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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Muzio Gambit

     The Muzio Gambit is one of the most aggressive lines in the King’s Gambit. White gives up a piece for a dangerous attack with his B, Q and R all aimed at f7. Black has a weakened K's position and has no pieces developed. This gives rise to numerous traps that black can fall into. The opening was named the Muzio Gambit in a book by Jacob Sarratt when he mistranslated the works of Damiano and Salvio in 1813.  The move was mentioned by Mutio (not Muzio), a minor player from the Naples Academy in the 1600s;  Mutio claimed to have seen the gambit played by a priest from Piazza.
     When my opponent played the King's Gambit in the following 15 minute game I eschewed my usual 2...Bc5 declining the gambit in favor of accepting it. I soon wished I hadn't because he played the Muzio Gambit and not being familiar with the opening, I had to be very careful. My book knowledge was exhausted at move 6 and I had to assume that my opponent, rated near 2000, was pretty well booked up. Fortunately, he avoided what looks to me to be the most complicated line, and most popular, at move 7 (7.e5) in favor of 7.c3. The ending turned out to be interesting and instructive. 
     For anyone interested in exploring the Muzio and the Double Muzio there is an old (1989) article by Peter Millican that was published in Correspondence Chess. No doubt modern engines will alter the author's analysis considerably, but it's a good place to start.
 

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