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, and I include some relatively modern gambits as well as the classic 19th century ones, but I make it clear in my introductions which ones are sounder than others. Some are widely used even at grandmaster level, but there are also some dubious lines that are suitable mainly for casual and rapid games and probably will not work in serious tournament games.
My earlier updates (up until 2018) on this site has been assisted by the Fritz and free versions of the Rybka chess engines. My updates of the coverage, starting in November 2019, have been assisted by a combination of recent versions of Stockfish and Leela Chess Zero (the latter engine uses very similar algorithms to the famous AlphaZero engine).
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 play 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 finds the creative side of chess more important than the result. I like to play gambits because they tend to unbalance the position early in the game and provide plenty of creative scope. I am 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 imbalances and creative scope, including castling on opposite sides of the board, trading a weak pawn structure for active piece play, etc.
Many of the 19th century "open gambits" in particular also offer a good training ground in tactical play to beginners and improving players, getting your pieces out as quickly as possible, and learning the art of attack and defence.
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.
Many of the more 19th century style gambits are unlikely to catch on again at grandmaster level mainly because defensive abilities and computer-assisted preparation tend to be so good that opponents can prepare a way to defuse the attacks. However, at lower levels they may well see a renaissance in the near future, inspired for example by the unorthodox play of AlphaZero, which in some games speculatively sacrificed two or three pawns, or even a piece, for seemingly questionable compensation, and then slowly built up a crushing attack.
Other chess sites
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.