Henry Bird's 1 .f4 has become the choice of many players who wish to avoid the voluminous theory surrounding I.e4, I.d4 and even 1.c4. If Black plays passively then he is likely to find himself in an inferior line, especially if he allows a reversed Dutch defense. But there is an exciting alternative to the main lines - the From Gambit! With 1...e5 Black makes it clear that he is willing to fight. The lines which arise often involve forced piece sacrifices for both sides, and knowledge of the middlegame ideas is critical. In this monograph, Eric Schiller presents a state-of-the-art report on the opening together with explanation aimed at the average player. In addition, he provides many new ideas. Both ancient sources and the latest tournament and correspondence games have been examined, many from obscure sources which have not found their way into the body of published theory.
This chapter will provide a step-by-step method of studying the From Gambit, the most aggressive reply to the Bird's Opening.
The book contains 11 chapters of discussion of the theory of the opening, presenting recommended lines from Black's point of view. Each contains at least one fully annotated game.
Let's start by looking at the starting position of the From after 1.f4 e5!? You will notice that Black immediately challenges White's central foothold and stakes his own claim there.
Now White is usually going to accept the pawn, and we'll concentrate on that continuation. After 1.f4 e5!? White has the option of transposing to a King's Gambit with 2.e4, and the player of the Black pieces must be prepared for this.
But there are other options as well, for example 2.d3, favored by the turn-of-the-century player W. Schwan. which is not a particularly effective plan. Chapter 11 presents the relevant material.
Okay, so now that White captures the pawn, Black usually plays Pd7- d6, which defines the openings as a gambit. But recently Black has been exploring another option - 2...Nc6 3. Nf3 g5!?. Chapter 10 provides an analysis of this idea.
After the more normal 2...d6, White should capture on d6, since if he doesn't, he usually finds himself in trouble. But there are 4 alternatives to be considered. Chapter 8 is devoted to a discussion of 3. Nf3, which has been developed extensively by the American
correspondence player Hayward. The minor alternatives 3.d3, 3.e3, and 3.e6 are quickly dismissed in Chapter 9.
So after 3. exd6 Bxd6 it is time for White to develop with 4. Nf3. 4.g3 is an alternative, but it hasn't been popular for almost a century. Emanual Lasker demolished it quite effectively, as you can see in Chapter 7.
Now in response to 4. Nf3, Black has tried a number of strategies. The most common is that of attacking on the kingside with 4...g5. Although this seems to create a weakness on the kingside, it has the advantage of being quite forcing in nature, and requires careful handling by White.
The reason that Black actually gets counterplay is that White has weakened the el-h4 diagonal, and the pawn at h2 is guarded by a knight which can be driven away, and a rook which ought to have better things to do. White can react in a variety of ways which we will explore in turn.
First of all, let's consider the wimpy 5. h3, and get mated by 5...Bg3! Of course, that doesn't happen very often.
Next, White can try to play on the now-weakened long diagonal with 5. b3. This, however, is a slow plan, as we can see in the game Nebel - Simchen. a 1990 (Chapter 6).
More ambitious is 5.d4, which has often been recommended as the best line for White. In Chapter 4 the recommended reply 5...g4 is discussed, with White having three options: 6.Ne5, 6.e4, and 6.Ng5.
Finally, we come to 5.g3, the main line. The basic merit of this move is that it allows White to remove the knight to h4 when it is attacked by the invading g-pawn. Although Black can choose to deviate from this plan with 5...f5, 5...h5,5...Nc6 or 5...Bg4, theory tends to frown on those alternatives for good reason, and Black has failed to score even half a point with those moves in the database. So let's stick to 5...g4! to which White will reply 6. Nh4 (6. Nd4? Bxg3+! 7. hxg3 Qxd4) and Black will develop with 6...Ne7.
Now White again faces a choice. We examine 7. e4 in Chapter 3.
The other, more common move is 7. d4, to which Black replies 7...Ng6 and now there are two main branches.
One line runs 8. Ng2, which is examined in Chapter 2. 8...Nc6 9. c3 h5 10.e4 h4 11.e5 Be7 (11...hxg3!?) 12.Rg1 hxg3 13.hxg3 Rh2 14.Be3 Bf5 15.Nd2 Qd7.
The main line runs 8. Nxg6 hxg6 9. Qd3 Nc6 10. c3 Qe7 11. Bg2; and now either 11...Bf5 or Bd7. This is treated in Chapter 1.
007 One: Main Line with 8.Nxg6
013 Two: Main Line with 8.Ng2
025 Chapter Three: 5.g3 g4 6.Nh4 Ne7 7.e4 etc.
033 Chapter Four: 5.d4 g4 (Main Lines)
049 Chapter Five: 5.d4 g4 (others)
057 Chapter Six 4.Nf3 g5 Introduction and 5.b3
061 Chapter Seven: 4.g3
066 Chapter Eight: 3.Nf3
076 Chapter Nine: Minor Alternatives at move 3
079 Chapter Ten: The Neo-From Gambit
096 Chapter Eleven: Schwan's 2.d3
100 Index of Games