantage in the opening, assuming best play from white?

It is not refuted but the Modern variation is very "pleasant" for Black at the moment, even though being "equal". The fact is that White barely holds equality here, and if he makes the slightest mistake then chances are high for him to lose the game. I am referring to the line 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 d5! 4.exd5.

Other old popular lines are very sharp and unexplored but mainly easier to play with Black. I refer to the lines where Black plays ...g5 with Black's dark squared bishop being posted on d6 or g7. These are simply ultra sharp, inhuman lines where even computers explode!

That is the reason why you will not see King's Gambit being played at the top/master level:

  1. Too much memorization of lines which can be refuted by one computer-like novelty;

  2. Even if White manages to get out of the opening with "equal" position, Black usually has easier time playing the middlegame;

I have checked the evaluations of all the lines in the Chess Informant ECO ( 2006 ) and my claims are supported -> White will always have a move that offers equal / sharp game, but the positions are wild and very hard to play.

This is not something that top GMs want, they do not enter into highly tactical lines.

The reason for this is that in order to play this type of chess, you need to be physically very fit, you need to solve puzzles on a daily basis, you lose a lot of energy over the board when playing like this ( this is very dangerous for tournament play because you will play subsequent games worse ), the amount of stress you suffer is very high, and most of the time the entire line can be refuted by a single novelty found by a computer. Furthermore, the openings like this reduce to "I calculate better than you" type of game, so GM can not defeat markedly weaker player if he prepared his opening and calculates as good as that GM ( I have seen players who "fit this bill" so it is not impossible ).

If you intend to play King's Gambit as White, or you play 1...e5 by all means get John Shaw-King's Gambit ( 2013 ) as it is most up-to-date publication and the coverage is simply exceptional.

I wish I could give you some illustrative lines but the material is so vast that it would not fit in 10 posts or even more! Just get the book and all will be clear!

Best regards.

  • I like this answer. Would you agree that the primary reason we don't see the KG at GM level is that it doesn't promise white an advantage against best play by black (like the Ruy Lopez does)? After all, if memorization was the only issue (as suggested by your reason 1), I'm sure that top GMs would spend the time necessary memorizing in order to gain an advantage. It would also be interesting to know if there are any GMs that regularly play the KG...
    – Potato
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 6:25
  • @Potato: Well, Shaw's book has roughly 700 pages and he didn't cover all of the lines! Also, computer-analyzed lies are prone to error because now all depends on hardware strength the author used to analyze critical lines ( ...g5 + Bd6 / Bg7 ). All those lines are irrational and can't be played well by a human. No GM would study 700+ pages just to get a position that is unfathomable and impossible to calculate. As a bonus, it doesn't even promise an advantage or even equality as you have correctly noticed. There are top GMs who play it, like Nakamura... Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 8:14
  • @DavidRicherby: I have corrected my answer per your instructions. Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 21:37
  • 1
    @Potato: You are always welcome! Hopefully we shall see someone at the top brave enough to revive this wild opening :) Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 21:38
  • 2
    @Danu: It is an April fools joke. It was submitted before as an answer here but was deleted. In my opinion, it is a bad joke... Commented Mar 1, 2015 at 5:45

Just my totally subjective opinion. Seems to me that at sub-master level - the goal is to have fun and enjoy the thrills and chills of the game.

So why not play King's Gambit as well as all the other gambits ? Accept that you might get blasted off the board - but you might equally wind up getting some sudden inspiration and doing the same to your opponent.

Why even worry about whether or not grandmasters currently favor an opening or whether it is fashionable at the moment ?

And who cares if computers like a line or not ?

I love it when people throw gambits at me that I am totally unprepared for - it gets the juices flowing.

  • I agree with the spirit - if you're playing chess for fun and not against people who dedicate their lives to studying chess, then feel free to do what's fun and risky.
    – qwr
    Commented Apr 15, 2022 at 20:34

The King's gambit is probably not refuted, but Black has several good replies to it. White's goal is certainly to play a sharp game with a quick attack and Black can either oblige and try to outplay White on such lines:

    [FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]

    1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5 4. h4 g4

This is the start of some crazy lines, and anything can happen here. Of course, there is the Fischer move, but it is not necessarily a forced win for Black, just a good game:

    [FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]

    1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 d6

d6 is just a waiting move that prevents White's Knight to jump on e5 later on. But Black also have a whole family of defenses based on a quick d7-d5 that levels things immediately and let Black with a safe position:

    [FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]

    1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 d5

All that to say that Black has many interesting ways to fight that give him at least equality on perfect play. If you are interested, check my article on the many ways to play the King's gambit.

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