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IM Gary Lane...

... on BDG and its fan club

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The great thing about chess is that it can make you passionate. There are some people who collect literature associated with the game and have special libraries devoted to antique books. Karpov is known to collect stamps with a chess theme and others buy designer chess sets. Then there are historians who want to know what happened at Hastings 1895 and anything about Fischer. However, there is one passion that seems to be popular amongst all players and that is having a favourite opening. The more obscure the line the better it seems and gambits are high on the list of most people.

The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit (1 d4 d5 2 e4 dxe4 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 f3 or 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 e4 dexe4 4 f3) is named after the American player Armand Blackmar (1826-1888) and the German Emil Josef Diemer (1908-1990). It provokes fascination and dedication from its supporters. One of the people who have done so much to promote the opening in recent times is Christian Lundmark Jensen from Copenhagen, Denmark. He says "I have a question, which I hope will interest you on the Blackmar-Diemer - in the line 3...Bf5. My question is inspired by an article in Kaissiber #5 of 1998 (a German magazine Lane), where Stefan Bücker citing ´Micheal Morlos guter Tip´- claims that after 1 d4 d5 2 e4 dxe4 3 Nc3 Bf5 then 4 f3 is bad due to 4...e5 given an "!" by Bücker. My question is: Do you agree? I don't. I think white seems to have quite satisfactory prospects after 4...e5 - and in some lines even very promising attacking potential. However, I haven't seen any further analysis on it in literature. Bückers/Morlos reasoning is that after 5 fxe4 Bg6 6 Nf3 Bb4 then pawn e4 is hanging. It is also claimed that 6...Nd7 should be slightly better for black. I've studied the first line at some length and the second only briefly. Let's take the two options in order: A. 6...Bb4 This is the most challenging line to play, and indeed the most fun line. To put it short, my conclusion on this line is: Yes, e4 is hanging - and so what? 7.Nxe5! Options:

A1) 7...Qh4+ 8 g3 Qxe4+ 9 Kf2! Despite the odd placed king I have found that white now has very promising attacking potential. For instance if 9...Qxc2+ 10 Qxc2 Bxc2 11 Bc4! and I would say +=. At least white has a good attacking potential in an unclear position here. Options: 11...Bg6 12 Nd5 (12 Bf4!?) 12...Bd6 (12...Ba5 13 Bf4) 13 Re1 += (13 Bf4!?); 11...Nf6 12 Bxf7+ +=/= (12 Nxf7 Rf8 13 Re1 unclear); 11...f6? 12 Nf7 +-. Black can exchange on c3 first, but that only makes white's position even better: 9...Bxc3 10 bxc3 Qxc2+ 11 Qxc2 Bxc2 12.Bc4! Then what? 12...Bg6?! 13 Re1!+-; 12...Ne7 13 Re1 f5 (13...0-0/Rf8 14 Ba3! +-) 14 Nf7 Rf8 15 Ng5 +-.

A2) 7...Bxe4 8 Bb5+ c6 9 O-O! This is a tricky line with a lot of risks and attacking potentials on both sides. But certainly, as far as I can see, white has the upper hand here. For instance 9...Bxc2? 10 Qxc2 Qxd4+ 11 Rf2! +-. 9...cxb5? can't be good either: 10 Nxf7 +- and if 9...f6 10.Nxe4 +- (threatening Qh5+). After 9...Bxc3 10.bxc3 black has various options, but I haven't found any good ones. : 10...Bd5 11Bc4 Bxc4 12 Nxc4 and white seems perfectly fine (for example 12...f6 13. Re1+!), 10...f6 11 Bc4 += (11...fxe5 12.Bf7+; 11...Bd5 12 Qh5+; 11...Bg6 12 Nxg6); 10...Nf6 11 Bc4 Bd5 (11...0-0? 12 Ba3! +-) 12 cxd5 cxd5 13 Rb1 (13 Ba3!?); 10...Bg6 11 Bc4 f6 12 Nxg6 hxg6 13 Bxg8 Rxg8 14 Rb1. However, these latter lines seems quite long, and perhaps Ive overlooked some better tries for black...

A3) 7...Bxc3 8 bxc3 gives a more simple position, but the same type of complications and possibilities seems to remain. I haven't analysed this much, but it seems to me to be += if not even better for white.

B) 6...Nd7 This seems more boring, and I don't see anything to be afraid of for white. For instance the simple recapture 7.dxe5 seems pretty much OK to me. Then if 7... Bb4 8.Bd2 and what has black now? Grapping the e-pawn can't be good: 8...Bxc3 9. Bxc3 Bxe4 10.e6! +=. What else then? 8...Ne7 9.Bc4 0-0?! 10.e6! +=. Others? 7...c6 may be an option. I can't assess this position, but it looks rather even to me. One possible continuation given by Rebel Decade is 8 Bg5 Qc7 9 Qd2 Nxe5 10 Nxe5 Qxe5 11 0-0-0 = (Rebel).

All in all, so far my conclusion is that after 3...Bf5 4 f3 I would be happier than scared to see black respond 4...e5. And thus I believe 4 f3 to be quite satisfactory for white, perhaps even more satisfactory than in most others of the more well known and more popular lines of the BDG. Is 1 d4 d5 2 e4 dxe4 3 Nc3 Bf5 4 f3 good or bad - in light of 4...e5 ?"

Well, a hand up who thinks that huge amount of analysis is a sign of a true gambit player? I should probably add some background at this point to explain why I receive so many questions about the legendary Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. When I had just begun playing competitively the opening had seized the imagination of everyone at my local chess club, which usually involved games with wild sacrifices and spectacular king hunts. In 1995 I even wrote a book about it for Batsford but it proved to be hard work. A lot of the old games were flawed with Black missing chances to defend so I omitted a number of examples by Diemer and other notable gambit players. Nowadays, computer software is enough to destroy some cherished lines in the Blackmar Diemer Gambit but can also be used to shed new light on other variations and inject some brilliant resources. I found your analysis very interesting and it should persuade others to investigate some of the attacking lines you have mentioned. Indeed, 5 fxe4 seems to be the best way for White to fight for an advantage. I found an old game to make any BDG expert smile because White quickly reaches a strange position and still wins with ease due to a lightening attack.

Christian Mariette - Paul Blin  Maromme 1994

1 d4 d5 2 Nc3 Bf5 3 e4 dxe4 4 f3 e5

[Diagramm] This is the move that has been proclaimed as the refutation of the BDG! 5 fxe4 exd4!? The alternative 5...Bg6 is examined closely by Jensen. For instance: 6 Nf3 Bb4 7 Nxe5 Qh4+ 8 g3 Qxe4+ 9 Kf2 (I bet a few people might grab the rook with 9...Qxh1 only to be shocked by 10 Bb5+ winning the black queen) 9...Qxc2+ 10 Qxc2 Bxc2 11 Bc4 with an edge. (See Diagram) 6 exf5 dxc3 7 Qf3 Nc6 Or 7...cxb2 8 Bxb2 gives White some compensation for the pawn in view of his extra development. 8 bxc3 A weird position but one that will delight BDG players who are happy to force Black to think to think for himself. 8...Bd6 8...Qf6 intending to castle queenside should be considered. 9 Bb5 Nge7 10 f6! Mariette jumps at the chance to weaken Black's kingside pawn barrier. 10...gxf6 11 Qxf6 Rg8 12 Nf3

[Diagramm] 12...Rxg2? A greedy move when the emphasis should be on developing the rest of his pieces. 13 Ng5 Qd7 What else? 13...Rxg5 is not much help after 14 Bxg5, which is very good for White 14 Qxf7+ Kd8 15 Ne6+ Kc8 16 Qf8+ 1 - 0

Gary Lane

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