Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Zilbermints Englund Gambit vs Grandmaster

Lev Zilbermints has been a long time player of the Englund Gambit 1.d4 e5 with great success in blitz games. Lev Zilbermints has his own variation 3...Nge7. White is a titled grandmaster with the handle "blindhawk" playing anonymously. Objectively we know that the gambit 1.d4 e5 is not the strongest move, but it can be very tricky. So tricky that even grandmasters can struggle when required to play at a very fast speed.

The 3...Nge7 line has ideas similar to the Albin-Counter Gambit 5...Nge7 lines. The knight can can swing from e7 to g6 to recapture the gambit pawn on e5. Often I have played my queenside knight to Ng6, but after 1...Nc6, 2...e5, 3.d5 Nge7 and 4...Ng6 in a Queens Knight Defence. However, Lev Zilbermints has another idea in his system which is reminds me of the way Henri Grob played Black in this line with 4...h6 and 5...g5 before moves like 6...Bg7 and 7...Ng6. Other Englund Gambit ideas include games by Francesco Cavicchi with 3...Qe7 or the counter gambit 2...f6.

A computer chess engine or a FIDE titled GM with several minutes to think on each move would probably find a slight advantage for White. But vs a human in blitz chess, White's edge is very minor. In competitive play, any edge can disappear in a split second and quickly be reversed. Below is a great example by Lev Zilbermints.

blindhawk (2212) - Zilbermints (2205), ICC 5 0 Internet Chess Club, 22.12.2014 begins 1.d4 e5 2.dxe5 Nc6 3.Nf3 Nge7 4.Bg5 [The critical line seems to be 4.Nc3 Ng6 5.Bg5 Be7 6.Bxe7 Qxe7 7.Nd5 Qd8 8.Qd2 h6+/- when Stockfish, Rybka and Houdini all favor White, but each have a completely different way to continue.] 4...h6 5.Bh4 g5 6.Bg3 Bg7 7.Nc3 Ng6 [Houdini likes regaining the pawn for Black with 7...g4 8.Nd4 Nxe5] 8.e3 Ncxe5 9.Nxe5 Nxe5 10.h4 [10.f4!?+/=] 10...g4 [10...d6=] 11.h5 f5 12.Nd5 d6 13.Bh4 Qd7 14.Nf6+ [14.Qd2+/-] 14...Bxf6 15.Bxf6 0-0 16.Bh4 Qe6 17.Qd2 Bd7 18.b3 Bc6 19.0-0-0 b5 20.Rg1 a6 21.f4 [21.Qa5+/=] 21...Nd7 22.Qc3 Be4 23.Be1 Rac8 24.Qd4 Qf6 25.Bc3 Qxd4 26.Rxd4 Nf6 27.Bb2 Kh7 28.a4 Nxh5 29.axb5 axb5 30.Bxb5 Ng3 31.Kb1 c6 32.Ba6 Rcd8 33.Rgd1 d5 34.Bb7 Rf7 35.Bxc6 Rc7 36.Bxd5? [36.Rxe4 Nxe4 37.Bxd5 Nc3+ 38.Bxc3 Rxc3=/+] 36...Bxc2+ 37.Ka2 Ra7+ 38.Ba3 Bxd1 39.Rxd1 Ne2 40.Kb2 Rad7 White resigns 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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  1. Instead of 4...Ng6, I prefer 4...h6! keeping the Bishop out of g5 square. This has been known since 1994.

    1. That 4...h6! sounds like a reasonable plan. In any case, you played well.


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