Englund Gambit

Englund gambit is a queen’s pawn opening that starts with 1.d4 e5. The idea is very similar to the Budapest gambit which we saw earlier. But this is really a worse version of the idea because black can’t really regain the pawn and gets no worthy compensation as well.

White should be very happy to capture with 2.dxe5. In the Budapest gambit, with the knight on f6, black could play 3…Ng4 and immediately start putting pressure on e5 pawn. But as we will see, in the Englund gambit, black really has no good way of putting pressure on e5.

After 2…Nc6, white has two major alternatives.

White plays 3.Nf3

The main move is to defend the pawn with 3.Nf3. After 3…Qe7, white has to watch out for a trap. This is the only position where white has to be very careful.

Exercise: Can white defend the e5 pawn with 4.Bf4?


It turns out that 4.Bf4 is a bad move because of 4…Qb4+. White has to return with 5.Bd2 and here 5…Qxb2 regains a pawn with an excellent position for black.

White cannot play 6.Bc3?? because of 6…Bb4!! And white is as good as lost. After 7.Bxb4 Nxb4 black attacks on c2 pawn and the a1 rook, while 8.Qd2 is a blunder because of 8…Bxc3 9.Qxc3 and 9…Qc1#.

So white should play 6.Nc3, but then black has a good game.

So being Aware of the trap after 4.Bf4, white’s main line is 4.Qd5, defending the e5 pawn with a solid position.

And here, black doesn’t have any way to continue putting pressure on e5 pawn. Therefore white maintains his extra pawn, with a good position.

After 4…Nb4 5.Qb3 white is fine. There is possibility of 4…h6 5.Nc3 g5 with the idea of Bg7 and attack the e5 pawn. But white simply plays 6.Qe4 and creates a threat of Nd5 next move.

Therefore black usually plays 4…f6, trying to gain faster development. The game can continue 5.exf6 Nxf6 6. Qb3 d5 7.Bf4, with an excellent position for white.

White will play e3-c3-Be2 or Bd3-0-0-Nbd2 and complete the development. Meanwhile, black is not only a pawn down, but having a difficulty in naturally developing his pieces. For example, the queen on e7 is hindering the f8 bishop. The b7 pawn is weak and attacked by white queen.

Thus, black should not be really happy with the outcome of opening.

White plays 3.e4

White should most definitely go for the 3.Nf3 variation, but just to cover another line, white can also play 3.e4 transforming to the Nimzowitch defense. After 3…Nxe5, white can play 4.f4 or 4.Nf3 as we have already covered.

On move-3 any other moves are not recommended. For example, white can also defend the e5 pawn with 3.f4, but why weaken his king’s position unnecessarily?

As a thumb rule, Pawns should not be moved carelessly because they leave weak squares behind. Here, after 3.f4 Bc5, white has a weak complex of dark squares e3-f2, which black can exploit.

Also, 3.Bf4 gives black an extra opportunity of playing 3…g5 and Bg7 attacking on the e5 pawn. Therefore it should be avoided as well.


The Englund gambit is not recommendable for black. With white, one has to be careful for the nasty trap of Qb4+, other than that, white gets to keep an extra pawn without giving up anything in return.

You can try this gambit with both sides for practice games. For black, it can be a good training for playing with a pawn down. For white, it can be a training for converting an advantage to a winning game.

Harikrishnan A

I am an International Fide Rated player with 10+ years of experience. Played many International Chess Tournaments and Commonwealth games.

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