The Budapest Gambit (or Budapest Defence) is a chess opening that begins with the moves:
- 1. d4 Nf6
- 2. c4 e5
Despite an early debut in 1896, the Budapest Gambit received attention from leading players only after a win as Black by Grandmaster Milan Vidmar in 1918. It enjoyed a rise in popularity in the early 1920s, but nowadays is rarely played at the top level. It experiences a lower percentage of draws than other main lines, but also a lower overall performance for Black.
After 3.dxe5 Black can try the Fajarowicz variation 3...Ne4 which concentrates on the rapid development of the pieces, but the most common move is 3...Ng4 with three main possibilities for White. The Adler variation 4.Nf3 sees White seeking a spatial advantage in the centre with its pieces, notably the important d5-square. The Alekhine variation 4.e4 gives White an important spatial advantage and a strong pawn centre. The Rubinstein variation 4.Bf4 leads to an important choice for White, after 4...Nc6 5.Nf3 Bb4+, between 6.Nbd2 and 6.Nc3. The reply 6.Nbd2 brings a positional game in which White enjoys the bishop pair and tries to break through on the queenside, while 6.Nc3 keeps the material advantage of a pawn at the cost of a weakening of the white pawn structure.
The Budapest Gambit contains several specific strategic themes. After 3.dxe5 Ng4, there is a battle over White's extra pawn on e5, which Black typically attacks with ...Nc6 and (after ...Bc5 or ...Bb4+) ...Qe7, while White often defends it with Bf4, Nf3, and sometimes Qd5. In the 4.Nf3 variation the game can evolve either with Black attacking White's kingside with manoeuvres of rook lifts, or with White attacking Black's kingside with the push f2–f4, in which case Black reacts in the centre against the e3-pawn. In numerous variations the move c4–c5 allows White to gain space and to open prospects for his light-square bishop. For Black, the check Bf8–b4+ often allows rapid development.