Among the most used chess terms that you may have heard doing the rounds is what is known as a ‘chess gambit’. Naturally, you may want to know what is a gambit in chess. In the simplest terms, a ‘chess gambit’ is an opening move in the game of chess where a player sacrifices a chess piece in order to get some advantage in the gameplay.
A gambit is helpful on most occasions as it helps to develop chess pieces in a better way, leads to the weakening of the rival king, and allows for the opening of attacking channels. If you are wondering ‘how many gambits are there in chess’, the answer is plenty. There is not one ‘best gambit in chess’, and the game witnesses a host of chess gambits being applied by both novice and professional chess players all the time.
The efficacy of chess gambits makes them an absolute favorite of chess enthusiasts the world over. Even great chess players down the years have also vouched for gambits. If undertaken after careful consideration, gambits can elevate a person’s chess abilities to higher levels. Besides its game benefits, chess gambits also make lengthy matches more fun and intriguing.
One of the most famous of all chess gambits is the ‘Queen’s Gambit’. This has especially become a show-stealer since the release in October 2020 of Netflix’s limited series titled ‘The Queen’s Gambit’. The show, starring American actress Anya Taylor-Joy in the lead role, made headlines all across the planet and turned millions towards chess.
The show’s massive popularity did excellent service to chess by bringing the glamour back to the game. During the latter half of 2020 and the early months of 2021, online chess portals Chess.com and Lichess.Org registered a record number of online chess players.
Now that we have answered the question – what is a gambit in chess, let us focus on the various types of chess gambits employed in a chess match. Since the Queen’s Gambit is the most celebrated chess gambit, we shall start our list with the same.
The Queen’s Gambit
Clearly the most well-known of all chess gambits out there, the Queen’s Gambit takes its name from the d-pawn, lying in front of the white queen, moving up to the d4 square. In reply to white’s move, black would play its d-pawn to the d5 tile.
At this juncture, white would try and lure the black pawn placed on the d5 block by moving its c-pawn to c4. This would be done by white with the hope that black would capture its c-pawn and thus clear out the central zone of the chessboard.
The King’s Gambit
Much like the Queen’s Gambit, there exists a chess gambit in which the king chess piece takes centre stage. It is widely believed that the King’s Gambit was first played for the very first time in 1560. In this style of play, the first move that white plays is to place the e-pawn, also known as the king’s pawn, on e4.
In reply, white would make its e-pawn move forward and meet the white pawn head-on at e5. The idea behind this gambit technique is to take control of the centre squares of the chess board using pawns. When white follows it up by playing its f-pawn to f4, it invites black to capture its f-pawn.
In all honesty, this may not happen every time you play a match. But the odds are pretty high that there will be people who want to capture a piece early in the game. If that happens, the very objective of the King’s Gambit will be met.
The Wing Gambit
The Wing Gambit technique is a delightful handy gambit mechanism that helps white breach the Sicilian and French defences. To deal with these two sharp defensive formations coming from the side of the black, the player commanding the white chess pieces chooses to sacrifice the white b-pawn within an opening couple of rounds.
This is done to divert the black pawn sitting on c5 to shift further towards the flanks, whereas the white e-pawn makes its way to occupy the central zone of the chessboard. After taking control over the centre, the experienced player handling the white pieces begins to conjure up plans to attack the rival on its kingside.
The Stafford Gambit
The fourth and final chess gambit that this Square Off blog will discuss is the ‘Stafford Gambit’. This one is a black-only gambit that is characterised by a certain degree of dubiousness. What makes this gambit technique unique is its number of associated tricks and pitfalls. If white is not careful from the moment black attempts to initiate this gambit, a win could be nearer than usual for black.
It all begins when white plays its e-pawn to e4. In exchange, black moves its e-pawn up to e5. A classic start also termed as the ‘Petroff Defense’, the two e-pawns locked face to face when white brings one of its knights into the foray and moves it to f3. Black goes with a similar move and advances a white knight to the f6 square. Instead of getting the better of the white knight sitting at f3, black tries something different and brings its second knight to the c6 block.
From here, the game starts to gravitate towards black, as white is fooled into making some serious mistakes. By combining the powers of a knight and a bishop, black slowly builds up the platform from where it would launch a flurry of attacks on the kingside of white. In situations like this, white mostly succumbs to blacks’ continuous onslaught from the flanks.
Continue Learning with Square Off
This is where we have reached the end of the article on what is a gambit in chess. We have seen different types of chess gambits and the ways in which they can be inculcated in one’s gameplay. One of the primary objectives of sharpening one’s chess gambit knowledge is to ramp up one’s attacking prowess. A thorough understanding of a gambit and how to best use it constructively is the key to improving one’s overall gameplay. With a few tricks up your sleeve, you will have the quality to surprise your opponents when they least expect it.
With the ideal dose of imagination and calculations, gambits can wreak havoc in rivals’ camps. All that is needed is regular study and practice of gambit techniques. The history of the game shows that whenever great chess players have employed gambits in their gameplay, more often than not, they have gone on to create classic encounters. That being said, the first thing you would require to do to sharpen your gambit skills is playing lots of chess matches.
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