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The prophet from Muggensturm

Emil Josef Diemer, founder of the "Blackmar Gemeinde"

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Just the looks of Emil Josef Diemer will tell you that he is not someone ready to laugh about himself every once in a while. His fragile posture, dressed in a suit that shows that he does not cherish the thought that looks do matter, a sharp nose and a cramped smile around a toothless mouth: that's the way he moves, or even dances, through life.
He is the man - everybody knows such a man - that always knocks the teacups from the table. In the latest Beverwijk tournament he fell of the stage. An accident of course, but if you had asked all insiders before the tournament started, who would fall of the stage, everyone would have shouted: "Diemer!".
Even before the war, Diemer, coming from Muggensturm bei Rastatt/Baden, was a chessplayer/writer with some fame. Accompanied by a very, very old typewriter he travelled from tournament to tournament as a reporter, driving his colleagues mad by asking a way too low salary for his news services. He just wanted to be part of scene, more than to make money. But it lasted until 1950 before Emil Josef Diemer was converted to the new truth: he discovered the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit! First there were his letters, sent to chess theoreticians like dr. Euwe, in which he explained the new unknown possibilities in this old opening line: 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4, first discovered by the 19th century New York judge Blackmar. In itself this is nothing new, people discovering new opening lines have been around for ages. Most probably they are German, and their discovery guarantees, in most cases, a forced win. So appeared in 1948 a booklet about the new opening 1.g2-g4.
Diemer received a polite answer, explaining the fact that his idea might be playable, but that there are so much more different playable lines. But his letters grew and grew to a manuscript format and his language became fierce and bitter, so he was ignored or laughed at. He was at war with the German chess magazine and the German chess federation, probably because they hesitated to publish games he annotated with headings like: "Der Teufel rast über das Brett, der furor teutonicus tobt". As soon as Diemer felt that he encountered opposition, he founded the "Blackmar Gemeinde" and started a small magazine with the same name. This magazine was sent to all "Blackmar Gambitisten", and published their games, annotated by the master himself. His annotations were notorious for the abundance of exclamation marks. In this magazine Diemer had all possibilities to foster his thoughts and ideas and to realise that his discovery, the Blackmar Diemer Gambit, was in fact too large to be part of the ordinary game of chess. "Spielen sie doch Blackmar, es verwandelt den ganzen Menschen." A headline in the Christmas 1956 issue reads: "Für denjenigen, der ins Absolute schaut, hat der Krieg nur dann einen Sinn, wenn er als Vernichtungskrieg geführt wird."
He urged the "Gambitisten" in the USA to do an investigation into the person and life of Blackmar, the man who gave the world so much. After a few months he brought the "epochemachende Sensation" that the gambit was not played for the first time by Blackmar, but by his brother who owned a men's fashion shop in New Orleans. It is clear that this news was brought in a respectful tone.
The "Blackmar Gemeinde" biggest enemy, the man that got horribly anathematized, was Hans Müller from Vienna. From the beginning he was convinced that the Blackmar Gambit was incorrect. Every analysis by Diemer was answered by a contra-analysis by an irritated Müller. An elaborate correspondence, loaded with insults, between Diemer and Müller was intensified when the German and Austrian chess magazines refused to publish their writings any longer. Their gigantic struggle to find the truth still continues, and some people presume that one fine day even Müller will become a member of the "Blackmar Gemeinde".
E.J. Diemer published a booklet lately: "Vom ersten Zug an auf Matt". It is true that, probably urged by his editor or publisher, Diemer restrained himself, although there are still a lot of exclamation marks scattered through the text. I hope that what I wrote about Diemer does not scare the reader off, because it really is a nice booklet. What do we really have to think about the Blackmar Gambit?
In the game of chess it is all about the opponents king. That king has to be checkmated. A wise player shall be patient and diplomatic, and not follow Diemer's advice "to go after checkmate from move one". But games where one of the players does follow this advice and even wins, are a pleasure to see. After all, what Diemer wants is not really new.
In the early youth of the game of chess as we know it, in the renaissance, all players went after checkmate from move one. El Greco and Ruy Lopez both deeply analysed openings with only one purpose: to checkmate the opponent as soon as possible Philidor, the eightteenth century rationalist, was the discoverer of positional play. But in the nineteenth century the unrestrained agressiveness of the romantics made a glorious comeback. Anderssen with his king's bishop and kings knight gambits was the most pronounced exponent of this school.
Diemer may be a fool, his style of play is not so bad and above all: instructive! I would recommend every one eager to improve his play, to read and study this booklet. You will not learn about the secrets of the isolani or the bishop pair, but all about the basics: the hunt for the king! In the booklet there are 300 games where the opponents king gets checkmated in every conceivable and dreadful way. Every chessplayer has to be able to do so before he starts contemplating about pawn structures. In the preface my name is mentioned. I have to explain this. During the candidate tournament in Amsterdam I met Diemer for the very first time and told him: "I've heard that the Russians are playing your system". I thought he would blush and shy away, but I was deceived because he answered: "Sie versuchen es!".
Underneath you will find an example of the Blackmar gambit taken from Diemer's magazine.

de Boer (Wormerveer) - van der Lijn (Zaandam)
Dutch Regional Team Competition 1956

1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 e6 6.Bg5 Be7 7.Bc4 Nbd7 8.O-O O-O 9.Qe2 Nb6

Black starts here unbelievable and unexplainable manoeuvres with his queen's knight. It is typical for Diemer that he praises white's play and does not disapprove of black's play. Therefore one might think that playing chess is easy as long as one plays the Blackmar gambit.

10.Bd3 Nbd5 11.Ne5 Nb4 12.Rad1 Qxd4+

And that too!

13.Kh1 Nxd3 14.Rxd3 Qc5 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.Rxf6 gxf6 17.Rg3+ Kg8 18.Qg4

And there is no escape from checkmate (1-0).

Jan Hein Donner

(translated into English by Jos Heesen)

Copyright © 1958 DE TIJD, All Rights Reserved.