The Evans gambit
The Evans gambit is one of the multiple choices that white has to play in the Italian game. The Evans gambit is played to avoid those quiet and equal symmetric positions that may arise on the Italian game.
It actually involves some good ideas, along with traps that may destroy more than one that has never studied this opening. The Evans gambit is perfect if you want to have some exciting variations and look for attacking chances.
It’s also very impressive to play this, the move that defines this gambit achieves many things and has many hidden ideas. However, black also has some important chances of achieving a good counter play, it will be a good fight.
In this kind of opening no theory will save you, if both players know simply how to avoid traps, creativeness will decide the game. It’s actually very funny, because different to other gambits, the Evans gambit is one that black practically forced to accept.
If you want to master the Evans gambit to destroy your rivals read this post, we will go deep into the matter.
Evans gambit: Main lines
To reach the regular positions of the Evans gambit you need to enter in a regular Italian game:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4. And here is where the magic comes, against black’s move “Bc5” You go with the strong “b4!”. So the variation would like this:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4. And we have reached the Evans gambit.
Black here has several options, the most active, and following the theory, the best continuation for black is to take the pawn. Moreover, we are going to quickly see some options for black before taking the pawn and going into the main lines.
The Evans gambit declined variations
Black could play with:
If Bb6 black is already giving up the initiative, is allowing white to take up space with no reason, not to mention is giving up a tempo. However, if black survives, white’s pawn structured will be compromised, and could gain advantage in the endgame. The game could follow like this:
5.O-O d6 6.a4 a6 7.c3 h6 8.d3. And white has enormous space advantage and a good position to exploit, but nothing is decided.
If black goes for d5 this is called the Hein counter gambit, the game could go in this direction:
5.exd5 Nxb4 6.O-O Nf6 7.Nxe5 Nbxd5 8.d4 Be7 9.Bb3 O-O 10.c4 Nb4. And here White has more space than black and coordination on his pieces. Following the theory this is advantageous for white, but the game is to be decided.
The Evans gambit accepted variation
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3. Here black has two options:
- Ba5 which is the most common theory move and considered the best for black
- Be7 which is also an interesting variation
We will go for Ba5 first:
5… Ba5 6.d4 d6. Just to mention here, you don’t want to get greedy here and take the second pawn white is offering you. It will lead to disaster:
6… exd4 7.O-O Bxc3 8.Nxc3 dxc3 9.Re1 Nge7 10.Qb3 starts the pressure O-O 11.Qxc3 d5 12.Rd1 Be6 13.Bb2 threatening mate! f6 14.Ng5 d4 15.Nxe6 dxc3 16.Nxd8+ Kh8 17.Nf7+ Rxf7 18.Bxf7 cxb2 19.Rab1. Things will surely not go well for black, you don’t want to enter this.
The normal variation goes by 6… d6 not taking the pawn, like this: 6.d4 d6 7.Qb3 Qd7 8.dxe5 Bb6 9.Nbd2 Na5 10.Qb4 Nxc4 11.Nxc4 Bc5 12.Qb3 Ne7 which maintains certain equality.
The thing is, black needs to be careful with white’s development, the move 4. b4 has several objectives:
- Developing the c1 bishop aggressively in the long diagonal to b2
- Occupy the center quickly with c3, d4
- Gaining a tempo on the b4 bishop
- Gaining space on the queenside
- Opening lines
It’s a move that gives so many opportunities to white, and we will see on theory how this position should be treated.
Don’t forget that you can also play 5… Be7, which is a quieter move, but it removes the ideas of white to bother that bishop on b6. The game could go like this:
6.d4 Na5 7.Be2 d6 8.Qa4+ c6 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Nxe5 Nf6 11.O-O O-O 12.Rd1 Qb6 which gives back the pawn, but takes a lead in development. We know that we have a knight that is not quite good, but white needs many tempos to develop the queenside.
Plans and ideas on the Evans gambit
The idea of the Evans gambit is simply to take a lead in development by sacrificing a pawn. However, the gambit has evolved and practically the development gets delayed because white prefers to establish strong center by playing c3 and d4.
Even so, white gets so many good points about this gambit, of course, as any sacrifice in chess it becomes really dangerous.
The Evans gambit for white
White needs to gain the advantage with his pawn center, that is one of the most important points of the gambit. Also, he needs to develop quickly, and try to put pressure on the kingside, with both bishops on c4 and b2.
There are also many maneuvers that white can do with the knight to put even more pressure. For example, Nd2-f1-e3 or g3 aiming to the f5 square. If black defends the kingside attack so solidly you can soften it by putting pressure queenside with the b-file open.
The Evans gambit for black
Depending on the variation black chooses he should try to hold white off, by defending the kingside, and making his position solid. Black has a pawn of advantage, white should act quickly, if you stop his initiative you will have advantage in the endgame.
Also, you should look for central pawn breaks, it will allow you to stop white from attacking. The Evans gambit is exciting to play, as black, you should try to defend and develop, then, look for your counterattacking chances!
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