The Jänisch Gambit, also known as the Schliemann Defense or the Schliemann-Jänisch counterattack, is a sharp and aggressive opening in the Ruy Lopez, a popular and classic chess opening that begins with 1. e4 e5 2. ♘f3 ♞c6 3. ♗b5. The Jänisch Gambit is characterized by the sacrifice of a pawn for quick development and controlling the center: 3. … f5. This move creates a pawn structure that is similar to the King’s Gambit, but with reversed colors.
I prefer to call it the Jänisch Gambit because the line Schliemann actually played in the 1860s was a gambit variation of the Cordel Defense (3 … ♝c5 4. c3 f5). Let’s stick with this name.
4. exf5 is precisely the line Black hoped for. Now the fundamental idea (faster development, central domination) can be applied.
4. ♗xc6 is the natural move to follow the idea of Ruy Lopez. If played well, it usually leads to a balanced position.
And the delayed capture 5. exf5:
4. ♘c3 is solid, but dangerous if White doesn’t know the trap. See the game.
4. ♕e2 is a pretty decent line, although not as direct as 4. d4.
4. d4, also known as the Schönemann Attack, is undoubtedly the recommended line for White.
4. d3 leads to a robust position with multiple opportunities for White to keep at least a balanced game. However, traps can occur even in this variation.
The Jänisch Gambit is a risky opening that requires precise calculation and a good understanding of attacking play. White can gain an advantage by exploiting Black’s weakened pawn structure, but Black’s active pieces and counterattacking chances can also lead to a strong position. It is not recommended for beginners or players who prefer solid and quiet play, but it can be a fun and challenging opening for those who like to play aggressively.