Been quite busy with other things recently but I know I should update this blog more often- something to correct over the coming months!
The next updates on my chess openings site will focus on the Two Knights Defence and Evans Gambit, and I also intend to update my coverage of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.
I recently won a nice "short and sweet" game in the French Defence, Rubinstein Variation, with 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4. Here I don't trust 4.f3 because of 4...Bb4- I suppose White could transpose to a Winkelmann-Reimer Gambit with 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3, but I believe that Black can get the better game with either 6...c5 (I was involved in a discussion on this line at the Chesspublishing.com forum a while ago) or 6...e5 (recommended by John Watson in Play the French 4). It is, to my mind, an inferior relative of the normal Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. So I went for the normal line with 4.Nxe4.
Far more common at move 9, according to the Chesslive.de database, is 9.Bh4, which I am guessing is because Black can force the bishop to retreat (unless White is prepared to concede the bishop-pair) with ...Nf6-d5. During the game I fancied keeping open the option of sacrificing on h6 following Qd2. The sacrifice was probably sound already at move 11, but I decided to defer it for another couple of moves, noting that in the Urusov Gambit such sacrifices tend to be deadly if White's rooks are already on d1 and e1, while I think Black's queenside fianchetto plan was too slow and ...c7-c5 was called for much earlier. According to the computer, Black's only way to avoid disaster after the sacrifice was to flick in 13...c4 14.Bxc4 gxh6, when White has excellent compensation for the piece but nothing decisive. I had a forced mate with 16.Rh5 but the 16.Bxe4 played in the game was sufficient to win.