Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hugh Edward Myers (1930-2008), RIP

Hugh E. Myers, a chess original if the term means anything at all, died three days before Christmas, only a month short of his seventy-ninth birthday. I'm surprised that he lived so long, for as I knew him in the 1980s he was invariably in poor health. I first became aware of Hugh and his unorthodox openings and original opinions (or was that original openings and unorthodox opinions) after I came across the original (1973) edition of his book, The Nimzovich Defense, which I found in, of all places, Rudi Schmaus's bookshop in Heidelberg. That would have been about 1978 or '79. Schmaus was the publisher of the Das Moderne Blackmar-Diemer Gambit series, which included a reprint of Diemer's original Vom Ersten Zug an auf Matt! as well as two books by Freidl and one by Studier. At the time Freidl's Band 2 was due out shortly, and I would drive over to Heidelberg now and then to check on it (or really just to browse through a collection of chess books). A few years ago I decided I was through with this foolish game and sold my copy of that book. Shortsighted, I know. But I digress. In his Nimzovich book Hugh included a game or two that transposed into a BDG. That was enough impetus for me to get in touch with him and subscribe to his The Myers Openings Bulletin. Later, when Charles Szasz and I started a little publication for Blackmar-Diemer Gambit aficionados, Hugh was very supportive, and over the years we kept in touch with an occasional letter or note. I never had the pleasure of meeting him face-to-face, but now and then he had a comment on something I published, and he wrote a short piece for at least one issue of BDG WORLD.
Hugh's best known game is his 1956 win over William Lombardy in the Manhattan Chess Club semifinals, which was annotated by Hans Kmoch in Chess Review, March 1957, p. 89. One of several things I like about this game is the sequence with the Knight sac at f6, leaving the White pawn there with Black defenseless on the black squares. It is a recurring theme in many BDG games. You can play through this game and several others at the Chessbase site here. Myers,Hugh Edward - Lombardy,William James [A11] Manhattan CC-ch sf-D 5657 New York (5), 1956 1.g3 Nf6 2.Bg2 d5 3.Nf3 Bf5 4.c4 c6 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Qb3 Bc8 7.0-0 e6 8.Nc3 Nc6 9.d4 Bd6 10.Rd1 h6 11.a3 Na5 12.Qc2 Bd7 13.b4 Nc4 14.e4 dxe4 15.Nxe4 Rc8 16.Ne5 Bxe5 17.dxe5 Nd5 18.Qe2 0-0 19.Qh5 Qc7
20.Rxd5!! exd5 21.Nf6+ gxf6 22.exf6 Nd6 23.Bxh6 Bf5 24.Bxd5 Qc2 25.Bxf8 Rxf8 26.Qh6 Ne8 27.Re1 Bg6 28.Rxe8 Qd1+ 29.Kg2 Qxd5+ 30.f3 Qd2+ 31.Qxd2 Rxe8 32.Qh6
Myers: "It was hard to breathe; people were packed around our table, standing on chairs. My opponent sat and stared at this position for five minutes, until his flag fell. He left without saying anything. I call that resigns." You said it, Hugh. We'll miss you. More pages with additional info:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Diemer's Night before Christmas

The ghost of E. J. Diemer gives a twenty board simultaneous on Christmas eve...

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the hall
The chessplayers were stirring, like a woodpushers' ball;
The pieces were hung on the demo with care,
In hopes that E. J. soon would be there;
The patzers were huddled in clusters of nulls,
While visions of checkmates danced in their skulls;
I'd poured me a Becks, got a plate full of vittles,
And just settled down to a few rounds of skittles,
When out on the street there arose such a clatter,
I lurched from my chair to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The neon on garbage in the dumpster below
Gave a luster of midday like lights on real snow,
When, what to my wondering eyeballs appears,
But a long black Mercedes and eight gambiteers,
With a little old driver, so clearly a schemer,
I knew in a moment it had to be Diemer.

More cocky than masters his cohorts they came,
And he chuckled and chortled and called them by name;
Come, Bachl! Come, Freidl! Come Studier and Soller!
On Kampars! On Tejler! On, Danner and Müller!
To the top of the steps! To the door of the hall!
Now sacrifice! Sacrifice! Sacrifice all!
Like passed pawns with a lust to expand,
They dashed up the steps, this merry little band;
So up to the doorway his cohorts they flew,
With bags full of chessmen, and Emil Joseph too.

And then in a twinkling I heard in the wings
A clipping and clopping like toppling Kings.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Through the front door Diemer burst with a bound.
He was clad all in black, from his toes to his cheeks,
And his clothes were wrinkled like he'd worn them for weeks;
A bundle of score sheets he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a TD just opening his pack.

His eyes--how they burned! His brows, how hairy!
His cheeks were like granite, his countenance scary!
His long thin mouth was turned down like a bow,
And his beard was gray--cold ashes in snow.
The stub of a pencil he held in his teeth tightly,
And the graphite like smoke discolored them slightly;
He had thick, tinted glasses and eyes of slate
That stung when they hit you, like a back rank mate;
He was lean and mean, a formidable sight,
And I shuddered when I saw him--he gave me a fright;
The gleam in his eyes and the tension in the air,
Soon gave me to know I hadn't a prayer.

He spoke not a word, but went straightaway to it,
Twenty games, twenty gambits, twenty wins 'fore you knew it;
Then, extracting a rag and blowing his nose,
And giving a snort; out the doorway he goes.
He sprang to his limo, to his gang gave a yell,
And away they all roared like bats out of hell.
But I heard him exclaim ere he faded from view,
"Blackmar-Diemer forever! (and Happy Christmas, too)."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Reindeer Games

Reindeer Games

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Yes, Boris, there is a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit

Many years ago an eight-year old girl, Virginia O'Hanlon, wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Sun, looking for the truth about Santa Claus. The quick response by veteran newsman Francis P. Church, which was printed as an unsigned editorial on Sept. 21, 1897, has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial. Some ninety-plus years later, in BDG WORLD 37, November 1989, I imagined a letter from Virginia's twin brother, Boris, with similar doubts about the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. I provided a parallel answer...
One of the joys of editing this modest little paper comes in the letters we receive from our readers. For example...
Dear Editor-- 
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. Papa says, "If you see it in BDG WORLD, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit?
Boris O'Hanlon

Boris, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see in ECO. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Boris, whether they be grandmasters' or children's are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Boris, there is a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. It exists as certainly as truth and courage and imagination exist, and you know that they abound and give to your chess its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Blackmar-Diemer Gambit! It would be as dreary as if there were no Santa Claus. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in Sozins and Scheveningens. The eternal light with which chess fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in the Blackmar-Diemer! You might as well not believe in Santa Claus. You might get your papa to hire men to watch all the grandmasters in all the tournaments to see a Blackmar-Diemer, but even if they did not see one, what would that prove? Grandmasters don't play BDGs, but that is no sign there is no Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor grandmasters can see. Did you ever see Santa on your rooftop? Of course not, but that's no proof he wasn't there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders that are unseen and unseeable in chess.

You tear apart the chess clock and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest grandmaster, not even the united strength of all the strongest grandmasters that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Boris, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Blackmar-Diemer Gambit! Thank God! it lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Boris, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, it will continue to make glad the heart of chess.
--Tom Purser, with appreciation and apologies to Francis P. Church and the New York Sun. You can see a clipping of the original "Yes, Virginia..." editorial and a photo of Frank Church here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

When not to castle

My old pal Pete Atzerpay, the well-known private detective and strong amateur chessplayer, has been fairly inactive for several years now, but today he sent me this little tidbit. "Proving only," Pete notes, "when not to castle." Atzerpay, Peter - NN unrated blitz, 14.Dec.2008 BDG, Teichmann Defense 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.h3 Bxf3 7.Qxf3 c6 8.g4
Among BDG zealots this line is known as the Seidel-Hall Attack. The idea is that absent any idea, offer another pawn.
8...Qxd4 9.Be3 Qb4 10.0-0-0 e6 11.Rd4 Qa5 12.Ra4 Qc7 13.Bd3 Be7 14.g5 Nd5 15.Nxd5 cxd5 16.Rf1
Okay, when not to castle. Black could have played 16...Rf8 and White would still be looking for an idea.
17.Bxh7+ Kxh7 18.Qh5+ Kg8 19.Rh4
I knew there must be some reason for running that rook up to the fourth rank.
19...f5 20.g6 1-0

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Wine, New Zealand, the BDG

What more could you ask for?


The Kaikoura Winery sits on a limestone bluff in South Bay on the East Coast of New Zealand's South Island in a magnificent landscape of vineyards, sea and mountains. It was the site of the 2008 Kaikoura International Open, played 8 - 12 October, with GM Darryl Johansen, GM Murray Chandler, and IM Stephen Solomon finishing equal first, and Chandler winning on tiebreaks.

There was wine and a Blackmar-Diemer, a fine combination.

van Dijk,Peter (2040) - Milligan,Helen (1832)
Kaikoura International Open
New Zealand, 10.10.2008
BDG, Bogoljubov Defense

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Qe1 b6 9.Qh4 Ba6 10.Bxa6 Nxa6


11.a3 c5 12.d5 Nc7 13.Bh6 Ncxd5 14.Rad1 e6 15.Ng5 Nh5 16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.Rxf7+ Kg8 18.Rg7+ Kh8 19.Rxh7+ Kg8 20.Rg7+ Kh8 21.Rxg6 1-0 Schneider,W-Richter/cr Germany 1967
11...Qd7 12.h3 Nh5 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.Ne5 Qd6 15.Nb5 Qb4 16.a4 f6 17.Nc6 Qc4 18.Nxe7 Rae8 19.Rae1 Qxa4 20.Nxa7 Nb8 21.Nac8 Nc6 22.Nxc6 Qxc6 23.Ne7 Qd7 1/2-1/2 Meszaros,G-Madl,I/HUN-chT 1994
11...Nb4 12.Ng5 Bxh6 (12...Nbd5 13.Rae1 c5 14.dxc5 bxc5 15.Rd1 e6 16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.Nxd5 exd5 18.Rxf6 1-0 Searson,B-Berkley,S/IECC email 2001) 13.Qxh6 Qxd4+ 14.Kh1 Rfe8 15.Rxf6 Qxf6 16.Qxh7+ Kf8 17.Nce4 Qg7 18.Ne6+ 1-0 Kahl,F-Von Rosenberg,C/Germany email 2005
12.Bxg7 Kxg7 13.Ng5 h6 14.Rxf7+ Kg8 15.Rxf8+ Qxf8 16.Rf1 Qe8 17.Ne6 Qd7 18.Qe4 Ng7 19.Qxa8+ 1-0 Lynn,K-Chandler,M/Dunedin 1975
12...Nf6 13.a3 c6 14.Rad1 Nc7 15.Ne5 Qe8 16.Rde1 Ne6

17.Bxf6 only helps if Black plays 17...Bxf6? (17...exf6 18.Nf3 Qd8-+) 18.Rxf6 exf6 19.Ne4 fxe5 (19...Kg7 20.Nxf6 Qc8 21.Rf1+-) 20.Nf6+ Kg7 21.dxe5+-
17...Rd8 18.Bxg7 Kxg7 19.Rxf6 exf6 20.Ng4 Qe7 21.Qh6+ Kh8 22.Ne4 Rg8 23.Nexf6 Rg7 24.c3 Rd6 25.Re3 Rd5? [25...Qd8=/+] 26.Nxd5+/- cxd5 27.Ne5 Qd6 28.Qh3 f5+/- 29.Qh4 Nf8 30.Nf3 Kg8 31.Re8 Kf7 32.Ra8 Kg8 33.Ne5 Re7 34.Qh6 Rg7 35.Qg5 Re7 36.Qh6 Rg7 37.Qg5 1/2-1/2

Why fight on, what with a playing venue like this:

Another glass of merlot, if you please.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Blackmar: Gone with the Wind?

Today I came across a review by Sean Marsh of a new book by IM Gary Lane, who years ago published a book on the Blackmar-Diemer (and also wrote a couple of articles for my magazine, BDG World).  Lane's new book is The Greatest Ever Chess Tricks and Traps (published November 2008 EU, December 2008 US, ISBN 9781857445770, paperback, 240 pages).

Marsh writes:
As usual in a book by IM Lane (a specialist in writing chatty books for club players), little biographical and historical snippets are often used to add colour and background to the players and games.

For example, in his analysis of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, he relates a little surprise:

‘Did you know? It is alleged that music composed by Blackmar can be `heard in the famous Gone with the Wind.’

Having blown away numerous chess opponents with his favourite opening, it seems quite fitting.
Well, a surprise to some, perhaps. But this has been discussed (without resolution, apparently) previously. See for example, Unsolved Chess Mysteries (11) by Edward Winter. I'll try to round up my notes and provide a little more info on this

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Maltese Falcon Attack

Happy Thanksgiving to all. I've been out of town for a few days and have not posted for a bit, partially due to the time away, partially to a little hiccup when a garbage truck backed into my truck. I'm fine; my truck's not. Today I want to bring back a little article by Tim Sawyer from an old BDG World issue about one of the strange characters of American chess. I first became aware of Claude Bloodgood through a column he wrote for the American Postal Chess Tournaments Newsletter, probably in the late 70s. It was called The Chess Swindler, the Chess Hustler, or some such title. I think I first saw a game he claimed to have played with Humphrey Bogart in that column. Bloodgood left the scene in 2001, and took many unanswered questions about his life and chess exploits to his grave. You can find a Wikipedia article on him here, with several links to more info. But for now, enjoy this little piece by Tim Sawyer, author of the BDG Keybook. Claude, here's looking at you, kid. The Maltese Falcon Attack By Tim Sawyer I confess. I have dabbled in a few non-BDG openings for variety. Most of the time I play 1.d4 (over 600 recorded games as White). Now and then I go for 1.e4 (over 200 times as White), every once in a while I venture a flank opening with 1.c4, 1.f4, or 1.g4 (about 50 times each). About a year ago, APCT announced a thematic tournament with the Grob (1.g4). When I saw Claude Bloodgood had entered, I entered too, especially to play him via correspondence. Bloodgood is in prison for life, and there is no condoning the crimes for which he has been convicted. Yet, I found this 72-year-old man to be a very friendly opponent, and we carried on a lively discussion from postcard to postcard.BogartI mentioned to Tom Purser that I was playing Bloodgood. Tom inquired about the famous Humphrey Bogart game via 1.d4 Nf6 2.g4. Bloodgood told me that it had been published. Our games ended with three draws and one Bloodgood win. We said our good-byes and I figured I'd never hear from him again. Then there comes this fascinating note from which I quote: Dear Tim, You asked me about the Bogart Poisoned Spike Game some time ago. I mentioned that it had been published. It was originally published in the New York Daily News circa 1935, later in the New York Times. I first became aware of it when Bogart visited the U.S. Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton (Calif.) in late 1955. I was playing chess when he and several other Hollywood actors arrived on the ward where I was recovering from foot surgery. He watched me play for a while and then discovered I was playing for money. He got a great big grin and asked if I'd care to play him for a small wager. The games were blitz (no scores), but he held his own (I think we broke even after 8 games) and gave me a phone number to call him when I could get out of the hospital for a day or so. When I called, I got someone else, but arrangements were in place and a car was sent for me. I played Bogart (and some others) at beach houses in Santa Monica one time and Van Nuys several times. Bogart took real pride in his chess ability and was a born hustler. I am enclosing two Bogart games (1 against me) which I hope you will find interesting. Same opening line in Bloodgood-Lowmaster also enclosed... Best, Claude Here are the games he sent in what Bloodgood calls the "Maltese Falcon Attack," clearly a cousin of the BDG: 2359 / Dutch Defense Humphrey Bogart Claude Bloodgood Santa Monica 1955 1. d4 f5 2. Nf3 e6 3. e4 fxe4 4. Ng5 d5 5. f3 exf3 6. Qxf3 Nf6 7. Bd3 g6 8. Nxh7 Rxh7 9. Bxg6+ Rf7 10. 0-0 Bg7 11. Bg5 Nbd7 11. .. Kf8 12. Bxf7 Kxf7 13. Qh5+ Kg8 14. Bxf6 Bxf6 15. Qg6+ Bg7 16. Rf7 1-0. Claude Bloodgood - Robert Lowmaster, Camp McGill, Japan 1956 (Game 2360). 12. Nc3 Kf8 13. Bxf7 Kxf7 14. Rae1 c5 15. Nxd5 exd5 16. Qxd5+ Kg6 16. .. Kf8 17. Qd6+ Kg8 18. Re7 Ne8 19. Qe6+ Kh8 20. Rxg7 1-0. Humphrey Bogart - NN, Santa Monica 1955, (Game 2361) 17. Bxf6 Bxf6 18. Re6 Qh8 19. Qf5+ Kf7 20. d5 Qh4 21. c3 Qg5 22. Qh7+ Qg723. R1xf6+ Nxf6 24. Re7+ Kxe7 25. Qxg7+ Kd6 26. Qxf6+ Kxd5 27. Qd8+ 1-0. As for my experiments in the Grob, I scored quite well as White (78%, same as with the BDG), and better that I deserved. I won one section that Bloodgood did not enter. I also managed a couple draws versus strong postal players in other events, such as BDGer Tim Just and author Roy DeVault. Alas, my Grob games were very ugly; my wins were not completely deserved. I won nine games when my opponents either set their board up wrong, or had severe health problems, or they just quit. Two players gave me a draw when I was losing. My assessment of 1.g4 opening theory is that both sides are lost. I have gone back to playing 1.d4! This article originally appeared in BDG World 77

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two BDGs from the Netherlands

The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit appears to have a certain affinity for The Netherlands. Diemer completed Vom Ersten Zug an auf Matt there, and the book was also first printed by an Amsterdam publisher. The country seems to have more than its share of BDG players as well. 

Years ago I printed several BDGs by the Dutchman Theo Hommeles. Shortly thereafter I established contact with Theo and elicited a promise for more of his games. Here are two of those games, played against stiff competition. These and several more of Theo's games appeared in BDG WORLD 76.

Notes by Theo Hommeles

2308 / BDG, Langeheinecke Defense
Theo Hommeles
IM Gert Ligterink (2435)
Netherlands KNSB 1992

Gert Ligterink was champion of Holland about a decade ago and a member of the strongest team in Holland, the team of Volmac/Rotterdam. For eleven years they were almost invincible.

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 d5 3. e4 dxe4 4. f3 e3 5. Bxe3 e6 6. Bd3 Nbd7 7. Nge2 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Qe1 c5 10. Rd1 cxd4 11. Bxd4


The same stratagem as in the game against Chuchelov is displayed. White doesn't want to lose his white-square bishop.

11. ... Qc7 12. Qh4 Bc5 13. Ne4 Nxe4 14. Qxe4 Nf6 15. Qh4 e5 16. Bxc5 Qxc5+ 17. Kh1 Be6 18. Nc3 h6 19. a3 Rad8 20. f4 Rd4 21. Ne2


With 21 ... Ra4 22. Nc3 in mind I offered a draw.

21. ... Rd7 22. b4 Qc7 23. fxe5 Qxe5 24. Nf4 Bg4 25. Rde1 Qg5

Not 25 ... g5? 26. Qxh6.

26. Qf2 b6

Either this or 26 ... a6 Gert thought.

27. h4 1-0.

I still remember Korchnoi's roaring laughter when he heard Ligterink's explanation. 

2309 / BDG, Vienna Defense
Theo Hommeles
E. Skoblikov
Netherlands KNSB 1992

Another game played in the highest class of the Dutch team championships. Skoblikov was also playing for Rotterdam since that year they had two teams competing on the highest level (in a total of ten). The combination in this game is the finest I have ever played.

1. d4 d5 2. e4 dxe4 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. f3 Bf5 5. fxe4 Nxe4 6. Qf3 Nd6!

I'm convinced that 6 ... Nxc3 7. bxc3 Qc8? 8. Bd3 is very good for white.

7. Bf4 e6!

Stronger than the unnecessary 7 ... c6

8. O-O-O Nd7 9. g4 Bg6 10. Qe3 Be7 11. Nf3

Or 11. d5 e5 12. Bxe5 Nxe5 13. Qxe5 and black is better.

11. ... h6 12. Ne5

Here 12. d5 was an alternative

12. ... Bh7 13. h4 c6 14. d5

Something has to be done.

14. ... exd5 15. Nxc6 bxc6 16. Bxd6 Nf6 17. Bc5 Ne4!

It seems that white will remain a pawn down. But that day I was in a very creative mood.

18. Nxe4 Bxe4 19. Bd3! Bxh1 20. Re1!! Be4

An equal endgame arises after 20 ... 0-0 21. Bxe7 Re8 22. Bxd8 Rxe3 23. Rxe3 Rxd8 24. Re7 a5 25. Rc7

21. Bxe4

And now again black can enter equality with 21 ... dxe4 22. Qxe4 0-0. There seems to be a way though in which black maintains a pawn up. When I started anticipating black's next move my heartbeat accelerated and even became audible. I quickly moved away from the board for I didn't want my opponent to notice my excitement. And yes he did it! He made the best move which would turn out not to be good at all, but instead lose instantly!

21. ... Kf8!??


22. Bh7!!

A silent move. So hard to find for humans. I have been testing the position on anyone with ears. Utter simplicity for a computer though. Mine needs about zero seconds!

22. ... Qd7(?)

Relatively best was 22 ... Bd6 23. Qe8+! Qxe8 24. Bxd6+ Qe7 25. Bxe7+ Ke8 26. Bf5 (threatens mate starting with Bb4+) f6 27. Bb4+ Kf7 28. Re7+ Kg8 29. Bg6 etc.

23. Bxe7+ Ke8 24. Bf5 Qb7 25. Bb4+ Kd8 26. Ba5+ 1-0.
These games appeared in BDG World 76.

Friday, November 14, 2008

More Teichmann Defense

My last post featured a BDG from the recent Senior World Chess Championship in Bad Zwischenahn, Germany. The game was a Teichmann Defense which went:

1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.h3 Bh5 7.g4 Bg6 8.Ne5 Nbd7 9.Qe2

As I wrote, 9.Qf3 is usually seen here. When I first played through this game Qe2 seemed new to me. I was surprised to find I'd actually published several games with it years ago in BDG World.

A natural question here is what happens after 9...Nxe5? In No. 52, the July-August 1992 issue, Steve Kelly annotated the game Nick Schoonmaker (2245) - Stevis Chakis (2165), G/20, played on the old GEnie network in 1992:

The text, along with its follow-up, allows White's pieces tremendous activity.
10.dxe5 Nd5 11.Nxd5 Qxd5 12.Bg2 

12...Qa5+ 13.Bd2 Qb6 14.0-0-0 0-0-0?

14...e6 is absolutely mandatory. Castling is usually done for safety, but the text is about as safe as running through a forest fire with a gallon of gasoline in each hand.
15.Be3 Rxd1+ 16.Rxd1 Qa5 17.e6!+-

White strikes the match, and Black at once explodes into flames.
17...fxe6 18.Bxa7 Bf7 (18...Qg5+ 19.Kb1 does not help at all) 19.Qd3 and Black cannot cover both d7 and d8. Instead, GEnie onlookers got to witness the most spectacular finish.
18.Rd8+ Kxd8 19.Qd2+ 1-0.
Black burns to a crisp, as 19...Kc8 20.Qd7+ Kb8 21.Qd8+ is mate.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

BDGs in the 2008 Senior World Chess Championship

IM Larry Kaufman won the 2008 Senior World Chess Championship in Bad Zwischenahn, Germany, and with it, the Grandmaster title. He finished the 11 round Swiss tournament in a tie for first with Romanian GM Mihai Suba with nine points each, but was awarded first on tie breaks. Kaufman, who earlier won the US Senior Championship, is also well known as a member of the team behind Rybka, the current world champion chess program. Good news indeed. And more good news for us common folk who like to play the Blackmar-Diemer: one of these old geezers (at my age, I speak with authority on geezers) played a couple of BDGs that made it into Crowther's latest issue of TWIC. Both were played by a German named Karl-Heinz Bondick, age 64, who finished with 6 points and in the top third of a field of 304 players. Here's one of his BDGs—I'll add the second in a later post. Bondick,K (2175) - Piastowski,K (1997) Senior World Chess Championship, Bad Zwischenahn, Germany (3), 30.10.2008 BDG, Teichmann Defense [D00] 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.h3 Bh5 7.g4 Bg6 8.Ne5 Nbd7 9.Qe2
9.Qf3 is usually seen here. When I first played through this game Qe2 seemed new to me. I was surprised to find I'd actually published several games with it years ago in BDG World (watch for my next post).
9...c6 10.h4
Not good. Better tries would be 10...Nb6!? 11.h5 Bxc2 12.Qxc2 Qxd4 13.Qf5!?; or 10...Qa5 11.h5 Be4 12.Nc4 Qb4 13.a3 Qxc4 14.Qxc4 Bxh1±
11.Nxg6± fxg6 12.Qd3 Qc7 13.Qxg6+ Kd8 14.Rh3 e5 15.Be3 exd4 16.Bxd4 Qf4 17.Ne2
17...Qe4 is only slightly better 18.Qxe4 Nxe4 19.Nf4±
18.Bxf6+ Nxf6 19.0-0-0+ Kc8 20.Qf7
20...Bb4 21.Rg3 Qh5 22.Bh3+ Kb8 23.Qxg7 Re8 24.Qxf6 a5 25.Bg4+-
21.Rb3 1-0.
21...Nd7 22.Rxd7 Qxd7 23.Bh3

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Unsolved Mystery

In my old magazine, BDG World, I occasionally published some historical "mystery," some missing chess game or incongruous information or so. I would usually set my imaginary sleuth, Peter Atzerpay, "the well-known private detective and strong amateur chessplayer," to work on the case. Often readers would solve the mystery before Pete.

Here's such a case that remains unsolved.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Kasparov Plays a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit (sorta)

My previous post mentioned a line in the Trompowsky Attack that can transpose into a (near) Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. That got me to thinking about this line, so I took a look at such games that might have been played since I last examined it years ago. This little goody turned up. I never thought I'd find a game where Kasparov played a BDG, even if it was in a simul, even if it was only an "enhanced" BDG—that is, a transposition that gives White a move up over the normal BDG. But here it is:

Kasparov,Garry (2817) - Carneiro,Marco Paulo
Sao Paulo 450th anniversary  simultaneous
Sao Paulo, 21.08.2004
Trompowsky to BDG Teichmann Defense [A45]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 d5 4.f3 Nf6 5.e4 dxe4 6.Nc3 exf3 7.Nxf3 Bg4
The Teichmann Defense to the BDG, but with the Bishop developed to f4 representing the extra tempo gained in the transposition from the Trompowsky.
8.h3 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 c6 10.0-0-0 e6 11.Bc4

11...Be7 would blunt the forthcoming 12.d5
12.d5 cxd5 13.Nxd5

13...exd5 is better: 14.Rhe1+ Be7 15.Bxd5 0-0 16.Bxb7 Bc5=

14...exd5 is still better: 15.Rhe1+ Be7 16.Bd6+- and play might go 16...Ne5 17.Bxe5 0-0 18.Rxd5 Bg5+ 19.Kb1 Qb6 20.Bxg7 Rae8 (20...Rfe8 21.Rf1; 20...Kxg7 21.Rxg5+) 21.Red1]
15.Bxb7 Ra7 16.Rxd7 Qf6 17.Rhd1 Be7 18.Rxe7+ Qxe7 19.Qc6+ Kf8 20.Bd6 g6 21.Bxe7+ Kxe7 22.Qc5+ Kf6 23.Qxa7 Rf8 24.Qd4+ e5 25.Qd6+ Kg7 26.Qxe5+ Kg8 27.Qf6 h5 28.Bd5 Kh7 29.Bxf7 1-0.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Grandmaster Plays a New BDG

If you're a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit fan it's always interesting—well maybe even a bit exciting—to come across a new BDG played by a grandmaster, even a little-known one. Here's one played a few weeks ago in a Russian tournament. White is a Ukrainian grandmaster. Black is a Russian FIDE master.

White plays a rare line in the Teichmann Defense, loses the initiative at move 19, and struggles to hang on to a draw in an endgame where Black had winning chances. 

Kislinsky,A (2501) - Slugin,S (2425)
Zvenigorodskaya Open A
Zvenigorod RUS (5), 27.09.2008
BDG, Teichmann Defense

1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.h3 Bh5 7.g4 Bg6 8.Bf4 e6 9.Ne5

This line, with Bf4, is quite rare in the Blackmar-Diemer. The position is more likely to occur in a line in the Trompowsky, after 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 d5 4.f3 Nf6 5.e4 dxe4 6.Nc3 exf3 7.Nxf3 Bg4 8.h3 Bh5 9.g4 Bg6 10.Ne5 e6, reaching the above position, but with an important difference: Black has lost a tempo with an extra Knight move. It's now White's move. One such game continued 11.Qf3 c6 12.0-0-0 Be7 13.h4 Nd5 14.h5 Nxf4 15.hxg6 fxg6 16.Nf7 Kxf7 17.Qxf4+ Ke8 18.Qe4 Bg5+ 19.Kb1 Qe7 20.Bc4 Kd7 21.Rde1 e5 22.dxe5 Kc7 23.e6 Na6 24.Qe5+ Kc8 25.Bxa6 bxa6 26.Rd1 Bf6 27.Qa5 Qb7 28.Rd7 Qb6 29.Qxb6 axb6 30.Ne4 Be5 31.Ng5 Re8 32.Rhd1 h5 33.Nf7 Bc7 34.Rxc7+ Kxc7 35.Rd7+ Kb8 36.Nd6 Ra7 37.Nxe8 hxg4 38.Rd8+ Kb7 39.Nd6+ Kc7 40.Rd7+ Kb8 41.Rxa7 1-0, Indbryn-Royset, NOR-chT Tromsoe,1998
9...Nd5 10.Nxd5 Qxd5 11.Kf2 Nc6 12.Bg2 Qxd4+ 13.Qxd4+/- Nxd4 14.c3 Nb5
14...Bc5!? 15.cxd4 Bxd4+ 16.Kg3 0-0-0+/-
15.Bxb7+- Bc5+ 16.Kf3 Rb8 17.Bc6+ Ke7 18.a4 Nd6 

The game turns here. Better is 19.b4 Bxb4 20.Nxg6+ hxg6 21.cxb4 Rxb4 22.Rac1+/-
19...Be4+ 20.Bxe4 Kxd7 21.b4 Nxe4 22.Kxe4 Bd6 23.Rhd1 Ke7 24.Be3 a6 25.Kd3 f6 26.Kc4 h5 27.g5 f5 28.Bd4 e5 29.Re1 Ke6 30.Ra2 e4 31.Bxg7 Rhg8 32.Bf6 Be5 33.b5 Bxf6-+ 

34.gxf6 Kxf6 35.Kc5 Rge8 36.c4 Re6 37.Rd2 axb5 38.cxb5 f4 39.Rd4 Kf5 40.Rd7 e3 41.Rf7+ Ke4 42.Rf1 

Black should win with 42...e2 43.R7xf4+ Kd3-+
43.Kc4 e2 44.R7xf4+ Ke3 45.R4f3+ Kd2 46.Rd3+ Kc2 47.Rc3+ Kb2 48.Re1

48...Rd8 49.Rcc1 Re4+ 50.Kc5 Rxa4-+
49.Rcc1-/+ Re3 50.a5 Rxh3 51.a6 Ra3 52.Kb4 Re4+ 53.Kc5 Re6 54.Rc4 Rf3 55.Kd5 Re7 56.a7 Ra3 57.Re4 Rxe4 58.Kxe4 Kc3 59.Rxe2 Kc4 60.Rc2+ Kxb5 61.Rxc7 Kb6 62.Rh7 Rxa7 1/2-1/2

Monday, November 3, 2008

More Mad Dog

We all know we don't see the Blackmar-Diemer played that much in "serious" chess, so I was a bit surprised to come across this game played a decade ago in the second round of a tournament in England. Does the audacity (a popular word these days) of this variation account for Black's tenth move? Black is not a weak player. Now he is a FIDE master with a rating of 2327. But then he reacted badly in his encounter with a mad dog. Ormrod,Joe P - Webb,Laurence (2225) Aintree Open (2), 05.06.1998 BDG, Bogoljubov Defense, Mad Dog Variation [D00] 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.h4 c5
8.h5 gxh5 9.Ne5 e6 10.Bg5
Inexplicable. Clearly better was 10...Qxd4 11.Qe2 Nd5 12.Nxd5 Qxe5 13.Qxe5 Bxe5 14.Nf6+ Bxf6 15.Bxf6 Rg8 16.Rxh5 a6 (16...Rxg2 17.Rxh7 Rg1+ 18.Bf1+/=) 17.Rxh7 Nd7 =/+
11.Nxc6+- bxc6 12.Qf3
12...Qxd4 gets complicated quickly, e.g., 13.Qxc6+ Nd7 14.Qxa8 Qe5+ 15.Be2 Qxg5 16.Qxc8+ Ke7 17.Qc6 Qg3+ 18.Kf1+-
13.0-0-0 Rb8 14.Bb3 c5?
Not good, but I can't find a move here to prevent the loss of a piece.
15.Ne4 Bb7 16.Nxf6+ Bxf6 17.Qxf6 Qxf6 18.Bxf6 Rg8 19.Ba4+ Kf8
Okay, but 20.Rxh5 is better 20...Bd5 (20...Bxg2 21.Rxc5) 21.Rxh7 Rb4+- with 22.Rdh1!? or 22.b3.
20...Rc8 21.Bd6+ Kg7 22.Rxh5 Be4 23.Bxc5 Kg6 24.Rdh1 Bxg2 25.Rh6+ Kf5 26.R1h5+ Ke4
26...Rg5 27.Be7 Rxh5 28.Rxh5+ Kf4 29.Rxh7+-
27.Rh4+ Kd5 28.Bxd4 Be4 29.c3+-
27...e5 28.Bd3+ Kd5 29.b4
29...Rg6 30.Rxh7 Rf6 31.Rg5 and Rhh5+-
30.Rd6# 1-0

Friday, October 31, 2008

Mad Dogs and Halloween

Well, it's Halloween and a nice little Frankenstein-Dracula variation (1 e4, e5 2 Nc3, Nf6 3 Bc4, Nxe4!?) in the Vienna Game seems appropriate. But I've never played that line. (I could offer up a nice Evans Gambit from the days when I opened games with 1.e4--but that wouldn't fit the season). So how about a couple of mad dogs. I cooked this (obviously unsound) line up several decades ago.

  Purser,Tom - Giles,T Stuttgart, 1980 BDG, Bogoljubov Defense, Mad Dog Attack [D00]

  1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.h4?!
The h-pawn as mad dog. Black has a number of easy refutations, but I still won correspondence games with it before the days of computer analysis. This game was played in the first round of an OTB tournament. 7...0-0 8.h5 Nxh5 9.Rxh5 gxh5 10.Qd3 e5 11.Ng5 e4 12.Qxe4 Bf5 13.Qxf5 Qe7+ 14.Ne2 Rd8 15.Bxf7+ Kf8 16.Nxh7# 1-0

 A correspondence game from the same year:

 Purser,Tom - Szasz,Charles Correspondence, 1980 BDG, Bogoljubov Defense, Mad Dog Attack [D00] 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.h4 Bf5
8.Ne5 0-0 9.g4 Be4 10.Nxe4 Nxe4 11.Nxf7 Rxf7 12.Bxf7+ Kxf7 13.Qf3+ Nf6 14.g5 Qxd4 15.gxf6 exf6 16.Qb3+! Kf8 17.Be3 Qe5 18.0-0-0 Nc6 19.Rd5 Qe4 20.Bc5+ Ke8 21.Rhd1 Rb8 22.Rd8+
Black has no defense against 23. Qg8+ 1-0

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Outgrowing the BDG

By Rick Kennedy In his introduction to Blackmar Diemer Gambit, Master Eric Schiller writes that playing the BDG might increase your middle game ability, but it probably will not affect your rating. Going even further, he suggests that Blackmar-Diemer Gambit players will eventually “outgrow” their opening. That last comment may come as a surprise to some of you. Outgrow, indeed! For many of us, it has been and will always be, “in for a pawn, in for a pound.” Or, for Black, “a pounding. Besides, look at Diemer and Gunderam, in the fourth quarter of a century of living, and still battling it out. You might suspect that only eight feet of German soil will cause either of them to “outgrow” the BDG. If then. Perhaps, though, we can make some sense out of Schiller by recalling a comment from Kotov’s classic, Play Like a Grandmaster. In looking at attitudes shown toward the opening, Kotov mentions “ideas men.” These are players who are near the end of their careers, “when they lack the stimulus or ambition to make them work through current analysis of openings that they may have been keenly interested in their youth.” Perhaps “tired men” would also fit. The young player looks at this opening as one does a sports car, expecting high performance and continuous excitement. To that end, he is willing to keep up with the constant tune—ups, modifications, and overhauls needed to keep it in top running order. The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit is a hot little number, but its Owner’s Manual has always cautioned, “for every refutation that the Black side recommends, improvements are found for White. For every White initiative, a better defense always seems to present itself for Black.” This can at times require a lot of work, however, and some players, at some point, might rather not. As we get older, might it not just be easier to send it to the shop for someone else to work on? Why not trade it in for a used station wagon and be done with it? Sigh. Gasp. Wheeze. Perhaps that is what Schiller means. Even so, I contest the notion!!! Some day it may well be discovered that the BDG was originally unearthed by Ponce de Leon, searching for the chessic “fountain of youth.” All who partook of its waters remained vibrant, dynamic and energetic, to the end of their days. They never became tired, “ideas” men. And regardless of their age, they always played for mate, from the first move. Rick wrote this for BDG World 30, published in March 1988, which explains the reference to Diemer and Gunderam, both now deceased, as being in their fourth quarter of life. These days Rick has a thing going for the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+). Check out his blog, called, appropriately enough, Jerome Gambit.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More on Blackmar

Today is the 120th anniversary of the death of Armand Edward Blackmar (30 May 1826 - 28 Oct 1888). We've previously posted a short Blackmar bio and some of his games here. Blackmar was a contemporary of Paul Morphy's good friend, Charles A. Maurian. In fact, Blackmar and Maurian were founding members, in 1880, of the New Orleans Chess, Checkers, and Whist Club. Its first informal meeting, on July 21st, was called to order by none other than A. E. Blackmar, and the membership proceeded to elect as its first president Charles A. Maurian. When Blackmar's first games with his gambit were published in Brentano's Chess Monthly in July 1882, they were accompanied by the following game: Maurian,Charles A - Daponte,D New Orleans, 1882 Blackmar Gambit [D00] 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.f3 Nf6 4.fxe4 Nxe4 5.Bd3 f5 6.Bxe4 fxe4 7.Qh5+ g6 8.Qe5 Nc6 9.Qxh8 Nxd4 10.Bh6 Nxc2+ 11.Kf2 Qd1 12.Qxf8+ Kd7
13.Nf3 Qxh1 14.Ne5+ Kd6 15.Nc3 Qxa1 16.Qd8+
16...Ke6 [16...Kxe5 17.Qd5+ Kf6 18.Nxe4#] 17.Qd5+ Kf6 18.Nd7+ Bxd7 19.Nxe4# 1-0

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Man in the Arena

Two items of note this day:
1) Today is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Theodore Roosevelt, one of our great presidents.

2) Today Kramnik won the 10th game of the World Championship match with Anand. He is now two points behind with only two games to play. Not good odds, but better than three points behind with three games to play!
In honor of Roosevelt, Kramnik, Anand, and chessplayers everywhere, we recall this passage from Roosevelt's classic speech, "The Man in the Arena."
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Howard Stern, Gambiteer

Although I've never met a gambit I didn't like (just some more than others), I've never played the Budapest Countergambit. However a friend and contributor to my magazine BDG World, Niels Jørgen Jensen, wrote the first book exclusively devoted to the Fajarowicz-Gambit (his title), so I've had a bit more than a passing interest in the opening. Now comes the news that non other than the so-called shock jock Howard Stern, a student of the game, plays the Budapest Countergambit. Look here: Anonymous (1900) - Stern,Howard (1600) Blitz Internet Chess Club, 2008 Budapest Countergambit [A51] 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5
3.d5 Bc5 4.h3 Bxf2+ 5.Kxf2 Ne4+ 6.Kf3 Qh4
7.g4 f5 8.gxf5 Rf8 9.Ke3 Rxf5
10.Nf3 Qf4+ 11.Kd3 Nf2+ 0-1
Oh my! You can play through this game with analysis by Michael Goeller at his blog, The Kenilworthian.