Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Yes, yes, but was it a BDG?

 "Taxi drivers played chess as their cars lined a street during a strike Monday over tariffs for journeys to and from a new Berlin airport. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)"

Gotta love those Berliners. My wife and I lived a wonderful three+ years there in the 1960s. A fabulous, dynamic town. But you do have to wonder. Would this be happening if they'd not closed Tempelhof?

Just kidding, just kidding.

From Susan Polgar Chess Daily News and Information: Taxi chess

A favorite move of the weaker amateur

Bad idea: h7-h6 in the Euwe Defense
No, no, no! I absolutely do not mean 4.f3!

Over at his entertaining blog on the Jerome Gambit, which I often read while enjoying my first cup of morning coffee, Rick Kennedy discusses an interesting observation from Max Euwe on an early h7-h6. (JeromeGambit: A Jerome Look At The Semi-Italian Opening (Part 1)):
"On this blog I refer to 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6 as the Semi-Italian Opening, a name given to it in Chess Master Vs Chess Amateur(1963), by Max Euwe and Walter Meiden. Here is what the authors say about Black's third move (I have changed the notation from English descriptive to algebraic.)
This is a favorite move of the weaker amateur. He fears some future attack by the White QB (Bg5, for instance) or by the White KN (Ng5), and, before the White QB is even able to move, he plays the precautionary 3...h6. In certain positions, such a precautionary move is occasionally necessary, but in this position, not only is it not necessary, but it consumes valuable time. This puts Black one move behind White in the type of opening where tempi are of greatest importance. Instead of meeting the enemy's rapidly mobilizing forces with armed soldiers (i.e., by bringing out his pieces), Black only loses time and force, and, without realizing it, even weakens his defensive wall..."
This reminded me that in the first year of BDG World (1983) I wrote an article on this general theme, in which I quoted Diemer (from the 2 January 1956 issue of Schach) on the move h7-h6:
"All instruction books warn of too many pawn moves in the opening. In this category is the move h6--enthusiastically played mostly by beginners, but often enough also by experienced players."
After noting that h6 is not "of itself" bad, Diemer goes on to enumerate its drawbacks:
1) It loses time and neglects development.
2) It weakens (often decisively) the field g6.
3) After Black castles Kingside, it offers White the opportunity to tear open the position through a g2-g5 pawn storm, or through a sacrifice on h6.
In the article I noted that h7-h6 appears frequently in the Euwe Defense to the BDG, a natural reaction to White’s placing his Bishop on g5.

I previously put up a couple of posts based on that article. You can see them here:
These posts also have links to a few illustrative games with javascript replay.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

You call it madness...

My buddy Peter Atzerpay, WKPI,SACP (well-known private investigator and strong amateur chessplayer) called me earlier tonight. "What do you call this," he said. He was in his cups, I think. "Call what," I said. "Call this," he said, and he began to spit out the moves of a game.

"I'd call that the Elephant Gambit," I said, after pushing out a few moves.

"Not Queen's pawn counter gambit?" Pete said.

"An Elephant," I said.

"Not Mittelgambit im Nachzug?" Pete said.

"An Elephant," I said.

"Not a ...," Pete started.

"An Elephant," I said.

"I call it madness," Pete said.

Who am I to argue.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

By any means necessary: a BDG

Updated 15 Apr 2012 to add the note at move 19. Thanks, Richard.

It seems that many players--well, at least some-- who are quick to disparage the Blackmar-Diemer are at the same time prone to go to some lengths to avoid playing into one, although the late GM Larry Evans once wrote that the best way to refute a gambit is to accept it.

However, I can understand this attitude. It makes perfect sense. Why waste time studying defenses when the gambit is so bad? And why take even the marginal chance of suffering the embarrassment, the ignominy,  of losing to it?

Consequently, BDG lovers often go to extremes to sneak in a BDG. And others probably slip into one perhaps without even realizing it. I have no way of knowing which was the case with this recent game. I've posted several times earlier about this. After you play through this game you can check those posts here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pete's Elephant

My buddy Peter Atzerpay called the other night. "Saw that old Elephant by that old man Diemer you posted the other day," he said. "I played one of those last night and thought you might get a kick out of it."

"Send it on," I said.

"It's short," he said. "I'll give it to you over the phone." And he set off before I could say anything. But I stopped him after he gave me White's second move."

"Bc4 sounds like the Bishop's Opening to me," I said.

"Just write it down," Pete said. "It'll come to you in a minute."

I wrote it down.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Brazen moves?

" It was one of the most brazen moves in the chess world since the Najdorf Sicilian Defense, perhaps even the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit."
   One of my agents sent that quote to me today and I couldn't imagine what they were talking about. Forget the Najdorf, but more brazen than than the BDG? Gotta be the Jerome Gambit, I guessed.
   Nope, turns out it was another story about Susan Polgar moving her gang from Texas Tech to Webster. You can see the story in the link at the end of this.
    All I can say is it's about time. Colleges have been buying big time sports championships for decades now, and it's time for chess to get in on the action. Sure, it'll make it harder for the real amateurs, students, you know, to complete.
   The only way I got to play tennis at Auburn centuries ago--well decades anyway--was that in those days all the scholarships had to go to the big moneymaking sports. The few colleges that gave tennis scholarships, Florida for one, I recall, bought up the good players, and the other schools made do with the second-raters, like myself.
   So no money, no scholarships was good for me. Tulane was still in the SEC in those days, and one year I got to spend the week of the conference tournament in New Orleans. Compensation for getting knocked out early by one of the moneyed players was freedom to spend the rest of the week crawling the city--Bourbon Street mainly.
   Still, I'm okay with buying the best players you can. I just hope it just doesn't go so far as offering bounties for knocking players out of the game. Somebody told me they do that sort of thing in big money football.

Bold Move In The Small World Of College Chess

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Not so much an opening...

It's still the first day of April as I write this, at least where I live. A beautiful day it is, too. Early this morning I enjoyed reading several blog posts with April Fools' pranks and jokes in them. I don't have any pranks, but was reminded that quite some years ago a couple of noted chess authors described the Elephant Gambit as "not so much an opening as a joke."

That phrase tickled me; it still does. So, in honor of the day, I represent an old game of Diemer's played in 1983 when he was about the age I am now. (Diemer was born in 1908).

I hope you enjoy it. Really, I'm not kidding. But even if I were, the game shows that the joke is on White.