The voice of the South West chess community. Est. 1980. Reborn 2017.
How not to play the Icelandic Gambit
Sometimes you play a game, irrespective of the result, that reminds you why you love chess. Ive been playing the nf6 Scandinavian for about 18 months but have yet to play the exciting Icelandic Gambit over the board. Fortunately I found myself facing an open minded opponent who was more than wiling to dive into complications. I found the game very instructional from a psychological as well as theoretical perspective. Lets take a look.
Would the Icelandic Gambit offer an exciting tactical mess of a game? Yes. If Black knew how to play it…
The game was Board 6 of the Horfield (my team) vs. Clifton match of Division 1 of the Bristol & District Chess League. My opponent was Anton Muller who has virtually the same grade as myself (and attacking mentality). My thanks to him for the game and permission to share.
So a great escape that highlighted all the great human elements of chess. Throughout the game the plans and stories that I told myself led to inferior positions as I misplayed the opening and drifted into an inferior middle game. However, in the end it was clock that was my friend not the position and the old adage of the person who makes the penultimate mistake wins.
Perhaps the most instructive lesson for me was the psychology of realising your position is busted but still has dynamic potential. In my opinion the move 25.Nxf2 was probably the best move I played in the game and yet it actually results in a +5.00 swing to my opponent in the evaluation.
With regards to the opening, if you are interested in the Icelandic gambit then I hope this example game helps you learn how not to play the 6. Bd2 lines. I feel I should have played Nc6 early on when he offered a queen swop and after recapturing then I would have had an immediate threat on c2. it just didn’t feel very gambit like.
My thanks (and apologies) to my opponent for the game. Fortunately the match result was 3 – 3 so everyone saved face in the end.
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.