Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tim Sawyer Looks at Scheerer's BDG Book

Well, it was a long time coming, but it appears to have been worth the wait. Tim Sawyer thinks so, and I'm inclined to agree with him. Here's Tim's take on Christoph Scheerer's take on the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.

A Review
By Tim Sawyer

One month ago “The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit: A Modern Guide to a Fascinating Chess Opening” book by Christoph Scheerer was released. (He took the last name of his wife when he got married; he was Christoph Wisnewski.) I have examined this book in detail during the past four weeks. It is wonderful to see an author from a younger generation take up the BDG mantle. Scheerer turns age 31 this year and I turn age 60 in two years.

IM Scheerer of Germany is rated over 2400, yet I am shocked that the book is so good! I’ve been disappointed by famous authors. Christoph did a LOT of research. I have done the same for my unpublished BDG Keybook 4 (due out in 2012). Scheerer lists a 3 page bibliography of major articles, books, cds, dvds, databases, periodicals and websites. Only the excellent works from 2010 by Eric Jego and by Guido de Bouver are missing.

Most BDGers were disappointed that his book had been delayed so long by Everyman. As I recall it was initially projected to be 192 pages. Now it seems that Scheerer himself just wanted to make it a bigger and better book. A revised Everyman listing had the book coming out with 272 pages. The final book actually has 336 pages, not the typical Everyman volume. Over the years I have purchased maybe 100 Everyman books. They are well written, but the coverage of the book is understandably limited. Christoph’s book (as Wisnewski) “Play 1...Nc6!” is a favorite repertoire book of mine. Rather than cover the typical three or four options that Black has in each 1...Nc6 main line, Christoph picks one and just covers only that. He excels in assessing the most practical continuations.

Scheerer’s BDG work is not a repertoire book limited to only one variation for White. He covers all the variations by Black on moves three, four and five and gives at least two playable options for White vs. each. In the twelve years since I wrote my BDG Keybook II, I have done a lot of research finding the critical lines. I have graduated from chess engines Rybka 2 to Fritz 11 and now to Junior 12. Scheerer uses Rybka throughout the book, presumably a current version. Most of Scheerer’s conclusions mirror my own these days. He adds ideas that are new to me and reminds me of some ideas I forgot.

Christoph Scheerer's work presents the gambit as very playable, and yet he shows where the biggest theoretical traps lay. He has clear verbal explanations as to what is going on. About half of the analysis covers more recent games or recommendations from other recent sources. Most authors either seem to worship popular BDGers or belittle them. I found Scheerer to be fair and positive toward past BDGers. Those who have played more known games and those who are higher rated get the most mention. When there is a point for improvement, Scheerer notes how we can play better in our future games.

Scheerer covers both the Lemberger and the Hübsch. The only negative that I can see is that he does not cover Pirc, Benoni or French Defense lines nor the 1.d4 Nf6 2.f3 move order. Fair enough. Scheerer is a Veresov player, so Nc3 on moves 1, 2, or 3 is his natural approach. The BDG fits well into his repertoire. Enjoy the book! Play the Gambit!!