Gunderam Gambit – 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 c6 (Theory, Variation, Lines)

Gunderam Gambit - 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 c6

The Gunderam Gambit, is a lesser-known but fascinating setup beginning with 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 c6 out of the Open Game family of openings.

Here we look into the move order, theory, strategy, and purpose of the Gunderam Gambit, its variations, its history, and its applicability for beginners or intermediate players.

We will also take a glance at its occurrence at the Grandmaster level.

Move Order of the Gunderam Gambit

The Gunderam Gambit commences with 1. e4, allowing the white player to control the center and freeing up two pieces.

The response from black is typically 1… e5, challenging white’s center control and mirroring the development.

The second move from white, 2. Nf3, attacks the e5 pawn and sets up for rapid development and kingside castling.

The intriguing response from black, 2… c6, marks the beginning of the Gunderam Gambit, a unique pawn move aimed at preparing for d5, to challenge white’s central pawn on e4.

Gunderam Gambit - 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 c6
Gunderam Gambit – 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 c6

Theory, Strategy and Purpose of the Gunderam Gambit

The theory behind the Gunderam Gambit is rooted in the concept of rapidly challenging the center control.

The move 2…c6 prepares for a quick d5, potentially dislodging white’s central pawn on e4 and giving black equal control of the central squares.

This opening also leaves open several opportunities for black to develop their minor pieces.

While this gambit doesn’t offer an early material advantage, it does promote a complex, dynamic position.

Thus, the purpose of this opening is to cultivate an aggressive, non-standard game that may put unprepared opponents off their footing.

Variations of the Gunderam Gambit

While the mainline Gunderam Gambit follows the moves 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 c6, there are various responses white can consider.

A popular variation involves 3. Nxe5, directly capitalizing on the undefended e5 pawn.

Black may then continue with 3…Qe7, attacking the knight and preparing to gain a tempo with d6.

Another variation sees white declining the gambit with 3. d4, reinforcing the center and pressuring black’s e5 pawn further.

This leads to a more conventional, open game, reducing the chances of early surprises.

3. d4 is considered strongest by modern chess engines.

Evaluation of the Gunderam Gambit

The Gunderam Gambit is generally evaluated at around +1.40 to +1.80 for white.

Theory & Continuation Lines of the Gunderam Gambit

Below we have some common theory and continuation lines from the Gunderam Gambit starting move order 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 c6:

The two best replies to the Gunderam Gambit include 3. d4 and 3. Nxe5.

3. d4

3. d4 exd4 4. Qxd4 Qb6 5. Nc3 Qxd4 6. Nxd4 Nf6 7. Bf4 Bb4 8. O-O-O O-O 9. e5 Ng4 10. Bg3 f6 11. Bc4+ Kh8 12. e6 d5 13. Bxd5 Bxc3 14. e7 Re8 

3. d4 exd4 4. Qxd4 Qb6 5. Bf4 Ne7 6. Nbd2 d5 7. O-O-O Be6 8. Nb3 Nd7 9. Ng5 Qxd4 10. Nxd4 Nc5 11. Re1 h6 12. Ngxe6 

3. d4 exd4 4. Qxd4 Qb6 5. Bf4 Qxd4 6. Nxd4 Nf6 7. Nc3 Bb4 8. O-O-O O-O 9. e5 Ng4 10. Bg3 f6 11. e6 d5 12. Be2 f5 13. a3 Bc5 14. Rhe1 f4 15. Bxg4 fxg3 16. fxg3 Na6 17. Bh5 

3. d4 exd4 4. Qxd4 Qb6 5. Bf4 d6 6. Nc3 Qxb2 7. Rb1 Qa3 8. Bc4 Qc5 9. Qxc5 dxc5 10. O-O Nh6 11. a4 Be7 12. Rfd1 Nd7 13. a5 Bd8 14. Ra1 O-O 15. h3 Re8 16. g4 b5 17. axb6 Nxb6 18. Ba2 Be6 

3. Nxe5

3… Nf6 4. Bc4 d5 5. exd5 Bd6 6. d4 cxd5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. O-O Nc6 9. Bf4 Re8 10. Re1 Qb6 11. c3 Bf5 12. Bg3 Ne4 13. Nxc6 Bxg3 14. hxg3 bxc6 

3… Nf6 4. Bc4 d5 5. exd5 Bd6 6. d4 cxd5 7. Bb5+ Nbd7 8. O-O O-O 9. Bf4 Qc7 10. Re1 Nxe5 11. dxe5 Bc5 12. Nc3 Be6 13. Bg3 Ne4 14. Nxe4 dxe4 15. Rxe4 Qb6 16. Bd3 Qxb2 17. Ra4 Bb6 18. h3 Qc3 19. Rb1 Rac8 

3… Nf6 4. Bc4 d5 5. exd5 Bd6 6. d4 cxd5 7. Bb5+ Nbd7 8. O-O O-O 9. Bf4 Ne4 10. Bd3 Qc7 11. Nxd7 Bxd7 12. Bxd6 Qxd6 13. Nd2 Qf4 14. Nb3 Rae8 15. Qc1 Qh4 16. f3 Nd6 17. Qd2 Bf5 18. Bxf5 Nxf5 19. Rfe1 Qf6 20. c3 b6 21. Rxe8 Rxe8 22. Re1 Rxe1+ 23. Qxe1 h5 24. Nd2 Qh6 25. Nf1 

3… Nf6 4. Bc4 d5 5. exd5 Bd6 6. d4 cxd5 7. Bb5+ Nbd7 8. O-O O-O 9. Bf4 Ne4 10. Bd3 Qf6 11. Nxd7 Bxd7 12. Bxd6 Qxd6 13. Nd2 Qf4 14. Nb3 Rae8 15. Qc1 Qh4 16. f3 Nd6 17. Qd2 Bf5 18. Bxf5 Nxf5 19. Rfe1 b6 20. Re5 Nd6 21. Qf2 Qxf2+ 22. Kxf2 Nc4 23. Rxd5 

History of the Gunderam Gambit

The Gunderam Gambit is named after Volker Gunderam, a German correspondence player who has been credited with popularizing the opening.

Despite not being as widely recognized or utilized as other openings, the Gunderam Gambit has found its niche.

Players intrigued by less orthodox openings have found value in its unorthodox approach to center control and development.

The gambit is also occasionally seen in blitz and rapid games, where unexpected moves can significantly disrupt an opponent’s strategy.

Is the Gunderam Gambit Good for Beginners or Intermediates?

For beginners, the Gunderam Gambit can be a double-edged sword.

On one hand, learning this gambit can be an excellent exercise in understanding the importance of central control and the potential for unexpected strategies in chess.

It may also provide an advantage when playing against fellow beginners, who are likely unfamiliar with this lesser-known gambit.

However, the Gunderam Gambit can lead to complex positions that require a strong understanding of chess strategy to navigate effectively. Intermediate players, with a stronger foundation in tactics and strategy, might find it a more fitting addition to their repertoire, as they can capitalize on its unique approach.

The Gunderam Gambit

How Often Is the Gunderam Gambit Played at the Grandmaster Level?

The Gunderam Gambit is relatively rare at the Grandmaster level.

While it has been employed occasionally, most grandmasters opt for more traditional openings that have been extensively analyzed and tested.

The choice to use the Gunderam Gambit in high-level play would likely be driven by a desire to introduce an unexpected element into the game, especially in shorter time controls where opponents have less time to adapt to unusual positions.

It could also be used as a sideline to avoid theory like the Ruy Lopez, which is invited with the standard 2…Nc6 or the Petrov with 2…Nf6.

However, it would be very risky to use under standard classical time controls.

FAQs – Gunderam Gambit: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 c6

What is the Gunderam Gambit in chess?

The Gunderam Gambit is a rarely used chess opening that begins with the moves 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 c6.

Named after the German chess player Jean Dufresne, also known as Elias Gunderam, it was one of the many offbeat openings he used in his games.

The idea is to take the center quickly and surprise the opponent with an unusual second move.

What is the main idea or strategy behind the Gunderam Gambit?

The main idea behind the Gunderam Gambit is to seize control of the center quickly with the pawn move to c6.

This gambit aims to throw off the opponent from the very beginning, by not following standard opening principles.

By moving the pawn to c6, black intends to potentially open the d-file and to bring the knight to d7 in a single move.

How can Black respond effectively to the Gunderam Gambit?

While there isn’t a universally accepted “best” response to the Gunderam Gambit, many experienced players recommend the move 2…d6.

This move prepares for development with Nd7, supports the e5 pawn, and opens a pathway for the dark square bishop.

Other potential replies include 2…Qc7 and 2…Nf6, aiming to maintain control over the center and develop minor pieces.

What are the typical traps or pitfalls in the Gunderam Gambit?

One pitfall for White could be underestimating Black’s control of the center and piece development.

A poorly timed d4 push from White could result in a quick loss of the center pawn, leading to a disadvantageous position.

On the flip side, Black needs to be careful not to overextend their position, as the c6 pawn move doesn’t directly contribute to piece development.

Can this opening be used in high-level play?

The Gunderam Gambit is often considered an offbeat opening, meaning it isn’t commonly used in high-level play.

Most top players prefer more traditional openings that allow for piece development and control of the center.

However, in less formal games or games where surprise is a factor, like blitz or bullet, this opening could be an interesting choice.

What are some famous games that have used the Gunderam Gambit?

The Gunderam Gambit, as the name suggests, was regularly employed by Jean Dufresne, particularly in his casual and simultaneous exhibition games.

However, it’s rarely seen in top-level competitive play, making it difficult to name specific games where this opening was successfully employed.

What are the common continuations after 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 c6?

After 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 c6, common continuations for White could include 3.d4, 3.Nc3 or 3.Bc4.

For Black, logical responses could be 3…d5, 3…d6, or 3…Qc7.

However, as with all chess openings, the best continuation will depend heavily on your opponent’s moves and your overall strategy.


The Gunderam Gambit, though not mainstream, offers an interesting deviation from traditional openings.

Rooted in a unique approach to center control, it serves as a reminder of the limitless strategic diversity in chess.

Whether you are a beginner exploring various aspects of the game or an intermediate player looking for more intricate strategies, the Gunderam Gambit provides a path for enhancing your understanding of dynamic chess play.


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