Sunday, 6 September 2015

Rediscovering the Evans Gambit

When I started playing chess seriously in the mid 1980's, the Evans Gambit was well an truly a sideline opening. Rarely seen at the top level, the general consensus was that Lasker's Defence had put it our of business long ago. In fact the only player in my immediate circle who used it as a regular weapon was David Austin, who had some quite good victories with it.
The status of the Evans suddenly changed when Kasparov dusted it off and used it as a surprise weapon against his top 10 rivals. Suddenly it was back in fashion, at least for a while. But once the novelty wore off, it again declined in popularity, possibly condemned  by the cold hard logic of the modern analysis engine.
To be fair, the other reason it tends not to get played is that 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 isn't always met by 3. ... Bc5. 3. ... Nf6 is a more fighting response, so much so that 3.d4 is now often the mainline if 3.Bb5 is not played (again Kasparov had a big hand in this).
But just today I reached a position where I could play an Evan's, albeit via 2.Bc4. Initially I was surprised I even got to this position, and despite not being a serious Evan's player myself, the temptation to play 4.b4 was just to great. Fortunately I remembered enough of the general ideas behind the opening (sac all your pawns!) to play the obvious moves, and with a little help from my opponent scored a win in a manner that shows how dangerous it can really be as an opening.

Press,Shaun - Unger,David [C52]
Street Chess, 05.09.2015

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