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Matinovsky Gambit

Matinovsky Gambit

The Matinovsky Gambit is an aggressive line by black in the Owen’s Defense. It starts with the moves:

1. e4 b6
2. d4 Bb7
3. Bd3 f5

Black looks to give up the f pawn in exchange for an activated light squared bishop. Black can immediately take on g2 and threaten the h1 rook. If white plays correctly the rook on h1 will stay safe and should have a very good game. White should always accept the gambit but must make sure they are familiar with the opening or things can turn quickly in black’s favor.

After the moves 4. exf5 Bxg2, white should continue with 5. Qh5+. Black is forced to play g6 followed by 6. fxg6. Now black has a couple of options.

6…Nf6

Black looks to get the knight involved in the game and attack the white queen. Unfortunately this loses the game for black. White can play:

7. gxh7+ Nxh5
8. Bg6#

6…Bg7

This is the only viable option for black but white still has the advantage. White now should play 7. gxh7+. Black is forced to move the King to f8.

It may be tempting for white to keep putting immediate pressure with 8. Qf5 or 8. hxg8=Q+ but white should instead play 8. Nf3. This is because it keeps black from capturing the rook on h1. Black would lose after 8…Bxh1 9. Ne5 Qe8 10. hxg8=Q+ Rxg8 11. Qf5+ Bf6 12. Bh6 Rg7 13. Bxg7 Kxg7 14. Qh7+ Kf8 15. Bg6.

The best option black has is to continue 8…Nf6 (attacking the queen) 9. Qg6 Bxf3 (Bxh1 would be a mistake after Bh6 for white) 10. Rg1.


While it may look dangerous for white to capture the pawn on f5 in the Matinovsky Gambit, it’s not a major threat if white knows how to respond correctly.

Below you can watch all of the lines referenced on this page and see a much deeper analysis on the Matinovsky Gambit.