In this series I am exploring the Danish Gambit Accepted from the Black side. If you haven’t watched Part I, you can find it here. If you are new to the gambit, the starting position arises when White plays 1.e4 and then follows up with an immediate d4 (even before playing Nf3). Here is an image of the starting position:
Now Black has a choice. He can play the most common reply, 3…d5. This move is not only sound, but also it immediately equalizes for Black. This is generally easier to play than accepting the gambit. There is some theory in these lines that you should know, however, as you can still get some wild continuations and need to respond correctly. I covered a couple lines briefly in my first video in this series, and ChessExplained has much more detailed analysis and recommendations for playing this line with the Black side.
However, accepting the gambit is not out of the question. Indeed, I’ve won a lot of games so far doing it, so that’s why I started making the video series. It is quite possible to convert your material advantage in this opening. Even if you decide that you don’t like the resulting positions as Black, I still recommend playing it several times because it will force you to look at some new tactical and defensive patterns that could potentially help you in other situations. And playing this defense will challenge you to not only defend properly but also to see how you can convert one advantage to another or just, in general, proceed with a winning plan in these positions. I think that it’s good to experiment a bit in online chess to learn new things, and it can be quite fun. If you are playing serious tournament games, of course you’d want to feel comfortable in whatever line you choose before playing it.
But okay, let’s move on to Part II of this series on the accepted variations, where Black plays 3…dxc3, usually followed by 4.Bc4 cxb2 5.Bxb2. Here is the starting position for both Part I and Part II of this series:
In this position, Black is already up two pawns, but, of course, greedily grabbing pawns in the opening always has a price. In this case, White gets beautiful adjacent diagonals for his Bishops with great attacking chances, especially if Black goes wrong at all. However, as we saw in Part I and as we will continue to see in Part II, Black actually does have many ways to get into winning positions. A lot of these lines end up being close to forced (unless one side wants to blunder away the game immediately!).
On the fifth move, I recommend Bb5+. This move develops a piece with tempo, so you are getting closer to castling. Also, it forces White to decide how he wants to block the check. Of course he doesn’t want to block with the Bishop and exchange off that excellent piece, so he will either (a) block with the Knight on d2 or c3 or (b) play Kf1. We will have to save Kf1 for another video, as it opens up a whole new set of variations. In Part I of this series we looked at 6. Nc3. In Part II we will look at Nd2.
Now, we should ask ourselves, what is the difference between White blocking the check on c3 versus d2? There are several subtle differences that both sides must be aware of. I am listing a few that I have seen in my analysis below, but there could very well be others (the video at the bottom of the post will show all of these lines and others):
- On c3, the Knight temporarily blunts White’s dark-square bishop.
- With the Knight on c3, White is potentially vulnerable to a tactical line that leads to a winning position for Black (see Part I of the series for detailed explanations of those lines).
- The Knight on d2 opens up possibilities for pawn forks on c3. This can easily arise if White pushes e5 (hitting the Black Knight that will likely be on f6), and Black responds with d5 (hitting the White Bishop on c4). If we get an exchange where the pawns each take the en pris pieces, Black ends up with a pawn on c4, which is only one move away from forking on c3. This would not be possible if White’s Knight were on c3. White can avoid the fork of course, but it’s in the position and will need to be considered.
- The Knight on d2 gives Black a very specific resource in one line that is quite likely to occur out of the opening. Specifically, the Black Knight can jump to e4 after he is inevitably pushed away from f6 by White’s e5 advance. In this line, Black will be able to take the Knight on d2 with his Knight, and, for one important tempo, the Black Knight is protecting the f3 square, which stops the Queen from going there (otherwise, that would be devestating for Black). If the White Knight were on c3 rather than d2, this would not be possible.
- Less important but still worth mentioning is that, the Knight on d2 blocks the Queen’s scope down the d file. This often doesn’t matter too much, as the Queen will often jump out to b3. Still, it does stop the Queen from checking on d5, which can be helpful to White in some lines, although perhaps not essential.
Now that we have some ideas in our head, let’s take a look at the lines in action. I’ll warn you that this video is quite long. The positions are so sharp that I found it important to explore several continuations that you could face in your games, as well as some lines both sides should avoid. I think it’s important to look at patterns and not just lines though, because it’s too hard to remember all the lines, at least for me. I often forget my own analysis too, but after I play a line a few times I start to remember it. In any case, if you can remember some of the patterns (for instance, the points mentioned in the list above, as well as how to respond to some Bxf7+ lines that you’ll see in the video) then you should have an easier time finding the necessary moves in the positions in your games. So, without further preamble, here is Part II: