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After last month's Petroff update several readers enquired about ways to liven it up. In particular I received a couple of inspiring games from Harvey Williamson featuring the spectacular 4.Nxf7!?.

Download PGN of December '04 1 e4 e5 games

Petroff Defence - Cochrane Gambit [C42]

After 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nxe5 d6 4 Nxf7!?:

Then 4...Kxf7 5 d4, the critical line is 5...c5 as in the heavyweight GM tussle, Short - Shirov (see the archives):

In Williamson - Taylor White varies from Short's play with 6.Nc3, which is certainly very interesting. One big question is whether 6...Nc6 is playable; certainly it doesn't look too bad. We get the same position in Sulskis - Rytshagov after 8.Nc3, which is an important one for the theory of 4.Nxf7 despite being a rapid play game. White has two pawns and a wandering Black king for the piece, which looks like decent compensation to me.

Black isn't forced to meet 6.Bc4+:

with 6...Be6 and can instead play 6...d5 as in Stellwagen - Smirnov. This looks very interesting, especially with an earlier capture on d4. It looks like one of the big questions could be whether White wants 6.Nc3 Nc6 or 6.Bc4+ d5. The answer may be a question of taste.

Of Black's 5th move alternatives 5...Be7 is a natural developing move but it does nothing to disturb White's centre. This game Nalbandian - Perl shows how dangerous the pawns can be, right into the endgame. 5...Qe8!? is worth a look (Blazkova - Szuveges), preparing to meet Bc4+ with ...Be6 and then recapture with the queen. Experience is limited but White seems to have good compensation if he maintains his center.

King's Gambit

Paul Cumbers wrote in to ask whether I was kidding about this being time to bring back the King's Gambit. In fact I was semi-serious; certainly it livens things up. One of the main worries for White has been 3.Nf3 g5!, especially with the Kieseritsky (4.h4 g4 5.Ne5) looking dodgy these days. But I think the Allgaier is worth another look:

In his book on the King's Gambit Neil McDonald gave the game Neffe - Bronstein, Wrexham 1995. Bronstein decided to delay taking the knight with 5...d5, though what Neil didn't point out is that White can play 6.d4. After 6...h6 7.Nxf7 Kxf7 8.Nc3 we get to a position from the main line by transposition.

Bosboom - Teichmann is a nice advert for the Allgaier. Even with a wandering king White's center pawns cause all sorts of problems. The big issue for Black is in finding decent squares for his minor pieces.

Maslak - Meissner looks like quite a critical game for Allgaier theory (such as it is). Black's 8...Bb4 reminds me of a Hampe-Allgaier (see Glazkov - Soloviev) but without him having committed the knight to c6. I can't say that I like White's 10.Be2 and strongly recommend he investigate the alternatives.

There's a lot to be said for the quiet 7...d6 (Westerinen - Kivijarvi); Black develops more slowly than after 7...d5 but at least he keeps a centre pawn. In my opinion White should certainly consider avoiding 8.Bc4+ as this drives Black's king to a better square.

With 7...Nc6 (Glazkov - Soloviev) Black transposes into the Hampe-Allgaier Gambit, which in fact has been quite heavily analysed by old timers like Chigorin, Glaskov and Estrin:

Unfortunately for them they were not using computers, so there are quite a few moves here which haven't been covered very thoroughly!

To sum up I think that the Allgaier is well worth a try. You don't see this kind of opening played much at GM level because professionals tend not to play for fun and like to use their fancy endgame technique. But if you want to enjoy your chess then go ahead!

Best wishes for 2005!

Do you want to improve your chess? Then either email me (as just below), or visit for more information about my coaching services

Please post your Kingpawn Opening queries on the 1 e4 e5 Forum, or subscribers can write to me at if you have any questions or queries.

Nigel Davies