The Balkan Gambit is any opening sending Trieste to Albania and Budapest to Serbia. The gambit here is that Austria will find a friendly Italian and Russian, who will allow the dual monarchy to achieve two builds, from Greece and Serbia, without fear of losing any of the Austrian home centers. In the Balkan Gambit, the burden of defense is left mostly to the Vienna army. What the Austrian player does with that unit depends on whom he distrusts most. In its pure form, the Vienna army is ordered to hold, but the gambit has a number of variants, based on the order for the Vienna army:
- the Bohemia Aberration
- the Budapest Variation
- the Galician Variation
- the Trieste Variation
- the Tyrolean Variation
- the Vienna Lemming Variation
Concerning the pure Balkan Gambit (A Vie H), the Gamer's Guide to Diplomacy says that "this non-move may keep everybody happy, but it is very passive and not recommended. It allows the defense of A Vie-Bud, A Ser-Bud if Russia has ordered A War-Gal. (However, if Russia then orders A Gal S Ser-Bud the result could be only one build or none in 1901!)"
BALKAN GAMBIT, BOHEMIA ABERRATION
Richard Sharp's name for the opening F Tri-Alb, A Bud-Ser, A Vie-Boh. Also known as Fisher's Folly. About this variant, The Gamer's Guide to Diplomacy says, "A Vie-Boh is marginal: if Russia is absolutely friendly, and if there is definitely an Anglo-German alliance against France, it provides good options. It will help preserve the Balance of power in the west."
BALKAN GAMBIT, BUDAPEST VARIATION
The Balkan Gambit with A Vie-Bud. Austria thus takes no defensive measures against Italy or Russia. In return, he has two pieces adjacent to Rum. He can also accept Russian support into Bul and still have A Bud-Ser. See Ionian Gauntlet and Key Opening.
BALKAN GAMBIT, GALICIAN VARIATION
The Balkan Gambit with A Vie-Gal. The opening defends against Russian entry into Galicia, and when the Austrian succeeds in taking Galicia, he has two units on Rumania plus the threat to Warsaw -- which may well distract a Ukraine army away from Rumania. On the down side, this opening risks the loss of Trieste. But if the move to Galicia fails, Austria has shielded two home centres from attack, and is in a decent position to limit further mischief from any Italian army that does get into Trieste. The Gamer's Guide to Diplomacy notes that, "here the object of distrust is Russia. If Turkey is friendly (F Alb-Gre) may still succeed. Austria thus has the possibility of 3 builds. The Fall 1901 move A Gal-Ukr is also made possible." This provides a devastating position for 1902.
BALKAN GAMBIT, TRIESTE VARIATION
The Balkan Gambit with A Vie-Tri, designed to defend against Italy. The paradox is that an Italian attack is more likely to begin with A Ven-Tyr rather than A Ven-Tri. If there is a A Tyr, A Ven you can still force Italy to guess (Vie or supported attack on Tri), being able to divert A Ser to defend Tri. This is the single most popular Austrian opening. The Gamer's Guide to Diplomacy says, "this is virtually the opening for Austria. It is followed by F Alb-Gre and A Ser S Alb-Gre, gaining two centers. Austria should make no other opening without sound and sufficient reason. In this opening, the object of distrust is Italy, though the Trieste army can still defend against Russia if she opened to Galicia. As in The Galician Variation, however, the defense is primarily a guessing game."
BALKAN GAMBIT, TYROLIAN VARIATION
Richard Sharp's name for the opening: F Tri-Alb, A Bud-Ser, A Vie-Tyr. Useful if you suspect that Italy will open with the Tyrolian attack and if you can trust Russia.
BALKAN GAMBIT, VIENNA LEMMING VARIATION
Richard Sharp's name for the opening: F Tri-Alb, A Bud-Ser, A Vie S A Ven-Tyr. The fact that this opening has been named means that apparently someone has used it.