Orthoschnapp Gambit: Opening Guide for White and Black


Table of Contents

FM Dennis Monokroussos described the Latvian Gambit as “possibly the worst opening in chess.” If he is correct, then the Orthoschnapp Gambit must surely come a close second.

  • The Orthoschnapp Gambit is played against the French Defense.
  • Yes, white gets some attacking chances by creating a queen and bishop battery aimed at f7, but this is not enough compensation for the pawn against the correct defense.
  • The Orthoschnapp Gambit is worth trying in blitz or bullet chess because you only give up a pawn.

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Lifetime Repertoires: French Defense

The Orthoschnapp Gambit Accepted

Accepting the gambit is an excellent approach for black. Pay attention to the attack on the f7 pawn when white responds with Bc4.

1.e4 e6 2.c4 d5 3.cxd5 exd5 4.Qb3

The starting position of the Orthoschnapp Gambit is reached after 1.e4 e6 2.c4 d5 3.cxd5 exd5 4.Qb3

4…dxe4 5.Bc4 Qd7 6.d3 Nc6 7.dxe4 Na5 8.Qc2 Nxc4 9.Qxc4 b5 10.Qc2 Bb7

5.Bc4 can get met with 5…Qe7, but …Qd7 makes it easier for black to castle. In this variation, black gives back the material to obtain the bishop pair and a lead in development.

The open lines will make the bishops particularly powerful as they take aim at the white kingside. Black will also get pleasant control of the d-file after long castle with the rook supporting the queen.

Objectively the black position might only be slightly better, but it is undoubtedly more straightforward and more pleasant to play.

Remember, playing positions you are comfortable in is more important than the chess engine evaluation of the position. Unless you are playing one of the world’s elite, a 0.1 or 0.2 change in the assessment is unlikely to make a difference to the game’s result.

The Orthoschnapp Gambit Declined

Fortunately for French Defense players, even if you choose the safer option of declining the gambit, you are doing well. A good approach is to play in the style of another semi-open defense – the Caro-Kann.

1. e4 e6 2. c4 d5 3. cxd5 exd5 4. Qb3 c6

Supporting your center pawn and keeping your share of the center is always a good approach. The classical principles of chess openings are there for excellent reason.

Play usually continues quite naturally with 5.d4 Nf6 6.e5 Ne4 7.Nc3 Qa5 8.f3 Nxc3 9.bxc3 c5.

This position is one that French Defense players will know how to play exceptionally well. The added bonus is the easy development of the bishop on c8, which is no longer blocked by the pawn on e6.

On the other hand, White has deprived the knight of its favored developing square – f3. In fact, black can turn the tables on white and make their light-squared bishop into a bad bishop with …c4.

In Conclusion

The Orthoschnapp Gambit is a testament to how tough the French Defense can be challenging to meet. There is no greater compliment to a defense than forcing the other side to contemplate playing unsound gambits.

For those gambit players still in search of a gambit to play against the French Defense, the Wing Gambit, which you can also use against the Sicilian Defense, or Milner-Barry Gambit, are excellent options.

Players who prefer not to enter the tactical world of gambits could find the Tarrasch Variation more to their liking.

Orthoschnapp Gambit Frequently Asked Questions

How do you play Orthoschnapp gambit?

The Orthoschnapp Gambit starts with the moves 1.e4 e6 2.c4 d5 3.cxd5 exd5 4.Qb3?! And it is one of the worst ways to play against the French Defense with white.

Should you decline the Orthoschnapp gambit?

No, you should definitely not decline the gambit. Declining the gambit shows white a kindness they do not deserve for choosing this opening.
Accepting the gambit gives you an advantage of close to -1. This advantage is not the sort of advantage you want to turn down as early as the fourth move.

Who plays the Orthoschnapp Gambit?

The Orthoschnapp Gambit is played mainly in blitz chess. Marco Riehle, a German chess player, likes to play the opening in Blitz. Jobava has tested the Orthoschnapp Gambit but lost to a player rated 270 lower than him. He lost another game, only this time it was against the strong GM Matthias Bluebaum (2674).

Is the Orthoschnapp Gambit suitable for beginners?

The Orthoschnapp Gambit is not suitable for beginners. The French Defense is a tough defense to win against, and if you are a beginner looking for a way to play against the French Defense, you could try the Wing Gambit or 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3.
GM Simon Williams, who often plays the French Defense, has called the Wing Gambit a dangerous weapon for white.

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Lifetime Repertoires: French Defense

If you want to learn about other gambits check out:

The Smith-Morra Gambit

The Tennison Gambit

The Danish Gambit

The Marshall Gambit

The Jerome Gambit

The Latvian Gambit

The Halloween Gambit

The Elephant Gambit

The Urusov Gambit

The Benko Gambit

The Wing Gambit

Nakhmanson Gambit

The The Icelandic Gambit

The Belgrade Gambit

The Muzio Gambit

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