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Standard Vienna Gambit

The Vienna Gambit is a gambit in the Vienna Game, arising from the Falkbeer Variation. It is classified under ECO codes C25 and C29, depending on whether black accepts or declines. The opening moves are:

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nc3 Nf6
  3. f4


This was originally the main line of the Vienna Game, taking the form of a delayed King's Gambit. Since then, though, two other lines have exceeded it in popularity, both also from the Falkbeer Variation.

Vienna Gambit Declined[]

The most common master-level response to the gambit is 3... d5. This is considered one of three main lines of the Falkbeer Variation, and black's best response. This line is ECO C29. Now, if white takes with 4. fxe5, black can play Nxe4. An example line:

5. Nf3 Be7 6. Qe2 Nxc3 7. dxc3 O-O

White has some attacking chances, but black's sturdy position will hold strong with the correct moves.

Vienna Gambit Accepted[]

If black accepts the gambit, white should respond with e5, taking centre space. Black may then play Qe7, pinning the pawn, but this can lead to a trap: white protects with 5. Qe2, and now the knight must retreat back to g8. White develops with 6. Nf3, and best now for black is Qe6, freeing up the light-squared bishop. Black must be especially careful not to blunder the natural looking move 6... c6, as this allows 7. Nd5 to trap the queen. Although Qd8 temporarily saves the queen, the damage done to black's structure places white at a major advantage. Arguably the best move for black after 4. e5 is to simply retreat the knight immediately.

3... exf4
4. e5 Ng8
5. Nf3 d6
6. d4 dxe5

White then has Qe2, pinning the pawn to the king, and allowing them to recapture both of black's offending pawns in the next few turns, while still maintaining a strong developmental lead. Generally it is recommended not to accept this gambit. This, as well as the unorthodox declined lines below, are in ECO code C25, along with other uncommon variations of the Vienna Game.

Unorthodox Declined[]

Aside from the aforementioned 3... d5, black can decline the gambit some other ways:

3... d6
4. Nf3 Nc6
5. Bb5 Bd7
6. d3 exf4 7. Bxf4

White has superior development. Note that 6... exf4 is forced, as otherwise white can trade their bishop for the knight on c6 and win the pawn for free.

3... Nc6 4. fxe5 Nxe5 5. d4 Nc6 (or Ng6) 6. e5 Ng8

White has an obvious advantage. Basically, the only sound response to the gambit is 3... d5.