The king's gambit has a lot of initiative and attack. Is there a good defense to neutralize this initiative?
[Title "King's gambit bust!"] [StartPly "6"] [FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 d6
What have we achieved here.
- Our opponent is a pawn down
- Our bishop is freed, pointing at the somewhat weakened kingside. With the idea of Bg5 and other threats.
- The knight jump on e5 isn't a plan anymore
- Lots of ideas for black.
I'm not an e5-player, but sometimes I play it when I know that someone is well-prepared against my usual defenses or in blitz games for fun. Here is what I'm using:
[Title "KG random side variation"] [StartPly "16"] [FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] 1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 Ne7 4. Bc4 d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. O-O Be7 7. d4 Be6 8. Qe2 O-O
3. Ne7 might be rated as suspicious but it's viable move to make. It's not widely played so there's a chance that your oponent won't know theory here at all. Those kinds of position are rather equals for human beings. Of course it's always a tiny tiny plus but it's nothing decisive.
I've had success with the Cunningham Defense as it keeps White from castling:
[Title "Cunningham Defense"] [StartPly "9"] [FEN ""] 1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 Be7 4. Bc4 Bh4+ 5. Kf1
If you're looking to “fight fire with fire”, the Falkbeer Countergambit may interest you.
[Title "Falkbeer Countergambit"] [StartPly "9"] [FEN ""] 1. e4 e5 2. f4 d5!?
If you are interested in very sharp, attacking play, then you will enjoy this defense. White must be very careful from the beginning because it is very easy to lose the game from a single misstep.
[Title "Falkbeer Countergambit"] [StartPly "9"] [FEN ""] 1. e4 e5 2. f4 d5!? 3. fxe5?? Qh4+ 4. g3 Qxe4+