The Evan’s Gambit (1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4!) is truly the opening of the attacking chess Gods.
Made famous by Anderssen’s ‘Evergreen Game’ back in 1852, this opening gambit has been a weapon of choice for attackers and chess romantics ever since.
This video is a free preview from 80/20 Tactics Multiplier: The Evan’s Gambit which features GM Marian Petrov in 8 hours of action-packed lessons revealing everything you need to create tactical masterpieces in this opening.
In this preview, GM Marian Petrov looks at how play continues when Black doesn’t accept the gambit, and how that doesn’t stop White from continuing in an aggressive fashion.
By the 1980s there were a couple of top players who used the Evans Gambit from time to time – in particular, Jan Timman and John Nunn – but it was really quite a rare opening.
Then suddenly in 1995, in the last tournament game before their World Championship match, Garry Kasparov employed it against Viswanathan Anand. Perhaps he wanted to strike a psychological blow, and he did it successfully.
Predictably, the Evans Gambit experienced quite a revival after this. Top players found promising ways for White to play.
Nowadays, the biggest experts in the Evans Gambit are most probably Hikaru Nakamura, Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, and Alexander Grischuk, who have successfully played this gambit in blitz and classical games against some of the best players in the world.
Black Declines the Evan’s Gambit? No Problem!
Black has the option of declining the gambit, most commonly by playing with 4…Bb6.
If Black declines the gambit, White can still get a very aggressive game, which is usually the plan for someone playing the Evans Gambit. The most common response, and actually the most direct approach for White in this case, is playing the move 5.a4 immediately.
After this move, White’s idea is very clear. White wants to play the move 6.a5 and trap Black’s bishop. Therefore, Black is pretty much forced to play either 5…a5 or 5…a6. Black’s most common response here will be playing the move 5…a6 since it also prevents White from getting a greater space advantage on the queenside.
White has several options after this, the most interesting one is allowing Black to capture the pawn on b4 and continue development with the move 6.Nc3. If Black decides to capture the pawn with 6…Nxb4, White can either play 7.Nxe5, which leads to a very sharp game with a lot of complications, where White will have better chances thanks to the rapid development of his pieces and superior coordination (see diagram, left), or simply play 7.0-0 and get the king into safety before starting an attack.
Obviously, Black is not forced to take the pawn on b4 after the move 6.Nc3 in the previous variation. Black can also play the natural developing move 6…Nf6, in which case White will
immediately have the knight jump to the center with the move 7.Nd5.
Again, White offers Black a pawn in exchange for rapid development and initiative. This is the true nature of the Evans Gambit, no matter if Black accepts the gambit or not – White will always have ways to look for active play and attacking positions.
Master the Evans Gambit
The Evans Gambit is perfect for players who want to put pressure on Black right away and really go for an aggressive style of play.
White sacrifices his b-pawn and in return, gains a ton of activity, a strong center and very clear devastating attacking plans…
Ready to join the legends by picking up their sharpest sword?
GM Marian Petrov’s 8-hour course on tactics in the Evan’s Gambit gives you everything you need to start playing this opening with confidence and demolish your opponents over the board. Click here to get instant access with 35% off.