A New Chess Opening Theory:
The Philidor (KGD), Latvian Countergambit

This work is about a theory of a new opening which is exclusively used against the Kings Gambit line. The idea behind it is to give white an extremely poor positional set up and allows black to hold significant initiative. There are four different variations of my opening we will cover... one of them involves an exchange variation of rooks and another involves a special transposition into a corkscrew countergambit line.

The main theory of the opening, parallels a very well known opening called the Adalaide countergambit, but my opening differs in a few pivotal ways. It's a very aggressive opening and intends to complicate the game very early on for a kings gambit player. The greater majority of the lines black can play often appears superior to white, but white does have at lease a few refutations which may give them either a drawing position or a slight advantage in winning; of course, this depends on how well white will know the theory behind this new particular opening.

Part 1, The Opening in a Nutshell
The kings gambit player has this set up

1. e4 e5 2. f4

We respond with the move d6, which one might notice, has for black a Philidor set-up. The full opening which I named, the Philidor, Latvian countergambit is

1. e4 e5 2. f4 d6 3. Nf3 f5

We call it a Latvian countergambit because the king-side has the appearance of the ''normally considered risky'' Latvian Gambit, except it is completely playable and quite safe in this variation; not only this but the countergambit is an intentional attempt to complicate the activity in the centre of the board. This is the opening in a nutshell, but now I need to convince you it is a good opening in response to the kings gambit (declined), declined because we offer the countergambit.

Part 2, The Philidor, Latvian Countergambit, Exchange Variation

And so, we now investigate some possible lines, and one specific one which I found was an exchange variation of the rooks. But the exchange itself in my opinion, holds a great positional advantage for black. We begin with our orthodox opening

1. e4 e5 2. f4 d6 3. Nf3 f5

Now white has quite a number of choices with this countergambit, we are going to look into what I consider, the most important moves you are likely to find from your opponent. The most popular response will be to accept the Latvian countergambit (and we shall see why this is later) by the move

4. exf5

Then black should recapture straight away if this is the case

4. Bxf5

Then white normally will continue to take the other pawn which we will also respond by taking

5. fxe5 dxe5

The e5 pawn of blacks is what I call ''the bait pawn.'' It's a trap of sorts, if the knight takes the pawn then we will have a series of moves we can make... and it goes like this

6. Nxe5 Qh4+
7. g3 Qe4+
8. Qe2 (*) Qxh1
9. Ng6 + Ne7
10. Nxh8

(*) Here white would love to exchange queens, but of course, you can take the rook with the move Qxh1.

This is the exchange variation of rooks. Black is better, white is loosing by -0.96, nearly a whole point which is very significant.

Part 3, Sophisticated Attacks Using the Advantage Black Has

We can continue the attack from the exchange variation (which transposes into a Kings Gambit, Adalaide-Wahls (C30) in the following manner):

10. Nc6
11. Na3 Be4
12. Nb5 0-0-0
13. d3 Bf3
14. Qe6+ Kb6
15. Nf7 Bd5 (nice pin)
16. Nxd4 Bxe6

And black now is decisively winning, for the white player has lost their queen for two minor pieces. These moves are completely sound as was tested next to a computer program. So, so far, the exchange variation which for most players is hard to resist, black clearly wins. But what if we go back to the orthodox countergambit position,

1. e4 e5 2. f4 d6 3. Nf3 f5

What if instead white makes the move

4. fxe5 (?)

Well, white will find himself in a terrible position, the white knight will be challenged by the move

4. fxe4

... and where can white knight go but back to whence he came? That is a wasted move and allows black to not only develop faster but also allows it with a significant tempo. A more risky player might even gambit the knight and develop 5. d4, but this is not very good for white at all.

Part 3, The Philidor, Latvian Corkscrew Countergambit (Blackburn variation)

The Corkscrew countergambit is not a very popular line in top play today. However, it was in fact this game below in which I discovered how positionally-powerful the Philidor, Latvian countergambit game really was. The Philidor Latvian countergambit in a certain variation allows a safe transition into a Corkscrew countergambit set-up. Not many transitions like this exist, but this particular one was of interest to me because of how off-beat the Corkscrew gambit is generally considered.

1. e4 e5 2. f4 d6 3. Nf3 f5 4. exf5 Bxf5 5. Bc4 h6 6. O-O Nd7 7. fxe5 Nb6 8. Bb3 dxe5 9. Nxe5 Qd4+ 10. Kh1 Qxe5 11. Re1 Be4 12. d3 O-O-O 13. Rxe4 Qxe4 14. Nc3 Qc6 15. Be3 Nf6 16. Bxb6 axb6 17. Ba4 Qc5 18. Qf3 Bd6 19. Re1 Rhf8 20. Qh3+ Kb8 21. Qe6 c6 22. Bb3 Rfe8 23. Qxe8 Rxe8 24. Rxe8+ Nxe8 25. Ne4 Qe3 26. h3 (resigns)

The positional significance of black is shown strong in this game, with all sorts of pins and catching my opponent out on what some might consider, very difficult positions to calculate.

Part 4, Other Possible Continuations and Whites Best Refutation

You can in fact, make an exchange variation in another way... albeit, a bit more complicated. But what makes this interesting is that it is also a transposition into the Latvian Corkscrew countergambit... but is it risky for black? Risky for white maybe?

1. e4 e5 2. f4 d6 3. Nf3 f5 4. exf5 Bxf5 5.Bc4 h6 6. fxe5 Qe7 7. Qe2 dxe5 8. Nxe5 Qh4+ 9. g3 Qe4 10. Qxe4 Bxe4 11. Nf7 Bxh1 12. Nxh6

Well as it turns out, this line should be avoided by black, even if it has a fancy touch to it, because white has an advantage of +0.72.

Another possible continuation may go like this which also transposes into an Adalaide-Wahls variation

1. e4 e5
2. f4 d6
3. Nf3 d6
4. exf5 Bxf5
5. Nc3 Nc6
6. d4 e4
7. Ng5 h6
8. Nh3 d5

Black is better than white by +0.77. However, white could have played better moves, in the previous example however, it is a matter of not developing the correct pieces.

But then surely there must be some refutation for white? Well there is but there only seems to be so far only one good refutation for white. It goes like this

1. e4 e5 2. f4 d6 3. Nf3 f5 4. exf5 Bxf5 5.fxe5 dxe5 6. Bb5+ c6 7. Bc4 Qe7 8. d4 exd4+ 9. Kf2 Qc5 10. Re1+ Kd8

And white is winning by +0.84. If one was to understand this refutation and learn it by heart, the black player will find himself a tough game. This seems to be the only successful attack white can make against the Philidor, Latvian countergambit. Though, to finish off with how successful this game really is, I will showcase one of my best games ever using the opening.

1. e4 e5
2. f4 d6
3. Nf3 f5
4. exf5 Bxf5
5.fxe5 dxe5
6. Nxe5 Qh4+
7. g3 Qe4+
8. Qe2 Qxh1
9. Ng6+ Ne7
10. Nxh8 Nd7 (exchange variation)
11. d3 0-0-0
12. Be3 Nd5
13. Bg5 N7f6
14. Bxf6 gxf6
15. Nd2 Qg1
16. 0-0-0 Qc5
17.Nf7 Nb4
18. Nc4 Nxa2+
19. Kb1 Nc3+
20. bxc3 Qb5
21. Kc1 Re8
22. Qf3 Be6
23. Qxf6 Bxf7
24. Qxf7 Bh6+
25. Nd2 Qa4
26. Qb3 Qa1+
27. Qb1 Bxd2
28 Rxd2 Re1+

And he resigns because his king will be pushed away from defending his queen. This relied on a very risky position where the king on move 27, should have taken the bishop, but I was let off and my trap worked for instead he moved his rook to take the bishop. Needless to say, I could have played

26. Qb3 Qa1+
27. Qb1 Qa3+
28. Qb2 Bxd2
29. Rxd2 Re1+
30. Rd1 Rxd1
31. Kxd1

And this would have won his queen in a much safer fashion.

Part 5, The Refutation of Whites Best Refutation

In a much more in-depth analysis using the computer, it turns out that even whites best response moves can be overcome with a good play from black. If this holds, then the entire investigation itself is a refutation of the kings gambit in general. What was interesting in the analysis was that the white at some point in the middle of this was winning by +4.00. How quick the tables turned with blacks play, ends up being a pawn up in the end game and white ends up having doubled pawns.

1. e4 e5

2. f4 d6

3. Nf3 f5

4. exf5 Bxf5

5. fxe5 dxe5

6. Bd5+ c6

7. Bc4 Qe7

8. d4 Bg4

9. 0-0 Nd7

10. h3 Bxf3

11. Qxf3 0-0-0

12. Be3 Qd4

13. b3 exf4

14. Bxd4 Bc5

15. Bxd4 Bc5

16. Nd2 Rhf8

17. Nd2 Rhf8

18. Rde1 Rxe1

19. Rxe1 Bxd4

20. Qxd4 b5

21. a3 Qxa3

22. Be6 g6

23. Ne4 Nxe4

24. Qxe4 Qd6

25. c4 Kb8

26. Bxd7 Qxd7

27. cxb5 cxb5

28. Rc1 Rf5

29. Kh1 Rd5

30. Qg4 Qxg4

31. hxg4

... and black is winning. So it turns out after all, the Philidor, Latvian countergambit is in fact quite solid and that even whites best line

1. e4 e5 2. f4 d6 3. Nf3 f5 4. exf5 Bxf5 5.fxe5 dxe5 6. Bb5+ c6 7. Bc4 Qe7 8. d4 exd4+ 9. Kf2 Qc5 10. Re1+ Kd8

Can be beaten with perfect play.

However there is a catch, the ''best refutation'' was based on what Fritz would play. There does however exist a nice game for white when played properly... The idea is that white needs to stay away from the usual lines played by a kings gambit player.

1. e4 e5

2. f4 d6

3. Nc3 f5

4. Bc4 fxe4

5. fxe5 Nc6

6. Qe2 dxe5

7. Nxe4 Nf6

From here, white can play a reasonable game. Also on move 6, make sure that knight doesn't take the pawn, black will get a better position out of the fork d5.

Anyway, this is my theory on the Philidor, Latvian Countergambit and I hope you enjoyed the annotations and how well black can play against a white's Kings Gambit declined.

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