The King's Gambit was developed during the Renaissance and was the cornerstone of the Italian school of chess. The King's gambit does two things very well. The first, and most obvious advantage of the gambit is that a strong d pawn and white bishop combine to give white control of the center and good mobility. The second thing, you might have to play it a few times to see, is that development flows very naturally and powerfully and you are able to put pressure on your opponents f7 square early. f7 is a hard square to defend and an important square as an early mate can be possible if it is properly exploited. However it's not the mating oppurtunity that is important, it is the fact that black is forced to adjust their development to protect f7. White's development is threatening as well as being positionally sound, except for the attack on the white king via the H4 square. Bobby Fischer only lost one game, to Boris Spassky (the other big King's Gambit player at the time, he then wrote an article denouncing the opening called A Bust to the King's Gambit), while using this opening. The King's Gambit will keep the board very open and very dangerous.

You rarely see this opening in high levels of play because of how much it has been studied and because there are many ways to punish white. On club or internet levels it is also rarely seen because of a few stock replies by black that normally take the wind of people's desire to learn it further. This is too bad because with a little bit of work this opening is vicious. It is a good opening for the average player but it requires studying some of its pitfalls. Here are some important examples of things to look for when using the King's Gambit. You can check out chess notation if you need to.

Black takes queen out early and guts white
this is the classic Kings Gambit Accepted reply that gets white in trouble

1. e4   e5
2. f4   exf4
3. Bc4  Qh4+   (the bastard!)
4. g3 (this move flows so naturally but is so bad) 
4. ...  fxg3
5. h3
after this black can attack the rook and promote. You have to find a better reply than 4. g3. Personally I would just move my king out of the way and attack the queen with my knight the next move. A word of caution though,
1. e4   e5
2. f4   exf4
3. Bc4  Qh4+   
4. Kf1  Bc5
5. Nf3  Qf7++ 

and just in case you're slow, in a King's Gambit Declined, be aware of,

1. e4   e5
2. f5   Bc5  
3. fxe5 Qh4+ (and you lose your rook or you're mated)
The best way to prevent any of these types of things when playing the Kings Gambit is to move your King's Knight out on the third move. This covers the H4 square as well as helping exert control on the center.

Black moves too many pawns and white gets a quick mate

1. e4   e5
2. f4   exf4
3. Bc4 (pressure on the f7) g5
4. h4 (>this is really just to bait black)
4. ...  f6 (black has now lost the game.)
5. Qh5+ ( black will dance his king around but the game is lost.)

However, if your looking for what to do on a game to game basis as black, The Modern Defense to the King's Gambit, is widely viewed as the best reply.

1. e4 e5 
2. f4 exf4 
3. Nf3 d5 
Also, an interesting counter attack to the King's Gambit is the Falkbeer Counter-Gambit. The Cunningham Variation is another good King's Gambit killer. A Bust to the King's Gambit is a highly recommended study on beating this opening.

chess openings
endgames in chess
ECO chess codes C3

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