There are many good gambits, from tactical ones such as the Fried Liver Attack, the Evans Gambit, or the King's Gambit, to positional ones such as the Volga Gambit. But there are many bad gambits, such as The Omega Gambit(1.d4 Nf6 2.e4?) or gambits with one trap in mind, and nothing else (Blackburne-Shilling Gambit). Are there more of such gambits?

  • 6
    Can you clarify where you draw the line between a good gambit and a bad gambit? I think every one you mentioned is considered bad by theory but you may have a different definition in mind.
    – Cleveland
    Sep 28, 2014 at 14:55
  • A good gambit has a set goal, and has been proven to me a correct one. While there are lines that provide equality, the user has initiative for the lost pawn. In bad gambits, such as the Omega, there is nothing to achieve. In pseudo-gambits, there is a trap if you take the pawn, but if you don't, you are much better.
    – MikhailTal
    Sep 28, 2014 at 15:11
  • 1
    It would also probably help if you could clarify whether you're asking in absolute theoretical terms, or practical terms for some playing strength. For example, the Latvian Gambit has just about no redeeming qualities in theory, but it can get results in club play because it's difficult to find the winning moves for White if you don't know all the theory. Sep 29, 2014 at 14:23
  • How about this, playable at grandmaster level? The King's Gambit, Evans, Queen's can be played, while the latvian would suck.
    – MikhailTal
    Sep 29, 2014 at 15:48
  • @MikhailTal Perhaps it would be worth creating new questions asking for examples of gambits that are dangerous to the unaware but theoretically refuted, and also those pseudo-gambits you mentioned?
    – DTR
    Nov 25, 2014 at 2:49

3 Answers 3


latvian, halloween, wing, englund, elephant, freds, colorado, danish gambit, tennison, and budapest gambit of the top of my head. These gambits are unsound and a proper response will have the gambiter in a worse position.

Some gambits I do like are kings gambit, smith morra, evans, queens, scotch, benko, lisitsin, staunton, fried liver(Na5), froms.

  • 4
    I think that the King's Gambit, Smith-Morra Gambit, and Evans Gambit all fall into the category of "a proper response will leave the gambiter in a worse position".
    – Cleveland
    Sep 28, 2014 at 19:35
  • 1
    But all three have been apraised by theory as working, so...
    – MikhailTal
    Sep 28, 2014 at 19:58
  • 4
    Why is the King's Gambit "working" and the Danish Gambit isn't? Or the Budapest or Latvian? You seem to want a discrete classification when the reality is very much a continuum.
    – Cleveland
    Sep 28, 2014 at 22:10
  • Fischer provided a refutation to the King's Gambit. The Scotch Gambit is more unsound than the Danish Gambit. At top level, these work as a surprise, but nothing more..
    – Mike Jones
    May 29, 2020 at 10:16
  • fischer claimed to refute the king's gambit, but didn't(probably why most grandmaster don't respond with the fischer defense against the king's gambit, there are easier better ways for black to play). Scotch gambit is pretty sound and definitely more sound than the danish. At the top level, these openings are only used as a surprise weapon in blitz, and won't even be seen in classical time controls at the very top. Jun 2, 2020 at 22:04

I just want to save 2 gambits from being classified as "bad", the fried liver and the king's. 3 cooks fried an GM with the fried liver, the fried liver is +1.67, and the king's gambit's only "refutation" is the keene's defense, weakening the kingside (1.e4 e5 2.f4 Qh4+).

You could say the froms is good, but in fact, if white plays accurately, black would lose fast, analysis says the froms is +0.81. I accidently triped over an analysis of the omega gambit and it appears to be -0.66, while the kings is -0.79, so, you see, reputations isn't everything. There's another one, on my analysis board, the halloween is -0.59, see? The smith morra is not a great gambit with -0.21.

I just cannot understand the blackmar-diemer gambit, cause when theres an option to gambit a wing pawn, why gambit the center pawn? The 1.d4 d5 2.e4 is -0.97, and the 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.e4 is -0.72.

The old benoni is +0.88 if you don't accept the pawn, and the modern is +0.96 if you don't accept the sac. Apperantly the benko gambit is one of the most inaccurate gambit, it says +1.20, although it is good for human play. The Duras is +1.90 if black used it, so it's useless, the most inaccurate one is the traxler counterattack, which is +2.57 if black used it.

  • It depends a lot on a player's standards what is to be classified as bad or not. I'd say that the fried liver gambit is bad in the sense that it's suboptimal in comparison to the best alternative; while I'm not aware of a refutation of Nxf7, I do know that the immediate d4 push instead of Nxf7 is considered to lead to a clear objective advantage for white. When it comes to the King's Gambit, I'd say that it's "kind of" bad rather than definitely so, since there are several ways for black to reach at least equality, with some of these leaving white with a difficult struggle for equality.
    – Scounged
    May 29, 2020 at 19:44
  • Actually, the fried liver is not so beginner friendly, cause any wrong move spells doom, but if your a good player, you can use or defend against it.
    – Rookie
    May 31, 2020 at 0:29

Firstly and i have decent chess experience so i can tell you. The fried liver with the knight sac on F7 Is borderline winning. For human play it mostly is, but technically black can POSSIBLY hold a draw. White is always better in this line, and for refutations like after E pawn takes the D pawn, and black moves the knight to A4, White gets a pawn up and is slightly better. Kings gambit Is simply worse but playable. Its about -0.5 so with correct play white should draw, though in human play white has chances. Danish while unsound at first is actually extremely suprising. its only -0.4 i believe being down to pawns. Saving line for black is NF6, after E pawn push, Black checks with the bishop on B5 i believe from memory, and your trying to exchange all the pieces. In an endgame its losing but as white if you know the theory its playable and very tricky. England Gambit is fairly bad, only two traps and black is just worse, Halloween gambit is truly terrible. I could go on with the lines but i shall make my definition. Good gambits include the italian gambit(Italian game and after sacrificing the center pawn your still not even worse its 0.0 with good chances), The Renowned Queens gambit(Obviously not really a gambit), Evans gambit, scotch gambit etc, and honestly ill put danish here cause white is worse but very playable. These all have in common that you get good compensation, good winning chances, etc. Trap gambits Is what it says, Englund gambit is an example, Or traxler(Traxler unlike Gotham says is truly awful, never play it). gambits like these hope to trap you and if you dont fall into it, Your opponent is simply much worse. And the lowest of the low are halloween gambit, latvian, Mosquito etc. They quite literally are just garbage

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