How punish wing gambit to Sicilian: 1.e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. b4!?

Is there a way to punish the wing gambit response to Sicilian? I'm thinking in particular of the sequence:
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. b4?

It's annoying but looks like there ought to be a clear refutation. Ideally a reply would humiliate the opponent to the point where they abandon chess for life. However, I'll settle for anything leaving Black with a distinct advantage.

3....Nxb4 looks enticing because black takes the free pawn without screwing up the pawn structure or diverting the c pawn from the centre. But I find the displacement of the N and lag in development ends up having a price. I'm aware that the recommended reply is 3....d5, 4. exd5 Qxd5, but it seems to produce very sharp lines with no distinct advantage. Anyone experienced with this variation?

I think you have the wrong evaluation, for me cloud shows this as the main variation (1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. b4 Nxb4 4. c3 Nc6
5. d4 cxd4 6. cxd4 e6 7. Nc3 Nf6 8. Bd3 Bb4
9. Bd2 O-O 10. O-O) and 3...d5 as a mistake from -0.4 to +0.9.

I do not have much experience with this, but I think that 3. b4 e5 is a good response, as black can take the initiative and an extra center pawn if white captures. If white advances the pawn with 4. b5, then black can play Nd4, and if Nxd4 black has nice pawns aiming at the kingside, and if Nxe5 black can play Qe7 and be doing very well. I believe that this response also scores the best for black in the lichess database. Hope this helps!

One day I played cxb4 then he played d4 and d5 e5 Qa5 Bb2 Bf5 Bd3 and your little b4 goes to b3 + but yes, b4 delays the king's side a lot.

in case of not being drunk I think I would avoid playing b4

The proper name for this line is Portsmouth Gambit, and the player who has explored it most extensively might be Fred Clough (an old school correspondence player from the UK). Sorry to say his contributions are attacking ideas for white though.

There is no punishment of gambits, even the unsound got their points. The older I get the less I accept them. You learned AlphaZero revived spirit>material?

My refutation of 1.e4 c5 b4 and 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.b4 is ... b6 by the way. Not sure what to do with2. ... Nc6.

Many thanks for these thought-provoking replies.


Interesting; I could have sworn Lichess Stockfish recommended 3...d5. Meanwhile my stockfish plays, of all things, 3...cxb4, i.e. straightforward gambit accepted.

@CYBERBpro 3...e5 looks wild and scary. I'm more worried about 4 bxc5 than the continuations you mentioned. Once that rude little b pawn is allowed to take my c pawn, it kills the idea of the Sicilian and leaves me playing a more traditional e4 e5 with a slight hole on the queenside. It might be eminently playable, but I'm very ignorant of those traditional lines against e4.

@Shiro_Morphy My stockfish replies to 4 d4 with ... e3 5 d5 Qf6! I add the exclamation because it murdered me trying white against it, and I didn't see it coming. It exploits the weakened diagonal to the a1 R with white's b pawn long gone. You said you'd avoid playing b4 if not drunk. But I'm playing black and I'm sober. If it were slower time control I'd respond to b4 by getting drunk to even the playing field before continuing.

@Sarg0n You're no doubt right about gambits, and more generally I should probably not hope to get a nice advantage for black by move 3! About 3 ...b6, so 4. bxc5 bxc5. It seems calm enough; no radical outcome.

2...Nc6? Standard Sicilian, no?

@nayf Magnus occasionally plays the wing gambit in blitz, and nobody's humiliated him yet. He does say it's no good though.


I know it also goes by the name of Portsmouth, but the Lichess stockfish engine calls it Sicilian, wing gambit, and I see that name elsewhere. Yes I've seen Fred Clough's frightening wing gambits. Fortunately I've never been crushed quite that badly as black, but I have lost fast games.

"You learned AlphaZero revived spirit>material?"

??? No idea to what you're referring.

@Paradise_Pete I wish he'd say/show WHY it's no good. As mentioned in OP, it LOOKS no good, but how prove it? Maybe there are just a lot of quite distinct lines coming out of it and I have to learn each one if I want to play Sicilian.

@nayf Take with the knight, retreat after c3, trade pawns after d4, play either g6 or e6 with a small edge. You can't ask for more than that.

Note that after g6 white cannot play d5 due to Bg7. You'll make better use of this diagonal than white will.

I don't play the Sicilian, but if I knew my opponent would play the wing gambit I would.