I like to play blitz games online (mostly 3, occasionally 5 minutes per player). When I play those, it is usually for enjoyment and getting into wild games - romantic chess, if you will.

This naturally means I play many, often questionable/unsound, gambits. (Un?)surprisingly, I fare quite well with this style, even against higher ranked players. I'm a decent player myself - around 2000 ELO when I was active (not anymore, though).

One of the gambits I particularly enjoy is the King's Gambit. I have a good understanding of how to play both the accepted and declined variations of it; however, the Falkbeer Countergambit always perplexed me.

[Title "Falkbeer Countergambit"]
[fen "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]

1. e4 e5 2. f4 d5

I tend to play 3. exd5 (main line). Now, after 3. .. c6 or 3. .. exf4 I tend to get at very least playable positions. After 3. .. e4, however, I tend to run into problems. Usually, black is able to castle faster than I, thus creating some nasty pressure on the e-file for my exposed king in the center and also later on on the now somewhat misplaced f4 pawn and exposed g1-a7 diagonal.

So, I guess the questions for the 3. exd5 e4 variation are:

  1. What are some playable continuations for white here?
  2. What are white's long term plans?
  3. Some notable/instructive games would be nice.

Please note, that this question is mostly applicable to blitz games. I probably would not play King's Gambit in a game with longer time controls anyway.


4…e4 should actually be the least attractive option for black. But you should probably know a bit about it:

[Title "Falkbeer Countergambit"]
[fen "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]

1. e4 e5 2. f4 d5 3. exd5 e4 4. d3 Nf6 5. dxe4 Nxe4 6. Nf3 Bc5 7.Qe2! Bf2  
8. Kd1 Qxd5 9.Nfd2!

The checks 7…Bf2 and 8…Qd5 look threatening, but now white is going to win material because of the threat Nc3.

[Title "Falkbeer Countergambit"]
[fen "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]

1. e4 e5 2. f4 d5 3. exd5 e4 4. d3 Nf6 5. dxe4 Nxe4 6. Nf3 Bc5 7.Qe2! O-O
8. Qxe4 Re8 9.Ne5 f6 10.d6

10.d6 is actually not the strongest continuation, but the threat to pick up the bishop with Qc4+ or to play Bc4+ is quite tricky to meet in a blitz game. Lots of ways to win quickly with white (for example 10…cd is already losing).

The general idea of 7.Qe2 is to neutralise the Bc5 with Be3 (i.e. 7…Bf5 8.Nc3 Qe7 9.Be3 or 7…Qe7 8.Be3), which usually leads to a better endgame for white.

And if you play somebody who knows his theory: The offbeat way to play against the Falkbeer would be 6.Be3 with a nice exchange sac as mainline: 6.Be3 Qh4 7.g3 Nxg3 8.Nf3 Qh5 9.hxg3 Qxh1

  • I like the Qe2 idea; very nice examples. Thanks! +1 for now, will wait with accepting to give others a chance to reply too. – GloriaVictis Apr 1 '15 at 15:00
  • If you ever come across the book "The King's Gambit for the Creative aggressor" by Thomas Johansson, you should take a look. It made me fall in love with the King's Gambit some 13 years ago, it's a great read. – BlindKungFuMaster Apr 2 '15 at 8:47

I used to play this a lot as black and the line that worried me most was 1. e4 e5 2. f4 d5 3. exd5 e4 4. d3 Nf6 5. dxe4 Nxe4. White is completely fine here and if black presses too hard it can become a wildly tactical position where black is just struggling to survive. If you're confident in your tactics, you should be okay but that depends a lot on your analysis and who you're playing against.

If you just want something simple that avoids theory 3.Nf3, dxe4 4. Nxe5 is perfectly playable.

Bb5+ trying to trade off the pawn is extremely common but I wouldn't recommend it. Black's position is very active

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