Latvian Gambit

The Latvian Gambit is a high risk option for Black when White tries to head into a Ruy Lopez Opening or Giuoco Piano. We're swinging over from the Benko Gambit on the queenside to the kingside now.

The Latvian changes the course of the game completely. We start out with the routine 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3. All fairly reasonable but suddenly it changes. Instead of the expected 2...Nc6, White is confronted with 2...f5!? There are holes in this ploy but the big question is does White know his lines.

If he knows how to handle the Latvian, White can expect to gain a stable or even winning advantage. But one wrong step and he can get in big trouble real fast. The Latvian is classified as a variation of the King's Knight Defence. You can now upload your own games and articles on this gambit.

History of the Latvian Gambit

Latvian Gambit

Latvian Gambit

The Latvian was originally analyzed in the 17th Century by the Italian master and prominent chess author Gioachino Greco. It was known as the Greco Counter Gambit in those days and indeed is still alternatively referred to as such today.

Some Latvian masters did extensive work on the opening early in the 20th Century in an attempt to revive it. They modernized many of the lines coming up with new ideas. It was then known widely as the Latvian Gambit.

From that time this opening began to win a loyal fan base due to the exciting lines that it goes down. It also has it's share of critics who say that Black can't quite command enough compensation for his sacrifices.

Latvian Analysis

Latvian Gambit - Greco Variation after 8.Qxh8.

Latvian Gambit - Greco Variation after 8.Qxh8

The Latvian is not popular at grandmaster level. In fact it's just not played in top level chess at all. The reason? White can refute it in every line with accurate play. Even White's King's Gambit is considered by some to be not fit for purpose. The Latvian is a just a mirror image of the King's Gambit and Black is playing it one tempo behind!

So why then has the Latvian not been binned for good? Why does it have so many supporters who are determined to keep playing it? Well the thing is at club level it can yield many wins for Black. It's one thing to be aware that there is a solution to a problem, it's quite another to find it over the board.

Very often when Black plays this gambit in club competition or maybe in a game online, he is very familiar with all of the main lines and concepts. Many people do not know the Latvian maze inside out and quickly find themselves in a lost position as White. Here is an analysis of the Latvian using Fritz.

Talk about Your Latvian Gambit Escapade

Have you ever played the Latvian Gambit? It's a high wire option with sharp lines of play. You need to get your attacks going quickly. You pray your opponent will slip up and then you can clobber him. Post a Latvian game you played or maybe one that a famous master played complete with your annotations. Talk us through your game move by move. We want to share your glory! Your Latvian Gambit Escapade.

Latvian Gambit Escapade by other Lapocites

Click below to see Latvian Gambit Escapade left by other Lapocites...

Fried by the Fraser Not rated yet
I just want to share a Latvian Gambit game with you that I played a while back. It went down the Fraser Variation. alalzrk1980 (1340) - neilparker62 …

Latvian Gambit Tactics Not rated yet
The Latvian Gambit is one such tactic in chess that will make the viewers feel entertained even though the player didn’t win the game. Many leading players …

Te Kolste-Spielmann Not rated yet
The annotated game below is between Jan-Willem Te Kolste and Rudolf Spielmann in which, Rudolf plays the Latvian Gambit, which can be a successful opening …

Click here to write your own.

Moving On

The best way and most fun way to get a feel for an opening is to look at it in real games. Here are some Latvian games for you to look at. We have three examples of success with the Latvian Gambit and three examples of when the Latvian goes bad.

When all is said and done this idea becomes progressively more dicey the further up the ladder you go. But you can definitely have fun with it at a more casual level. If you take the time to get very familiar with how to play it from both sides you will be able to score nice wins with it. The best bit is not the fact that you're winning but the manner of your victories. You can end up getting great positions from it.

We will be heading back over to the queenside next to look at one of White's options against the Sicilian Defence. We'll be talking about the Smith Morra Gambit.

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