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1. e4 d5

The Tennison Gambit is a gambit that may arise from either the Scandinavian Defense or the Zukertort Opening. It is classified under ECO code B01 and A06, depending on how it is reached. It is named after German player Otto Tennison, who first researched the gambit. The opening moves are either:

  1. e4 d5
  2. Nf3


  1. Nf3 d5
  2. e4

Favourable Gambit Line[]

The line white hopes for after playing the setup moves is:

Below is game from Tennison himself, which results in a highly favourable position for white:

2... dxe4
3. Ng5 f5
4. Bc4 Nh6
5. Nxh7 Rxh7
6. Qh5+ Kd7
7. Qg6 Rh8
8. Be6+ Kc6
9. Bxc8+ Qd6
10. Qe8+ Kb6

However, 5. Nxh7 is considered an inferior move, as after 6. Qh5+, black can simply block with 6... g6 7. Qxd6 f7. An objectively better move for white is simply castling, then developing their queenside.

ICBM Variation[]

The jokingly named Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile variation arises if black defends with 3... Nf6. The principle of it goes like this:

3. Ng5 Nf6 4. d3 exd3 5. Bxd3 h6 6. Nxf7 Kxf7 7. Bg6+ Kxg6 8. Qxd8

And white has won black's queen at the cost of a knight and a bishop, a three point material gain. However, it relies on the move 5... h6, a natural seeming move, but one that blunders into white's trap. Best for black is 5... Nb6, as this defends the queen. White cannot play the gambit now, as it would only result in a queen trade.

Additionally, the best response for black after Ng5 is 3... e5 4. Nxe4 f5, as black has far stronger development. For this reason, the ICBM variation and the Tennison Gambit as a whole is virtually never seen outside of amateur matches.