Although there is no concrete evidence in the archives regarding the initial instance of the Halász Gambit being played, it is established that the gambit dates back to no later than 1840. However, it was not until relatively recently that Dr. Gyorgy Halász, a Hungarian player of correspondence chess, began utilizing this gambit. Besides him, it is likely that the gambit was named after Alexander McDonnell, an Irish chess master of the early 19th century, who was known for contesting a series of six matches with the world’s leading chess player, Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais in 1834.
1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. f4!?
As we can see, the opening starts with the Center Game moves (1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4). However, instead of following the main line (3. Qxd4) or continuing as the Danish Gambit (3. c3), White somehow transposes to the King’s Gambit (3. f4) which isn’t actually the real one, as there is no black pawn on e5 anymore. We can observe a certain resemblance with the McDonnell’s Attack in the Sicilian Defense (1. e4 c5 2. f4), so it seems that Mr. McDonnell particularly favored early advances of the f-pawn.
The Halász Gambit is not entirely correct, as the fundamental idea to dominate the center after sacrificing a pawn doesn’t work here – the gambit pawn stays on the d-file, and Black has multiple ways to defend it. However, as a surprise weapon against opponents who don’t understand it from the strategic perspective, and will castle to the under-the-attack king side, it can occasionally work. Let’s check several games directly related to Mr. Halász:
What to do as Black if someone tries the Halász Gambit on you? Just follow the simple strategy:
- Continue the development of pieces.
- Protect the d-pawn while following the previous rule.
- Don’t prematurely castle to the king-side.
And that’s it. Just play the normal game and you should be fine.