Im ashamed to say that Gambit Night is the only Bristol Tournament I have never played in after 13yrs in the league. Its not a deliberate thing, more a timing issue over the summer months as I’ve often been away or unavailable. So what is Gambit night?
Gambit Night is an evening of blitz with a twist. At the start of every game the players choose a card with a random gambit written on it. The players are forced to set up the board from the position on the card and then the clocks are started (10 minutes)! Im told that much crazy crazy play follows and it is especially a great leveller between players of different skill. For a league that prides itself on a very high standard of serious chess, the North Bristol CC Gambit Night provides a well established tradition of tongue in cheek chess with a healthy dose of fun (and swearing). To top it all off the North Bristol crew only charge a modest £3 charge for a full evening of gambit mayhem. Bargain!
To honour this upcoming crazy night in the Bristol chess calendar I decided to look at some dubious gambits with a Bristol twist. Lets start with “The Clifton Gambit” which stems from a correspondence match between Clifton and Dublin chess clubs in the 19th century. It took me a while to translate this gambit from the old style notation recorded on the Clifton website and to be honest was left a little cold with its lack of immediate craziness.
The Clifton Gambit
- e4 e5 2. f4 pxp 3. Be2?!
Just what exactly is white gaining from this move? A quick scan of the statistics shows white scores 51% whilst the computer shows a score of -1.2 so quite frankly I’m unimpressed. If you are going to gambit then atleast lets get some dynamic compensation going. Maybe I’m missing something…
In my quest for a crazy dynamic gambit I was reminded of Horfield’s Mike Harris (Bristol Chess Times first correspondent who will be attending Gambit night and reporting back on his findings) love of the Latvian. Mike will literally play anything in the Latvian so I’ve just chosen the best gambit I could find with the stupidest name. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you The Lobster Gambit.
The Lobster Gambit
- e4 e5 2.nf3 f5 3. g4?!
Lovely stuff! Now thats a gambit I can get behind! What a lovely claw shape! Heres hoping North Bristol CC are paying attention and add this crustacean to their deck of gambit cards in the next couple of days.
Ill be honest that my knowledge of Bristolian themed gambits is limited so I welcome any thoughts from longer serving league members than myself. The final (tenuous) Bristolian connection I could find was the Wing Gambit of the Bishops opening, purely based on Bristol’s proud aeronautical heritage with Conchord. Like I said tenuous.
The Wing Gambit
- e4 e5 2. Bc4 Bc5 b4
This remarkable move scores a nice healthy 60% with white (from 94 games) and only scores -0.52 with computer analysis. Dare I say that in the context of a standard club player, then this might actually be sound?! Heres hoping for picking this card at Gambit Night!
So that ends our tour of Bristol themed gambits. Im sure more knowledgable heads than me may have other crazy lines with a west country twist so feel free to leave a comment below!
Gambit Night is on the 3rd August this year at the Ratepayers Arms, Filton. The first round starts at 19:45 and entries are accepted on the night. Any questions (and special thanks) can be directed to Steve Woolgar: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lets go burn some pawns!
Jon is the Editor of The Bristol Chess Times and Publicity and Recruitment Officer for The Bristol & District Chess League. He plays for Horfield Chess Club and has been known to play 1. b3 on occasion.