Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Zilbermints gambit in the Euwe defense

I admit - I am touching a very delicate item right now. Something that will certainly stir angry reactions. But nonetheless, I am covering it - the Zilbermints gambit in the Euwe defense occuring aftrer 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 e6 6.Bg5 Be7 7.Bd3 Nc6 8.00 Nxd4 and now  9.Kh1 (diagram).

I once showed this gambit-in-a-gambit to an IM friend of mine, and he felt really annoyed. "Why do you show this to me ?", he asked. "Do you want to test me on my defensive skills ?". Me, a mere mortal, I did not dare to answer this obvious question with a honest answer, so I just repsonded with a simple "I just wanted to know what you would play against this aggresive move." So he looked at the board for a few minutes and played 9...c5.

Okay, I expected that one. "Can't be bad - I protect my outpost and make some space for the queen", he added.

Since then, I have always distrusted the Zilbermints gambit. Maybe it is me being an engineer, wanting a clear path ahead for every move, that narrows my eyesight, but I cant see any white plan here.

Let's consider 10.Qe1 (what else) followed by the simple exchnage 10...Nxf3 11.Rxf3 (diagram). Note that black has stronger 10th moves and that taking the knight is rather silly now, aftre having defended it first with c5, but anyway.

My silicon assistant now gives 3 moves that give the defender the advantage : 11...Bd7, 11...a6 and 11...h6. Of course, white can only dream of black castling now into it, but that is not real chess, but  wishfullthinking chess.

Let's consider 11...Bd7. Houdini suggests 12.Rad1 (diagram) - who am I to doubt that ?

Houdini now suggests 5 black moves with a black advantage - surely there will be one that allows black to exchange some pieces ? 12...a6 is recommended, but let's look at 12...Bc6 (diagram)

To me, it seems the attacker has less than anything here. Sure, black has not yet castled and his queen is about to be x-rayed, but all of white's threats can be answered.

Summary, the Zilbermints gambit in the Euwe defense is to be respected, but not to be feared and there are many black lines leading to a black advantage.


  1. Yes, I think 9...c5 is probably Black's most challenging response. I remember, along with Mark Morss, advocating the move at the forum, while Craig Evans (if I remember rightly) made a strong case for 9...Nc6. The one move for Black to avoid is 9...Nxf3?! 10.Qxf3.
    The Zilbermints Gambit is good for blitz but I find it hard to believe that it is sound.

  2. Bunk. I beat 9...c5 in a lot of games. You want them, email me at Better yet, check out Unorthodoc Chess Openings newsletter, #25, 27 and 28. It covers the Zilbermints Gambit.