Irish Gambit

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a b c d e f g h
a8 black rook
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
e5 black knight
d4 white pawn
e4 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
h1 white rook
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Irish Gambit after 4.d4

The Irish Gambit, Chicago Gambit, or Razzle Dazzle Gambit, is a weak chess opening that begins:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Nxe5?

intending 3...Nxe5 4.d4 (see diagram).


White's pawns occupy the center, but the sacrifice of a knight for a pawn is a very high price to pay. The gambit is accordingly considered unsound, and is almost never seen in high-level play. It is often referred to as the Chicago Gambit, perhaps because Harold Meyer Phillips, remarkably, used it in an 1899 game in a simultaneous exhibition in Chicago to beat Harry Nelson Pillsbury, one of the strongest players in the world at the time.[1]

An apocryphal tale is told of the anonymous inventor of the gambit. On his deathbed, when asked what subtle idea lay behind the gambit, his last words were reportedly: "I hadn't seen the king's pawn was defended."[2]

A similar line is the Halloween Gambit, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nxe5?! It is also considered dubious, but is sounder than the Irish Gambit, because White can gain time by chasing both of Black's knights while occupying the center. White has won a number of short games with the Halloween Gambit.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harold Meyer Phillips vs Harry Nelson Pillsbury, Chicago 1899,, retrieved 2006-11-18 
  2. ^ Hooper, David; Whyld, Kenneth (1996), "Irish Gambit", The Oxford Companion To Chess (2 ed.), Oxford University, p. 182, ISBN 0-19-280049-3 

External links[edit]