Monday, December 6, 2010

A Knight for a Bishop in the Alapin-Diemer Gambit

This week's TWIC yielded an Alapin-Diemer Gambit that reminded me of an old question.

Here's the article I mentioned, a PDF extracted from BDG World 46, June 1991.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Old ideas got that way ...

Old ideas got that way because they proved useful. Who said that? I just found it on the web. But I like it. The Blackmar-Diemer is an old idea, certainly old enough to be out of fashion. Yet old ideas, especially in the hands of old chessplayers, can still prove useful. Take this BDG, Teichmann Defense, from the World Seniors:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Win One, Lose One

A couple of Blackmar-Diemers turned up in this week's TWIC. White wins an Euwe Defense transposition from the Caro Kann, but loses a Teichmann. Oh, well...

(Use the pull-down menu to get to the second game)

Monday, October 4, 2010

One Little Lemberger at the Olympiad

Each year I look forward to the games from the Olympiad since a few Blackmar-Diemers usually turn up there. Today's TWIC crop, however, produced only one, this uninspiring Lemberger Countergambit.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ernst Rasmussen Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Open

If you're a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit fan and can get to Port Townsend, Washington, some 40 miles or so northwest of Seattle, on October 23rd, you should. It's a rare opportunity to enjoy the company of chess friends playing the BDG, one and all, in celebration of the 85th birthday of an old BDG fox and an all-around nice guy, Ernst Rasmussen. Here are the particulars:
Oct 23 Ernst Rasmussen Blackmar Diemer Gambit Open. Site: Towne Point Club House, 2240 Towne Point Avenue, Port Townsend, WA. Format: Four-round Swiss. TC: G/1 hr. EF: $10. This is a non-rated event. Prizes, guaranteed: $1,000: 1st, $300; 2nd, $200; 3rd, $100; 1st U2000, $100; 2nd $75; 1st U1700, $100; 2nd, $75. Best game $50; more prize money possible as entries permit. Refreshments and a catered lunch are included(!). 1 HPB allowed. Reg.: 8:00-8:45 AM. Rds 9:00, 11:30, 2:30, 5:30. All games must start from the position following 1. d4 d5 2. e4 dxe4 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. f3 exf3. Info: Stephen Chase, 11 W. Hayden St., Port Hadlock, WA 98339-9570. Phone: 360-385-3457. Entries: Gary Dorfner, 8423 E. B ST., TACOMA, WA 98445, Phone 253-535-2536, E-mail
Here are a couple of Ernie's games from an earlier post: The Lost Games of Ernst Rasmussen.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Okay, It's a Trompowsky, but it quacks like a BDG

Years ago I enjoyed searching for games where masters who probably would never intentionally play a Blackmar-Diemer in a "serious" game nevertheless sometimes found themselves playing a typical Blackmar-Diemer position. Such a case can develop in the Trompowsky, after 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bf4 d5 4.f3 Nf6 5.e4 dxe4 6.Nc3 exf3 7.Nxf3. White is up a tempo over the BDG, having the move Bf4 in hand. (Is that a feature or a bug? Does f4 turn out to be a good spot for that bishop?).

In an old (Jan-Feb1994) issue of BDG World I published such a game, Hodgson - Panchenco, Bern 1994, calling it a transposition from the Opocensky Opening to the BDG--to which several readers took exception. As I wrote at the time, I make no claim to expertise on opening names outside the Blackmar-Diemer, but relied on Hooper and Whyld in The Oxford Companion to Chess, 2nd ed. They call 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 the Opocensky Opening in their Index of Named Openings and Variations (Appendix 1). However, in their text we find an entry for the Trompowsky Opening, which is equated to the Opocensky Opening. I quote: "The one-time Brazilian champion Octavio Siqueiro F. Trompowsky (1897-1984) tried it in the 1930s and 1940s, at about the same time as Opocensky." 

Not that it matters much, but it appears that Trompowsky has carried the day, or perhaps there has been further refinement since I quit paying attention. But I digress. One of these creatures was sighted in TWIC a couple of weeks ago. I give it here with a few other examples of the species (or should I say the mutation?).

(Use the pull-down menu above the diagram to select additional games.) 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Book Moves in the Hübsch

Tim Sawyer continues to look for improvements in the Blackmar-Diemer. Here he annotates a different line in the Hübsch Gambit, taking on a couple of book recommendations.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A ghost of a book, a ghost of a chance

A BDG friend asked a question about the status of the long-announced Scheerer BDG book on the forum and received this response:

 "This book is unfortunately very, very delayed. I don't have a date of publication yet but I'm hoping it will publish before the end of the year."

Oh. That may be the problem. They're waiting on the book to self-publish.

You can read the forum entry here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Another BDG from the U. S. Open

Here's another win with the Blackmar-Diemer from the recent U.S. Open. White plays up a class and wins against a Teichmann Defense. When Black castles kingside White usually stacks his rooks on the open f-file, but in this game Black lingers long in the center and White goes for the uncommon Rae1.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Yes, indeed, they love it!

My scouts are always working, on the lookout for someone saying something nice about the Blackmar-Diemer. It's hard work, but hard work has its occasional rewards. Such was the case yesterday. In a post called "The chess gods love the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit," Frisco Del Rosario tells the story of a sweet little BDG played a couple of days ago in the U. S. Open. Here's the game, with my notes. When you've played through it you should also check out Del Rosario's post.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Strange Game

Yeah, I know, most BDGs are strange games. But this one... Black survives two mates in one, gets close to equal (although still under pressure) and then ... resigns. Or did the game end from some other cause? Time? A bad stomach? Or am I missing something? This one is fresh off today's TWIC release.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Till You Get It Right

By Tim Sawyer

GM Lev Alburt has written that one of the best ways to improve in chess is to find a typical thematic position and try to learn everything you can about that one position. One approach is to practice chess by playing your favorite opening vs the same computer over and over again. CM Dan Heisman recommends that after every game, you look up where you could have improved. Using these principles in 2007 I began to play off and on certain BDG lines vs the computer "Rookie" on ICC, and later also vs its older brother "blik". In 2007 I lost most of those games, but gradually I learned. Post-mortem analysis with Fritz or Rybka became my pre-game preparation for a future blitz attempt. It worked well when I could remember the lines.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Another New BDG Book

"Gambit Blackmar-Diemer" by Eric Jégo
Published June 2010 by Modus Operandi 

Review by Tim Sawyer

Many people talk about writing books, but only a few actually do it. When Eric Jégo first contacted me a year or two ago about his new BDG project, I was very hopeful. Now I hold his book in my hand and it brings a smile to my face.

The author is from France, so naturally his 188 page paperback book is written in French with figurine algebraic notation. Jégo says there are 287 verbally annotated games. Jégo has focused on games NOT given much coverage in other books. In fact, 160 of the games have been played in the 12 years since my BDGKII was written (1999-2010). Yes, he does have one game from 2010. I counted over 50 times the players are noted as having FIDE titles (GM 16, IM 21, FM 15, WFM 1). We know that a few times BDG positions were reached via non-BDG move orders. But most of the games I know came right through the front door of the BDG 1.d4.

The games are divided into 28 chapters from all the well-known BDG named variations, which means about 10 games per chapter, although the more popular lines do have more games in those chapters. Jégo has also provided statistical analysis of each variation. For example, the Bogoljubow variation in 2616 games from his database White has scored +45% =17% -38%. To save space, the games begin where that variation begins (i.e. Bogo games begin after 5…g6).

There is one special aspect of Jégo's book that I find fascinating. He approaches the gambit from a strategical direction. His focus is much more on the plans that White has than on concrete specific moves. Rather than concentrating on which 6th move is the best in a given situation, for example, he looks at the main ideas. He presents these concepts in what he calls Elementary Principles. Please forgive my very rough translation of his French. I did study French for four years 40 years ago. However after that I got a degree in Greek, read countless chess books in German, and I live where Spanish-speaking people are the majority. Fast forward to Jégo. Rather than paraphrase his French in smooth American English, I tried to keep the style of the manner in which Jégo presents them.

Here are Eric Jégo's 14 principles (Sawyer translation).

  1. The move will adapt itself to compromise the opponent's position, or to preserve the initiative, the advance of development, the gain of space…
  2. The Bf1 will set up against Black's 0-0 going to c4 vs g6 otherwise d3 vs e6.
  3. The Bc1 ideally will be placed on g5, with the pin or elimination of the Nf6…
  4. The Nf6 is the target to eliminate or deflect.
  5. The exchange of the Queens in particular (and any other) will be preferred for the achievement of the durable advantage or the purification of the position.
  6. The Ng1 will have its full potential when put on e5 in the BDG.
  7. The island Pc2/c3/d4 constitutes an advantage if the White King heads to the kingside. Dominate the center. Complicate the Black organization.
  8. The structure Qh4/Bh6/Ng5/2 R f-file & Ph3 (Studier Attack) is a fluid and habitual maneuver.
  9. The sacrifices N/B x h7/h6/f7 when the position of the King is thematically precarious. Make Black's position fragile. Make White's actively dynamic.
  10. Qh5 accelerates the White offensive readily bringing together the action of the Rf1 and Nc3 (Sneiders Attack).
  11. The check through Qa4/Qb5/Bb5 when c6 is under White control becomes constraining.
  12. The pushing of pawns to h3/g4 and f3/g4 assure a big advantage of space (for example: Hari-kiri variation). Ph4 reinforces the idea.
  13. Nf4 is a motive of harassment when the f-file is closed and Ne4 constitutes the jump-start of his opening.
  14. P/a3 and P/c6 are solid and cautious from the perspective of the unresolved adverse plan. P/c3 in certain cases corresponds to the same principle.

In some ways all this is similar to Tom Purser's "Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Concepts" which he allowed me to use in my BDGKII. Jégo has gone far further by using these principles in the annotations of all the games. In the French language, the words for Elementary Principles appear in reverse order. Jégo abbreviates them as "PE1" or "PE5", etc. Each game is filled with multiple such comments. Often Jégo expands on them on how a particular move fits into those Elementary Principles, or even why the move is premature or powerful.

What don't I like? Well, it is in French; but Jégo told me he does plan an English edition in about a year. Also, game headers just have names of players and date; he does not include the location/tournament/or type of play. This was common in old books from Europe (like the old Rolf Schwarz book in German 40 years ago).

The author does not cover most Anti-BDG lines. He does cover the Lemberger and Huebsch. He does not cover most of the French, Dutch, Pirc or Benoni lines. That information can be found in other places that do not cover the BDG.

Dany Sénéchaud writes a four page Preface on the gambit. He has written a book on E.J. Diemer (also in French).

At the end of Jégo's book he has a Literature & Information page where he lists BDG related books and websites. Excellent stuff! To sum up: Nice book. Buy it!

More info:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Swatting Another Mosquito

In the 1950s Diemer flooded the chess world with letters extolling the virtues of his gambit, making a bit of a pest of himself, no doubt. Max Euwe indulged him a bit, to be rewarded (some might say cursed) by having the 5...e6 defense to the BDG named after himself. When Diemer persisted in debating some variation, Euwe declined in a 5 May 1956 letter. The pertinent paragraphs, loosely translated:
Any opinion on my part, right or wrong, could be answered with ten other possibilities, which would again raise new problems. And these ten bring on another hundred, etc. Gambit play is just complicated, and it is often a matter of taste whether one prefers the extra pawn or the attack.
Now the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit is an interesting way of playing, but I cannot possibly spend the rest of my chess career on it. Forgive my reservations, therefore, but you must not interpret this as fear. It is rather that, if thousands of mosquitoes are attacking, it makes no sense to kill ten or a hundred.
Recently another mosquito showed up in Russia and stung the Euwe Defense.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Books, Real and Imagined

I've about given up hope for the long promised new book on the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit from Everyman Chess. Since I first wrote about it here almost a year and a half ago  it's been delayed again and again. Some time ago I wrote the publishers, asking about the status, but received no reply. Attack with the Blackmar Diemer

So much for imagined.

Now for the real. Guido De Bouver, from Belgium, has produced Attack with the Blackmar Diemer, A Computer Analysis of the Teichmann, Gunderam, O'Kelly and Vienna lines in the Blackmar Diemer gambit. The book is in English, 160 pages, with figurine algebraic notation.  From the author's description:

This is the first book in a series of volumes on the Blackmar Diemer gambit. Their purpose is to provide in-depth analysis of the various lines. Since Diemer's gambit most often leads to wild open positions, the systematic use of a silicon monster (all analysis in this book was performed using Rybka 3 32-bit using the free Arena GUI) will provide essential insight in the evaluation of the resulting unbalanced positions.

The reader will note that the book does not provide a systematic overview of all white's options. Instead, I choose a number of lines that particularly fit in with Diemer's ideas and that provide complications that will help the gambiteer in the over the board play.

The book is available now from the author, in either a hard copy or a protected PDF version. Details are available at, where you may view a table of contents, several extracts, and ordering information.

Computer analysis, don't you just love it? More to say on that coming up.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

From the Archives

Now and then it's good to look back. Browsing through old issues of BDG World I replay a game now and then that I found entertaining. So, why not reprint one now and then here. This one, for example, with the winner's notes. (By the way, I'm trying out a Silverlight game viewer; if you don't have Silverlight installed on your system, you should see a link to download it below).

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I coulda had a BDG

A recent issue of TWIC included a game that began with

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. e4 Bb4 4. e5

I've always liked this position. You can get to it now and then if you play the Blackmar-Diemer. In fact, Tim Sawyer was kind enough to include one of my games with this line as Game 1 in the second edition of his Keybook.

Black can respond with 4...Nd5 or 4...Ne4, but either way after 5.Qg4 his future is not bright.


You can play through the new game with this line here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Back on Track

Sometimes we gradually drift away from chess. Work, family, other responsibilities seem to conspire to remove the time or opportunities for the game. Life happens.

However, John Crompton got back to tournament play a few days ago in a one-day event near Charleston, South Carolina. Happily, he also got back to the Blackmar-Diemer, against an opponent who had recently won the state senior's championship.

8 8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
Crompton, John 1667 - Reeve, C. 1952
1-0 (Aiken 25 Quick Chess) 4/17/2010
[#] 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.Bc4 e6 7.O-O Bd6 8.Bg5 Nbd7 9.Qe1 Bxf3 10.Rxf3 O-O 11.Qh4 h5 12.Bd3 g6?
[12...Be7 ]
[13.Ne4 wins a piece at once.]
13...Be7 14.Rxf6 Nxf6 15.Rxf6 Bxf6? Abandon all hope...
[Rybka, with just enough time for a quick blunder check, suggests 15...c5 here as the lesser of evils, but White stays ahead in any variation I could see.]
16.Bxf6 Qe8 17.Qg5 Kh7?? 18.Qxh5+ Always a satisfying end to a game. [1-0]