Friday, 20 February 2015

An outing in Lev Gutman's line of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit

My next update to my Gambiteers Guild site will hopefully result in a near-complete coverage of the King's Gambit, as I am currently examining the Falkbeer Counter-Gambit and the Declined, with 1.e4 e5 2.f4 Bc5.  It appears that Boris Alterman in his gambit series has come up with some interesting ideas for Black in the "true" Falkbeer (with 1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 e4) which, though not bringing Black close to full equality, ensure that the line is worth taking more seriously than I thought.

Indeed, a few months ago I had quite an embarrassing loss as White in that variation where I played 4.d3 Nf6 5.dxe4 Nxe4 6.Nf3, the most critical response, but then lost my way.

But while my site continues to get updated slowly, in the meantime I will discuss some of my own practical encounters.

Remarkably, Lev Gutman's recommendation against the critical Ziegler Defence to the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 c6 6.Bc4 Bf5 7.Bg5 e6 8.Nh4!? Bg6 9.Nxg6 hxg6 10.Qd3) still hasn't been tested according to the database.  But I managed to reach it via transposition in a very recent game of my own.  Although I lost the game, I felt that I had decent chances out of the opening.

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Bc4 Bf5 5. f3 exf3 6. Nxf3 e6 7. Bg5 Nf6 8.
Nh4 Bg6 9. Nxg6 hxg6 10. Qd3 Be7 11. O-O-O Nbd7 12. h4 

12...Nb6 13. Bb3 Nbd5 14. Ne2 b5 15. Rhf1 a5 16. c4 bxc4 17. Bxc4 O-O 18. Nf4 Nxf4 19. Bxf4 Nd5 20. Be5 Bf6
21. g4 Bxh4 22. Rh1 Bg5+ 23. Kb1 Ne3 24. Rdg1 Nxc4 25. Qh3 f6 26. Qh7+ Kf7 27.
Bxf6 Bxf6 28. Rh6 Qxd4 29. Qxg6+ Ke7 30. Rh3 Qxb2# 0-1

The move-order from the Caro-Kann was pretty unusual- normally Black plays 4...Nf6 and then 5.f3 exf3 6.Nxf3 is a straight transposition to the Ziegler Defence.  With the move-order 4...Bf5 5.f3 exf3 6.Nxf3 e6, Black can consider meeting 7.Bg5 with 7...Be7!?, which appears to be completely unexplored.  My preliminary suggestion is 8.Qd2 intending 9.0-0-0, and if 8...Bxg5 9.Nxg5.

With the retreat 14.Ne2 I began to go astray, but the computer suggests that 14.Kb1 would have given White decent compensation for the pawn, and after 14...b5 (the problem with 14.Ne2 is rather 14...Ng4) 15.Nf4 White would also have been doing fine.  The final straw was the wildly over-optimistic 25.Qh3?, when I failed to realise that Black could simply create a secure escape hatch for the king with 25...f6.  The idea of Qd3-h3 works for White in some lines following the natural recapture with 25.Qxc4.  I also missed a "shot" with 24.Bxe6!.

An interesting fighting game and not particularly discouraging for White's cause, despite the loss.  However, I still believe that the most critical line of the Blackmar-Diemer complex is the Gunderam Defence with 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bf5, rather than 5...c6 6.Bc4 Bf5.


  1. 14.Kb1 might have been better - but what's the plan?

  2. Good question. I think the idea is to slowly improve the position more than anything else- Rhf1 is coming, and for example 14...Qc7 could be met by 15.Na4 with ideas of Na4-c5 and/or c2-c4, expanding on the queenside and thus discouraging Black from castling there. If 14...b5, by analogy with the game, then 15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.Rhf1 maintains some pressure for the pawn.

    I'm not 100% sure that White has full compensation for the pawn in this line, to be honest, but it seems that whatever Black does, White can generate lasting pressure due to Black's weaknesses, despite Black having the strong-point for a knight on d5.

  3. Actually I am starting to look into the BDG and am going to give this a try (I do not like what the books give.) What do you like to play against the Lemberger Counter Gambit?

  4. I prefer 4.Nxe4 (4.dxe5 leads to a dull endgame in which White can equalise with accurate play, but that's all, and 4.Nge2 Nc6 is awkward). Then if 4...Qxd4 I think the line mentioned by Christoph Scheerer at is quite good: 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Nf3 Qd5 7.0-0.
    Stefan Bucker recommended 5.Qe2 in an edition of Kaissiber, which is interesting, but probably insufficient after 5...Nc6.
    If 4...exd4 5.Nf3 we have a position that resembles a Scotch Gambit. White has decent play there.

  5. Hi Ian,

    yesterday a funny transposition crossed my mind. 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 d5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.cxd4 Nc6 6.Nc3 Qxd4 7.Bd3 is a Von Hennig-Schara Gambit with colours reversed: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4 5.Qxd4 Nc6 6.Qd1 exd5 7.Qxd5 Bd6. The latter is fully playable according to IM Bronznik and FM Bücker. Even funnier is that Nimzowitch lost with it against Fahrni in 1905. The latter played with 14...f6 a move that was not considered by either!

  6. A very intriguing transposition indeed! Interestingly on the database there are no games with 8.Nb5 in the Von Hennig-Schara Gambit version and I cannot find any references to the possibility on the internet. I had a look at Nimzowitsch-Fahrni and it looks like White erred around moves 22-25, and the position after 14...f6 might be close to equal due to White's piece activity, but the knight move harassing the d3/d6 bishop looks like quite a strong move. I haven't been able to make 9.Qe2 (instead of 9.Qxd4) work convincingly.

    Stefan Bücker wrote a couple of articles for ChessCafe about "reversed colours" openings and made a point that would be relevant here too: a gambit that gives Black a "+= to =" assessment would be considered quite good but the colours reversed "=+ to =" version for White wouldn't be seen as positively. Nonetheless I could see the idea scoring pretty well since it is unlikely that opponents will recognise the transposition.