Halloween Special – Dracula-Frankenstein Gambit

Halloween Special – Dracula-Frankenstein Gambit

Cropped version of an original photo by Miguel Mendez. CC BY 2.0

It’s that time of year again when things go bump in the night!

Last year in Bulletin No.34 we provided you with some creepy crawly action with the Halloween Gambit Horrors!  This year it is Dracula’s and Frankenstein’s turn!

Welcome to the dark creepy world of the Dracula-Frankenstein Gambit and this one is even more scary yet still fangtastic!! It was given this name by Tim Harding due to the bloodthirstiness of the variation in many of its lines.

Your opponent can approach Dracula’s castle in 3 treacherous ways but they all lead to the same potential trap door!

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.Nc3 or 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 or 1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Bc4

And this is where the spine-chilling fun begins!

3…Nxe4! (this is known as the Dracula-Frankenstein Variation).

If the White players are a bit timid and wish to tread very carefully, they are likely to play either Variation A or B – Both are good for Black. However, Variation C is the fun variation leading to the Dracula-Frankenstein Gambit proper!

Variation A

4.Nxe4 d5 5.Bd3 (5.Bxd5 Qxd5 6.d3 Bf5 and Black is simply much better with the strong centre and 2 bishops) 5… dxe4 6.Bxe4 when 6…f5 and Black is for preference (nice centre!).

A more potent try for White might be …

Variation B

4.Bxf7+ but after 4…Kxf7 5.Nxe4 d5! Black can have lots of fun! e.g. 6.Nc3 c6! 7.Qh5+ g6 8.Qxe5 Bd6 9.Qd4 (only move) Re8+ 10.Nge2 Na6 threatening 11…Nb4 winning.

If 11.a3 to stop Nb4 then 11…Bf5 12.d3 Be5 13.Qa4 Nc5 14.Qb4 b6 when White cannot stop both 15…a5 trapping the queen and 15…Bxd3!

However, some White players might be armed with a hammer and a stake and are looking to destroy Dracula before the game has hardly started!

Variation C

4.Qh5!? (threatening Qxf7 mate and to capture the e5 pawn) 4…Nd6 5.Bb3 (5.Qxe5+ is just timid and equivalent to running away from the castle to fight another day. After 5…Qe7 6.Qxe7 Bxe7 the position is completely level)

5…Nc6! This is known as the Dracula-Frankenstein Gambit due to the ‘forced’ sequence that follows (5…Be7 is the safe option when after 6.Qxe5 0-0 the position is approximately level but that is hardly in the spirit).

6.Nb5 This appears to win the exchange and 2 pawns and has to be played otherwise White is simply a pawn down with minimal compensation. This line is not for the squeamish!

6…g6 7.Qf3 (only move to justify the sacrificed pawn) f5 8.Qd5 (again, the only sensible move). The main line now goes 8…Qe7

8…Qf6 has even better results and is an excellent terrorising alternative! After say 9.Nxc7+ Kd8 10.Nxa8 b6 11.d3 Bb7 12.h4 threatening Bg5 Black has 12…Ne7 winning (this is the advantage of playing the queen to f6 rather than e7)!

Back to the main line after 8…Qe7 with 9.Nxc7+ Kd8 10 Nxa8 b6

Chess engines prefer White. However, the variations can be extremely complicated and scary. In practice, Black does well due to the better ‘spooktacular’ development and tactical chances especially as White has lost all piece coordination. There has been lots of analysis from here but we will leave the readers with a game played by top British Grandmaster John Nunn and an opportunity for them to explore further.

Jacob Øst-Hansen vs. John Nunn, Teesside 1974

Carrying on from the previous diagram the game continued

11.d3 Bb7 12.h4 f4 13.Qf3 Bh6 14.Qg4 e4

All sensible moves so far but the position is a mess, ideal for the Halloween Gambiteer and here the quivering White opponent started to go wrong.

15.Bxf4? exd3+ 16.Kf1 Bxf4 17.Qxf4 Rf8

Now Black is winning as his king is quite safe.

18.Qg3 Ne4 19.Qc7+ Ke8 20.Nh3

20…Nxf2! A nice electrical bolt from the blue (Frankenstein would be happy!). Let the king hunt commence!

21.Nxf2 Qe2+ 22.Kg1 Qxf2+ 23.Kh2 Qxh4+ 24.Kg1 Qd4+ 25.Kh2 Ne5 26.Rhf1 Ng4+ 27.Kh3 Qe3+ 28.Kxg4 h5+ 29.Kh4 g5+ 30.Kxh5 Rh8+ 31.Kg6

What a fangtastic position!

31… Be4+ 32.Rf5 Bxf5+ 33.Kxf5 Rf8+ 34.Kg6 Qe4+ 35.Kg7 Qe7+ 36.Kg6 Qf6+ 37.Kh5 Qh8+ 38.Kg4 Qh4 mate!

Quite a bat-tering!

So there you have it, another creepy fun-filled repertoire to really sink your teeth into!

With lots of fangks to many online articles!

Martin Simons, October 2021