The Elephant Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5!?) -- also called "The Queen's Pawn Counter-Gambit" by older sources -- represents an attempt by Black to seize the initiative in the opening by thrusting both his center pawns forward like the tusks of a charging bull elephant (though some writers suggest that the "Elephant" name might have more to do with the power of Black's two Bishops -- "elephants" in Russian -- in the resulting open position). Always attracted to openings with animal names, I started studying the Elephant after playing over the games of Dr. Philip Corbin from his excellent book Calypso Chess (download Corbin-C40 PGN for details). And when I begin to study a new opening, I like to do a literature review -- hence this bibliography.
In the bibliography that follows, I have tried to focus my attention on important sources and those focused exclusively on the Elephant. As always, I welcome suggestions and additions from readers. I hope to offer up an article in the future, after I have gotten a better sense of how to steer this beast.
Books, Articles, and Online Resources
Chessgames.com Collections. Elephant Gambit Black Wins, 98_C40_Elephant Gambit, Elephant Gambit Victories, Elephant Gambit Miniatures, Elephant Gambit 3.d4 Black Wins, and all C40.
365Chess.com. ECO C40: QP counter-gambit (elephant gambit). A useful place to review the commonly played lines, see game statistics, and play over games online. Non-members can only download one game PGN at a time.
Dana Mackenzie (2012). "1850s Opening Theory." Dana Blogs Chess.
I have to thank Dana for his post about the Elephant that prompted me to return to this unfinished bibliography project. But I don't think his suggestion for renaming the Elephant is going to gain any followers, as the animal name is part of the attraction.
Philip Corbin (2011). Calypso Chess. Caribbean Chapters. I reviewed the book in these pages back in August and suggested I'd be looking at the Elephant Gambit based on Corbin's games. In collecting those games, I discovered that he had posted many with notes on his "Packed Pearls" website, and I have collected those as part of Corbin-C40 PGN.
Scid Opening Report (2011). "Elephant Gambit." Scid database printout referencing a large number of games.
Scid Opening Report (2011). "Rapporto di apertura: C40e [Elephant Gambit]."
Glenn Flear (2010). Starting Out: Open Games. Everyman Chess. 237-240. Flear says that the Elephant is "borderline refuted" and -- following the recommendations of Khalifman -- offers as his main game Parligras - Gunnarsson, Calvia 2004 with extensive notes and references, including Tal - Lutikov, USSR Team Ch. 1964; Kovchan - Skatchkov, St. Petersburg 2003; Navinsek - Skatchkov, Zadar 2004; Rukhaia - Skatchkov, Yerevan 2004; Salmensuu - Vetemaa, Jarvenpaa 1999; Mas - Corbin, Yerevan Ol. 1996; and Byambaa - Kromhout, Bled Ol. 2002.
Mike Splane (2010). "Splane - Jangle."
Notes on a game that White won after 3.exd5 Bd6 4.Bb5+ c6. LM Splane has several games with the line annotated at his website.
Michael W. Raphael (2010). ReViewing Chess 88.1: Latvian Gambit and Elephant Gambit. Kindle Edition -- available from Amazon.com. WARNING: this text contains no information or games related to the Elephant Gambit and is a complete waste of electrons. It is a collection of over 8,000 diagrams that show a move per page of 125 Latvian Gambit games, with no notes whatsoever (not player names, moves in algebraic notation, annotations, or even an indication of the game results), no hypertext navigation (so that you have to play through the entire book in order without skipping games), and absolutely no reason for existing other than to make money for the author from unwary chess consumers. It appears that the author downloaded a database of games with the C40 ECO designation, used a computer program to generate diagrams for the first 125 games in the list (all Latvian Gambits), printed one diagram per page so that you can follow the games one "picture" at a time on your Kindle, and then composed a lengthy rationalization for the existence of his "book" that was probably checked by lawyers to make sure it provided enough cover to prevent lawsuits for fraud. This would be a laughable chess book, if it were not so evil. Maybe it is laughable in a "Bwah-hah-hah-hah" sort of way. Fortunately, I was able to borrow it for free as an Amazon Prime member, so I guess I get to have the last laugh. Those looking to play through a bunch of Elephant Gambits for free can do so at Chessgames.com. You can even do that on your Kindle. You'd be much better off than wasting your time with this crap.
Clyde Nakamura (2008). "Elephant Gambit Miniatures" at Chessville.com
A fun collection of short games won by Black starting 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5, with some useful notes (also available in Zipped PGN) and a bibliography, which includes items not reproduced here.
Peter Tart (2007). Elephant Gambit, Hitting Back with 2..d5!? Andrew Martin Chess Academy Shop. To purchase this e-book (about $20 US) requires registration and then some delay before you will see "Add to Basket" buttons to order this item online. Then the order might take a few days to be processed and sent to you via email. This item is well-reviewed by Rick Kennedy. In PDF and CB formats. Tart has gathered together a useful collection of games and done some very positive work to construct a modern Elephant repertoire around the Bd6 lines (though the majority of the e-book is just a collection of unannotated games). This seems like a useful addition to your electronic library as it is one of the most up-to-date sources and makes good use of the work of Jonathan Rogers, which is difficult to find.
Neil McDonald (2006). Starting Out: 1.e4! Everyman Chess.
Peter Leisebein (2006). "C40: Elephant Gambit - Part 8." ChessBase Magazine #112. Correspondence player Leisebein's magnificent work on the Elephant is a must-have for anyone who wants to construct a serious repertoire around this opening. This article and all of Leisebein's CBM surveys are included in ChessBase's Opening Encyclopedia 2012 (as well as in earlier editions, which can be had more cheaply now, if you can find them). So if you are interested in tracking down Peter Leisebein's series on the opening, I'd recommend simply purchasing that database as the one-shot solution. Here, Leisebein continues his survey with an examination of the position that arises after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 e4 4.Qe2 Nf6 5.d3! which is practically a refutation of 3...e4. Frederic Friedel has reviewed this CBM volume online.
Peter Leisebein (2006). "C40: Elephant Gambit - Part 7." ChessBase Magazine #111.
Leisebein puts aside 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 Bd6 to examine the sharper lines that follow 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 e4!? (The Advance Variation). The report contains 88 games, 26 with annotations by the author. This article and all of Leisebein's CBM surveys are included in ChessBase's Opening Encyclopedia 2012 (as well as in earlier editions, which can be had more cheaply now, if you can find them).
Peter Leisebein (2006). "Elephant-Gambit C40 - Part 6." ChessBase Magazine #109. Covers 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 Bd6 4.Nc3.
Peter Leisebein (2006). "Elephant Gambit - C40 - Part 5." ChessBase Magazine #108
Examines 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 d5 3 exd5 Bd6 4 Bb5+.
Philip Corbin (2006). "Short - Corbin, Barbados simul 2006." The Chess Drum.
Leon Pliester (2005). "Filling the Chess Zoo -- Part II." NIC Yearbook #77.
Focuses on alternatives to 3.exd5, especially 3.Nxe5 Bd6 (3...dxe4!? 4.Bc4 Qg5 is wild but the games Pliester cites favor White) 4.d4 dxe4 (note that 3.d4 dxe4 4.Ne5 Bd6 transposes) when Pleister likes the interesting 5.Qe2!? Nf6 6.Nc3 seen in Stripunsky - Skatchkov, Moscow 1995 and Baranov - Skatchkov, Krasnodar 1998 (not to mention Malakhov - Skatchkov, Russia 1996). He also presents the unusual 3.Qe2!? dxe4 4.Qxe4 as a viable way to accept the gambit, but he ignores 3...Nf6 here.
Leon Pliester (2005). "Filling the Chess Zoo." NIC Yearbook #76.
Deals with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5, which is widely seen as the most challenging line for Black. Discusses the games Jenni - Duckstein, Bad Worishofen 2003; Pliester - Markus, Bussum 2005; Kotronias - Corbin, Istanbul ol 2000; Sakelsek - Corbin, Calvia ol 2004; Sariego - Corbin, Buines 1997; Parligras - Gunnarsson, Calvia ol 2004: Karlsson - Runarsson, Corr 1996; Fierro Baquero - Corbin, Bridgetown 2005; Yu - Li, Tianjin 2001; Minerva -Muir, Corr 1989; Aulaskari - Johansson, Corr 1995; Morphy - Paulsen, New York blindfold 1857; Tal - Lutikov, USSR 1964; Kadziolka - Skatchkov, Cappelle la Grande 2005; Khairullin - Skatchkov, Samara 2002; Rukhaia - Skatchkov, Erevan 2004; Kovchan - Skatchkov, St. Petersburg 2003; Schonthier - Bücker, Bundesliga 1986; Shevelevich - Pavlovichev, Podolsk 1992; Plaskett - Rogers, England 2003-2004; Xie Jun - Deep Junior, Internet 2000.
Peter Leisebein (2005). "Elephant Gambit - C40 - Part 4." ChessBase Magazine #106
Peter Leisebein (May 2005). "Elephant Gambit - C40 - Part 3." ChessBase Magazine #105
David Robert Lonsdale (2005). The Elephant Gambit for Black – 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5!? Self-published. A 44 page, totally worthless data-dump. This is only slightly more useful than the work of Michael Raphael listed above. But there is really no reason for such books to exist in the digital age -- other than to make money for the author.
Peter Leisebein (2004). "The Elephant Gambit - C40 - Part 2 / Mittelgambit im Nachzug Teil 2." ChessBase Magazine #103. ChessBase CD
Peter Leisebein (2004). "The Elephant Gambit - C40 - Part 1." ChessBase Magazine #102 (2004). This article and all of Leisebein's CBM surveys are included in ChessBase's Opening Encyclopedia 2012 (as well as in earlier editions, which can be had more cheaply now, if you can find them).
The Chess Drum (2004). "2004 Chess Olympiad: Philip Corbin produces 24-move shocker!" See also the game link Sakelsek - Corbin.
Alexander Khalifman (2003). Opening for White According to Anand, 1.e4 - Volume 1. Chess Stars. 15-18. Many subsequent writers seeking a "refutation" follow the lead of this book. Khalifman recommends against the modern main line 3.exd5 Bd6 4.d4 e4 5.Ne5 Nf6 (5...Ne7 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Be2 Bxe5 9.dxe5 Qa5+ 10.Nd2 Be6 11.O-O Qxe5 12.Nc4 +=) 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.Nxd7 Nbxd7 8.O-O a6 (8...Nxd5 9.Nd2 f5 10.Nxe4!) 9.Bxd7+ Qxd7 10.c4 retaining an extra pawn and clear advantage. Games cited include Schmuck - Vogelhuber, Germany 1996; Xie Jun - Deep Junior, Internet 2000; Morphy - Paulsen, New York blindfold 1857; Morphy - Mongredien, Paris m 1859; Nilsson - Nielsen, Copenhagen 1997; Tal - Lutikov, Tallin 1964 Kotronias - Pandavos, Peristeri 1993; De Smet - Schneider, Corr. 1989; and Schweber - Alfaro, Zarate 1972 (which he takes for his main line, pointing out that White is still better after 11...Qxe2+ 12.Bxe2 with the better pawns and two Bishops). Online.
Eric Schiller & John Watson (2003). "Against the Elephant Gambit" from Survive & Beat Annoying Chess Openings: The Open Games. Written from the White perspective, this article offers up the line 1.e4 e5 2.Nf6 d5 3.exd5 Bd6 4.d4 e4 5.Ne5 as a refutation.
Tim McGrew (2003). "Going Fishing." The Gambit Cartel #9 at ChessCafe. Some discussion of the Elephant Gambit in the context of writing about a similar line in the Philidor that goes 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 h6 6.Nf3 e4 7.Ne5 Bd6.
Mauro Marchisotti (2002). "La Difesa Cozio: Un Aggiornamento."
Covers 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nc3 Qe6 which transposes to an old way of playing the Center Counter discussed by Cozio and differing from the Anderssen Counter Attack explored by Lutes (see below), to which you could transpose with 4...Qa5 instead of 4...Qe6. I do not recommend these lines, but this article and Lutes's book make for some interesting history. Marchisotti's article first appeared in Telescacco 2000 (February 2001): 49-53. He joined in the discussion in Kaissiber 18.
Stefan Bücker (March - June 2002). "Diskussion Thema: Komfortable Verteidung." Kaissiber 18. 62-64.
Alexander Baron (March 2001). "Dechant - Baron, ACT 1998." Chess Post #216, Vol. 39:2, p. 15. A very interesting game for exploring the line 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nxe5 dxe4 4.Bc4 Qg5 5.Bxf7+ Kd8!?
Gary Lane (December 2000) "The Grinch." Opening Lanes #24 at ChessCafe.
Discusses the game John Nicholson-David Sedgwick, Port Erin 1998 beginning 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d5 3. exd5 Bd6.
Jonathan Rogers (1999). "Zur Rechtfertigung des Elefantengambits." Kaissiber 9. Discusses the main line "Halasz Variation," 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 Bd6, taking issue with Tim Harding's article in Chess Mail and Chris Baker's analysis in A Startling Chess Opening Repertoire.
Tim Harding (May 1998). "Forget the Elephant." Chess Mail 5. 28-30. Offers the correspondence games Westlund - Berthelsen, 3rd Nordic Cup 1994-1995; Hampl - Bennett, 63rd NZ Ch 1996; and Wynkele - Thomas, 5th EU tch prelims 1995.
Chris Baker (1998). A Startling Chess Opening Repertoire. Cardogan / Everyman Chess. 228-231. Recommends 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 Bd6 4.d4 e4 5.Ne5 Nf6 6.Nc3 following the game Motwani - Rogers, British Championship, Plymouth 1989. Against 3...e4 he offers the games Tal - Lutikov, USSR 1964 and Morphy - Paulsen, New York blindfold 1857 along with his own original analysis. In his introductory note, Baker writes: "I know when I first met this over the board it came as a complete surprise and my opponent was no less a player than Mark Hebden! Not wishing to be caught out unawares I played 3.Nxe5 dxe4 4.d4 Bd6 5.Bc4?! Although this offers White almost nothing in terms of advantage after 5...Bxe5 6.dxe5 Qxd1+ 7.Kxd1, at least I had the bishop-pair and wasn't going to fall for any 'cheap' traps! In fact I remember the look of disgust on his face when I played 5.Bc4?! and after the game (which we drew) telling me how I couldn't expect to win games with this. Sorry Mark, but in this case I was more interested in not losing!" (228). Presumably Baker was working from memory and got it wrong, as the game is given as continuing 5.Nc3 Bxe5 6.dxe5 Qxd1+ 7.Kxd1 by Gary Lane in Kaissiber #2 (see below).
Stefan Bücker (October - December 1998). "Komfortable Abwehr des Standardzuges 2.Nf3." Kaissiber 8. 27-41. An incredibly detailed article on Cozio's 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nc3 Qe6 which the author obsessively analyzes out to equality with best play.
Gary Lane (Summer 1997). "Never Forget the Elephant Gambit." Kingpin Chess Magazine 27. An English-language version of Lane's Kaissiber article, with only a few additional comments on Hebden's use of the Elephant. I have seen mention on the internet, by the way, that Hebden also wrote an article on the Elephant for the British magazine Chess.
Tim Harding (August 1997). "We're Going on an Elephant Hunt" Kibitzer #15 at ChessCafe
Niels J. Jensen, Tom Purser and Rasmus Pape (1997). The Elephant Gambit 2. Blackmar Press. Available for download in PDF for members of Chess.com. This is probably the best overview from the Black perspective, though the assessments seem overly optimistic at times.
Gary Lane (April - June, 1997). "Als der Grossmeister zum Elefantengambit griff." Kaissiber 2. 53-57.
Discusses three games of GM Mark Hebden's playing the Elephant Gambit. Download "hebden-C40" PGN. Includes a page of discussion of the Elephant based on Rogers's article in the previous volume.
Jonathan Rogers (1996). "Zum Verstandnis des Elefantengambits." Kaissiber 1. 28-34. Mostly an overview of the gambit, with a focus on ways that White can go wrong. In German.
Stefan Bücker (1996). "Theoretische Winke fur Grosswildjager." Kaissiber 1. 34-39. A useful survey of theory. Black does well in most of the lines, until Bücker gets to 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 Bd6 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.d3! In German.
Mike Basman (1995). The Elephant Gambit. Audio chess from Brynn Petty, United Kingdom.
John Watson and Eric Schiller (1995). The Big Book of Busts. 192-195.
Jonathan Rogers (1994). Winning with the Elephant Gambit. Verlag Tournament Chess. A bright red and quite rare volume - but one relied upon extensively by Jensen, Purser and Pape in their revision (see above) and widely cited by players as their chief source of information. Rogers has been one of the most important writers in popularizing the gambit with his book and subsequent Kaissiber articles.
Jerzy Konikowski and Milon Gupta (1994). Das Mittelgambit im Nachzuge. Schachverlag Mädler, Düsseldorf. Still widely available through online European chess booksellers. This book is mentioned as useful by Leisebein (above).
Born (1993). "Das Mittelgambit im Nachzug im Computertest." Gambit-Revue 1993 - Die Schachzeitung für den Gambitspieler.
Niels J. Jensen, Tom Purser and Rasmus Pape (1988). Elephant Gambit. This was the first edition of the Jensen, Purser and Pape study.
W. John Lutes (1987). Scandinavian Defense: Anderssen Counter Attack. Chess Enterprises. This remarkably well researched book explores 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 e5 and 4.Nf3 e5, both played by Anderssen. Some lines can transpose to the Elephant if Black plays an early Qxd5, e.g.: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nc3 Qa5 (though 4...Qe6 here might be better -- see Marchisotti above). A good book, but not a good approach to the Elephant.
DVDs and Online Videos
FM Dennis Monokroussos (2011). The Elephant Gambit, Part One and Part Two, at ChessCube. For a small fee ($3 for Part One and $2.50 for Part Two), you can watch this useful overview of the Elephant. The first part looks at ways White can go wrong, while the second half focuses on his recommendations for White.
Valeri Lilov (2011). Unorthodox Chess Openings. ChessBase DVD. Video running time: 5 hrs 16 min.