Want to learn more about chess gambits, with particular emphasis on the "Romantic" 19th century gambits, the method of opening a chess game that was the norm in the days of Paul Morphy and Adolf Anderssen?
This site is, with time, intended to develop as a one-stop source for those who want an introductory coverage of various gambits and related lines, with some helpful hints regarding the critical lines. To give an idea of common middlegame and endgame themes, I also include selections of annotated (mostly high-level) games which are also available, with my annotations, as PGN downloads. I also offer links to sources that offer a more in-depth analysis of the theory of the lines, for those who are interested.
The openings covered vary considerably in soundness, but I make it clear in my introductions which ones are sounder than others- some are suitable even for high-level tournament games while the relatively dubious lines may be suitable mainly for casual/rapid games.
My analysis is error-checked with the Rybka and Fritz computer engines and draws upon a variety of sources, which are cited wherever I make use of them.
This site is "work in progress". It underwent a hiatus in development between 2014 and 2016, but now with the aid of ChessBase 13 and the new free ChessBase online game/board viewers, I am giving it an overhaul and updating the coverage. It has also changed address as I moved to a paid host, which means that I need to update a fair number of the links (but the menus at the top of the page still work fine).
Why use these openings?
Opening theory tends to be very important at the grandmaster level, but for the vast majority of chess players, the key of the opening phase of the game is to get into a decent middlegame that you enjoy playing and where you know what you're doing. Only about 1% of chess players are grandmasters and even a relatively modest club-level rating of 1800 Elo puts you at approximately the 90th percentile of chess players.
In general I am one of those idealistic (some would say naive) players who gets more out of the creative side of chess than the competitive, results-oriented side. I like to play gambits because they tend to unbalance the position early in the game and provide plenty of creative scope. Many of the 19th century "open gambits" in particular also offer a good training ground in tactical play, getting your pieces out as quickly as possible, and learning the art of attack and defence, to beginners and improving players.
While there's always a temptation to be biased in favour of the gambiteer's chances when covering gambit openings, and I won't claim to be immune to that, I do try to be reasonably objective. For the same reasons as above, I am also happy to accept and defend against gambits; many of the lines that I cover are lines that I have often played from both sides of the board. I'm not quite one of those players who, as the late Mark Morss put it, "must play gambits or give up chess", though, as there are also many other ways of creating that type of imbalance, including castling on opposite sides of the board, trading a weak pawn structure for active piece play, etc.
This type of play is still seen at the grandmaster level but typically requires navigating a lot of theory (former world chess champion Garry Kasparov was a good example) but in general defence is very good, assisted by computer analysis, and so grandmasters have to be sophisticated about it. However, I see plenty of scope for the "Romantic" philosophy to be resurrected and to thrive at the club level, and possibly up as far as 2300-2400 Elo standard, where mistakes are relatively common and there tend to be chances for both sides.
My other chess site
I also have a chess site at http://tws27.50webs.com/chess/introduction.html which covers a wide range of these gambits, offering introductions to the opening lines and providing encyclopaedic-style coverage of the key lines in PGN format. My "old" site will probably remain the more comprehensive of the two for a while, as I slowly work on expanding this "new" site. I hope, though, that eventually this site will cover a wider range of lines than my "old" one.