Sunday, May 31, 2009

Black Blunders in the Blackmar

by Niels Jørgen Jensen

Over the years Niels Jørgen Jensen, of Copenhagen, contributed many articles and games to BDG World. Here is his first article we published, from the January/February issue of our third year, 1985.
We all know that if we let our opponent face a BDG we are more likely to finish him off quickly and brutally than if we play another opening, say the Queen's Gambit. Why is that so? What is it in the BDG that literally provokes our opponent to commit blunders? Well, to a certain extent it can be explained.

If we accept the fact that blunders do not appear totally haphazardly, it becomes clear that the answer must be closely connected to psychology. Chess is a mental struggle, and so chess blunders must be looked upon as psychological phenomena. Let us take a look at various categories of black faults and try to explain them. First, a game as study material:

Niels Jørgen Jensen - Steen Lynesskjold
Team Match, 1984
BDG (from Caro-Kann)

1.d4 d5 2.e4 Here my opponent sighed, "Blackmar-Diemer," thought for about five minutes, shook his head determinedly and played: 2...c6 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.f3 And now he realized that he had been fooled. Ten minutes thought. 5...exf3 6.Nxf3


6...e6 [Some people just don't play the obvious: 6...Bf5 ] 7.0-0 b5 8.Bd3 Nbd7 9.Qe1


Preparing for Qg3 or Qh4. I wouldn't develop my Bc1 until Black had had his chance to misplace his Bf8. 9...Be7 10.Ng5 b4 11.Nce4 a5 12.Nxf7 Kxf7 13.Ng5+ Ke8 14.Qxe6 Rf8 15.Nxh7 1-0


As you will admit, Black defended poorly. However, he is no weak player, and his weak moves do not occur incidentally but--as we shall see--can be psychologically explained.

In his excellent book, Psychology in Chess, the Russian GM Krogius distinguishes between three different types of blunders, which are all present in the above game:

1. The forward image occurs when the player transfers positions reached in his calculations or moves which have not yet been played to the actual position on the board. As Krogius expresses it: “The future possibilities become an obsession and are treated as real factors in the assessment of the current position.” Thus the player in whom a forward image has arisen tends to exaggerate threats. In the game above, the move 6…e6? is the result of such a forward image. Black knows that the BDG is a very sharp opening, he may fear a Bxf7+, and in his imagination he already sees an overwhelming attack with Ng5+ and Qf3--moves which in his mind are accepted as real. Perhaps he also sees the "ghosts" 6…Bg4? 7.Ne5 or 6…Bf5 7.0-0 followed by Ng5/Nxf7/Rxf5. At any rate, he decides on the "safe" 6…e6?, preventing the impossible sacrifice on f7. If you search your BDG literature (Freidl II, e.g.), you will find several similar moves, indicating that we are dealing with a common psychological pattern.

2. The retained image is the opposite of the forward image. Whereas the forward image leads to exaggerations of future possibilities, the retained image tends to narrow down the perception of the chess player, who plans his moves from a starting point which has become static, thus repressing the dynamic aspects of the position.
I think Krogius's retained image should be divided into two distinct subcategories:
a) Positions or possibilities previous in the game still influence the player's perception of the actual position on the board. After my game with Lynesskjold, he told me that he had not seen the possibility of 12.Nxf7 at all, a statement which at first seems amazing--after all Nxf7 is probably the most evident move in the entire game, so how could he miss it? The answer is really simple: once he had seen the possibility of a sacrifice on f7 (namely Bxf7), he had prevented it by 6 … e6. Furthermore, with 7 … b5 he had driven away the Bishop from the diagonal, so from moves 7 -12 in his mind a sacrifice on f7 was impossible. The board had changed, but the idea that a sacrifice had been prevented remained. As Krogius expresses it: “In this way the past continues its activity into the present to the extent of edging out reality.”
b) Elements in the position on the board become static and are transferred in an unaltered form to future lines reached in calculation. An example of this kind of retained image is found in the following game:
Jan Sandahl – Emborg
Denmark, 1984
Lemberger Counter Gambit

1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nxe4 Qxd4 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Nf3 Qb6 7.0-0 Bg4 8.h3 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 Nd4 10.Qh5 Bd6 11.Be3

11...Qc6? 12.Bxd4 exd4 13.Bb5 1-0

The blunder 11 … Qc6? can only be explained by the second type of the retained image: the e5-pawn firmly separates the Qh5 from the crucial square b5 and blocks Black's imagination of the possibilities after a possible removal of the pawn.

3. Krogius's third category of faults arises from the recalled inert image. This image may arise when a player, trying to carry out a plan, fails to realize that the position on the board might have changed in a way which was not foreseen. The player fails to notice the dynamic powers of the position. Again as a first example my game above; after having played 6 … e6, Black must find another way to develop his Bc8, and as he finds 0-0 too dangerous before the Bd3 has been exchanged, he plans to play b4/a5/Ba6, but as he finally reaches the point where he is ready to play Ba6, the position has changed and is already lost for him.

As Krogius points out, the inert image often arises when a player is satisfied with his position and thinks that the game is already won for him. Probably this is the reason why the inert image is a very common cause for Black blunders against the BDG: one pawn up, Black often mechanically tries to exchange pieces, underestimating the dynamic power of the White position. Another example:

Erich Müller - N. J. Jensen
Correspondence, 1984/85
BDG, Euwe Defense

1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 e6 6.Bg5 Be7 7.Bd3 Nc6 8.Qd2 h6 9.Bf4 Nb4 


If this is not correct, then the frequently played 8.a3 is a waste of time. Now the first exchange costs Black a tempo. 10.0-0 Nxd3 11.cxd3 c6 12.Ne4


and now Black felt that he only had to exchange a few more pieces before winning the ending with his extra pawn, his better pawn structure, and his pair of Bishops, so he played 12...Nd5? which of course is met by 13.Ne5 Now, 13 ... Nxf4 14.Qxf4 would be suicide, and the only move preventing an immediate disaster is the sad retreat 13...Nf6 but after 14.Qf2 White has a tremendous position.

Now we have examined some types of blunders, but we still have to explain why these blunders should be provoked by the BDG more than by most other openings. The answer to that, I think, is closely connected to the question: what makes some players better than others? One answer could be (Hartston / Wasen: The Psychology of Chess, p.55): "The skill of a master is assumed to be basically one of 'pattern recognition'" (rather than a skill of calculating many moves ahead/njj). The consequences of this are met in the highly recommended book, Chess for Tigers, by Simon Webb, where the author advises (p. 40) how one should play against "Heffalurnps" (very strong players): "Randomize! … so if you see a line which is difficult to judge, give it a try." (i.e., positions. where your opponent. cannot see any "normal" patterns/njj). "The sorts of positions which are particularly difficult to judge are those with a material imbalance, such as queen for two rooks, two minor pieces for a rook, the exchange for a pawn or two." In this category would also belong positions with initiative for a pawn, a strong attack for a piece, etc.--in short, the BDG!

One more thing pulls in this same direction: as pointed out by Tarrasch, who was a doctor as well as a chess master, an unforeseen sacrifice tends to arouse a state of shock in the opponent, disturbing his ability for calm and correct calculation. This state of shock, which might arise even when the gambit pawn is offered, then increases the possibility of the fault-provoking images dealt with above, since the ability of the player to overcome the gap between the position on the board and the one reached in calculation is reduced radically when he cannot recognize his usual patterns. Accordingly, the White chances will increase, simply because sacrifices on f7, Canal mates, etc., are standard patterns of every BDG player.

So--should the BDG not be "correct" (and I believe it is!), I think that any lack of "correctness" is more than offset by the psychological advantages it gives its supporters. I am sure you agree with the German player who called the BDG “Panneverdächtig” --blunder provoking.

Play through and download PGN games here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

IM Kurt Richter and the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit

For several years in the mid-1960s I had the pleasure of living in Berlin. Chess was not a part of my life at that time. Had it been I believe I would have attempted to meet International Master Kurt Richter (1900-1969), who was born and died in that city.

Anders Tejler, writing in Kampars’ Opening Adventures, took note of a Richter comment:
In Kurt Richter and Rudolf Teschner's "Schacheröffnungen", 2nd edition, 1957, the authors have the following to say about the BDG: ". . .and if many theoreticians say 'Its soundness must first be demonstrated ', then one can counter-reply: 'Demonstrate its unsoundness!! Both might be impossible.”
At one time I had a copy of Richter’s 666 Kurzpartien, which was a little book of miniatures. I may have sold it, as I can’t find it around the house. I’m sure the book contained several of Diemer’s games; perhaps that’s where I turned up this game:

Richter,Kurt - Dietze
Karlsbad-Berlin, 1940
BDG, Weinspach Declination

1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f3 e6 4.e4 dxe4 5.fxe4

5...Be7 6.Nf3 0-0 7.e5 Nd5 8.Bd3 c5 9.Nxd5

9...Qxd5 [9...exd5 would have been better. Taking with the Queen allows Whites mobile central pawn to push Black against the wall.] 10.c4 Qd8 11.d5 exd5 12.cxd5 Re8 13.0-0 Qb6 14.Kh1 Nd7 15.d6 Bd8 16.Bxh7+

16...Kh8 [16...Kxh7 17.Ng5+ Bxg5 18.Qh5+ Bh6 19.Bxh6 Nxe5 (19...Rxe5 20.Bg5+ Kg8 21.Qxf7+ Kh7 22.Rf4+-) 20.Bf4+ Kg8 21.Bxe5 Rxe5 22.Qxe5+-] 17.Bc2 g6 18.Qd2 Kg8 19.Qh6 Nf8 20.Ng5 Be6 21.Bxg6

Mate cannot be avoided. 1-0

This variation is known by most BDG partisans as the Weinspach Declination, after a 1949 Diemer game with an opponent by that name (game 274 in Diemer’s Vom ersten Zug…), although it is often spelled as Weinsbach.

Playable game and PGN download.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A New BDG from the Catalan Championships

I like an optimistic approach to chess. In fact I noticed that GM Nakamura, discussing his play in winning the US Championship a few days ago, attributed his success in part to overcoming the fear of losing. Still, when an untitled player takes on a GM with the Blackmar-Diemer, some might say that’s a bit too optimistic.

Farran Martos,F (2238) – GM Magem Badals,J (2531)
ch-Catalunya Lleida ESP (1.1), 16.05.2009
BDG Declined, Vienna Defense

1.e4 d5 2.d4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 Bf5 5.g4 Bg6


6.h4 [6.g5 Nd5 7.Nxe4 e6 8.h4 h5 9.c3 Nc6 10.Bb5 Qd7 11.Ne2 0-0-0 12.c4 Bb4+ 13.Kf2 Nb6 14.c5 Na8 15.a3 Bxc5 16.Nxc5 Qd6 17.Bf4 Qe7 18.Bxc6 bxc6 19.Qa4 1-0 Gedult,D-Jean, Paris, Caissa 1965] 6...h5 7.g5 Nd5 8.Nxe4 e6 9.c4


9...Ne7 [9...Nb6 10.Nh3 Nc6 11.Be3 Qd7 12.Nf4 Bxe4 13.fxe4 0-0-0 14.c5 Nxd4 15.cxb6 axb6 16.Kf2 Qc6 17.Bd3 Bc5 18.Rc1 Qd6 19.Qa4 Kb8 20.a3 Nb3 21.Kf3 Bxe3 22.Kxe3 Nxc1 23.Rxc1 Qe5 24.Qc2 Rd4 25.Ne2 Rd7 26.Qc3 Qh2 27.Qe1 Rhd8 28.Rc3 Qe5 29.Qg3 Qxc3 30.Nxc3 Rxd3+ 31.Kf2 Rxg3 32.Kxg3 e5 33.Nd5 Rxd5 34.exd5 f5 0-1 Burger-GM W. Unzicker, Munich simultaneous 1964] 10.Qb3 Nbc6 11.Ne2 Nf5 12.Be3 Nfxd4 13.Nxd4 Nxd4 14.Bxd4 Qxd4 15.Qxb7 Bxe4 16.fxe4 Rd8 17.Qc6+ Rd7 18.Qa8+ Ke7 19.Rh2 g6 20.Qb7 Bg7 21.Re2 Be5 22.Qb3 Rb8 23.Qa3+ Ke8 24.Rc1 Bf4 25.Rcc2 Qd1+ 26.Kf2 Be5 27.Kg2 Rd3 28.Qa4+ Kf8 29.Qa5 Rg3+ 30.Kf2 Qd4+ 31.Ke1 Rf3 32.Rg2 Rd8 33.Qd2 Qxe4+ 0-1


The Catalan Championships, a knockout event with sixteen players, took place 16th-23rd May 2009. The winner of this game, Jordi Magem Badals, finished second, losing to Josep Lopez Martinez in the final.

Play through this game and download a PGN file here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

More on Master BDGs

Encouraged by Knut Jarle Hjørnevik's list of BDGs played by masters, I was browsing old issues of BDG WORLD looking for more and came across a game by the late IM William Martz. Some younger players may not have heard of Martz, since he died in 1983, at much too young an age, just short of his 38th birthday. Martz was an endgame artist, and in the mid-1970s I had the pleasure (in Oklahoma City, I believe), of watching a demonstration of his talent. It was that much more interesting to me then to come across the following game in the July 1963 issue of Kampars' BDG magazine: Martz,William - Roubik,D North Central Open, Milwaukee, 1962 BDG, Weinspach Declination 1.d4 Nf6 2.f3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.Nc3 e6 5.fxe4 Bb4 6.Bd3 0-0 7.Nf3 c5 8.e5 Nd5 game_17 9.0-0 [9.Bxh7+ Kh8 10.Ng5 Nxc3 11.Qh5 1-0 Diemer,EJ-Weinspach, Bischweier 1949.] 9...Nxc3 10.bxc3 Bxc3 11.Ng5 Bxd4+ 12.Kh1 g6 13.Nxh7 game_18 13...Bxe5 [13...Kxh7? 14.Qh5+ Kg8 15.Bxg6 fxg6 16.Qxg6+ Kh8 17.Bg5 Bxa1 18.Rxf8+ Qxf8 19.Bf6+ Qxf6 20.exf6 Bxf6 21.Qxf6+ Kh7 22.Qf7+ Kh8 23.Qf8+ Kh7 24.Qxc8+-] 14.Bg5 f6 game_19 15.Nxf8 [>=15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.Qg4+-] 15...Kxf8 16.Bh6+ Ke7 17.Rb1 Qh8 18.Bf4 Nd7 19.Qf3 [19.Bxg6?! Bxf4 20.Rxf4 Qh6=] 19...Bxf4 20.Qxf4 f5 21.Rbe1 game_20 21...Kf6? [21...Qf6+/-] 22.Qd6 Nf8?? [22...Qf8 23.Rxe6+ Kf7 24.Rxg6 Qxd6 25.Rxd6 Ke7+-; 22...Qe8 23.g4] 23.Qe5+ 1-0. Martz would have been no older than 17 when this game was played. The North Central Open later was renamed the William Martz Memorial North Central Open, and now is called simply the Martz Memorial. Play through the game and download PGN here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

BDG Variations and Master Games

In a recent post I recommended Knut Jarle Hjørnevik's site on BDG variations. Knut Jarle continues to update his site and has recently added a PGN file of a large number of master BDGs for download. That alone is worth another visit.

Here’s a recent BDG by Knut Jarle with his notes.

Hjørnevik,Knut Jarle - Madland,Kristoffer
Rogalandsmesterskapet (1), 14.11.2008

1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bf5 


The Tartakower-Gunderam Defence 6.Ne5 e6 7.g4 Nxg4?

Based on a calculation error by Kristoffer. He simply overlooked 9.Nf2! [7...Bg6! is probably the best move in this position, but there are also interesting moves like Be4 and Ne4 available!] 8.Nxg4 Qh4+ 9.Nf2 Nc6 10.Bb5 0-0-0 11.Bxc6 bxc6 


12.Be3 [12.Qe2 Rxd4 13.Be3 Rd6 14.Qa6+ was an alternative, but I was afraid that my own king would end up too vulnerable.] 12...c5! 13.Qe2 cxd4 14.Qa6+


14...Kb8 [14...Kd7? 15.0-0-0! should win for White] 15.Qb5+ Kc8 [15...Ka8? 16.Qc6+ Kb8 17.Nb5 Bb4+ 18.c3 Ba5 19.Nxd4 Bb6 20.0-0-0+/-] 16.Qa6+


And we agreed a draw in this position. [The continuation 16.0-0-0 dxe3 (16...dxc3?? 17.Qa6+ Kb8 18.Qxa7+ Kc8 19.Qa8#) 17.Qa6+ is nothing more than a draw.] 1/2-1/2.

Play through and download this game here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Hübsch: Such a Pretty Little Gambit

These days every chess player has his favorite refutation of the Blackmar-Diemer, but still some consider it the better part of discretion simply to avoid it. One way to do that is via the Hübsch Gambit: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4, and now rather than 3…dxe4, satisfying White’s desires, Black plays 3…Nxe4.

It’s not easy to make progress against this, even though GM Tartakower lost with black in the stammpartie of this line (see below). The other day I came across a video that does a good job of presenting some key lines in this variation from black's viewpoint.


You can take a look at this video here: JoshSpecht - Opening Analysis: Hubsch def. vs. BDG [14:36].

And here’s the Tartakower game. I hate to see my favorite grandmaster lose.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Strange Names: The Willy Nilly Gambit

Years ago I would try to slip into a Blackmar-Diemer after 1.d4 Nf6 with 2.f3, looking for an obliging 2...d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.Nc3. But Black has too many good replies, such as 3...c5, so these days I almost never play this line. However, a couple of decades ago in a rated OTB game I was surprised with another third move by Black. (From the August 1988 issue (Nr 32) of BDG World).

Purser, Tom - Watson, Lavelle
Ramstein, Germany, 1978

1.d4 Nf6 2.f3 e6 3.e4 Nxe4


4.fxe4 Qh4+ (Anyone who plays an early f3 ought to be alert to this idea.) 5.Ke2 Qxe4+ 6.Be3 b6 7.Nd2 Ba6+ 8.Kf2 Qh4+ 9.g3 Qf6+

10.Qf3 Bb7 11.Qxf6 gxf6 12.Bg2

And I stumbled on to win in 47 moves. I thought this was a unique opening (had you seen it before?). Imagine my surprise when months later I discovered a game in Diemer's Blackmar Gemeinde which was an exact duplicate for the first nine moves. In fact Diemer had even put a name on the opening: "Dr. Willy Linder Gambit." Perhaps "willy nilly" would be better.

Diemer,EJ - De Wolf
Gent, 1956

1.d4 Nf6 2.f3 e6 3.e4 Nxe4 4.fxe4 Qh4+ 5.Ke2 Qxe4+ 6.Be3 b6 7.Nd2 Ba6+ 8.Kf2 Qh4+ 9.g3 Qf6+

To this point, identical with Purser-Watson, above. 10.Ngf3 Bb7 11.Bd3 h6 12.h4 d5 13.Qe2 Rg8

(White was threatening 14.Bg5) 14.Rad1 Bd6 15.Kg2 Qe7 16.Bg1

("Under all circumstances e5 must be prevented, and pressure kept on f7."-- Diemer) 16...c5 17.Bb5+ Kd8 18.c3 a6 19.Ba4 b5 20.Bc2 Nd7 21.Re1 Kc7 22.a4 Bc6 23.dxc5 Nxc5 24.Nd4 bxa4 25.Nxc6 Kxc6 26.c4 Qf6 27.Nf3 Nb3 28.Bxb3 axb3 29.cxd5+ exd5 30.Nd4+ Kb7 31.Qd3 Qg6 32.Qxb3+ Kc8 33.Qc3+ Bc7 34.Re7 Ra7 35.Bf2 Qf6 36.Rhe1 Rb7 37.Qc5 Rd8 38.Nc6 Bb6 39.Na7+ Kb8 40.Rxb7+ Kxb7 41.Re7+ 1-0


[Black resigned, for as Diemer put it, "he only had a choice between different mates: 41.Re7+ Ka8 42.Qxb6 Qxe7 43.Nc6 Qe4+ 44.Kh2! " This game is from the tourney in which Diemer finished second behind O'Kelly, losing to the grandmaster in the final round.]

Play through and download these two games plus a few more in this variation here.