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The Evans Gambit

This online chess lesson covers the Evans gambit is a variation of the Italian game and is named after the Welsh sea Captain William Davies Evans, he was the first player known to have employed it. The first game with the opening is considered to be Evans–McDonnell, London 1827. Having this said it is sound and  frequently used by many grandmasters today.

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PGN ANALYSIS

The Italian Game, The Evans Gambit

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jQuery(document).ready(function($) { var selector = '#' + "rpbchessboard-63e0e3a39d6d9-1" + ' .rpbchessboard-chessgameAnchor'; RPBChessboard.renderPGN($(selector), {"pgn":"[PlyCount \"15\"] [EventDate \"1922.??.??\"] [SourceDate \"2021.01.04\"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 {[#][%csl Rf7]} Bc5 4. b4 {This is the starting point of the Evans Gambit. The pawn is offered on b4 in order to accelerate white’s development. Black can accept the gambit or decline, both options are playable. } Bxb4 (4... Bb6 {Declining the gambit also works fine here. Black will aim to develop in standard fashion with moves like Nf6, d6, and then 0-0.} 5. a4 $1 a6 $1 {[%cal Yc7b6]} (5... a5 $6 6. b5 $1 {Now the knight gets knocked around and black’s center becomes unstable.} Nd4 7. Nxd4 Bxd4 8. c3 Bb6 9. d4 $14) 6. Nc3 {[#][%cal Gc3d5,Gd5b6]} Nf6 7. O-O d6 8. Nd5 Nxd5 9. exd5 Nxb4 10. c3 {Trapping the knight.}) 5. c3 Ba5 {[%cal Yd1b3,Yc1a3] This is the classical main line. Black keeps the bishop on this diagonal to keep pressure on the white king and prevent white from playing cxd4 in upcoming positions.} (5... Bc5 $6 6. d4 exd4 7. O-O dxc3 {[%csl Rc5,Rf7]} 8. Bxf7+ $1 (8. Qd5 $2 Qe7 {[#][%cal Ge7c5,Ge7f7]}) 8... Kxf7 9. Qd5+ Ke8 10. Qxc5 d6 11. Qxc3 Qf6 12. e5 $1 {Don’t trade queens! It is not in the spirit of the Evans Gambit to do that.} dxe5 13. Re1 {White has a huge attack}) (5... Be7 $5 6. d4 Na5 $1 (6... exd4 7. cxd4) (6... d6 $2 { [%csl Rf7]} 7. Qb3 {[%cal Gb3f7]} Na5 8. Bxf7+ Kf8 9. Qa4 {[#][%csl Ya5,Yf7,Rf8]}) 7. Bd3 (7. Nxe5 $6 {This gives black what they are looking for.} Nxc4 8. Nxc4 d5 9. exd5 Qxd5) 7... d6 8. dxe5 dxe5 9. Nxe5 Nf6 10. O-O O-O 11. Qc2 {With an interesting position that offers both sides chances.}) (5... Bd6 6. d4 Nf6 7. O-O O-O 8. Re1 h6 9. Nbd2 Re8 10. Qb3 (10. Bd3) 10... Qe7 11. Bd3 {[%cal Yd2c4, Yc4e5,Yc4d6]}) 6. d4 $1 exd4 (6... d6 {This is also a common defensive move. Black needs to make sure they don’t fall for a trap after the upcoming moves… } 7. Qb3 Qe7 {[%csl Ra5,Re7]} (7... Qf6 $2 8. d5 Nd4 9. Nxd4 exd4 10. Qa4+) ( 7... Qd7 $1) 8. d5 Nd4 9. Nxd4 exd4 {[#][%csl Ra5,Re8]} 10. Qa4+ {[%csl Re8][%cal Ya4a5,Ya4e8]}) 7. Qb3 Qe7 8. O-O {Leading to a complicated game. I encourage students to look at games played in this line to get a good sense of how play could develop from here.} *","nboSquareSize":50,"idoSquareSize":50,"nboCoordinateVisible":true,"idoCoordinateVisible":true,"nboColorset":"greenvintage","idoColorset":"greenvintage","nboPieceset":"new-set-mac","idoPieceset":"new-set-mac","nboAnimated":true,"nboMoveArrowVisible":false,"nboMoveArrowColor":"b","pieceSymbols":"native","navigationBoard":"frame","withFlipButton":true,"withDownloadButton":true}); });

The Evans Gambit is an exhilarating opening that has been used by World Champions like Fischer and Kasparov and was a favorite of American great, Paul Morphy. This opening is a good counterpart to the Italian Game and is worth learning for both white and black. White sacrifices their b-pawn to create quick play in the center and especially to pressure the pawn on f7. This opening will keep you on your toes tactically! Go through our videos and give it a shot!

Anderssen vs Dufresne 1852

The evergreen game was played between Adolf Andersen and Jean Dufresne in Berlin, Germany. It stays up to date up to this day, hence the name the evergreen game. Anderssen drags Dufresne into the deep waters and dangers of The Evans Gambit.

PGN ANALYSIS
Cinematic Video

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jQuery(document).ready(function($) { var selector = '#' + "rpbchessboard-63e0e3a39d6d9-2" + ' .rpbchessboard-chessgameAnchor'; RPBChessboard.renderPGN($(selector), {"pgn":"[Event \"Berlin 'Evergreen'\"] [Site \"Berlin\"] [Date \"1852.??.??\"] [Round \"?\"] [White \"Anderssen, Adolf\"] [Black \"Dufresne, Jean\"] [Result \"1-0\"] [ECO \"C52\"] [Annotator \"Kasparov,G\"] [PlyCount \"47\"] [EventDate \"1852.??.??\"] [EventType \"game\"] [EventRounds \"1\"] [EventCountry \"GER\"] [SourceTitle \"CBM 059\"] [Source \"ChessBase\"] [SourceDate \"1997.08.01\"] {The classic “Evergreen Game”. The game that never goes out of style or loses it’s charm. It has been studied and talked about since it was played all the way back in 1852.} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 {The Evans Gambit. An ambitious approach against black’s Italian game.} (4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 {This is a very popular approach at the elite level. It leads to a flexible game for both sides and hopes that white can achieve an advantage. It is covered in the article on the Italian Game.}) 4... Bxb4 5. c3 {[#] White sacrifices the b-pawn so that they can accelerate their own development and build a larger center with d2-d4. Now black has many responses.} Ba5 {This is the classical approach.} ( 5... Bd6 $5 {GM Robert Hess once played this way against me. It gives white easy play. The typical way the game continues is like this.} 6. d4 Nf6 7. O-O O-O 8. Re1 h6 $1 {This move is important to stop Bg5 or Ng5.} (8... Re8 $2 9. Ng5 {[%cal Re4e5]} Re7 10. f4 $1) 9. Nbd2 {White usually plays Bd3, Nc4 with great play against the black center.}) (5... Be7 $5 6. d4 Na5 $1 {This is a good way to deal with white’s pressure on the center.} (6... d6 $2 {[%csl Rf7]} 7. Qb3 $1 {[%csl Rf7][%cal Gb3f7]})) (5... Bc5 $6 {[%csl Rc5] Walks into white’s plan of d2-d4.} 6. d4 exd4 7. O-O $5 {Hoping to bait white into a classic trap.} dxc3 8. Bxf7+ Kxf7 9. Qd5+ Ke8 10. Qxc5 d6 11. Qxc3 {[%csl Gc1, Gc3][%cal Gc3g7] The opposite colored bishops and black’s inability to castle give white a big advantage.}) 6. d4 exd4 7. O-O (7. Qb3 Qe7 8. O-O Bb6 9. cxd4 Nxd4 10. Nxd4 Bxd4 11. Nc3 Nf6 12. Bg5 {I played this way in a game I needed to win against IM John Bartholomew to get my second GM norm.}) 7... d3 8. Qb3 Qf6 9. e5 Qg6 10. Re1 Nge7 11. Ba3 {[#][%cal Gc4f7,Ga3e7] The bishops bearing down on the black king is a common tactical feature in the Evans Gambit.} b5 $2 {This type of move was typical of the time period. Black does not think to try to hold on to their material to claim an advantage later. He sacrifices it back to try to get an initiative but it is totally uncalled for here.} (11... O-O $1 {Black was best of castling and taking care of the king.}) 12. Qxb5 Rb8 13. Qa4 Bb6 14. Nbd2 Bb7 15. Ne4 Qf5 $2 {This move costs black dearly. Once again black can spare no time and must castle immediately. It’s hard to justify this move.} 16. Bxd3 Qh5 {[#][%csl Re1][%cal Re1e8]} 17. Nf6+ $2 (17. Ng3 $1 Qh6 18. Rad1 {White is threatening Bc1 among other things. Black is totally lost at this point.}) 17... gxf6 18. exf6 Rg8 $1 19. Rad1 $5 Qxf3 $4 {This move costs black the game. Most chess books I grew up reading mentioned Rg4 as the best defense. It turns out the the computer spots two convincing defenses for black here. One is completely unexpected but the second is more normal for a person.} (19... Bd4 $3 {[%csl Yd4][%cal Gd1d7] An absolutely brilliant move. It’s understandable that black wouldn’t find it. It’s main function is to block the incoming attack down the center files.} 20. cxd4 {[%csl Rd4][%cal Gd1d7]} Qxf3 21. Be4 Rxg2+ 22. Kh1 Rxh2+ 23. Kxh2 Qxf2+ $11) (19... Qh3 $1 20. Bf1 $1 Qf5 $13) (19... Rg4 $6 {This is better for white with correct play but keeps black in the game.}) 20. Rxe7+ $1 {This move starts one of the most famous combinations in chess history. White must play checking moves from here on out or else their king will surely perish.} Nxe7 $5 21. Qxd7+ $3 Kxd7 {[#] [%csl Rd7][%cal Gd1d7]} 22. Bf5+ {[%cal Gd1d7,Gf5d7]} Ke8 (22... Kc6 23. Bd7# $1 {This move reminds me of a variation from my game with Argandona which is also in the lesson archive.}) 23. Bd7+ Kf8 24. Bxe7# {A glorious finish for white. White’s swashbuckling style paid off with a spectacular win.} 1-0","nboSquareSize":50,"idoSquareSize":50,"nboCoordinateVisible":true,"idoCoordinateVisible":true,"nboColorset":"greenvintage","idoColorset":"greenvintage","nboPieceset":"new-set-mac","idoPieceset":"new-set-mac","nboAnimated":true,"nboMoveArrowVisible":false,"nboMoveArrowColor":"b","pieceSymbols":"native","navigationBoard":"frame","withFlipButton":true,"withDownloadButton":true}); });

The first example game of the Evans Gambit is one of the most classic games in chess history, the evergreen game . This game was publishes in the “Deutsche Schachzeitung” in 1852 and played by Adolf Anderssen who is also famously known for playing the winning side of the “Immortal Game”. Play during this time period was usually all out attacking chess. This game is one of the crown jewels of this era and is still as incredible now as it was when it was played almost 170 years ago!

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Marache vs Morphy 1857

Paul Morphy plays the black side of the Evans Gambit against Napoleon Marache and makes it look easy. He finishes the game with a magnificent mate and creates a beautiful miniature as usual.

PGN ANALYSIS
Cinematic Video

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jQuery(document).ready(function($) { var selector = '#' + "rpbchessboard-63e0e3a39d6d9-3" + ' .rpbchessboard-chessgameAnchor'; RPBChessboard.renderPGN($(selector), {"pgn":"[Event \"USA-01 Morphy Casual Games\"] [Site \"New York,NY\"] [Date \"1857.10.11\"] [White \"Marache, Napoleon\"] [Black \"Morphy, Paul\"] [Result \"0-1\"] [ECO \"C52\"] [Annotator \"ChessBase\"] [PlyCount \"40\"] [EventDate \"1857.10.??\"] [EventCountry \"USA\"] {Paul Morphy for those who don’t know was the most dominant player of his lifetime. He only played competitively until his early 20’s but he set the chess world ablaze. This game is a good example of his domination and you will not forget the finish!} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Ba5 6. d4 exd4 7. e5 $2 {[#][%csl Re5] This is an absolutely awful move. In an opening like the Evans gambit there is absolutely no time to waste at all. Rather than develop or castle, white overextends their center and gives black time to hit back in the center.} (7. Qb3 {This is also a good move. I have played this several times myself. It has the benefit of avoiding the more explored variations that start with 7. 0-0.} Qe7 8. O-O Bb6 9. cxd4 {With compensation.} ) (7. O-O {Paul Morphy played this move frequently with the white pieces and did exceptionally with it. It is very principled. White takes care of the king and can recapture on the following turn with cxd4 building a powerful center.} dxc3 $6 {This is an ill-advised pawn grab. White gets more than enough compensation for the current 3 pawn deficit. Often times black will not survive the opening after…} (7... Nge7 8. cxd4 d5 9. exd5 Nxd5 {This is a much better defense for black.}) 8. Qb3 $1 Qe7 $2 {This natural move has led to many miniatures.} 9. Nxc3 Nf6 10. Nd5 $1 {With an irresistible attack.}) 7... d5 $1 8. exd6 Qxd6 (8... cxd6 $1 {The computer likes this option for black in order to play d5 a second time. That will effectively shut down white’s bishop and keep black up a healthy extra pawn.} 9. O-O d5 $1 10. Bb5 { [%cal Ge1e8]} Nge7 {[#][%csl Ye7][%cal Ge8g8]}) 9. O-O Nge7 10. Ng5 $4 {[%csl Ra1, Rb1,Rc1] Another slow move from white which completely abandons control of the center. White is giving up any hope of winning back the central pawn or developing the queenside in the near future. It is almost never a good idea to attack with so few pieces.} (10. Ba3 $1 {This would have given white some compensation for the pawn deficiency.} Qf6 $1 $17 {Black is still doing well here though.}) 10... O-O {[#][%csl Ga5,Gc6,Gd6,Ge7] Black is two pawns up with the better development! This is the reverse of how a gambit is supposed to go!} 11. Bd3 (11. Qh5 {Perhaps white thought he had this move available but black has it well covered.} Qg6 $1 12. Qxg6 Nxg6 {White is busted.}) 11... Bf5 (11... h6 {This also would have been very strong.}) 12. Bxf5 Nxf5 13. Ba3 Qg6 14. Bxf8 Qxg5 15. Ba3 (15. Bb4 $1 $19 {White is still lost but this was the best hope. With an exchange of pieces and change of pawn structure on the queenside, white could hope to complete development. The move played in the game leaves white hopelessly lagging behind.} Nh4 $1 16. g3 Bb6 {[%cal Gb6g1]}) 15... dxc3 {[%csl Ra1,Rb1,Rd1,Rf1] The exchange that white managed to win back was hardly any consolation for the complete neglect of development. Black has a winning position here but the way Morphy wraps it up is something you will never forget!} (15... Nh4 {Black could have gone for this as well but it wouldn’t have changed much.} 16. g3 dxc3 $19) 16. Bc1 {[#][%csl Ra1,Ga5,Rb1,Rc1,Gc6,Rd1, Rf1,Gf5,Gg5] A very telling position. After 16 moves, all of white’s pieces are on the first rank.} Qg6 17. Bf4 Rd8 18. Qc2 Ncd4 19. Qe4 Ng3 $3 20. Qxg6 Nde2# {That might be the most beautiful mate ever played!} 0-1","nboSquareSize":50,"idoSquareSize":50,"nboCoordinateVisible":true,"idoCoordinateVisible":true,"nboColorset":"greenvintage","idoColorset":"greenvintage","nboPieceset":"new-set-mac","idoPieceset":"new-set-mac","nboAnimated":true,"nboMoveArrowVisible":false,"nboMoveArrowColor":"b","pieceSymbols":"native","navigationBoard":"frame","withFlipButton":true,"withDownloadButton":true}); });

Paul Morphy was in my opinion the greatest player of the 1800’s. He was head and shoulders above the rest of his competition. Bobby Fischer among others looked up to the way Morphy handled open games especially. It didn’t matter which side of the board you were on, Morphy outclassed all competition in openings starting with 1. e4 e5. In this game we see him take the black side of an Evans gambit. Typically, this opening leads to miniatures from the white player’s point of view but with Morphy on the black side, the opposite happens. Enjoy the show, you are in for a treat!

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THE OPENING IN ACTION

Anderssen vs Dufresne 1852

The Evergreen Game Anderssen Vs Dufresne

Marache vs Morphy 1857

The Evans Gambit Napoleon Marache Paul Morphy Online Chess Course

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