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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Devon Gambit

       A few days ago I was visiting the Chessville site (which is great, BTW) and came across an interesting article by Clyde Nakamura on the Devon Gambit…never heard of it; it runs: 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.g4 Nxg4 5.Nf3.  Nakamura wrote, “With 3.g4 White offers a pawn and if Black accepts the gambit pawn then White will have quick development, control of the center, a half open g-file and a chance for a kingside attack.”  He gives some analysis and a few Blitz games he won online playing it.
       I was kind of intrigued so let Houdini and Naum run overnight to see what they came up with.  It was not too surprising to see there was no direct refutation, but it looked to me like Black always maintained a slight advantage. You can download a 15 page pdf booklet of the analysis HERE.
       The real test was to see how it worked in practice so I tried it in a couple of 10 minute games on one of the servers.   In the first game my opponent set up a K-Indian type formation and during the post-game analysis the engines showed me as having a slight advantage.  The only trouble was I could not seem to, either during the game of afterwards, come up with any worthwhile ideas and gradually drifted into a cramped and inferior position and lost.
      After a couple more games I inveigled another unsuspecting opponent into the Devon Gambit.  This time Black used a Q-Gambit type set up.  Once again I had what the engines considered to be a satisfactory position out of the opening but, just like in the other game, I couldn’t seem to get my pieces onto good squares or find a workable plan.  I ended up just sort of shifting pieces around.  Black found a way to crack open the center and after a series of rather aimless moves on my part I finally thought I caught him in a little swindle and had equalized.  It would have been a nice swindle, too, if he hadn’t had a B standing idly by on f5 that shot down to c2 checking my K which was standing on a4 where it was attacking his a-Pawn.  Turned out the check was a mate.  0-2 with the Devon.
      You might have better luck though.

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