Englund Gambit (Variations, Move Order, Purpose & Strategy)

The Englund Gambit is a unique and intriguing chess opening that flouts conventional wisdom and dares to challenge the norms of opening theory.

Characterized by the moves 1. d4 e5, it offers a pawn sacrifice right from the outset, providing a clear signal of black’s intention to disrupt white’s control of the center and create dynamic, tactical play.

The gambit is named after the Swedish player Fritz Carl Anton Englund, who pioneered this approach in the early 20th century.

However, despite its clear strategic purpose and aggressive nature, the Englund Gambit has remained something of a rarity, especially at the highest levels of the game.

Move Order of the Englund Gambit

The Englund Gambit opens with the moves 1. d4 e5.

englund gambit

This sequence initiates the gambit, a strategic decision by black to offer a pawn sacrifice early in the game.

Specifically, the move 1…e5 offers black’s e-pawn for capture, a decision which if accepted, would shift the game into the realms of the Englund Gambit.

Strategy and Purpose of the Englund Gambit

The Englund Gambit is known for its aggressive nature and attempts to disrupt white’s control of the center early in the game.

Its primary strategy involves an intentional pawn sacrifice with 1…e5 to divert white’s d-pawn and open lines for black’s pieces.

Black aims to capitalize on the element of surprise and quickly develop its minor pieces, intending to place white in an unfamiliar and potentially disadvantageous position.

However, it’s worth noting that if white responds correctly, they can end up with a superior position due to their material advantage.

Variations of the Englund Gambit

The Englund Gambit has several sub-variations, depending on how white chooses to respond to black’s initial pawn sacrifice.

One of the main lines occurs after 1. d4 e5 2. dxe5, where black continues with 2…Nc6 aiming to quickly reclaim the pawn on e5.

Another common variation is the Declined variation, where white chooses not to capture the e5 pawn and instead develops a piece with 2. Nf3, maintaining control of the center and challenging black’s strategy.

The Soller-Zilbermints Gambit, 1. d4 e5 2. dxe5 f6, is another notable variation, which involves another pawn sacrifice by black, aiming for rapid piece development and control of the center.

Let’s look at some popular variations of the Englund Gambit in more detail:

Blackburne–Hartlaub Gambit

The Blackburne–Hartlaub Gambit is a risky and aggressive variation of the Englund Gambit that starts with the moves: 1. d4 e5 2. dxe5 d6.

This variation is named after two famous players, Joseph Henry Blackburne and Karl Hartlaub.

The central idea here is that black quickly tries to undermine white’s control of the center by attacking the e5 pawn with the d6 pawn.

If white decides to take the d6 pawn (3. exd6), black would respond with Bxd6, getting the bishop into an active position while simultaneously preparing to castle kingside.

Soller Gambit

The Soller Gambit, also known as the Soller-Zilbermints Gambit, is a more speculative variation of the Englund Gambit.

The moves are 1. d4 e5 2. dxe5 f6. Here, black aims to quickly break down white’s central structure by attacking the e5 pawn with the f6 pawn.

However, this move also weakens the kingside structure and can be potentially hazardous if white responds appropriately.

If white captures the f-pawn (3. exf6), black’s usual reply is Nxf6, quickly developing a knight and getting ready for further piece development.

Felbecker Gambit

The Felbecker Gambit is a more uncommon line of the Englund Gambit, starting with 1. d4 e5 2. dxe5 d6.

Similar to the Blackburne–Hartlaub Gambit, the Felbecker Gambit sees black immediately trying to undermine white’s pawn on e5.

However, rather than capturing with the bishop on the third move, black has another interesting idea: 3. exd6 Nf6, which offers another pawn for rapid development and control of the center.

Zilbermints Gambit

The Zilbermints Gambit is a particularly aggressive line that is typically used as a surprise weapon.

The initial moves are 1. d4 e5 2. dxe5 Nc6. Here, black immediately attacks the e5 pawn with the knight, disregarding the pawn on d7.

This gambit emphasizes rapid piece development over material. The name comes from Lev Zilbermints, a chess player known for his unconventional and aggressive style.

The Zilbermints Gambit often leads to unbalanced positions, offering black dynamic chances, although it requires accurate play to avoid falling into a disadvantageous situation.

History of the Englund Gambit

The Englund Gambit is named after Swedish player Fritz Carl Anton Englund.

While not as old as some other openings, the gambit has been around for over a century, having been first noted in the early 20th century.

However, the Englund Gambit has never been particularly popular at the top level of chess, largely due to its dubious reputation and the perceived risk associated with the early pawn sacrifice.

Whether It’s Good for Beginners or Intermediates

The Englund Gambit might be considered an interesting option for beginners and intermediates seeking to disrupt traditional opening theory and put their opponents in unfamiliar territory.

It can teach players valuable lessons about the importance of rapid piece development, control of the center, and the use of tactical themes.

However, its aggressive nature and pawn sacrifice can leave less experienced players in precarious positions if they are not cautious or familiar with the tactical ideas that stem from the opening.

Consequently, it’s typically recommended for more advanced players who are comfortable with aggressive, unbalanced positions and possess a good understanding of the tactics involved.

WIN IN 8 MOVES: The Englund Gambit

How Often It’s Played at the Grandmaster Level

The Englund Gambit is not frequently seen at the Grandmaster level of chess.

Its aggressive nature and the early pawn sacrifice make it a risky choice against strong opponents who can effectively exploit the material advantage.

The opening’s rarity also suggests that it is not generally considered as reliable or as theoretically sound as other options.

However, on the rare occasions when it is employed, it is often as a surprise weapon to take an opponent out of their opening preparation or comfort zone.

Nevertheless, its frequency at this level is significantly less compared to more traditional and established openings.

GM Falls For The Englund Gambit

FAQs – Englund Gambit

1. What is the Englund Gambit?

The Englund Gambit is an uncommon chess opening that starts with the moves 1. d4 e5.

This opening is considered a gambit because Black immediately attempts to give up a pawn in exchange for rapid development and active play.

However, it is not commonly used in high-level play due to its risky nature.

2. What are the main lines in the Englund Gambit?

The main line of the Englund Gambit begins after 1. d4 e5:

    1. dxe5 Nc6: Black immediately pressures the e5 pawn.
    1. Nf3 Qe7: Black continues the assault on the e5 pawn, preparing to recapture it with the queen.

It’s important to note that the Englund Gambit may lead to a wide variety of positions due to its non-standard opening sequence.

3. What is the general strategy when playing the Englund Gambit?

Black’s general strategy in the Englund Gambit is to sacrifice a pawn in the early stages of the game to get a lead in development and to disrupt White’s pawn structure. The Englund Gambit is considered an aggressive opening, which often leads to complicated and tactical positions.

4. Why is the Englund Gambit considered risky?

The Englund Gambit is considered risky because Black sacrifices a pawn very early in the game.

While this can lead to rapid development and an active position, it also leaves Black at a material disadvantage. If White can successfully neutralize Black’s initiative, they will have a significant advantage due to the extra pawn.

5. Is the Englund Gambit recommended for beginners?

The Englund Gambit is a sharp and tactical opening, which can be fun to play and can lead to exciting games.

However, it’s not generally recommended for beginners as it involves pawn sacrifices early in the game, and requires good understanding of tactical and strategic concepts to handle the arising positions properly. Beginners are usually advised to start with more solid and classical openings.

6. What are some key traps and tactics in the Englund Gambit?

One key trap in the Englund Gambit occurs after 1. d4 e5 2. dxe5 Nc6 3. Nf3 Qe7. Here, if White attempts to protect the e5 pawn with 4. Bf4, Black can respond with 4… Qb4+ winning the Bishop on f4 due to the check.

7. How can White counter the Englund Gambit?

One of the best ways for White to counter the Englund Gambit is to accept the gambit pawn with 2. dxe5 and then play solidly, developing pieces normally and controlling the center. For instance, 1. d4 e5 2. dxe5 Nc6 3. Nf3 Qe7 4. Qd5 is a common way to protect the pawn and control the center simultaneously.

8. Have any top players played the Englund Gambit?

The Englund Gambit is quite rare in high-level chess. While it’s certainly been used on occasion, it’s more commonly seen at club level or in online blitz and bullet games. This is due to its risky nature and the fact that it offers white several ways to achieve a good position with accurate play.

9. What are good resources for studying the Englund Gambit?

While there aren’t many books dedicated solely to the Englund Gambit, you can find coverage of it in broader works on chess openings.

Some chess software and online databases will also have games that feature the Englund Gambit, allowing you to study patterns and outcomes.

Online chess platforms like chess.com and lichess.org also have opening explorer features that can be helpful.

10. Is there a variant of the Englund Gambit for White?

The Englund Gambit is a specific sequence of moves by Black. However, if you’re looking for a similarly aggressive gambit style opening for White, the King’s Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4) or the Danish Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3) might appeal to you.

These openings also involve early pawn sacrifices for quick development and open lines.


The Englund Gambit represents a fascinating divergence from the more common and established chess openings.

Its early pawn sacrifice, while risky, offers potential for swift development and the creation of complex, tactical positions.

However, due to its high-risk nature and the need for precise play, it’s rarely seen at the grandmaster level and is generally better suited for players with an aggressive style and a solid understanding of chess tactics.

Despite this, it remains an important part of chess’s rich history, a testament to the game’s enduring capacity for creativity, surprise, and strategic depth.

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