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The Latvian Gambit
Hi everyone, Ion and I decided to run through the Latvian Gambit. I played the black pieces and lost in a game An Expert Lesson in Concentration of Forces. You will find this game in the public annotations gallery.
I will be interested to hear your views on the Latvian.
Cheers and bye for now.
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The Latvian has long ...
... been one of my favorite openings - ever since reading Harry Golombek's assessment: "as unsound as it is violent". But that's just my contrary nature.
It is, however, a very risky line to adopt against a "booked" player. Against one who hasn't seen it before, it can be lethal. Keene and Levy had this to say: "If White puts a foot wrong he can easily find himself battered to a premature death."
They recommended the approach I took in the ionadowman vs jstevens1 game - a line much analysed by Paul Keres.
However, I suspect Harry Golombek's recommendation 3.Nxf5 is the wiser and safer choice. Several years ago I played Black in the 3.Bc4 line and, yep, White went wrong, and, yep, got battered to a premature death.
On the other hand, I tried it against a strong player in a club game in Auckland in the early 70's and this time I forgot the theory and got axed. I think the game might have been published in a North Shore journal of some sort...
Although I have a fondness for the opening, I haven't played it often, and not at all on GK (except this one time from the White side).
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Lets put it like this
If you play it in OTB, you are likely to get published in a journal :)
I like the Golombek's quote!
I started looking at 3.Bc4 when I was first trying to create a repertoire, but eventually settled on 3.ef5 as the primary choice (it is actually not a bad move, but is less popular than 3.Ne5).
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Like most openings, I only know the Latvian very loosely from the book. Ion made a good and interesting point that the Latvian is one of the rare instances of an unusual "out-of-book" type of opening that's been pretty well covered in the books. The opening rarely fails to make the position an interesting one, but my preference towards unstudied lines has led me to not enjoy playing the Latvian Gambit very often.
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One of my favorite chess stories centers on a Latvian Gambit game. Many years ago a strong master, Andrew Karklins if memory serves, happened into an Omaha chess tournament. He decided to have a little fun and play the Latvian Gambit against a Lincoln 'B' player, I guess figuring it didn't matter much what he played. The 'B' player blew him off the board. The master failed to consider that the Latvian Gambit Magazine was published out of Lincoln and that the 'B' player in question was a close friend of the publisher.
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... I recall a vaguely similar story from an Olympiad sometime in the 1970s or 80s- except that the roles were reversed in more ways than one. In the match against South Africa (I think it was) Larry Evens had White; his opponent played a Latvian.
Mr Evans went a bit wrong and found himself faced with a tremendous attack. When Mikhail Tal got wind of the situation and started hovering around the board - no doubt with the view of publishing a tactical brilliancy pulled off by an amateur against a GM - it looked all up with White. But Black began to go wrong. The quick win became a not-so-quick win, then a draw, then a loss. The GM escaped with the full point!
No fairy tales there. then.
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I gave up
I found GK when I was searching some information about Latvian... Here, at beginning I've played a few games using that opening.... Later I gave up with it. Main reason - 3. Nxe5 is quite strong and "booked" opponent creates difficulties to Black too often.
Anyway, I've still tried it for next couple years in rapid games (blitz) - and it's a good surprise weapon for unprepared opponent.
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I would never play it on GK. But yes, it is a good surprise weapon in blitz. The Danish gambit is another opening that it good in blitz but not on GK.
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On the contrary
I have played the Latvian on GK a number of times and have a winning record with it (including a win against a 1900+ opponent). Of course this is merely anecdotal support, but I will continue to use it for now.
Please see my annotated game 'I don't care for refutation - the Latvian gambit.' in the public list.
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The Danish Gambit is sound, Black can draw against it if he knows his stuff. But that is probably ultimately true of any opening.
The Latvian is considered unsound; but if I were facing it over the board I would play 3 Nxe3 and try for superior development, rather than trying to refute it.
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...a crushing miniature. For mine, very reminscent of a club game many years ago... (A game I have posted before maybe?)
White: ZS Black: Self; Wellington, March 1979.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Bc4 fxe4 4.Nxe5 Qg5 5.d4 Qxg2
So far, so book. Now, it's worthwhile knowing what to do against White's next move...
6.Rf1? d5! 7.Bxd5 Nf6 8.Bf7+ Ke7 9.Bh5 Bh3 10.Be2 Nbd7
11.Nxd7 Kxd7 12.f3 Qxh2 13.Rf2 Qg1+ 14.Bf1 Re8
White's position makes a peculiar impression!
15.f4 e3 16.Rf3 e2 17.Qxe2 Bb4+ 18.c3 Rxe2+ 19.Kxe2 Bxf1+
20.Rxf1 Re8+ 21.Kd2 Qxf1 22.Kc2 Re2+ 23.Kb3 Qxc1 0-1.
White could, of course, have resigned any time after the diagram position.
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It's interesting that Keene and Levy in early editions of "An Opening Repertoire for the Attacking Player" claimed that by following Kere's analysis, White could be certain of a winning position; but when they updated the book in 1994 they recommended 3 Nxe5.
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That game made me smile, with the e pawn really over achieving! And another comatose Q-side.
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Kon Grivainis has written a good deal on the Latvian Gambit over the years (alas, I haven't been able to get my hands on enough). With careful handling, Black gets at least a fighting game every time! Despite scorn from many circles, it accumulates points even now.
My own assessment of the opening is that it is not so much unsound as it is unforgiving. One mistake from either player & it's curtains! This all or nothing nature allows for some exciting, indeed beautiful, games!
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I recall on a different thread...
... commenting on a near disaster Larry Evens had on the White side of a Latvian at some Olympiad or other in the '70s, I think. I'm pretty sure, now that I see it, that your pal Grivainis was on the White side of that game. Unfortunately, having got Evans on the ropes, Grivainis couldn't quite find the knockout blow, gradually lost the thread missed or declined to take divers drawing options, and eventually lost.
I have an early copy of Keene and Levy book mentioned by blake78613 and indeed it was as fulsome as stated. However, I was aware it wasn't quite as comprehensive as it might have been. There might well be a rather dark cloud hanging over the 3.Bc4 line these days.
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Grivainis had the Black pieces. Of course he did... I'll be confusing light from reft next. At any rate blake78613 has posted the game on the annotated games list if you want to play through the moves. Evans went in for the "King's Gambit Reversed" line, and got himself into really hot water...
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That is one wild opening.
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Ion / Schnarre . . .
Isn't Kon Grivainis a quite highly rated Postal Chess player ...? Or once was, if retired now?
Brings to mind the game of Fischer with Berliner. Trying to recall if it was also he who played
Penrose from England!? Of course, Fischer himself, and Keres were at one time Postal Chess
players as well. And Fischer apparently thought highly enough of Corr. play to remark what a
great instructor of Chess was WC (of postal play) Purdy, from Australia.
Believe I will start a thread on players that have gone both ways . . .
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Among Grivainis' works is 'The Latvian Gambit Made Easy'--though not an very in-depth work, it was easy reading. I still want to get his original book on that opening. He analyzed practically every avenue of it.
I've not seen him in the tournament circuit for some time though, so I'm not sure if he's retired or not.