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An interesting attempt for Black to seize the initiative from the second move, the Elephant Gambit is theoretically unsound but can often be successful against an unprepared player:

1.e4 e5
2.Nf3 d5?!

This move places both of Black's central pawns en prise. The most popular line for White is to capture the pawn on d5 - the capture of the e5 pawn offers fewer chances, and in fact if Black wishes he/she can regain the sacrificed material immediately after 3.Nxe5 dxe4.

3.exd5 Bd6!

This move has been responsible for a mini-revival of the Elephant Gambit at lower levels of chess tournament play. Previously Black's best move here was thought to be 3...e4 attacking White's knight (obviously 3...Qxd5 is bad as White gains time straight away by playing 4.Nc3 attacking Black's queen). 3...Bd6 is a more restrained move, focusing on getting pieces into the game before trying to attack in the centre.

Black's aims in this opening are to develop pieces quickly and take advantage of the fluid situation in the centre before White has a chance to consolidate the pawn advantage gained in the first moves. A grandmaster would have few problems in dealing with this gambit, but in practice slightly weaker players can score well with it. A full (and short!) sample victory for black is given below.

An excellent article by openings expert Tim Harding on the Elephant Gambit can be found at http://www.chesscafe.com/text/kibitz15.txt


Topholm - Pape, correspondence game, Denmark 1988:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 Bd6 4.d4 e4 5.Ne5 Nf6 6.Bc4 0-0 7.Bf4 Re8 8.0-0 Nbd7 9.Nxd7 Bxf4 10.Nxf6+ Qxf6 11.Re1 e3! 12.fxe3 (if 12.Qe2 then Bxh2+! 13.Kxh2 Qh4+ 14.Kg1 exf2+ or if 12.f3 then Qh4 13.g3 Bxg3 14.hxg3 Qxg3+ 15.Kh1 e2! winning) 12...Qh4! 0-1.

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