Many aggressive chess openings do not require you to give up material. However, by definition, a gambit chess opening involves sacrificing material.
Choosing between the two depends largely on your playing style and the people who influenced your chess. Paul Morphy played at a time when gambit chess openings were commonplace and didn’t hesitate to play gambits.
When you play aggressively from the start of the game, there is a good chance you will make your opponent feel nervous. They know you intend to win, and win fast!
Angelo Kesaris knows how you can put pressure on your opponent early in the game.
Another Aggressive Approach Against the Pirc Defense
In many gambit chess openings, a pawn is frequently given up in return for a lead in development or to inflict a structural weakness. A modern approach against the Pirc Defense, for example, is a rapid advance of the h-pawn.
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.h4 Bg7 5.h5
Because Black has not castled, meeting 5…Nxh5 with 6.Rxh5 is not as strong as it would be if the king were on g8. However, White can gambit the pawn with 6.g4
5…Nxh5 6.g4 Nf6 7.g5 Nfd7 8.f4 Nb6 9.a4 a5 10.d5
White has an excellent space advantage with the threat of advancing the pawns further up the board to create weaknesses. The semi-open h-file is a superb way for White to infiltrate.
Nikolai Vlassov used the h-file to activate his rook and ultimately won the game, thanks to the threats his rook created.
Vlassov, Nikolai – Saveljev, Vladislav, 2001.07.01, 1-0, RUS-Cup06 Round 2, Tomsk
With the help of Stockfish or your favorite chess engine, this gambit chess opening is worth investigating.
Holding the Pawn Back For One Move
Sometimes holding back your aggressive move can make your opponent relax too soon. By delaying the advance of the h-pawn for one more move, you get to support the advance with your bishop.
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be2 Bg7 5.h4
Thanks to the bishop on e2, Black is forced to react to the threat of h5. Now …Nxh5 is met with Bxh5, wreaking Black’s kingside pawns without sacrificing material.
The most popular move in the above position is 5…c5, following the standard advice of meeting a flank attack with a counterblow in the center.
5…c5 6.dxc5 Qa5 7.Bd2 Qxc5 8.h5 0-0 9.Nh3 Nc6 10.Nf4
Almost all of White’s pieces are focused on the kingside but are well-positioned to defend the queenside.
Once the h-file is open, a typical entry square for the White queen is on h2.
Lothar Schmid – Mijo Udovcic, 1953, 1-0, Venice, Venice ITA
A natural response to h4 is …h5, which leaves the g5 square unprotected. White can use this to bring his knight closer to the Black king.
Gambit chess openings are lots of fun, but they are not the only way to play aggressively. You can smother your opponents with a space advantage or advance your pawns early in anticipation of where they intend to castle.
Remember, it is possible to play aggressively in standard games, and aggressive play is not something to keep for Blitz or Bullet chess. If you enjoy playing attacking chess, then gambit chess openings are worth exploring.
There are many sound gambits you can include in your opening repertoire. Possibly the most famous is the King’s Gambit.
IM Asaf Givon and Angelo Kesaris have put together a top-notch selection of aggressive openings for you to use as the foundation of your repertoire.
All the main attacking plans are clearly explained, and you will soon be using this knowledge to win games.