Saturday, November 17, 2012

This cant be true !

I have picked up the Latvian gambit once again lately and started studying the critical lines. Now there are enough critical lines to study in the Latvian, believe me, but the poisoned pawn variation is surely one of them.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Bc4 fxe4 4.Nxe5 Qg5 5.d4 Qxg2 6.Qh5+ g6 7.Bf7+ ( a critical move in white's attack ! ) Kd8 8.Bxg6 Qxh1+ 9.Ke2 (diagram).

Most authors indicate that black is completely lost in this line, but is seems to me that black is alive and kicking !

9...Qxc1 !!! condemned by many. Obviously, white can force a draw now with 10.Nf7+ Ke8 , but can white win ???

Let look first at 10.Nc3 ( diagram)
Black has the edge after 10...Qxc2+ 11.Kf1 c6 (making the escape hole )

The other winning candidate is 10.Nd2 (diagram), but also here, I see that 10...Qxb2 brings white nothing more than a draw.

I have checked the far majority of the lines that previously were supposed to win for white, but it just seems black can escape with a draw !!

On the downside, it seems that a line that was believed to win for black is actually winning for white :1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Bc4 fxe4 4.Nxe5 d5 5.Qh5+ g6 6.Nxg6 hxg6 7.Qxh8 Kf7 8.Bb3 Bg7 9.Qh7 (diagram)
My textbook indicates 9...Qg5 as winning for black, but my silicon assistant immediately sees the refutation 10.h4!!, stopping black's attack even before it started. But then again, I never liked that line anyway.

Does this restore the Latvian to full equality ?? Unfortunately not, as there are still other refutations to refute ! It just shows that there is so much to discover in gambit play.


  1. Guido,

    Great article ! It's good to remember that a lot of us gambiteers love ALL kinds of gambits :)
    BDG, Latvian, King's Gambit, etc...

    once again thanks.

  2. Just been looking into that line with 7.Qxh8 Kf7. I think that after 8.Qh7+ Bg7 9.Bb3 (or 8.Bb3 Bg7 9.Qh7) Black should play 9...Be6, and then it is still hard to prove more than a small advantage for White, with some counterplay for Black, which isn't going to dissuade anyone from playing the Latvian Gambit.

    Most popular in the database is 10.d3, but then Black plays 10...Nd7 threatening 10...Nf8 winning the white queen, and after 11.g3 exd3 12.0-0 Ngf6 (V.Lo Conte-H.Beutel, Latvian Gambit 'thematic' email 2001) White may be slightly better with best play, but Black has a fair amount of play for the exchange- as White I'd be quite worried about the half-open h-file. 10.f3 is met by 10...e3, and then 11.g4 Nh6 (J.Gierke-P.Leisebein, corr. 1984).

    If 3.Bc4 was White's best against the Latvian Gambit then I would be seriously tempted to take it up myself as Black, but I wouldn't be comfortable as Black in the positions that follow 3.Nxe5, regardless of whether Black plays 3...Qf6, 3...Nf6 or 3...Nc6.