how to play king's gambit

How to Play King’s Gambit Declined and Accepted Trap?

We’ve all heard about the Bobby Fischer‘s famous quote about the King’s Gambit: “In my opinion, the King's Gambit is busted. It loses by force” In other words, once you’ve played this opening, even if you move differently you'll eventually lose according to the great Bobby Fischer.

However, that may be true if you play like Bobby against King's Gambit, but he still played it and win tournaments with it. And while this isn’t always the case, it’s important to understand the risks and benefits of opening with this move. King's Gambit is a powerful opening, but you should never make this move unless you’re confident and if you’re ready to play aggressive.

Let' check out how to play King's Gambit!

What is King's Gambit?

The King's Gambit is a chess opening in which a player sacrifices material, usually a pawn, with the hope of achieving an advantageous position. The name of the opening comes from the King's f4 pawn as the gambit, or as a sacrifice, by giving up a piece.

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For me the King's Gambit is generally considered to be one of the most difficult and most deceptive openings in chess. The opening is difficult since it is uncertain if it will lead to a favorable or terrible position for the player at first glance. The opening is also deceiving because it isn't clear whether the sacrifice is worthwhile right away.

Why Play The King's Gambit?

According to professional chess players the King's Gambit is very strong in all types of chess, from blitz to classical time controls. The King's Gambit is a very flexible opening and can be played in many different ways. There are many variations of the King's Gambit and even more defenses.

This is one reason why it is so difficult to play the King's Gambit. One of the best things about playing the King's Gambit is that it allows for an early attack. If Black plays too passively or tries to develop their pieces, then White can gain a large advantage by sacrificing material.

Another advantage of the King's Gambit is that it can lead to an interesting ending. Often White will have an advantage, but if Black is able to hold on to the position, the result could be a draw.

So often does a player who is able to sacrifice material early in the game is also able to gain time for development.

When you play King's Gambit you'll have an opportunity to develop your pieces quickly before Black is able to do the same. This allows you to gain the initiative and take advantage of any weaknesses that Black has. For all these reasons, the King's Gambit is one of the best openings in chess.

How to Play King's Gambit?

So, how do you play the King's Gambit? To begin playing the King's Gambit, play 1. e4 e5 followed by 2. f4 (see image below), which plainly sacrifices White's f4 pawn, or gambit.

There are so many different variations when it comes to 2. f4 and one of them is when black accepts the gambit. I've seen a number of wonderful videos about the accepted King's Gambit that I'd like to show you, but for now I'll simply describe what the moves are for and what can happen.

I'll demonstrate two of the most typical moves, as well as a variation that leads to a trap.

Let's look at white's first viable move after black accepts the f4 pawn.

How to play King's Gambit Accepted as White?

White's King's Gambit Accepted is a sharp opening that allows him to launch a powerful attack on Black's position, while Black is forced to make compromises in order to defend his king.

The King's Gambit Accepted: King's Knight's Gambit

After black captures the f4 pawn, white's next move is to defend the h4 square, which is vulnerable to Black's Queen attack.

The best move to defend the h4 square is to move Knight to the f3 square (see image below).

Now, black will try to protect its f4 pawn by moving another pawn to g5 (see image below), while white will begin to develop quickly by moving its Bishop to c4 and targeting the weakest pawn on Black's kingside. While white is planning to castle, black remains its King in the center and has a weak kingside.

When you play the King's Gambit Accepted: King's Knight's Gambit variation, you'll primarily see this moves. If you decide to go ahead with this opening, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of King's Gambit Accepted: King's Knight's Gambit

  1. Develops minor pieces faster
  2. Multiple attacks
  3. Solid center control

Disadvantages of King's Gambit Accepted: King's Knight's Gambit

  1. King may not be able to castle

The King's Gambit Accepted: King's Bishop's Gambit

With this variation of the King's Gambit Accepted, instead of Knight defending the h4 square, white is allowing Black to attack the King with Queen to h4 check. With the King's Bishop Gambit, the white bishop moves to c4 attacking the weak f7 pawn in black's kingside (see image below).

This move just accelerates the development of white pieces. Even if Black advances the Queen to h4, the King will just move to f1 (see image below) and then attack the Queen with Knight to f3. Black can't really do anything with Queen to h4 but to retreat.

When you choose to move your Bishop before the Knight then you'll probably see this moves. Below I will mention some of the advantages and disadvantages of the King's Gambit Accepted: Bishop's Gambit.

Advantages of King's Gambit Accepted: King's Bishop's Gambit

  1. Faster minor pieces development
  2. Better control of center of the broad
  3. Lot's of potential threats against the weak f7 pawn

Disadvantages of King's Gambit Accepted: King's Bishop's Gambit

  1. King loses opportunity to castle on kingside

The King's Gambit Accepted Trap

I'll show you one of my favorite continuation moves for the the King's Gambit Accepted that you can try against your opponent.

So, after moving your pawn to f4 and black accepting the gambit, you'll move your knight to f3 and play the main line. If black makes the mistake of holding on to its black f4 pawn then black can fall into a trap.

Your next move is to position your Bishop to c4 attacking the f7 pawn.

Then black will attack your knight on f3, your knight's best move will be to move it on e5 square attacking the f7 pawn and at the same time attacking black's g4 pawn.

With this move white has already developed its bishop and knight, while black has only move its pawn. Black continued by moving its Queen to h4, attacking the King. Even if the King is unable to castle, he can move to the f1 square, which is the safest option.

The next move for Black is knight to f6, which will attack the e4 pawn. The next move for white is to advance the pawn to d4. White's e4 pawn is captured by the knight, while white's next move is taking the f7 pawn attacking the King.

A one-move checkmate on the f2 square from black should be avoided at this time. Here white's best move is Queen to e2 attacking the black knight. Black then attacks with a royal fork, attacking the King, Queen and the Rook.

Seems like black is winning, and the only move for white is to capture the knight with h2 pawn, exposing your Rook. This will lead to a check from the Black Queen and your King can only move to f2 square.

The next move for Black is to capture the dark-squared bishop. This is actually a mistake from Black and is exposed to a two-move checkmate. Can you see the checkmate? You can check the moves and come up with a solution. What should black do instead of Queen taking the dark-squared bishop if you've figured out the correct answer? (see image below). I hope you enjoy this type of King's Gambit Accepted Trap.

black queen captures the bishop

You might also be interested to read which is best knight or bishop?

How to play King's Gambit Declined as White?

When black avoids to capture the f4 pawn, white faces a difficulty on his kingside, as black can simply attack the King with the Bishop or Queen.

White should not take the black pawn (see image below) if black does not capture the f4 pawn because this is a major blunder.

So, the best move for white is not to take the pawn but to defend the h4 square using knight to f3 (see image below). This move will stop the Black Queen from attacking the King and preventing black from gaining material advantage.

So, this is what you should keep in mind when black does not accept the gambit. You should focus on developing your pieces and avoid surprise attacks from black.

How to play the King's Gambit Accepted as Black?

Now that you know how to play the King's Gambit as a white player, let's look at how to play it as a black player.

The King's gambit accepted line is the first opening we're going to look at. The disadvantage of the King's gambit pawn to f4 move is that white must make a specific move to keep its right to castle.

So, if black takes the f4 pawn, the best move for white is Knight to f3. If white tries to control the center right away, black will attack with Queen to h4 (see image below), forcing white to move the King because other moves such as pawn to g3 are not good alternatives.

So, when you're playing the accepted line as black, you're sure that white has to move its knight to f3. When white moves Knight to f3, your best move as black is to move your pawn to g5 (see image below), with a threat to attack the Knight and continuing with another attack with Queen to h4.

This is one of the best moves to play the King's Gambit Accepted as black. Just remember that the game will most likely evolve around the g5 pawn, which you need to actively protect at the same time develop your pieces.

How to play the King's Gambit Declined as Black?

If you're playing black and you don't want to take the f4 pawn gambit, then your best move is Bishop to c5 (see image below), what this move do is that it prevents white to perform a short-castling.

White's next plan is to develop its pieces quickly and as black what you need to do is open up your light squared bishop by moving your pawn to d6 (see image below), this will setup your pieces to attack white with your Bishop and Queen on a powerful diagonal squares.

As a result, if you're playing the King's gambit as black, you may prevent white from castling by moving your Bishop to the c5 square, and you can begin developing your other pieces and prepare an attack.

Wrapping Up

I hope you found this introduction to the King's gambit chess opening helpful. I'd like to master this opening, and I'm confident that I'll be able to surprise my opponents with it.

If you like learning about tactics and strategies I do recommend you check out our digital interactive book, it's perfect for beginners and advanced player. It was written by a former world chess champion.

Don't forget to check our chess resources for cool chess stuff and recommended tools for learning chess. Enjoy learning the King's gambit!

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