The King’s Gambit is one of the oldest openings and was already mentioned in 1497 in Lucena’s Repeticion de Amores y Artes de Ajedrez. It has amused us with countless fantastic attacking games and was successfully adopted by world champions such as Spassky and Fischer. Despite its doubtful appearance, it has posed great practical problems for generations of black players.

This glorious history cannot be taken from the King’s Gambit. But these are tempi passati. Nowadays, we have strong engines that ring the alarm bell when something is not quite kosher. With their help, you can even analyze certain position types until you reach a final verdict. This means the end of an era and the inevitable decline of all incorrect gambits.

In my opinion, the King’s Gambit is clearly refuted by the Schallop Variation. Even though my analysis presents numerous innovations, the fundamental strength of this line has already been demonstrated quite well by older game material. I am hence surprised that repertoire books on the King’s Gambit are still being published, black players lose helplessly and that even grandmasters have no qualms about making it their choice. Well, apparently the market for chess ideas is simply not efficient enough, even in times of the Internet. This provides my followers with the chance to profit from the following information. Good luck!


[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "????.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "King's Gambit "] [Black "Schallop Defense"] [Result "*"] [ECO "C34"] [Annotator "Wahls"] [PlyCount "36"] [SourceVersionDate "2002.05.06"]

{[%evp 0,36,28,18,18,-40,-47,-51,-16,-4,-2,-29,-29,-29,6,6,19,-22,-30,-37,-13,
-32,-16,-50,-16,-11,-2,-2,-12,-10,-10,-3,-3,-45,-44,-44,-52,-57,-17]} 1. e4 e5
2. f4 $2 {[#] Funnily enough, I never saw a question mark attached to this
move in any publication, despite the fact that it loses a pawn and at the same
time weakens the king's position.} exf4 {As a general course of action, Black
can look out for opportunities to return the pawn in order to transform his
material advantage into a positional one.} 3. Nf3 (3. Bc4 {is not worse, but
is already considered as slightly better for Black by official theory. For this
reason, I content myself with just a few remarks.} Qh4+ $1 {The unprepared
player might resort to} (3... Nf6 4. Nc3 c6 {after which White has to play for
equality.}) 4. Kf1 d6 5. Nf3 (5. Nc3 Be6 $15) (5. d4 Bg4 6. Nf3 Qf6 $15) 5...
Qf6 (5... Qh6 $15) 6. Nc3 Be6 7. Qe2 Nd7 8. d4 O-O-O $15) 3... Nf6 $1 {[#] The
Schallop Variation is based on solid principles. Black develops and at the
same time puts pressure on White's center.} 4. e5 {With this move, White at
least maintains the illusion of an initiative. However, it is well known that
advanced central pawns often lose their power, as they abandon important
squares (d5 and f5) and can be attacked by hostile forces (d7-d6). The
alternative 4.Nc3 is not worse and will be covered later. The psychological
problem with this move is, however, that it already looks like an early
admission of failure.} (4. d3 $2 d5 5. e5 Nh5 $17) (4. Bc4 $2 Nxe4 $1 5. Qe2 (
5. O-O $2 d5 $19) 5... Qe7 6. O-O (6. d4 Nf6 7. Nc3 Qxe2+ 8. Bxe2 c6 9. Bxf4 d5
$17) 6... c6 7. Re1 d5 8. Bb3 Be6 $17 {1-0 (23) Kunzmann,H (2451)-Monner Sans,
R (2391) Argentina 1999}) 4... Nh5 {[#] This position is complex and has to be
analyzed in concrete fashion. And yet, the quality of Black's play can
already by estimated on an abstract level. First of all, Black's extra pawn
is now solidly defended. This is annoying for White, as it frustrates White's
ambitions in the f-file. Normally, White removes this obstacle by using the
pawn break g2-g3. But now, this mechanism gets potentially disturbed by the
daring Schallop-knight. The material now branches into three sub-variations: a)
5.Be2, b) 5.Qe2 and c) 5.d4.} 5. Be2$6 {White prepares castling and at the same
time targets Black's knight. The bishop has to make do with this relative
modest location, as} (5. Bc4 $2 d5 {(remember when I commented that 4.e5
would give up the control over d5)} 6. exd6 Bxd6 $17 {is highly unsatisfactory.
}) 5... g5 $1 {Black wants the big game. Also in consideration comes the more
restraint} (5... d6 6. O-O g6 $15) 6. O-O {[#]} (6. Nc3 $6 d5 7. Nxg5 (7. d4 h6
$17) 7... Qxg5 8. Bxh5 Qh4+ 9. Kf1 Be6 10. Nb5 Na6 11. d4 Rg8 12. Qe2 O-O-O $17
) (6. Nxg5 $2 Qxg5 7. Bxh5 Qh4+ $1 $146 (7... Qxg2 {0-1 (29) Udvardi,Z (2286)
-Toth,T (2222) Balatonlelle 2018}) 8. Kf1 Nc6 9. Nc3 d6 10. exd6 (10. Nb5 dxe5
11. Nxc7+ Kd8 12. Nxa8 e4 $1 $19 {followed by Rg8, Bd6 or Nd4}) 10... Bxd6 11.
Qe1+ Qxe1+ 12. Kxe1 Nd4 13. Kd1 Rg8 $17) (6. d4 d5 $1 7. O-O Rg8 $17 {see a2)})
{As the forced character of the line 4.e5 Nh5 5.Be2 makes it the critical test
of the Schallopp Variation, I now present two good moves for Black: a1) 6..
Ng7 and a2) 6..h6. The latter will be presented in the second part.
} 6... Ng7 {This is not only a prophylactic measure with the aim to remove the
knight out of the danger zone. The knight is excellently placed on g7, as it
controls three important squares. Moreover, it will now be able to occupy a
fantastic position on either e6 or f5, depending on the concrete proceedings} (
6... g4 $2 7. Ne1 f3 8. Nxf3 $1 $16 {1/2-1/2 (18) Imenchuk,V-Diakov,M corr 1990
}) (6... d6 $2 7. exd6 (7. d4 $2 {0-1 (27) Marco,G-Mieses,J Vienna 1903}) 7...
Bxd6 8. Nxg5 Qxg5 9. Bxh5 $13) 7. d4 h6 $1 $146 {[#] A flexible move in the
spirit of the line 6..h6.} ({Also possible is} 7... d5 {After} 8. c4 (8. exd6
Bxd6 9. Nc3 O-O 10. Ne4 h6 $17) 8... c6 9. Nc3 Be7 $1 $146 (9... Ne6 $2 {
1-0 (30) Viederis,G-Vilbrantas,S Lithuania 1993}) 10. cxd5 (10. Qb3 dxc4 11.
Bxc4 O-O 12. d5 cxd5 13. Nxd5 Nc6 $17) 10... cxd5 11. Qb3 Nc6 {Black has
chances for a big advantage, as White's d-pawn tends to be weak.}) 8. g3 (8.
Nc3 d5 $1 {This move is strong, now that White's c-pawn is hindered by the
knight.} 9. exd6 Bxd6 10. Ne4 O-O 11. g3 Bh3 12. Rf2 f5 13. Nxd6 cxd6 $17 {
By returning the pawn, Black manages to achieve a dominant position on the
light squares.} 14. gxf4 g4 15. Nd2 Nd7 16. Nf1 Nf6 17. Bd3 Qd7 {[%cal Ga8e8] with probably decisive advantage.}) (8. c4 {White fights for the control over
d5, but has to pay with time.} d6 9. Nc3 Nf5 $1 10. exd6 cxd6 11. Bd3 Bg7 $17)
8... d5 ({My first intention was} 8... Nf5 {as after 9.gxf4? g4 Black is
clearly better. However, after} 9. d5 $1 Bc5+ 10. Kh1 d6 11. Nc3 {an unclear
position has arrived.}) 9. exd6 (9. c4 c6 10. Nc3 Nf5 $1 11. cxd5 cxd5 12. gxf4
g4 13. Ne1 Nc6 $17) (9. gxf4 Bh3 (9... g4 10. Ne1 h5 $17) 10. fxg5 Bxf1 11.
Qxf1 Nc6 12. Kh1 Nf5 $17) 9... Bxd6 10. gxf4 Nf5 $1 {[#] This is a good
example for my remark after 2..exf4. Incorrect gambits such as the King's
Gambit are best refuted by giving up the extra material in return for
positional assets in a suitable moment. That way, the former attacker is
deprived of his dynamic potential and has to look down on a dreary position.
In this situation, the hunter clearly turned into the hunted, as already five
black pieces are directed towards the white king.} 11. Bc4 (11. fxg5 $2 hxg5
12. Bxg5 Bxh2+ $19) (11. Nc3 g4 12. Ne5 Qh4 $17) 11... Nc6 12. Nc3 g4 13. Ne5
Bxe5 14. fxe5 (14. dxe5 Qh4 15. Ne4 Be6 16. Nf6+ Kf8 $17 {[%cal Gc6d4,Gd4f3,
Rg4g3]}) 14... Qxd4+ 15. Qxd4 Ncxd4 {Another transformation has taken place.
We have lost our attack, but are up in material terms again. This time, there
are no swindle chances left for White.} 16. Nb5 (16. Nd5 Kd8 $17) 16... Nxb5
17. Bxb5+ c6 18. Bd3 Nh4 $17 {[#] White has legitimate hopes for a draw, due
to the presence of opposite colored bishops. But of course, that is a rather
meager result for a white opening.} *

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