Play The Unexpected Latvian Gambit!


Latvian Gambit

The Latvian Gambit is an interesting gambit with black, that allows him to get some initiative in the opening. The gambit is pretty interesting and it will give you lots of attacking chances in the opening.

Both players need to be prepared for the Latvian opening, otherwise, they could fall really easily. It’s incredible that most of the games with the Latvian gambit have been resolved in the first moves of the game.

Normally the Latvian gambit goes too fast and savage resolutions, ending up in an opposite castle position. You don’t necessarily have to play this way, there are many setups you can adopt for both sides.

The important is to know the key ideas of the gambit that we will explain. Some of the moves in the opening theory of the Latvian gambit may seem that they lack sense or are a little wacky.

But you need to understand the main opening idea to get the point of all of the moves. If you want to surprise your opponents with the Latvian gambit make sure you read until de then.

We will see the main opening theory, some key ideas and plan you can execute in-game, and some samples.

The main lines of the Latvian gambit


First, to get into the Latvian gambit we must follow these moves: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 and here we are. As you can see, to play the Latvian Gambit is black’s decision, everything is normal until suddenly boom, f5.

The move f5 is played with the idea of deflecting the pawn on e4 to the f5 square and push e4 yourself as black. As you may see, this pawn push gives black good chances to get a development advantage, and restrain white in the early phase of the game.

We have four different options here:

  1. Nxe5
  2. Bc4
  3. exf5
  4. Nc3

First, let’s see 3.Nxe5 that seems like the most logical move, we don’t move our pawn from e4 and win the e5 pawn. Black answers in the following way: 3.Nxe5 Qf6 4.Nc4 fxe4 (It’s also possible 4…b5!) 5.Nc3 Qf7 (This may seem like a loss of time, but this defends the e4 pawn if now Nxe4 d5 wins a piece for black) 6.Ne3 Nf6 and now you play c6 and d5.

Now, let’s have a look at the move 3.Bc4, the game may follow like this: 3.Bc4 fxe4 4.Nxe5 Nf6 5.Nf7 Qe7 6.Nxh8 d5 7.Bb5+ Bd7 8.Bxd7+ Nbxd7 9.Nc3 and it is true that black is down a lot of material, but he has massive space advantage in exchange. Everything will depend on who makes his advantage worth more.

The third move is move 3.exf5, which may seem like the last move that we want to do, because it accomplishes black’s ambitions. The game could go this way: 3.exf5 e4 4.Ne5 Nf6 5.Be2 Be7 6.Bh5+ Kf8 7.Nf7 Qe8 8.Nxh8 Nxh5 9.g4 d6 and after a messy variation we stand in the position.

Finally, let’s see what there is about move 3.Nc3, this is an interesting move that white can try. The game could go the following way: 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.Bb5 (With this white transposes to a Spanish opening Schliemann variation) fxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Nxe5 dxe4 7.Nxc6 Qg5 8.Qe2 Nf6 9.f4 Qxf4 and there is a whole game to be played.

The Latvian gambit sure has some weird variations! Let’s make an overall of the ideas and how to play the Latvian opening.

Plans and ideas of the Latvian gambit


The intention of the black’s move (f5) is to deflect the white’s pawn from the center to occupy it. Black has many ways to approach a health center in the variations. The main objective of the Latvian gambit is to occupy the center and win some space, in exchange for some material.

Some lines of the Latvian gambit are pretty wild, many sacrifices are done and there is a high risk. If black is not able to finish up the game before his rival recovers he will have a bad time.

However, black has the opportunity to get the initiative quickly and finish up the game. Normally, white decides to fight fire with fire and play for the attack in different sides.

The Latvian Gambit is dangerous, is the perfect opening choice if someone wants to play for the advantage in black. Many have fallen victims to the Latvian gambit, especially in blitz, let’s have a look at some sample games!


Latvian gambit sample games

Another impressive game where we can see a different variation in action

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