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Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2006 10:20 pm
Posts: 155
Location: Eckental / Germany
 Post subject: Fun Factor 10 - Play the Halloween Gambit
PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2006 12:23 pm 
In the Halloween Gambit White offers the sacrifice of a knight on move 4:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nxe5!?

Hadn't that horrible patzer seen that the pawn on e5 was protected by the knight on c6, was my first reaction to this move. Later I discovered that this gambit offers good winning chances and is great fun to play. After I had made a rough study of it, I played it on the ChessBase server in blitz games and won all my games.

The line was first played in certain German chess circles around 1870, mainly in master vs. amateur games (of course the masters won). Nobody seems to have claimed the authorship, so they called it the "Mueller and Schulze Gambit" because Mueller and Schulze are among the most common German family names. I suppose that no serious master wanted to lend his name to such a "crazy" gambit line.

After a short time it was forgotten and made its comeback more than a century later under the name of "Halloween Gambit". It took me quite a while to find out where the new name came from. It was Rainer Schlenker, chess enthusiast and editor the very unorthodox chess magazine "Randspringer" (knight on the rim) who baptized it. "The name is founded on the fact that players who are for the first time confronted with the surprising and unexpected fourth move of white become so shocked as if they were suddenly confronted with the horror of some scary Halloween mask." (from an article in Chessville). I like this explanation because I don't think that an unprepared opponent has much of a chance against a dedicated Halloween player. First he is shocked, then he wants to refute this "unsound" knight sacrifice by all means. He does not dream of giving back his surplus material and commits inaccuracies and blunders.

Another chess enthusiast, the Austrian Jakob Steffen, played the gambit with his crafty clone "Brause" in thousands of chess games on the ICC-server between 1993 and 1998. He achieved a performance of over 70 % Then suddenly he stopped. The explanation he gives on his website is that he wants to spend his time on the development of his chess engine "Hossa".

I must also mention the Dutch player Maurits Wind, who is one of the greatest propagator of the gambit. He is one of the most successful players with the line and organized a thematic correspondence tournament of the opening in 2003.

I am just giving you two sample games, which you may not find in your databases. The first is one of the oldest published Halloween games, the second is one of the earliest modern games in this line.

I hope I can wetten your appetite. If you become interested, you should visit the webpages you will find in the post I made in the subforum "Links".
Keep in mind that the Halloween gambit has not been refuted, not even in correspondence chess or by the famous Hans Berliner. The "refuation" Berliner gives only leads to equal play.

Here are the games: (Paste them into a text editor, rename the file halloween.pgn and enjoy the games in your favourite gui (ChessBase, Fritz etc.)

[Event "Breslau"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1875.03.26"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Riemann, Fritz"]
[Black "Von Kraewel"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C47"]
[Annotator "Fiebig,Guenter"]
[PlyCount "33"]
[EventDate "2005.06.19"]
[SourceDate "2006.10.25"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nxe5 Nxe5 5. d4 Nc6 6. e5 Qe7 $2 7. Be2 Ng8
8. Nd5 Qd8 9. O-O Bb4 10. c3 Ba5 11. Bc4 Nge7 12. Bg5 O-O (12... d6 13. Bb5 $1)
13. Nf6+ Kh8 (13... gxf6 14. Bxf6 d5 15. Qh5 Qe8 16. Qg5+ Ng6 17. Qh6) 14. Qh5
h6 15. Bxh6 Ng6 16. Bxg7+ Kxg7 17. Qh7# 1-0

[Event "casual game Villingen-Schwenningen"]
[Site "Villingen-Schwenningen"]
[Date "1993.10.06"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Schlenker, Rainer"]
[Black "Klostermann, D."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C47"]
[Annotator "Fiebig,Guenter"]
[PlyCount "45"]
[EventDate "2006.10.25"]
[SourceDate "2006.10.25"]

{The following game shows Rainer Schlenker at his best. His black opponent was
a former master of the Roumanian chess association.} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3
Nf6 4. Nxe5 Nxe5 5. d4 Nc6 {5.- Ng6 is the main line} 6. d5 Ne5 7. f4 Ng6 8. e5
Ng8 9. d6 $1 cxd6 10. exd6 Qf6 11. Nb5 Kd8 12. Be3 Qe6 13. Qd4 Nf6 14. Bc4 Qe4
15. O-O-O Qxd4 16. Rxd4 $1 Ne8 (16... a6 17. Re4 $3 Nxe4 (17... axb5 18. Bb6#)
(17... Bxd6 18. Bb6+ Bc7 19. Bxc7#) 18. Bb6+ Ke8 19. Nc7+ Kd8 20. Bxf7 $1) 17.
Bxf7 a6 18. Re4 Bxd6 19. Bb6+ Bc7 20. Rhe1 $1 d5 21. Rxe8+ Rxe8 22. Bxc7+ Kd7
23. Bxe8# 1-0

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