Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sawyer vs Purser in Elephant Gambit

The Elephant Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 is very rare. When I first started playing chess around 1970, absolutely nobody played the Elephant Gambit at all. No one had ever heard of it. And if they did, it had the unwieldy name Queen Pawn Counter Gambit. When a grandmaster did play one, it came from a simul or it had the feel of a game played at odds. Despite a rare spectacular win in the olden days, it just looked like Black was losing a pawn for nothing. Published games in that opening were almost unheard of.

Those few brave souls included E.J. Diemer, Walter Muir, G. Halasz, and sometimes our friend Roald Berthelsen. However about 25 years ago, it caught on in some circles. Now and then a tactical master would play it frequently. Postal experts would play it, since their opponents could not find much in theory about it in books and no one had strong chess engines or databases to show the way.

Tom Purser has long been a proponent of the Elephant Gambit. In 1988 with Rasmus Pape, Niels Jensen and Tom Purser published the 1st edition of their Elephant Gambit book. After that, it seemed many Blackmar-Diemer Gambiteers played the Elephant. I first tried it in 1988 and won 3 of my first 4 games with it, beating two players rated over 2000. In 1994 the Jonathan Rogers monograph appeared. Below was the first time I ever had the White pieces in the Elephant Gambit. In additional to Tom's choice of 3...Bd6, the immediate pawn push 3...e4 is often played by Black.

Sawyer - Purser, corr IECG 1995 begins 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 Bd6 4.d4 e4 5.Ne5 Nf6 6.Nc3 [6.Bb5+! Bd7 7.Nxd7 Nbxd7 8.Bg5+/=] 6...Nbd7 7.Bb5 [7.Nxd7 Bxd7 8.Bc4 0-0] 7...0-0 8.Nxd7 Bxd7 9.Be2 a6 10.Bg5 Bf5 11.0-0 h6 12.Be3 Qd7 13.Qd2 Rad8 14.Bf4 Bh7 15.Rac1 Rfe8 16.a3 Re7 [16...b5!?] 17.Be3 [17.Bc4 Rde8 18.Rce1= is a reasonable way to keep fighting.] 17...Qf5 18.f3 [18.h3!?=] 18...Rde8 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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