What Are The Main Ideas Behind The Budapest Gambit?


Budapest Gambit position

If you’ve read our previous article on refuting Budapest Gambit, you must be aware of the line we recommended with the White pieces against this opening. But we have decided to go a step further to deepen your understanding of this gambit. In this article, we will be sharing some key ideas about the opening, from both the sides.

White’s Main Ideas In The Budapest Gambit

On accurate play, we believe that White should be able to keep a small advantage. But what if you forgot the most accurate way to continue? This is where having a foundational understanding of the opening helps. Once you have it, finding moves becomes easier on the board. So pay close attention to White’s key ideas –

Make Use of their Superior Pawn Structure 

You might wonder why White’s structure is better than Black’s? After all, Black has no significant weaknesses. Firstly, let us show you the pawn structure.

There are two main reasons, why White has an edge here – 

  • White has a flexible pawn structure which allows them to choose from a variety of plans.
  • Black’s structure is more or less rigid. For example, when White puts one of their pieces on the d5-square, Black will have a hard time playing c6 as this would weaken their d6-pawn. In this way, Black’s options are limited.

Because of White’s structure, they can often choose between playing on the queenside with b4-c5 or on the kingside with e4-f5 etc. 

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Make Use of Extra Space and Avoid Exchanges 

Thanks to their more advanced pawns, especially those on c4 and e4, White has a space advantage. What do you do when you have extra space? You avoid exchanges! This way, White can squeeze Black’s pieces even more, forcing Black to make concessions in their position. 

Quick Development Without Focussing Too Much On The Extra e5- pawn

This is the secret to gaining a stable edge in the Budapest Gambit. White is more concerned about developing their pieces. Concentrating on the defense of the e5-pawn is not their main priority as it could get them into hot water. Remember to follow basic opening principles. Develop your pieces as fast you can in this opening. Black restores material balance, but in return they have to pay a price of having a strategically weaker position. 

Black’s Main Ideas In The Budapest Gambit

We might be a little biased towards the White player but Black also has their own chances. This is especially true in blitz chess, where defending is often tougher. There are a lot of games that have been complete disasters for White. Why do they happen and where do Black’s ideas lie? You will find out below. We have used some model games to explain the concepts.

The Subtle Rook Lift Plan

One of the main ideas of Black is to lift their rook on a8 with …a5 followed by …Ra6-Rg6(or Rh6). 

Here’s one game played by the strong Azeri Grandmaster Shakhriyar Mammedyarov, with the Black pieces, that demonstrates this concept –

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ng4 4.Nf3 Bc5 5.e3 Nc6 6.Nc3 Ngxe5 7.Nxe5 Nxe5 8.Be2 O-O 9.O-O Re8 10.b3 a5 

The start of the classic rook lift plan.

11.Bb2 Ra6! 12.Ne4 Ba7

Black avoids playing …d6 to swing their rook over to the kingside.

13.Ng3 Rh6! 

The transfer is complete and now White must be careful. Mammedyarov went on to win the game. You can check out the next phase of the game below, but it doesn’t deserve a lot of commentary as there have been big inaccuracies by both the sides. It was understandable as it was a blitz game.

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14.Nf5 Rf6 15.f4? Rxf5 16.fxe5 Rfxe5 17.Kh1 Rg5 18.Bh5 f6 19.Bxe8 Qxe8 20.Bd4 Bb8 21.Qf3 c5 22. Bc3 d5 23. h3 Be6 24. Rad1 Rg3 25. Qf2 Bxh3 26. Rxd5 Qe4 27. Rd8+ Kf7 28. Rxb8 Bxg2+ 29. Kg1 Rg6 30. Qf4 Bh1+ 31. Kf2 Rg2+ 0-1

Here is the entire and you go click on any move to open up a replayed allowing you to play through the moves:

Attacking White’s kingside

When Black develops their bishop to c5, it eyes the a7-g1 diagonal. Coupled with a rook lift from …Ra6-Rh6, Black has the potential to develop a big attacking initiative. Also in a lot of cases, Black plans to go …d6, …Bd7 and …Bc6 when they will have two bishops on two dangerous diagonals eyeing the castled White king.

Central Play with …Re8, eyeing the weak pawn on e3

Even though White’s structure is considered to be superior than Black’s, there is one big weakness that Black often gets to exploit; the open e-file and the weak e3 pawn. The game given below, perfectly illustrates how Black gets a winning position. It’s not an amateur game. The White player who suffered was Boris Gelfand, a World Championship Challenger. Black player was Richard Rapport, who is known for his unconventional style of play. Both are super-grandmasters. The game went –

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ng4 4.Nf3 Bc5 5.e3 Nc6 6.Nc3 O-O 7.Be2 Ngxe5 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.O-O a5 10.Kh1 d6 11.f4 Nc6 12.b3 Re8 

The main idea for Black based on central play. Rapport prevents 13.Bb2 as it would drop a pawn.

Read  Why Shouldn't You Play c5 In Queen's Gambit as White?

13.Rf3(White defends) Bf5! 

Clamping down on the e4-square. Notice how the e3-pawn has become backward now.

14.Rg3 Re6! 

Threatening to double up on the e-file.

15.Bd3 Bxd3 16.Qxd3 Nb4 17.Qd2 Qe7 

Building the pressure on e3.

18.e4 Qh4! 

Black threatens the nasty 19…Qxg3 20.hxg3 Rh6#. Notice how Black is switching up play between the kingside and the centre. It’s because of this flexibility that White faces problems.

19.Rf3 Nc2!

One reason why Rapport is known as an unconventional player. 20.Qxc2 is met with the deadly 20…Qe1+.

20.Rb1 Qe1+ 21.Qxe1 Nxe1 22. Rg3 Rg6 23.Nd5 Rxg3 24.hxg3 c6 25.Be3 Nd3 26. Bxc5 cxd5 27.Bxd6 dxe4 

Black had an advantage which he successfully exploited. The entire game can be seen below.

28. Kg1 f5 29. Kf1 Ra6 30. Bc7 Kf7 31. g4 Rc6 32. Bxa5 Ra6 33. Bc3 Rxa2 34. gxf5 e3 35. g3 Rc2 36. Be1 Kf6 37. g4 h5 38. Bh4+ Kf7 39. gxh5 Rh2 40. Be1 Kf6 41. Kg1 Re2 42. Bc3+ Kxf5 43. Bxg7 Kxf4 44. Bh6+ Kg3 45. Bxe3 Rxe3 46. Kf1 Kf4 47. Ra1 Rf3+ 48. Kg1 Rg3+ 49. Kf1 Rf3+ 50. Kg1 Kg4 51. h6 Nf4 52. h7 Rh3 53. Kf2 Kf5 54. b4 Nd3+ 55. Ke2 Ke4 56. Ra8 Rh2+ 57. Kd1 Rxh7 58. Kd2 Nxb4 59. Kc3 Nc6 60. Re8+ Re7 0-1

With this, we hope you understood the key ideas for both the sides in this opening. White’s ideas have also been discussed in another article where we shared the best practical response on playing against the Budapest Gambit.

We also explored Black’s ideas with the help of model games. It shows that even top players can sometimes face difficulty to play against this gambit. All in all, it remains a very interesting gambit.

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