The Belgrade Gambit - Energize the Four Knights

The Belgrade Gambit is yet another like the Budapest Gambit, owing it's growth to analysis by chess masters in central Europe. The Four Knights Opening is typically a fairly low key opening with both sides just canceling each other out. The knights will cover any possible incursion by their opposite numbers. This gambit like most uses sacrifice to destroy the symmetry and create imbalances. Black must fight hard to stay in the game against a Belgrade expert.

The Belgrade is part of the Four Knights family in the ECO Index, C47-49:

  • C47 Four Knights Game, Scotch Variation
  • C48 Four Knights Game, Spanish Variation
  • C49 Four Knights Game, Double Ruy Lopez

It's own exact entry is C47.

History of the Belgrade

Belgrade Gambit

Belgrade Gambit

The Belgrade was originally played by Kurt Richter against Albert Becker in Berlin on March 12, 1938. Richter was known for his creative flair in finding original attacking ideas for a number of openings. However his loss to Becker resulted in him never trying 5.Nd5 in the Four Knights Opening again. It wasn't over however for this new gambit.

Six years later in a Belgrade chess club, talented teenager Mihajlo Trajkovic found the Richter-Becker game in a German chess handbook titled How Not to Play Chess.

Trajkovic looked at the frowned upon move and wasn't so sure it was all bad. He analyzed it intensively over the following year, discovering the latent power contained within it. His friend Miroslav Radojcic beat him in a tournament game with a secret weapon he had been working on for about a year. Radojcic ribbed Trajkovic about this for ages.

Trajkovic got his chance to even things up when Svetozar Gligoric organized the First Belgrade Championship. Trajkovic used his special weapon to beat Radojcic soundly. (Annotations by Bruce Monson). Now it was his turn to tease his friend and the Belgrade Gambit was born.

Belgrade Analysis

Budapest Gambit

5...Bc5 is probably Black's strongest reply to the Belgrade Gambit

The are five main branches in the Belgrade. After 5.Nd5 Black can play:

  • 5...Bc5
  • 5...Be7
  • 5...Nxd5
  • 5...Nb4
  • 5...Nxe4

Some of these lines have tactical themes with White trying to pin Black's minor pieces. White also has some positional objectives like trying to give Black doubled, isolated pawns on the d-file.

Take a look at the Belgrade G Analysis using Fritz. It's not a particularly widely used gambit but it has a decent record for White. This may be due to the fact that many players haven't studied it. When they have to face it they are vulnerable to it's traps. Here are some examples of the Belgrade in the field.

Moving On

Chess Gambit: Reti Gambit

Reti Gambit

The Belgrade certainly helps to drag the game down the tactical route and that may not be what your opponent was hoping for. The best way to break his concentration is to give him something he wasn't expecting.

You may be able to force an early error from him to win material or pressurize the king. If not you might get a positional concession that you can exploit in the endgame.

That was an interesting central gambit and here is another one. If you don't like playing against the French Defense you need a plan. One such plan is the Reti Gambit.

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