The Grob gambit
The grob gambit is an interesting opening choice for white, is one variation to have fun over the board. However, the grob gambit doesn’t have a very good reputation, actually is not very good if you are going to competitive chess.
If you want to learn the grob gambit to play in a tournament you should know that there are better things to play. This doesn’t mean that is harmless, white can get a very good attack out of the grob gambit, you should treat the grob with respect.
But if you are playing someone who has seen just a bit of theory about it you are done for. Nonetheless, this is perfect if you want to have a good time and maybe troll one or two street chess players.
Today we will talk about the grob gambit, how to play it, how to counter it, and interesting ideas about him. If you want to master the grob gambit make sure you read this post until the end!
The main lines of the grob gambit
The grob opening is known by starting with a pretty weird move 1. g4 which counters the chess opening principles, but has its idea:
Of course, white doesn’t occupy the center with pawns. But this advance in the flank prepares Bg2 to take the great diagonal and preparing to disturb black’s development.
Now, black has three different ways to play here, we will go for each variation from the most common to the rarest.
The first move: It’s the move 1… d5 which is the most natural move to play as black, simply taking the center. Also, attacks the g4 pawn already, and the game could follow like this:
1.g4 d5 2.Bg2 Bxg4 3.c4 And this is the whole plan of white, allows black to occupy the center, just to immediately counterattack! 3… c6 4.Qb3 Qd7 5.cxd5 Nf6 6.Nc3 cxd5 7.Nxd5 Nc6. Leaving an interesting position over the board, with a whole game to be played.
We also have a quieter option if you don’t like the first variation, you could go for 2. h3. Which is also interesting. However, is a little weird, because the point was sacrificing a pawn, but the game could go:
1.g4 d5 2.h3 e5 3.Bg2 c6 4.c4 d4 5.Nf3 Bd6 6.d3 Ne7 7.Nbd2 Bc7 8.Ne4 f5 9.gxf5 Bxf5. And the position still needs to be decided.
Finally, there is the most aggressive alternative 2. g5 which harasses black’s development covering the f6 square. For example, 1.g4 d5 2.g5 c6 3.d4 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7 5.Nf3 Bf5 6.Nh4 Qb6 7.Nxf5 gxf5 8.e3 Nd7 9.Bd3 e6 10.Ne2. We have a rare position on the board, but with a lot of opportunities.
The second move: It’s black’s move 1… e5 Which is not that popular, because the most common is to attack that pawn white offers, but is also playable.
1.g4 e5 2.c4 c6 3.Bg2 d6 4.e3 h5 5.gxh5 Qh4 6.d4 exd4 7.Qxd4 Qxd4 8.exd4 Rxh5 It was a very exciting game, between Maxime Vachier Lagrave and Jeffrey Xiong.
As a third move: There is 1… g5 which is not very common, but is still a funny variation, this is called the double grob. Plays with the same idea as white, and stops the g-pawn right away.
There was a curious game between two elite grandmasters Maxime Vachier Lagrave and Wei Yi, it went like this:
1.g4 g5 2.h4 d5 3.hxg5 Bxg4 4.c4 dxc4 5.Qc2 Nc6 6.Nc3 Nd4 7.Qe4 Bf5 8.Qxb7 Nc2+ he fell into the trap 9.Kd1 Nxa1 10.e4 Rb8 11.Qxa7 Be6 12.Bxc4 Bxc4 13.Qa4+ Qd7 14.Qxc4 recovering the piece Bg7 15.Nge2 h6 16.g6 fxg6 17.Rg1 g5 18.f4 Nf6 19.e5 Ng4 20.Ne4 Ne3+ 0-1 A really strange game if you ask me.
What are the plans and ideas of the grob gambit?
The grob gambit has a really straight idea to attack. It’s a prophylaxis move that intends to punish black if he goes for normal development. It also plays with the idea of developing the kingside really quickly.
A subtlety that may go undetected is that white plays on the same principle as black in Alekhine’s defense. It allows the enemy to occupy the center, but to make him advance it, destroy it to get an advantage.
This is why in most variations black goes for a quiet setup with d5 and c6, playing very solidly despite white’s recklessness. Now, let’s see how we must act when we have the grob gambit on the board, independently of which color you are playing.
The grob gambit for white
White knows what he has to do, he wants to lure black early on to play in the center to undermine it with c4, e4, f4, or anything. This is a line that still doesn’t have much theory, you could take advantage out of that.
You can use an engine to analyze the position deeply, if you find something interesting you may surprise your opponents. You want to develop your pieces fast and try to win the initiative, using your g-pawn and the bishop on g2.
A good plan that I like in the grob is to sacrifice the g-pawn and then castle long, most of the time black will castle short. The open g-file can give you really interesting counterplay and win the opposite castle position.
The grob gambit for black
Know, things change if you are with black, you want to punish white’s disrespectfulness playing g4. But you want to do it wisely, white still has some tricks, you need to be aware of that.
White wants to win by development advantage, so first, I will focus on not allowing him to develop better than us. We have two options playing against the grob:
- We can simply grab the pawn white is offering and survive his attack, so at the end, we have extra material. That’s the easy way.
- If you are also bloodthirsty go for the attack yourself and give white a taste of his own medicine.
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