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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) C33: Is the Mason gambit playable? (Read 68567 times)
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Re: C33: Is the Mason gambit playable?
Reply #74 - 07/21/20 at 12:55:31
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SWJediknight wrote on 11/02/10 at 21:04:55:
Just out of interest, I armed myself yesterday with the free version of Rybka (2.3.2a)- and like your version, it assesses the 3...Qh4+ 4.Ke2 Qe7 5.d3 Nf6 6.Bxf4 d5 7.Kd2 d4 lines I gave earlier as equal, and it finds resources for White that neither I, nor Fritz 10, could find.  It does assess 7...dxe4 as =+, but after 8.dxe4 Bd7 9.Qe1, with Rd1 and Kc1 to follow, chances are probably roughly equal.

So I think we've established that 4...Ne7 is indeed more critical.  After 5.Nf3 Qh5 6.d4 g5 7.Kf2 d6 8.h4, Black replies 8...g4 9.Ng1 g3+ 10.Ke1 Qxd1+ 11.Kxd1 Bh6 and, in view of the queen exchange, probably has an edge, though it's probably no worse for White than the 8.Bc4 lines (I can't fault your analysis of those).

I looked at 5.d4 as a possible alternative but Black simply continues ...Bg7 and ...d6 leaving White with nothing better than to transpose back to the above lines with Nf3.


I just had occasion to look at this line again. There's now this game:

[Event "TCEC 11 Superfinal 2018"]
[Site "chessdom.com INT"]
[Date "2018.04.14"]
[Round "95"]
[White "Stockfish 260318"]
[Black "Houdini 6.03"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C33"]
[PlyCount "144"]
[EventDate "2018.03.29"]
[EventType "match"]
[EventRounds "100"]

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nc3 Qh4+ 4. Ke2 g5 5. d4 Ne7 6. Nf3 Qh5 7. Kf2 d6 8. h4 g4 9. Ng1 Bg7 10. Nge2 Nbc6 11. Nxf4 g3+ 12. Kxg3 Qxd1 13. Nxd1 Nxd4 14. c3 Ne6 15. Nf2 Bd7 16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. Be2 Ng6 18. Kh3 Rf8 19. Nd3 Bc6 20. h5 Ne5 21. Nxe5 Bxe5 22. Bd3 Kd7 23. Be3 Bf4 24. Bf2 Rf7 25. Bh4 Raf8 26. Rhf1 Ke8 27. Bc4 Bd7 28. g3 Be5 29. Rxf7 Rxf7 30. Rf1 Ba4 31. Rxf7 Kxf7 32. Bd3 h6 33. g4 c5 34. b3 Bd7 35. c4 Bf4 36. Bf2 Kf6 37. Be1 b6 38. a3 Bc6 39. a4 e5 40. Bh4+ Bg5 41. Bf2 Bd7 42. Bg3 Ke7 43. Be1 Bc6 44. Kg3 Ke6 45. Kg2 Kf6 46. Bg3 Kg7 47. Kf3 Kf7 48. Bb1 Ke7 49. Bf2 Bd7 50. Bd3 Be6 51. Bg3 Kd7 52. Be1 Bf7 53. Be2 Ke6 54. Bf2 Kf6 55. Bg3 Be8 56. Be1 Bc6 57. Bf2 Ke7 58. Be1 Kd7 59. a5 Ke6 60. axb6 axb6 61. b4 Ke7 62. b5 Be8 63. Bc3 Bd7 64. Bd3 Kd8 65. Kg3 Bc8 66. Bf1 Ke8 67. Be1 Kd7 68. Bc3 Ke6 69. Bd3 Kf6 70. Be1 Kg7 71. Be2 Be6 72. Bf2 Kf6 1/2-1/2
  

blog inspired by Bronstein's book, but using my own games: http://200opengames.blogspot.co.uk/
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Re: C33: Is the Mason gambit playable?
Reply #73 - 09/30/13 at 19:52:02
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I've just been having a look at the Steinitz Gambit and I independently reached the same conclusion.  The immediate 10.a4 limits Black's options (e.g. 10...f5 is no longer as strong because of 11.a5).  I think 10...Bg7 is indeed best, with the idea 11.a5 Nge7, planning to castle kingside.  Thus White should play 11.Nd5, encouraging 11...0-0-0.  My analysis continued 12.a5 b5 13.Qe2 a6, shoring up the queenside, and threatening ...g5-g4, and Black is slightly better, but White has some attacking chances on the queenside with the idea of c2-c4.
  
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Re: is the Mason gambit playable?
Reply #72 - 06/26/13 at 14:01:18
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brabo wrote on 11/02/10 at 21:51:43:
TalJechin wrote on 10/30/10 at 22:54:47:
Yes 11...f5 is indeed strong.

Perhaps white's best chance is actually 11.a4!? at once, it would take too much time to get the king safer than it already is, so every tempo that can be used for counter play will be needed.

e.g: 11...f5 12.exf5 Qf7 13.Nc3 (13.c4 would be nice if it could be made to work..) 13...Qxf5 14.a5 b5 15.d5 h6 16.Qe2 Nb4 17.Nd4 Qf6 18.Ndxb5 a6 19. d6!? (19.Ne4 Qe5 20.Nbc3 Nge7 -/+) 19...axb5 20.dxc7 Kxc7 21.Be3! =

So, black should try 20...Qd6+ 21.Bd2 Qxc7 22.Qxb5 and I'd approximate it at White having compensation for the knight in the a-pawn, safer king(!) and better development...

Of course there are a numerous points were one side could probably improve, most often black - so I suppose the Mason gambit is best left for actual games and not analysis, as in a game you're not allowed to go back to earlier positions and start over. And as the game develops opportunities will arise...

As the game develops opportunties will arise, yes sure but I thought we try here to search for the truth. If you search for a playable position for OTB then almost anything is ok. Just have a look at the games of Magnus Carlsen and you will see that he often gets away with a lot of shaky opening experiments even against worldclass players in official games.

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. d4 Qh4+ 5. Ke2 b6 6. Qd2 Ba6+ 7. Kd1 Bxf1 8.Nf3 Qh5 9. Rxf1 g5 10. Nd5 O-O-O 11.a4!? (Interesting but I don't believe that this new move changes the evaluation.) f5 12.exf5 Qf7 13.Nc3 Qxf5 14.a5 b5 15.d5 b4 (15... h6 16.Qe2 Nb4 17.Nd4 Qg6! must also be better for black because now 18.Ndxb5 fails on Re8 which wasn't possible with 17... Qf6. Of course there is still 18.Qxb5 but the complications after c6 favour black. I find b4 more professional, not trying to win now but being satisfied with a nice endgameadvantage which arises after ...) 16.Qd3 Qxd3 17.cxd3 Ne7 and I estimate the chances 50/50 between draw and a black win.


I think the best move in the Steinitz gambit is 10.a4. Then 10...Bg7 11.Nd5. Does anyone know of any analysis on this line?
  
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Re: C33: Is the Mason gambit playable?
Reply #71 - 08/23/11 at 16:50:58
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http://www.chesspub.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1217111507/47
I don't have anything to add to the analysis of the Hamppe-Allgaier as while White may or may not have marginal improvements over Brabo's analysis, it's clear that White's compensation is probably insufficient for full equality in the 8...f3 line.  But it may not matter as 5.g3!? is currently getting favourable attention, even at Grandmaster level, via the Quaade Gambit (when 3.Nf3 g5 4.Nc3 Nc6 transposes).

Thus, another reason for preferring 3...Qh4+ 4.Ke2 Ne7! =+.
  
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Re: C33: Is the Mason gambit playable?
Reply #70 - 07/24/11 at 00:54:32
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I just wanted to bring this thread back up to the top. It has some amazing analysis that deserves to be read.

(I've also corrected the spelling in the first post, which should make future searches a bit easier.)
  
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Re: is the masion gambit playable?
Reply #69 - 11/09/10 at 12:57:37
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SWJediknight wrote on 11/06/10 at 19:23:48:
Had another look through the Hamppe-Allgaier lines.  I think we can say that (3.Nc3 Nc6 4.Nf3 g5 5.h4 g4 6.Ng5 h6 7.Nxf7 Kxf7 8.d4 f3 9.gxf3 Be7 10.Be3 d6 11.Bf2 is refuted, so I've had a closer look at 11.Bc4+.  After 11...Kg7 I think 12.Bf2 isn't bad here, 12...Nf6 13.Qd2 Rf8 (or 13...Na5 14.Bd3 c5 15.0-0-0 cxd4 16.Ne2 Nc6 17.Nxd4, or 13...d5 14.exd5 Na5 15.Bd3 Nxd5 16.fxg4) 14.Be3 Ng8 15.0-0-0 Rxf3 16.Rdf1 and White has chances on the kingside in either case- the king is less safe on g7 than on e8 in these Bf2 lines.

After 11...Ke8, 12.Bf2 is refuted, and while MNb's 12.f4!? is interesting, it isn't altogether convincing.  So 12.h5 looks like a serious alternative, 12...Nf6 13.Qe2 gxf3 (13...Rf8 14.e5! dxe5 15.Qd3 Qd7 16.Qg6+ Kd8 17.Bxh6 with attacking chances, but not 14.f4?! Nxe4!) 14.Qxf3 Bg4 15.Qf4 Na5 16.Bd3 and now 16...Rg8 17.Qxh6, 16...Qd7 17.e5 dxe5 18.dxe5, and 16...Be6 17.d5.  But unlike with 11.0-0! against the immediate ...Be7, ...d6 approach, I can't promise definite equality for White in either case- just significant attacking chances which may or may not hold the balance.

As MNb mentioned earlier we also have 8/9.Bc4+ to consider, though I recall an earlier debate with MNb where we were unconvinced by the early bishop check.


1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. Nf3 g5 5. h4 g4 6. Ng5 h6 7. Nxf7 Kxf7 8. d4 f3 9.gxf3 Be7 10.Be3 (9.Be3 Be7 10.gxf3 is a simple transposition) d6 11.Bc4+

A) 11....Kg7 12.Bf2 Nf6 13.Qd2 d5 14.exd5 Na5 15.Bd3 Nxd5 (All this was already published by myself at 25th of October) 16.fxg4 Bb4 and I can't see sufficient compensation for the sacrificed piece

B) 11...Ke8 12.h5 Nf6 13.Qe2 Rf8 (gxf3 should also be good for a serious advantage for black) 14.e5 dxe5 15.Qd3 e4! 16.fxe4 Nb4 17.Qd2 g3! and the complications seem to be winning for black.

I believe in an OTB game you can get away with this but in a high level CC game I think you will suffer with white.
  
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Re: is the masion gambit playable?
Reply #68 - 11/08/10 at 17:13:46
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Agreed, Patzer. The fact that the name of the opening is wrong in the title of the thread will mislead searches for the Mason Gambit.
  
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Re: is the masion gambit playable?
Reply #67 - 11/08/10 at 07:12:39
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Could someone please correct the title of this thread?

As far as I know this opening is known as the "Mason gambit", Masion looks like a misspelling of "maison"  Grin
  
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Re: is the masion gambit playable?
Reply #66 - 11/08/10 at 02:30:00
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Gambiteer wrote on 11/07/10 at 23:05:39:
After 8...f3 I prefer an immediate 9.Be3.  At worst, it's a transpositional device that leads back into the lines under discussion.

My notes say 9...Be7 which is likely to transpose indeed. I am curious what you'll bring up.
  

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Re: is the masion gambit playable?
Reply #65 - 11/07/10 at 23:05:39
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SWJediknight wrote on 11/06/10 at 19:23:48:
Had another look through the Hamppe-Allgaier lines.  I think we can say that (3.Nc3 Nc6 4.Nf3 g5 5.h4 g4 6.Ng5 h6 7.Nxf7 Kxf7 8.d4 f3 9.gxf3 Be7 10.Be3 d6 11.Bf2 is refuted, so I've had a closer look at 11.Bc4+.  After 11...Kg7 I think 12.Bf2 isn't bad here, 12...Nf6 13.Qd2 Rf8 (or 13...Na5 14.Bd3 c5 15.0-0-0 cxd4 16.Ne2 Nc6 17.Nxd4, or 13...d5 14.exd5 Na5 15.Bd3 Nxd5 16.fxg4) 14.Be3 Ng8 15.0-0-0 Rxf3 16.Rdf1 and White has chances on the kingside in either case- the king is less safe on g7 than on e8 in these Bf2 lines.

After 11...Ke8, 12.Bf2 is refuted, and while MNb's 12.f4!? is interesting, it isn't altogether convincing.  So 12.h5 looks like a serious alternative, 12...Nf6 13.Qe2 gxf3 (13...Rf8 14.e5! dxe5 15.Qd3 Qd7 16.Qg6+ Kd8 17.Bxh6 with attacking chances, but not 14.f4?! Nxe4!) 14.Qxf3 Bg4 15.Qf4 Na5 16.Bd3 and now 16...Rg8 17.Qxh6, 16...Qd7 17.e5 dxe5 18.dxe5, and 16...Be6 17.d5.  But unlike with 11.0-0! against the immediate ...Be7, ...d6 approach, I can't promise definite equality for White in either case- just significant attacking chances which may or may not hold the balance.


After 8...f3 I prefer an immediate 9.Be3.  At worst, it's a transpositional device that leads back into the lines under discussion.  At best, it encourages 9...fxg2 which I believe to be winning for white based on two correspondence games I played in 2009 (included below).  Having said that, 9...d5 and 9...Bb4 also deserve consideration but that's for a separate post...

I have much more to add to this discussion but before I do that I'm going to go back and try to organize all of the analysis posted thus far into PGN format, so that I can be sure that I've not overlooked an important contribution. 

[Event "?"]
[Site "Online Chess"]
[Date "2009.09.21"]
[Round "?"]
[White "R. Gates"]
[Black "mortzy"]
[Result "1-0"]
[PlyCount "71"]
[EventDate "2009.??.??"]
[TimeControl "1"]

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5 4. Nc3 d6 5. h4 g4 6. Ng5 h6 7. Nxf7 Kxf7 8. d4
f3 9. Be3 fxg2 10. Bxg2 Be7 11. O-O+ Kg7 12. e5 c6 13. Qe2 d5 (13... dxe5 14.
dxe5 Be6 15. Be4 Qc8 16. Rf4 h5 17. Raf1 Rh6 18. Qf2 Qe8 19. Bf5 Kh8 20. Bxe6
Rxe6 21. Rf7 Bf6 22. Rxf6 Nxf6 23. exf6 Qg6 24. Ne2 g3 25. Qf3 Qg4 26. Nf4 g2
27. Rf2 Qxf3 28. Rxf3 Rd6 29. Ng6+ Kh7 30. Nf8+ Kh8 31. Bc5 Rd1+ 32. Kxg2 Na6
33. Be7 Nc7 34. Rf5 Rd5 35. Ng6+ Kh7 36. Ne5 Ne6 37. Rxh5+ Kg8 38. Kf3 Rd1 39.
Kg4 Rf1 40. Rf5 Rg1+ 41. Kh5 Kh7 42. Nf3 Rh1 43. Ng5+ Nxg5 44. Rxg5 b6 45. c4
a5 46. Rf5 Rh8 47. f7 Kg7+ 48. Kg4 Rg1+ 49. Kh3 Rf8 50. Bxf8+ Kxf8 51. b3 {1-0
R. Gates-qazzaqy2k/Online Chess 2009}) 14. Nxd5 cxd5 15. c4 Rh7 16. cxd5 Bxh4
17. Be4 Rh8 18. Qh2 g3 19. Qh1 Bg5 20. Bxg5 Qxg5 21. Qf3 Nf6 22. exf6+ Kf7 23.
Rae1 Qh4 24. Re2 Re8 25. Bg6+ Kxg6 26. Qd3+ Re4 27. Qxe4+ Qxe4 28. Rxe4 Bh3 29.
f7 Nd7 30. Re8 Bxf1 31. Kxf1 Kxf7 32. Rxa8 a6 33. Ra7 Nf6 34. Rxb7+ Ke8 35. Rb6
Nxd5 36. Rxh6 1-0

Btw, I think this opening exposes the limitations of computers better than just about any other.  The primary game above is an especially nice example (if I do say so myself!)  The computer thinks white has gone mad after the second piece sacrifice but by that point black is nearly busted!


 
  

-Roy
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Re: is the masion gambit playable?
Reply #64 - 11/06/10 at 19:23:48
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Had another look through the Hamppe-Allgaier lines.  I think we can say that (3.Nc3 Nc6 4.Nf3 g5 5.h4 g4 6.Ng5 h6 7.Nxf7 Kxf7 8.d4 f3 9.gxf3 Be7 10.Be3 d6 11.Bf2 is refuted, so I've had a closer look at 11.Bc4+.  After 11...Kg7 I think 12.Bf2 isn't bad here, 12...Nf6 13.Qd2 Rf8 (or 13...Na5 14.Bd3 c5 15.0-0-0 cxd4 16.Ne2 Nc6 17.Nxd4, or 13...d5 14.exd5 Na5 15.Bd3 Nxd5 16.fxg4) 14.Be3 Ng8 15.0-0-0 Rxf3 16.Rdf1 and White has chances on the kingside in either case- the king is less safe on g7 than on e8 in these Bf2 lines.

After 11...Ke8, 12.Bf2 is refuted, and while MNb's 12.f4!? is interesting, it isn't altogether convincing.  So 12.h5 looks like a serious alternative, 12...Nf6 13.Qe2 gxf3 (13...Rf8 14.e5! dxe5 15.Qd3 Qd7 16.Qg6+ Kd8 17.Bxh6 with attacking chances, but not 14.f4?! Nxe4!) 14.Qxf3 Bg4 15.Qf4 Na5 16.Bd3 and now 16...Rg8 17.Qxh6, 16...Qd7 17.e5 dxe5 18.dxe5, and 16...Be6 17.d5.  But unlike with 11.0-0! against the immediate ...Be7, ...d6 approach, I can't promise definite equality for White in either case- just significant attacking chances which may or may not hold the balance.

As MNb mentioned earlier we also have 8/9.Bc4+ to consider, though I recall an earlier debate with MNb where we were unconvinced by the early bishop check.
  
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Re: is the masion gambit playable?
Reply #63 - 11/03/10 at 11:13:35
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Quote:
I strongly recommend not to rely solely on Rybka.

Yes, Rybka does seem to have some failings of its own- e.g. the failure to recognise elementary king & rook's pawn vs king as a draw (whereas even Crafty and Fritz 5.32 recognise it as drawn straightaway) and I remember seeing a Rybka 3 analysis of Blackmar-Diemer Gambit lines where it saw "best play" as being the loss of a tempo with Bb5+, c6, Bc4.  The 2.3.2 version also doesn't seem to find forced mates as quickly as Fritz 10.

I'm not really a die-hard computer analyst (or for that matter a Mason or Vienna Gambit practicioner, the latter arising via transposition if Black plays 3...Nc6, though I do occasionally face these lines with Black)- this is really an academic interest in chaotic gambit lines, and I only really tend to update my commercial chess applications every few years or so.  I also think there are certain situations where no computer really handles "compensation for sacrificed material" correctly, so I don't always trust their assessments.

I think White could feasibly have a lot of fun with the Mason Gambit outside of correspondence play and high-level OTB play, judging by the chaotic nature of the resulting positions, but have serious doubts about its viability (other than as a surprise weapon) otherwise.   I think the same is probably true of the Vienna Gambit and associated Hamppe-Allgaier/4.d4 lines that were discussed earlier (I found no clear route to equality for White against your 8...f3 by the way), though I maintain the view that Black has to tread a narrower tightrope in those lines in order to hope for an advantage.
  
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Re: is the mason gambit playable?
Reply #62 - 11/02/10 at 22:14:26
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SWJediknight wrote on 11/02/10 at 21:04:55:
Just out of interest, I armed myself yesterday with the free version of Rybka (2.3.2a)- and like your version, it assesses the 3...Qh4+ 4.Ke2 Qe7 5.d3 Nf6 6.Bxf4 d5 7.Kd2 d4 lines I gave earlier as equal, and it finds resources for White that neither I, nor Fritz 10, could find.  It does assess 7...dxe4 as =+, but after 8.dxe4 Bd7 9.Qe1, with Rd1 and Kc1 to follow, chances are probably roughly equal.

So I think we've established that 4...Ne7 is indeed more critical.  After 5.Nf3 Qh5 6.d4 g5 7.Kf2 d6 8.h4, Black replies 8...g4 9.Ng1 g3+ 10.Ke1 Qxd1+ 11.Kxd1 Bh6 and, in view of the queen exchange, probably has an edge, though it's probably no worse for White than the 8.Bc4 lines (I can't fault your analysis of those).

I looked at 5.d4 as a possible alternative but Black simply continues ...Bg7 and ...d6 leaving White with nothing better than to transpose back to the above lines with Nf3.

I use Rybka 3 but don't believe this makes a big difference with Rybka 2.3. Rybka 4 has been released but reading the comments on this forum, I am not eager to buy it. Anyway I strongly recommend not to rely solely on Rybka. I always use 1 extra program because this is necessary to have a more balanced view of the position. Personally I find Fritz nicely complementary to Rybka. Further I also want to mention that Fritz 11 is really better than Fritz 10. Some people even use more additional programs to analyse but I think the benefit is too small compared with the loss of time and energy. As an experienced chessanalist I can say that method of analysing is as important as good equipment to achieve optimal results.

After analysing many lines of the Mason gambit, I think for practical play 3....Qh4+ combined with 4...Ne7 is likely the safest way to play for a black win. On theoretical grounds I can't really say for sure which one of the 2 options 3...Qh4+ followed up with 4...Ne7 or 3...Nc6 is the best try for refuting the Mason gambit. Even 3...Qh4+ followed up with 4...Qe7 isn't clear equalty for white which makes that Mason gambit adepts will likely only be able to use their petvariation as a surpriseweapon.

Just one last small comment. After 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nc3 Qh4+ 4.Ke2 Ne7 5.Nf3 Qh5 6.d4 g5 7.Kf2 d6 8.h4 g4 9.Ng1 f5 is another try for advantage for black which gives the position a much more flexible character than the static 9...g3+
  
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Re: is the Mason gambit playable?
Reply #61 - 11/02/10 at 21:51:43
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TalJechin wrote on 10/30/10 at 22:54:47:
Yes 11...f5 is indeed strong.

Perhaps white's best chance is actually 11.a4!? at once, it would take too much time to get the king safer than it already is, so every tempo that can be used for counter play will be needed.

e.g: 11...f5 12.exf5 Qf7 13.Nc3 (13.c4 would be nice if it could be made to work..) 13...Qxf5 14.a5 b5 15.d5 h6 16.Qe2 Nb4 17.Nd4 Qf6 18.Ndxb5 a6 19. d6!? (19.Ne4 Qe5 20.Nbc3 Nge7 -/+) 19...axb5 20.dxc7 Kxc7 21.Be3! =

So, black should try 20...Qd6+ 21.Bd2 Qxc7 22.Qxb5 and I'd approximate it at White having compensation for the knight in the a-pawn, safer king(!) and better development...

Of course there are a numerous points were one side could probably improve, most often black - so I suppose the Mason gambit is best left for actual games and not analysis, as in a game you're not allowed to go back to earlier positions and start over. And as the game develops opportunities will arise...

As the game develops opportunties will arise, yes sure but I thought we try here to search for the truth. If you search for a playable position for OTB then almost anything is ok. Just have a look at the games of Magnus Carlsen and you will see that he often gets away with a lot of shaky opening experiments even against worldclass players in official games.

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. d4 Qh4+ 5. Ke2 b6 6. Qd2 Ba6+ 7. Kd1 Bxf1 8.Nf3 Qh5 9. Rxf1 g5 10. Nd5 O-O-O 11.a4!? (Interesting but I don't believe that this new move changes the evaluation.) f5 12.exf5 Qf7 13.Nc3 Qxf5 14.a5 b5 15.d5 b4 (15... h6 16.Qe2 Nb4 17.Nd4 Qg6! must also be better for black because now 18.Ndxb5 fails on Re8 which wasn't possible with 17... Qf6. Of course there is still 18.Qxb5 but the complications after c6 favour black. I find b4 more professional, not trying to win now but being satisfied with a nice endgameadvantage which arises after ...) 16.Qd3 Qxd3 17.cxd3 Ne7 and I estimate the chances 50/50 between draw and a black win.
  
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Re: is the mason gambit playable?
Reply #60 - 11/02/10 at 21:04:55
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Just out of interest, I armed myself yesterday with the free version of Rybka (2.3.2a)- and like your version, it assesses the 3...Qh4+ 4.Ke2 Qe7 5.d3 Nf6 6.Bxf4 d5 7.Kd2 d4 lines I gave earlier as equal, and it finds resources for White that neither I, nor Fritz 10, could find.  It does assess 7...dxe4 as =+, but after 8.dxe4 Bd7 9.Qe1, with Rd1 and Kc1 to follow, chances are probably roughly equal.

So I think we've established that 4...Ne7 is indeed more critical.  After 5.Nf3 Qh5 6.d4 g5 7.Kf2 d6 8.h4, Black replies 8...g4 9.Ng1 g3+ 10.Ke1 Qxd1+ 11.Kxd1 Bh6 and, in view of the queen exchange, probably has an edge, though it's probably no worse for White than the 8.Bc4 lines (I can't fault your analysis of those).

I looked at 5.d4 as a possible alternative but Black simply continues ...Bg7 and ...d6 leaving White with nothing better than to transpose back to the above lines with Nf3.
  
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