Latvian Gambit

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The Latvian Gambit is an aggressive but dubious chess opening, which often leads to wild and tricky positions.[1][2] This opening is uncommon at the top level of over the board play, but some correspondence chess players are devoted to it.[2][3] The ECO code for the Latvian Gambit is C40 (King's Knight Opening).

The opening was originally known as the Greco Counter Gambit, and some modern writers still refer to it as such.[4] That name recognised the Italian player Gioachino Greco (1600–1634), who contributed to the early theory of the opening. The new name 'Latvian Gambit' was made official by the FIDE Congress of 1937. The name was a tribute to the Latvian players, notably Karlis Betins, who analysed it in the early part of the 20th century.

The opening is characterised by the following moves, which give it the appearance of a King's Gambit with the colours reversed.


White's third move

No fewer than 11 responses for White have been analyzed.[5] The most important of these are:


White's 3.Nxe5 is the main line. After the usual 3...Qf6, White chooses between 4.d4 d6 5.Nc4 fxe4 and the immediate 4.Nc4, which has the advantage of allowing White to open the center with d3, for example 4...fxe4 5.Nc3 Qg6?! 6.d3 exd3? 7.Bxd3 Qxg2? and now White is winning after 8.Qh5+ Kd8 (or 8...g6 9.Qe5+ and 10.Be4) 9.Be4. The main line continues 5...Qf7 6.Ne3! Black usually responds with 6...c6!?, when White can either accept the pawn sacrifice with 7.Nxe4 d5 8.Ng5 Qf6 9.Nf3, or decline it with the more popular 7.d3 exd3 8.Bxd3 d5 9.0-0.[6] The latter variation has been deeply analyzed; the British grandmaster Anthony Kosten analyzes one line to move 32.[7] One line discussed by International Master Jeremy Silman is 9...Bc5 10.Na4 Bd6 11.c4 d4 12.Nc2 c5 13.b4 Ne7 14.Nxc5 Bxc5 15.bxc5 Nbc6 16.Bb2 0–0 17.Nxd4 Nxd4 18.Bxd4 Bf5 19.Bxf5 Nxf5 20.Be3 Qxc4 21.Qb3 Nxe3!? 22.fxe3 Rxf1+ 23.Rxf1 Qxb3 24.axb3 Rc8 25.Rf5 and now 25...Rd8 or 25...Rc6 gives Black excellent chances to draw the pawn-down endgame.[8] Silman later argued that 10.b4!! and now 10...Bxb4 11.Ncxd5 cxd5 12.Nxd5 or 10...Bd6 11.Re1! Ne7 12.Nexd5 cxd5 13.Nb5 is close to winning for White, and that the "old, discredited" 9...Bd6 (rather than 9...Bc5) might be Black's best try, though still insufficient for equality.[9]

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