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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) C47: The Belgrade Gambit (Read 104287 times)
bamonson
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Re: The Belgrade Gambit
Reply #20 - 07/30/04 at 17:35:27
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5...Be7 6.Bc4: Part I

Main line 9...Nxd5 10.Bxd5!

There are some general themes that occur in the main line: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Be7 6.Bc4 0-0 7.0-0 d6 8.Nxd4 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Nxd5 10.Bxd5 that I'd like to address.

A quick glance might suggest that the position is somewhat drawish but this would be a false assumption as there are a number of factors which are favorable to white:  Pawn structure, piece placement and latent weaknesses.

Pawn Structure --  According to Reuben Fine's excellent book, "The Ideas Behind The Chess Openings," this is white's "Ideal pawn structure in all double e-pawn openings."  This is due to an advantage in space and more contol in the center which affords white a wider range of options when devising a plan;  while black is restricted to a much narrower course of action.  Further, it's important to note that white's e-pawn provides other important roles on e4: covering two key squares in black's camp (d5 & f5) which further restricts his development (while still still remaining mobile), and poised to combine with the f-pawn as battering rams to break-up black's kingside. 

Piece Placement -- Even as they stand now white's pieces are much better placed than black's.  The Rf1 stands behind the f-pawn which is poised to advance to f4 and coordinate with the e-pawn as battering rams in some variations (this is a common theme).  The Bc1 is well situated where it stands at the moment as it's not yet clear where its
ideal post will be.  Depending on black's actions it may occupy d2, e3, f4 or even stand pat on c1 with subtle differences in plan.  Most significant however is the actual occupation of d5 by the other bishop.  Not only does it eye the b7 pawn and a2-g8 diagonal but it also greatly hinders black's development -- a point he cannot just ignore as white can continue to build pressure on either wing by simply advancing
pawns and applying a slow but persistent squeeze.  For this reason black must chase this bishop from its post and therein lay the crux of white's plan.

The Latent Weakness -- As will be seen black can ill afford to allow white's bishop to camp out on d5.  However, the only way to oust the bishop is to kick it out with ...c6 which in turn leaves the d6 pawn weakened.  Here the real significance of the e4 pawn comes to light. 

White retreats his bishop to b3 and simply gangs up on the d6 pawn while preventing it from advancing to d5.  In response to this black has little choice but to bear down on the e-file and attempt to exchange his weak d-pawn for white's e-pawn.  Practice has shown however that this is not a simple matter and black is fighting an up hill battle.

Whether or not these differences are enough to say that white is clearly better or only slightly better is not important.  What is important is that there are imbalances in the position which leave much room for individual creativity.

Below are several games in this variation that demonstrate many of these intricacies, though the selection is not exhaustive by any means.

The following game is nothing short of a positional masterpiece (yes, I said "positional") conducted at the hands of one of the strongest correspondence GM's in the world, Dr. Karl Heinz Kraft.  One of the primary points to note is the problems black can get into simply by allowing white's bishop to drop anchor on d5 for too long!

Kraft (2615) - Toptschij (2430) [C47]
Correspondence, 1994
[Kraft/Monson]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Be7 6.Bc4 0-0 7.0-0 d6 8.Nxd4 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Nxd5 10.Bxd5 Bf6 11.Qd3 Qe7 [11...c6 12.Bb3 Be6 13.Rd1] 12.c3 Re8 13.Bf4!? a5 [On 13...c6? 14.Bxd6!] 14.Rad1 Ra6 15.Rd2 a4 16.a3 Ra5 17.Rfd1 Bg5 18.Bxg5 Qxg5 19.f4!± [The e4/f4 pawn center is a common theme in the 6.Bc4 variation, but here it comes with
particularly strong effect.--Monson] 19...Qe7 20.h3 Kf8 21.Re2 b6 22.e5 g6 23.Qd4! dxe5 24.Rxe5 Qc5 25.Rxe8+ Kxe8 26.Bc6+ Ke7 27.Kh2± Qxd4 28.Rxd4 Be6 29.Rxa4 Kd6 30.Rxa5 bxa5 31.Be4 Kc5 32.g4 Ba2 33.Bd3 Bc4 34.Bc2 Ba2 35.h4 Kc4 36.f5 Bb3 37.Be4 Ba2 38.fxg6 fxg6 39.h5 gxh5 [Or 39...Kb3 40.Bxg6!+-] 40.Bxh7+- Kb3 41.gxh5 Kxb2 42.a4 Kxc3 43.h6 1-0

Mihajlo Trajkovic is the father of the Belgrade Gambit, so it's
appropriate to show how he led the way in this line.  Indeed, it was very likely that Toptschij in the previous game was aware of this game, and for that reason tried to avoid playing ...c6, weaking the d6-pawn.

Trajkovic,M - Stieg [C47]
cr, 1967

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Be7 6.Bc4 0-0 7.0-0 d6 8.Nxd4 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Nxd5 10.Bxd5 Bf6 11.Qd3 a5 12.a4 Qe7 13.c3 c6 14.Bb3 Be6 15.Bc2 g6 16.f4! [Here we see the effects of the e4/d4 pawn center combined with the Bc2-Qd3 battery.  This is a very common theme in this
variation.] 16...Bg7 17.f5 Bc8 18.Be3 c5 19.Rad1 Ra6 20.Bf4 Rd8 21.Qg3 gxf5 22.exf5 f6 23.Rfe1 Qf8 24.Bb3+ Kh8 25.Be6 Bxe6 26.fxe6 Qe7 27.Bxd6! 1-0


Simmelink,J (2400) - Herve,D [C47]
IECG LM-001-1999, 1999
[Monson]

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Be7 6.Bc4 0-0 7.0-0 d6 8.Nxd4 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Nxd5 10.Bxd5 Bf6 11.Qd3 a5 12.a4 c6 13.Bb3 Qe7 14.c3 Be6 15.Bc2 g6 16.f4± [Again, the e4/f4 pawn advance] 16...d5 17.e5 Bh8 18.f5 Bd7 [18...Bxf5? 19.Rxf5 gxf5 20.Qxf5 f6 21.e6 Rfe8 22.Bh6 Rad8 23.Rf1+-] 19.Bh6 Bxe5 [The only chance, but White is still clearly better.] 20.Bxf8 Rxf8 21.Qf3 Bd6 22.Rae1 Qh4 23.g3 Qh3 24.Bd3 Bc5+ 25.Kh1 g5 26.f6? [This allows Black the opportunity to extricate, or even exchange off, his misplaced queen, thus making White's task much more difficult.  Better was simply doubling rooks on the e-file and slowly increasing the pressure, since Black has no counterplay to speak of.] 26...Bg4 27.Qg2 Qh5 28.Be2 h6 29.Bxg4 Qxg4 30.Qe2 Qxe2 31.Rxe2 Kh7 [31...Rd8 32.Rfe1 Kh7 33.Re8 Rxe8 (33...Rd7 34.R1e7) 34.Rxe8 Kg6 35.Rb8 b6 36.Rc8 d4 37.cxd4 Bxd4 38.Rxc6 g4 39.Kg2±] 32.h4 gxh4 33.gxh4 Rg8 34.Rf5!± Rg1+ 35.Kh2 Kg6 36.Ree5 h5 37.Rxh5 Rb1 38.Rhg5+ Kxf6 39.Rgf5+
Kg7 40.Re2 Ra1 41.b3 Rc1 42.c4 Bd6+ 43.Kh3 Rc3+ 44.Kg4 dxc4 45.Ref2 cxb3 46.Rxf7+ Kg8 47.Rxb7 Bb4 48.Rff7 Rd3 49.Rg7+ Kf8 50.h5 b2 51.Rh7+- Rd4+ 52.Kf3 Rd3+ 53.Ke4 Kg8 54.Rbg7+ Kf8 55.h6 Ke8 56.Rh8+ Bf8 57.Rb7 Rh3 58.h7 1-0

Simmelink,J (2400) - Alvebring,M [C47]
IECG LM-1999-0-00001, 1999

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Be7 6.Bc4 0-0 7.0-0 d6 8.Nxd4 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Nxd5 10.Bxd5 Bf6 11.Qd3 Qe7 12.c3 a6 13.a4 Rb8 14.Bb3 Re8 15.Bc2 h6 16.Be3 Qe6 17.e5 Bxe5 18.Qh7+ Kf8 19.Rae1 f6 20.Bg6 Re7 21.f4 Qg8 22.Qxg8+ Kxg8 23.fxe5 fxe5 24.Bf2 Be6 25.Bh4 Rd7 26.a5 Bc4 27.Rf2 Be6 28.Re3 Bc4 29.g4 b6 30.g5 h5 31.axb6 c5 32.Bxh5
Rdb7 33.Be2 Bxe2 34.Rexe2 Rxb6 35.Bg3 Kh7 36.h4 Kg6 37.Kg2 Kh5 38.Kh3 a5 39.Rd2 a4 40.Rf7 R6b7 41.Rxb7 Rxb7 42.Rxd6 Rxb2 43.Rd7 Rb1 44.Rxg7 Rh1+ 45.Bh2 e4 46.Rc7 Kg6 47.Rc6+ Kf7 48.g6+ 1-0

Eriksson,M - Berkell,P (2335) [C47]
SWE-chT fin Eksjo, 1986

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Be7 6.Bc4 0-0 7.0-0 d6 8.Nxd4 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Nxd5 10.Bxd5 Bf6 11.Qd3 Re8 12.c3 Qe7 13.Bf4 Bg5 14.Bg3 Bh4 15.Bf4 Bg5 16.Bxg5 Qxg5 17.f4 Qe7 18.Rae1 c6 19.Bb3 Qf8 20.Re3 Bd7 21.e5 Rad8 22.exd6 Rxe3 23.Qxe3 Bc8 24.Rd1 b6 25.Qe4 Rd7 26.Qxc6 g6 27.Ba4 Rd8 28.d7 Ba6 29.Re1 Bb7 30.Qxb7 Qc5+ 31.Kh1 Qf2
32.Qe4 a6 33.Qe3 Qxb2 34.Qe8+ 1-0


Bulgarini Torres,M (2373) - Souto,A [C47]
Latin Am zt 15th sf1 corr, 2000

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Be7 6.Bc4 0-0 7.0-0 d6 8.Nxd4 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Nxd5 10.Bxd5 Bf6 11.Qd3 c6 12.Bb3 Re8 13.c3 Be6 14.Bc2 g6 15.f4 [Again, the typical e4/f4 pawn attack] 15...Qb6+ 16.Kh1 d5 17.e5 Bf5 18.Qd2 Bxc2 19.Qxc2 Bg7 20.Rf3 c5 21.Be3 Qc6 22.Bf2 Rad8 23.Rd1 Rd7 24.a3 a5 25.Bh4 b6 26.Qf2 a4 27.h3 f6 28.f5 Rxe5 29.fxg6 hxg6 30.Bxf6 Bxf6 31.Rxf6 Re6 32.Rf4 Kg7 33.Rf1 Qd6 34.Rxa4 Rf6 35.Qxf6+ Qxf6 36.Rxf6 Kxf6 37.Kg1 d4 38.cxd4 cxd4 39.Kf2 Ke5 40.Ke2 Ke4 41.Ra8 Re7 42.Kd2 b5 43.Ra6 g5 44.Rf6 Re8 45.Rf1 Rd8 46.Re1+ Kf4 47.Kd3 Kg3 48.Re5 Rg8 49.Re2 Rd8 50.b3 g4 51.Re5 gxh3 52.gxh3 Ra8 53.Kxd4 Kxh3
54.Rxb5 Rxa3 55.b4 Rb3 56.Kc4 Rg3 57.Rf5 Kg4 58.Rf1 Re3 59.b5 Re2 60.Rb1 Rc2+ 61.Kb4 Rh2 62.b6 Rh8 63.b7 Kf5 64.Kc5 Rb8 65.Kc6 Ke6 66.Kc7 1-0

Keglevic,P - Savic,V [C47]
JUG-ch corr, 1971

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Be7 6.Bc4 d6 7.Nxd4 0-0 8.0-0 Nxd5 9.Bxd5 Nxd4 10.Qxd4 Bf6 11.Qd3 Qe7 12.c3 Rb8 13.Be3 c6 14.Bb3 b5 15.Rfd1 Rd8 16.Bf4 Be5 17.Qg3 Re8 18.Rd2 c5 19.Rad1 c4 20.Bc2 Rb6 21.Bxe5 dxe5 22.Rd5 f6 23.a4 a6 24.Qe3 Qc7 25.Qc5 Qxc5 26.Rxc5 Be6
27.a5 Rbb8 28.Rc6 Ra8 29.Kf1 Kf7 30.Rdd6 Bc8 31.b3 Re6 32.bxc4 Rxd6 33.Rxd6 bxc4 34.Ke1 Ra7 35.Rc6 Be6 36.Kd2 Ke7 37.Kc1 Bd7 38.Rxc4 Bb5 39.Rc8 Kd7 40.Rh8 h6 41.Bb3 Rc7 42.Kc2 Ke7 43.Bd5 Kd6 44.Kb3 Kc5 45.c4 Bc6 46.Rb8 Bxd5 47.exd5 Rd7 48.Kc3 1-0

Bruce Monson


PART II in next post:
  
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Re: The Belgrade Gambit
Reply #19 - 07/30/04 at 15:54:31
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Hi all,

I went to http://www.chesslive.de to check Svidler games in the BG and only found 5 games. Is it really all of his games? If the answer is yes, these games hardly can made a case for this opening. Four of them were played when he was a teen of around 14 years (1990-91) and at that time he was a "modest" player (compared with his actual level!), with rating <2500. His last game is much more serious than the others, since he was already a top GM and played against Morozevich in 2002.

But this last game can really count for the soundness of BG? Topalov played the Cochrane Gambit against Kramnik  in a Linares tournament few years ago and of course this gambit is unsound. Kramnik was so surprised and unprepared that played an inferior continuation and the game ended in a draw. Probably this is what Svidler was hoping when he played BG against Morozevich, to take him off his guard. I don't think he has the guts to play BG against Morozevich again!

I want to say another thing, about GM Lev Gutman. He is a strong player, of course, and recently writed "Budapest Fajorowitz" and "Scotch Qh4", about two very "funny" openings and both books had loads of analysis from his part. But how many GMs take so much time analysing these kind of openings?  It's seens that Gutman is a kind of "chess pirate", his views about less popular openings probably is not shared by his GM colleagues! What he said about BG cannot be taked as a normal GM view of things... And about Karpov, what he said in a beginner book can hardly be  taked as seal of approval from a World Champion. If he said that in a Informant monograph after supplying many original analysis too support his views, than we are talking!

The Belgrade Gambit is very interesting and I'm even looking at some games to learn the lines, since I'm thinking in playing it in blitz games. But I think it's very unhealthy to play it as your main weapon against 1. ... e5 in rated  games with slow time controls. Every time I look at a gambit in Open Games, I'm very suspicious. Take the example of King's Gambit. It's much more popular than BG and have much better pedigree too, with many chess legends at the white side, but now for many years the KG theoretical status is under a cloud. Of course, in practice, the KG (and probably the BG too) works perfectly if you are playing against  players with Elo <2300...

I noted that every time TopNotch talks, many people seems annoyed. Because of this, I love to read threads which he writes, it's always interesting and very funny! But I don't understand why so many people complain, he only says rather obvious things! After you leave the beginners levels, if you want to improve, you must play established openings since in this way you can learn lessons from very strong players that played them, among these players there are giants like Kasparov and Karpov. Within established openings you can see ideas of the best players of the world, unlike BG. Isn't this so obvious?

And note that opening theory, as any other subject worth studying, obeys kind of "Darwinian" rules,  because of this Ruy Lopez rules today and King's Gambit and many other gamtibs in open games were discarded by strong players decades ago. Like it or not, this is the truth and for the proof, check the pages of Informant of the last four decades and count how many Ruy Lopez and gambits were played.

Of course for us here, at a much lower level, this fact don't have much relevance. Since we are amateurs, we play what really hooks us. So if you like gambits, just play them and don't be bothered by what books say about their theoretical status. But if turn out that you play the Spanish, you have the possibility to study the games of the best players of our time, unlike BG. Because of this you can learn more and you cannot deny it!

Cheers,
ranjk
  
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Re: The Belgrade Gambit
Reply #18 - 07/30/04 at 09:42:59
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Obviously a GM, particularly a top one like Svidler, can't keep wheeling it out time and again, as if you become known as someone who is likely to play the Belgrade Gambit, people will take the time beforehand to work out a line of defence.

But at club level, and in the typical weekend Swiss, i.e. the vast majority of my games, and, I suspt of most people on this site, nobody knows exactly who they are going to be playing until ten minutes before the game, and even then they don't know what opening will coem up!

Most of those playing 1...e5 with Black at this level will have something worked out against the Spanish and the Italian and most likely the King's Gambit and the Vienna  and the bishop's Opening as well.  I suspect this is not necessarily the case for the BG.

A further advantage of the BG (or indeed a 'mainstream' Four Knights) is that it can be played against the Petroff as well ...
  

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Re: The Belgrade Gambit
Reply #17 - 07/30/04 at 09:35:38
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I think some may be taking this discussion a little too personally. I have no doubt that the Belgrade is playable but it seems very clear it is not in the same league as the Spanish, or even the Scotch or slow Giouco. At club level it should still be a good weapon though. Svidler may have played it in the 90's, but he plays the Spanish now. Fashion? Or did he need a more serious weapon....
  
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Re: The Belgrade Gambit
Reply #16 - 07/30/04 at 05:29:04
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Still TopNotch has not shown that the Petrov is strategically more complex than the Belgrade Gambit ...
For the record: I never have played both of them as White.
  

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Re: The Belgrade Gambit
Reply #15 - 07/29/04 at 18:56:34
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The Belgrade Gambit is probably no better or worse than some of the other gambits arising after 1.e4 e5. Grin

To my knowledge the BG has not been refuted outright, however the 5...Be7 line has proven so effective an equaliser that many would be White players have either abandoned or dismissed it altogether. It does not always take an outright bust to condemn a line for White, the mere fact that a comfortable equaliser exists is enough put it on the endangered list.

Its nice to see that so many people are quoting me, it means hopefully u r paying attention. Tongue
However in many cases, some of you miss the gist of what I'm trying to say. Yes its good to reach positions and Pawn Structures that one is familiar with, but my point was that the Pawn Structures that arise in the Belgrade is usually fixed and inflexible which do not allow for much variety of strategic plans from white's point of view.

For amateurs to restrict themselves exclusively to a system with such a narrow strategic scope will stagnate their chess development in the long run. Of course if you are already a strong player with a sound understanding of how to handle various strategic positions, then dabbling in things like the BG will probably not harm you.

Craig was quick to highlight that I reccommended The Vienna and Bishop's Opening as good choices for White even though they did not neccesarily promise a theoretical advantage. However what Craig failed to appreciate when quoting me, was the Strategic Complexity to which I referred to, it is this strategic complexity that distinguishes the Openings I recommended from the BG.

No doubt I will be quoted again, so let me elaborate a bit further. The Belgrade Gambit commits White from the outset to very energetic and precise play to justify his pawn minus, there is nothing wrong with this style if it suits you, however my point is that The Bishops Opening and Vienna complexes allow for a variety of approaches both immensly tactical or positionally subtle which allows White to vary his lines according to who he is playing. Belgrade Gambit practitioners do not have the luxury of such flexibility.

Regarding the Petroff, it is important to note that for the most part strong players use this Defence when a drawn result is desirable. No doubt symetrical Pawn Structures such as those that are typical of many Petroff mainlines are very hard for white to breakdown, even at Grandmaster level. The same holds true for any Opening with a symmetrical pawn structure, for instance that is why many strong players regard the Symmetrical Variation as Black's most reliable choice against the English Opening, GM Chris Ward included.

I was asked to reccommend something for White against the solid Petroff that offers reasonable chances for an advantage. Well, considering how difficult it is to breakdown symmetrical pawn structures, I think white should aim instead to create an asymmetrical one. Bearing this in mind I think 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3!? is an excellent practical weapon against The Petroff in which I have enjoyed much success, and it is not at all easy for black to equalise here. However, considering this is a Belgrade Gambit thread, I do not want to delve further into the intricacies of the above line.

So to conclude, if White is satisfied that black can equalise comfortably with 5...Be7 but believes that the resultant positions are rich and complex enough to allow good chances to outplay the opponent, then by all means practice The Belgrade Gambit. For the record I do not believe this to be the case.

The Guru has spoken.

Top Grin  

Postscript: Remarkably Mr. Monson posted his response while I was finishing up mine and hence I did not see it until I had already uploaded. I will address some of his points in due course.

Till then have fun and be good.  Grin     
« Last Edit: 07/31/04 at 10:10:58 by TopNotch »  

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Re: The Belgrade Gambit
Reply #14 - 07/29/04 at 17:51:06
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TOPNOTCH:
The problems arise when one becomes obsessed with these Offbeat Gambits, and gambit play in general to the exclusion of other important strategic Opening concepts that one must learn in order to improve as a chessplayer.

MONSON:
Once again, you're talking apples and oranges!  It does not follow that just because someone happens to specialize in a particular gambit that that person must therefore be ignoring other "important strategic Opening concepts." 

TOPNOTCH:
Yes, I know we all want to tranpose into or play Openings we love, even if deep down we know they are flawed.

MONSON:
So far you have not provided one iota of evidence demonstrating that the Belgrade Gambit is "flawed" in any way.  The Belgrade has withstood the rigors of world class correspondence grandmasters as well as world class OTB grandmasters.  Moreover, I doubt there is anyone in the world who is more up on current Belgrade Gambit theory than I am, and yet I know of no "bombs" for black that leave me with any "deep down" concerns about the gambit being "flawed."

Theory has shown, and continues to show, that white has good prospects against all of black's 5th move responses, and that includes the allegedly devastating 5...Be7. 

I checked my database, and according to the 940 games with 5...Be7 (that's probably about as many games as you have TOTAL for the BG in your database), white won 374 (40%) while black won 257 (27%) and 297 were drawn (33%), for an adjusted score of 56% for white against 44% for black! with an average ELO rating of 2349!

I'd say 56% against this devastating show-stopper in 5...Be7 is pretty damn good!  Perhaps this is why GMs such as Gutman, Bellon, Szmetan,  Peter Svidler (he's only like, what, among the top ten GMs in the world?!) and others (including a multitude of IMs and correspondence IMs and GMs) continue to include this gambit in their repertoir. 

Perhaps, too, this is why GM Lev Gutman wrote in his 1993 book d4 im Vierspringerspiel (d4 in the Four Knights): ...I believe that White's position has great potential and I intend to prove that, in all variations, Black must contend with the worse position. . . . for years the Belgrade Gambit has been considered unsatisfactory for White but now I am of the opinion that White has the better chances and Black has no easy defense."

Even Karpov was impressed with it.  In his 1988 book, The Open Game in Action he said: ...[N]ot everyone wishes to sacrifice a pawn (or even two) so early in the opening to obtain the initiative.  For that reason the [Belgrade] Gambit hasn't become very popular.  All the same this gambit leads to quite exciting and lively play.  I think those who favor stormy complications should include the gambit in their repertoire.

Svidler, in fact, played the BG through the 90's and as recently as 2002 used it against Morozevich.  Incidentally, Morozevich played 5...Be7, and far from being a ho-hum yawnfest, it turned into a tactical melee with pieces flying all over the place.  It was VERY hard-fought!  Ultimately the final result was a draw, but it was later discovered that Svidler missed a win.  Here's that game:

Svidler,P (2690) - Morozevich,A (2707) [C47]
St Petersburg-Moscow Moscow (1), 22.10.2002

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Be7 6.Bf4 d6 7.Nxd4 0-0 8.Nb5 Nxd5 9.exd5 a6 10.dxc6 [10.Nxc7 Qxc7 11.dxc6 Re8 12.Be2 bxc6 13.0-0 Rb8 14.b3 +/= Monson; For 10.Nc3 see game ven der Weide-Ellenbroek below.] 10...axb5 11.Bxb5 Bg5 12.cxb7 Bxb7 13.Qg4 Qe7+ 14.Kd2 Bf6 15.Rhe1 Qd8 16.c3 Rb8 17.Kc2 Bc8 18.Qe2 c6 19.Bd3 Be6 20.Qd2 g6 21.Kc1 Qa5 22.Bxd6 Rxb2 23.Qxb2? (Svidler could have won with 23.Kxb2!) 23...Bxc3 24.Qa3 Qxa3+ 25.Bxa3 Ra8 26.Rxe6 Bxa1 27.Rxc6 Rxa3 28.Bc4 Bd4 29.f4 Ra5 30.Kd2 Rc5 31.Rxc5 Bxc5 32.a4 Kf8 33.Kd3 Bb6 34.Ke4 Ke7 35.f5 g5 36.Kd5 g4 37.Kc6 Bg1 38.h3 gxh3 39.gxh3 Kf6 40.Bd3 Kg5 41.a5 Kh4 42.a6 f6 43.Kb7 Kxh3 44.a7 Bxa7 45.Kxa7 Kg4 46.Kb6 Kf4 47.Kc5 Ke5 ½-½

The following game, won by BG expert Karel Van der Weide, occurred in the same variation as the previous game, though the position arose by transposition after . . . not 1.e4 but 1.Nf3!  It sure was lucky for Karel that his opponent played ...Nc6 and ...e5 or else he wouldn't have known what to do. . .

Van der Weide,K - Ellenbroek,T [C47]
NLD-ch sf Enschede (4), 1995

1.Nf3 Nc6 2.e4 e5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Be7 6.Bf4 d6 7.Nxd4 0-0 8.Nb5 Nxd5 9.exd5 a6 10.Nc3 Ne5 11.Be2 Bg5 12.Bg3 Ng6 13.0-0 Bf4 14.Qd4 Qg5 15.Rae1 Bf5 16.h4 (just another boring, drawish, position arising from 5...Be7) 16...Qh6 17.h5 Be5 18.Bxe5 Nxe5 19.f4 Ng4 20.Bxg4 Bxg4 21.f5 Bxh5 22.Re3 f6 23.Rh3 Qg5 24.Ne4 Qg4 25.Rg3 Qe2 26.Nxf6+ Rxf6 27.Qxf6 Qe3+ 28.Rxe3 gxf6 29.Re7 Rc8 30.Rf4 Bf7 31.Rc4 c5 32.Rxb7 Bxd5 33.Rg4+ Kh8 34.Rd7 Bxa2 35.Rxd6 Bb1 36.Rc4 Ba2 37.b3 a5 38.Ra6 Rd8 39.Rxa5 Bb1 40.Raxc5 1-0


TOPNOTCH:
The truth is you will never learn very much about the intricacies 1e4 e5 play if you restrict yourself to something like The Belgrade Gambit,

MONSON:
Again, apples and oranges!  Just because one happens to be an expert in the Belgrade Gambit DOES NOT mean that that is their ONLY focus, or that they neglect other aspects of the game.


TOPNOTCH:
why, because the pawn structures that arise are predictable and do not allow for much flexibility in strategy.

MONSON:
In my next post I will present numerous games involving the three main lines white generally plays against 5...Be7 (namely 6.Bf4, 6.Bc4 and 6.Bb5, all of which offer dynamic possibilities ranging between tactical skirmishes and positional nuances).  I'll let the other readers decide whether they are as benign as TOPNOTCH is under the illusion they are.  You'll notice that I didn't mention 6.Nxd4 (the line Craig originally provided a short line for, after which TopNotch chimed-in with his "this confirms what I already knew" diatribe).  That's because 6.Nxd4, while perfectly playable, is the least strong of white's options.

Just a short addition here.  Let me say that the Belgrade is actually more of a positional gambit than a typical kill-or-be-killed bloodbath.  Certainly, in nearly every major line there are variations that will send the game into bloodly tactical complications, but even when these are avoided white is usually left with the pleasant option of maintaining the tension or heading into a slightly better endgame.  Indeed, in addition to honing your tactical skills, the BG will also hone your endgame skills.  I will be providing examples to demonstrate this.

Regards,

Bruce Monson


 


  
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CraigEvans
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Re: The Belgrade Gambit
Reply #13 - 07/29/04 at 12:53:47
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Firstly, also in reference to TopNotch's mention of predictable pawn structures... is that not what you should be aiming for?? To have familiar positions where you are comfortable with handling the pawn structures and so on? I thought the idea of any opening scheme was to be familiar with the resulting middlegames and endgame structures? Also, if one plays a set system in the ruy, let's say as an example the 5.d4 lines, they will also have a familiar and predictable pawn structure... this is exactly what the player of the white pieces is looking for - if someone wants to trot out 12 moves from Emms' book to reach a dead equal position as black which they may play once every 5 years, while I'm playing the position say once a month, then I will have the advantage regardless. I will know how to handle the resultant positions. I will know what structures to aim for in the endgame, which pieces to keep on or get rid of, which files to claim in view of the endgame. The player of the black pieces will just have the comfort of being told by a GM that the position was "equal" - along with sound possibly the most over/misused expression in chess.

Also, I like the fact that there isn't any talk of this gambit being unsound or refuted - everyone agrees that black gets equal play it seems, which I have no problem with. I will happily echo what MNb said, pleae give me a line against the petroff which promises more than equality. In fact, to quote you on your suggested openings for white, "Whilst the Bishop's Opening and Vienna Game do not promise a theoretical advantage against correct play by black, they are Bullet Proof (Sound) and strategically complex and unbalanced enough to allow the player that understands the typical resultant positions better to prevail." Black is unable to prove an advantage in the belgrade or four knights, the four knights is certainly bulletproof and if black's best is 5...Be7 with equality, so be it. If white can handle the position better, this means nothing. Black has no winning chances in the 5....Be7 lines unless white does something drastically wrong.

When I trawl through my database, white is scoring at least 50% in the lines after 5...Be7 6.Bc4...

I have looked at the position I mentioned after 6.Bc4 O-O 7.O-O d6 8.Nxd4 Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Nxd5 10.Bxd5 Bf6 11.Qd3, and the common continuation seems to be 11...c6 12.Bb3 Re8 13.c3 Be6 14.Be3, where white is certainly no worse - if Bxb3, the open a-file will be useful; also black's d pawn is weak and if white can prevent ...d5, he can achieve an edge. There is also the possibility of advancing with f4 to cramp black.

The more I look at the Belgrade, the more I think that it's as good a try as anything else.

Regards,
Craig Grin
  

"Give a man a pawn, and he'll smell a rat. Give a man a piece, and he'll smell a patzer." - Me.

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Re: The Belgrade Gambit
Reply #12 - 07/29/04 at 10:50:54
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perhaps Belgrade fans should post some analysis rebuffing recently published antidote- both Emms in "Play The Open Games as Black" and Kaufman in "Chess Advantage"... give 5...Be7.

I can see the Belgrade being a surprise weapon, but if these 1.e4 e5 gambits had any real bite, we would see them played in high level OTB tournaments. Correspondence is a different matter - I think more players will play "critical lines" (5...Ne4; 5...Nb4) but if the solid 5...Be7 equalizes without much difficulty, it's what players will prepare OTB.
  
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Re: The Belgrade Gambit
Reply #11 - 07/29/04 at 06:06:15
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I don't see why Mr TopNotch prefers to recommend the Vienna or the Bishop's Opening in favour of the Belgrade, since for one thing, if white white wants a safer option he could play a traditional 4Knights or a Glek system, the latter has scored very well even in GM encounters.

And if 5...Be7 is the worst white can encounter, it's strange that not more people play the Belgrade!

After 6.Nxd4 Nxd4 7.Qxd4 it looks like a tiny edge for white to me. So what is the secret for total equality for black?
  
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Re: The Belgrade Gambit
Reply #10 - 07/29/04 at 05:53:02
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<because the pawn structures that arise are predictable>
There is hardly one opening with more predictable pawn structures than the Petrov. As TopNotch sees himself as a kind of guru, leading me ignorant amateur in the right direction, maybe he can tell me what to do after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6.
  

The book had the effect good books usually have: it made the stupids more stupid, the intelligent more intelligent and the other thousands of readers remained unchanged.
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Re: The Belgrade Gambit
Reply #9 - 07/28/04 at 20:44:22
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Thank you all for your thoughts and critcisms Grin

To clarify a few things, it was not my intent to imply that Gambit play isnt useful for the less experienced player to aquaint himself with the dynamics of the game, quite the opposite. I agree wholeheartedly that Gambit play is useful for developing tactical skills. The problems arise when one becomes obsessed with these Offbeat Gambits, and gambit play in general to the exclusion of other important strategic Opening concepts that one must learn in order to improve as a chessplayer. Yes, I know we all want to tranpose into or play Openings we love, even if deep down we know they are flawed. The truth is you will never learn very much about the intricacies 1e4 e5 play if you restrict yourself to something like The Belgrade Gambit, why, because the pawn structures that arise are predictable and do not allow for much flexibility in strategy.    

The fact remains that the higher up the ladder you go, the less successful these Gambit Openings prove to be. I am happy that Mr.Monson has had good success in Correspondence play with this gambit, however my thoughts about its true merit remains unchanged. I think The Belgrade gambit may only prove dangerous if black is the higher rated player trying to win at all cost, in this case he must take some risks, and in fact I stated this in my previous post.

The big problem for White in the Belgrade Gambit is that it has been known for some time that 5...Be7 equalises comfortably and with little effort. The 5...Be7 variation is the main reason why the Belgrade Gambit has more or less faded from 'OVER THE BOARD TOURNAMENT PLAY' since the 70's, and if White is the higher rated player this line is doubly annoying to face, as a draw will hardly be welcome. I should also mention here that GM Eric Prie I think was once an avid Belgrade Gambit practitioner in the 90's but eventually gave it up as word on the effectiveness of 5...Be7 spread to the masses  Wink

I have been criticised for not posting lines, but I did not see a need to, as most of you can check your personal or Online Databases and confirm for yourself why 5...Be7 is regarded so highly. My job as I see it is to point you in the right direction, not attempt an Opening Monograph on the forum.

Finally, and perhaps this is my biggest gripe with this BG from white's point of view. Why spend so much time analysing all these complicated lines for White when black has a safe, sound and reliable answer in which to date White has been unable to prove anything against. Too much work for too little reward I say, unless u r happy with a draw.

Perhaps Mr. Monson can tell us his score against 5...Be7 and perhaps post some of those games. I suspect that most of his stronger opponents who did not mind risking a draw may have chosen this line, and I would be curious as to what new ideas Mr. Monson has here to resuscitate White's chances.  

Regards

Top  Grin  

   
  

The man who tries to do something and fails is infinitely better than he who tries to do nothing and succeeds - Lloyd Jones Smiley
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Re: The Belgrade Gambit
Reply #8 - 07/28/04 at 13:58:56
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I've been looking at the 5...Nb4 6.Nxf6+ lines over the last few days, and I must admit that 7.Bc4! is a significant improvement. 9.Ng5 seems the best move in the position after 7...Bc5 8.O-O d6, though also, perhaps 9.Bg5 is deserving of attention...I would probably prefer Ng5 given that it's a gambit I'm playing, and there seems no clear continuation after 9.Bg5 Qg6 10.a3 Nc6... maybe 11.b4 is an idea, and 11.Qe2 Bg4 with the idea of a later e5 may be playable, but 9.Ng5 certainly seems better.
I should note here that 9.e5 dxe5 10.a3 seems to be the main continuation, but I think white is struggling somewhat in these lines, the plan is to bust open the centre with f4 as soon as can be arranged, but trawling through my databases I see that black seems to be defusing the white play quite easily at the moment, and Mr Monson himself has had plenty of success on the black side in correspondence tournaments. (Incidentally, 10.Bg5 may be a far better try, in the games I found with this move, white is scoring 50%, 10...Qf5 11.Re1 seems to give white possibly enough for his pawn)

Just a note on the Nxc7+ piece sac line (Monson gambit?!), after 13.h4, I was wondering if Bruce (or anyone else) has considered or seen 13...b5!?. when having a little look at this, I found it to be quite an interesting defence... the point is that if 14.Qxb5+, 14...Qb7 and b7 turns out to be a decent square for the queen, and white can obviously not exchange. Have you looked at this Bruce, and if so, have you found a reliable method against it?

Regards,
Craig Grin
  

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Re: The Belgrade Gambit
Reply #7 - 07/27/04 at 17:05:52
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Craig wrote:

B) 5...Nb4(!)

This move is often given a ! in theoretical manuals.

CRAIG:
White usually replies 6.Bc4, and then 6...Nbxd5 7.exd5 Bb4+ 8.Bd2 Qe7+ 9.Qe2 Bxd2+! 10.Kxd2 Qxe2+ 11.Kxe2 c5! 12.dxc6 bxc6 13.Nxd4 d5 gives black the advantage. I'd be interested to see what improvements Bruce has for white here (I do not own a copy of his book unfortunately).

MONSON:
I personally don't care for 6.Bc4, though it is playable.  And Craig is correct regarding black's 12...bxc6!, which is indeed the strongest move by black here.  However, it doesn't really lead to an advantage per se for black.  We can talk about this more, but for now I'd like to address the other moves at white's disposal.

CRAIG:
6.Nxf6+ Qxf6 7.Bb5 Bc5 8.O-O O-O 9.e5 Qb6 10.Be2 d6 is also better for black, so 5...Nb4 may be the way for black to cast doubt on the gambit's validity.

MONSON:
Actually, 6.Nxf6+ is fully playable, but 7.Bb5 is not the correct follow-up.  White should play 6.Bc4 Bc5 7.O-O d6 when there are several important lines.  These are some of the most complex lines in the BG.

CRAIG:
6.Nxd4 Nxe4 7.Nb5 Nxd5 8.Qxd5 Qe7 9.Nxc7+?! is an interesting piece sac from junior which I don't believe is sound, but seems quite dangerous after 9...Kd8 10.Bf4 d6 11.O-O-O Kxc7 12.Qc4+ Kb8 13.Qd4, even if the attack is insufficient.

MONSON:
As I mentioned to Craig privately, it would be a sad state of offairs if "Junior" were to be adorned with credit for this intriguing knight sacrifice variation, since I came up with this myself back in 1997.  I first played it in correspondence tournaments in 1998 and also wrote some articles on it that were published by Stefan Buecker's _Kaissiber magazine_ in 1998.  I also discovered the 12.Qc4+TN in 1998 but didn't get the chance to use it in practice until 1999, against a 2430 rated player:

Monson, B - Sakai (2430) [C47]
Belgrade Gambit Corr. Thematic, 1999

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Nb4 6.Nxd4 Nxe4 (note that 6...Nbxd5 7.exd5 Nxd5 8.Nf5 leads to a different sacrificial attack on the other wing after 8...Ne7 9.Bg5 f6 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Qh5+, etc.) 7.Nb5 Nxd5 8.Qxd5 Qe7 9.Nxc7+ Kd8 10.Bf4! d6 11.O-O-O Kxc7 12.Qc4+!N (other moves are possible, such as 12.Bc4, 12.f3 and even 12.Rd4).  12...Kb8 13.h4! (rather than Craig's--or "Junior's" suggestion of 13.Qd4) 13...Qe6 14.Qd4 f5 15.f3 Nf6 16.Bc4 (16.Bb5!?) 16...Qe7 (16...Qd7 17.Bb5!) 17.Rhe1 Qc7 18.Re3 Bd7 19.Rc3 Bc6 20.g4 fxg4 21.fxg4 h6 22.b4 a6 23.Re1 Qd8 24.Bf7! Kc7 25.a4 g5 26.hxg5 hxg5 27.Bxg5 Bg7 28.Re6 Rh1+ 29.Kb2 Rf1 30.Be8!! Rf3 31.Rxf3 Bxf3 32.Bxf6 Bxf6 33.Rxf6 Bxg4 (amazingly, material is equal, but black cannot save the position) 34.Bg6 Bc8 35.a5 1-0

  
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Re: The Belgrade Gambit
Reply #6 - 07/27/04 at 16:21:47
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Craig wrote:
A) 5...Bc5
This line is often not mentioned, and sometimes only recieves a footnote, but I think it deserves close attention. The point is 6.Bf4 is met by O-O!, and 7.Bxc7 Qe8! is probably better for black. So instead best is probably 6.Bg5, when black usually chooses between 6...Be7 (which I don't feel is correct), or 6...d6. Quite a few players, including Mr Monson, have been known to play 6.Bf4 and only on 6...d6 play 7.Bg5, as this prevents ...Be7, but if black is aware of the O-O possibility, I'm not sure whether this is good for white.

[MONSON]
I have long viewed 5...Bc5 to be suspect, but I do not disagree with Craig that it deserves "close attention."

White has a few options here, but one I like is 6.Bf4, which I only slightly prefer over 6.Bg5 since it forces black to decide between playing 6...d6 or 6...O-O.  Most common, of course, is 6...d6, after which white plays 7.Bg5 and prepares to wreck black's pawn structure.

However, the immediate 6.Bg5 is fully sound and quite dangerous for black, especially if he now plays 6...d6?!, which is even better for white.  Better is 6...Be7 after which white must decide between 7.Bf4, transposing to 5...Be7 6.Bf4 lines, or playing 7.Bxf6 Bxf6 8.Bb5, which is actually quite an interesting variation.

But to give an example of how white's play might be geared around black's attempt to hold the d4-pawn, I'd like to present the following game against an ICCF 2450 player.  I am not going to provide detailed annotations, but the astute player will notice that white makes no attempt to recapture the d4-pawn, rather using this to his advantage in keeping black's Bc5 as a virtual spectator, cut off from the action occuring on the kingside by his own pawns on d6 and d4!   Indeed, black will often be compelled to expunge this pawn voluntarily (...d3) in effort to get his useless bishop back into play.  Other themes are open lines (even at the cost of a further pawn sacrifice) and keeping black's king quarantined in the center.


Monson,B - Simmelink,J (2450) [C47]
Belgrade Gambit Corr. Thematic, 1998

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5 Bc5 6.Bf4 d6 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.Qd2! Be6 10.Bb5 a6 11.Ba4 b5 12.Bb3 Ne5 13.Qf4 Ng6 14.Qg3 Rg8 15.0-0-0 Kf8 16.Nf4! Bxb3 17.axb3 Nxf4 18.Qxf4 Rxg2 19.Nh4 Rg5 20.Nf5 d5 21.Rhg1 Bd6 22.Qh4 Ke8 23.Nxh6! c5 24.exd5 Rxg1 25.Rxg1 f5 26.Qh5 Bf4+ 27.Kb1 Bxh6 28.Re1+! Be3 29.fxe3 d3 30.e4! Qf6 31.cxd3 Rd8 32.Rf1 Qd4 33.Qxf5 Qxd3+ 34.Ka2 Rd7 35.Rg1 Ke7 36.Rg7 Kd8 37.Qe5 Kc8 38.Rg8+ 1-0

The game was very complicated and at several stages it required subtle handling, but that is to be expected against strong opposition.  The reality is, black's position is much more difficult to play than white's.

As for 6...O-O!? being the "refutation," well, that is simply not so.  Yes, if white gets careless he can see the game turn on him with a counterattack (though it is usually a threat to the Bc7 that Black has in mind in these lines), but there are all kinds of problems black must deal with, not the least of which is the complete destruction of his pawn structure after 6...O-O 7.Bxc7 Qe8 8.Nxf6+ gxf6.  Note first of all that black is not up any material at this time and yet he has severe structural weaknesses in his pawn structure that will kill him in almost any endgame.  Moreover, his king rests on this same side of the board and thus will always be vulnerable to attack.  And even in the event black can manage to get an extra pawn (i.e., white can legitimately sacrifice the e-pawn on purpose in some lines), white can still work against these permanent weaknesses in black's position with virtually no risk at all to himself.

Black's entire strategy, therefore, seems to revolve around the idea of playing ...d6 and ...Qe7, trapping the bishop on c7.  But white has several answer to this, including just retreating the bishop and leaving the e-pawn for the taking, or ideas involving Bd3 and Qd2 (eyeing h6) and offering to let black just win the bishop (with consequences, of course).

This position, incidentally, is not the same as in the 5...Be7 6.Bf4 O-O!? line, in which black has much the same ideas but does not have to suffer the destruction of his pawn formation directly around his castled
king.

Bruce Monson
  
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