Copyright ©

Alle Rechte vorbehalten. Rev. 1.0 - 17.03.2007
[mailto:] caissist ad        disclaimer

The first Blackmar-Diemer Gambit?

... some hints on that by Lev D. Zilbermints

back to main

Surely, it is of any interest when the 1st Blackmar-Diemer Gambit occoured. In the past Tom Purser tried to find out which game was Diemer's 1st BDG game. And one should mean that Diemer himself as the father of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit had also played the 1st BDG.
But Lev D. Zilbermints from the USA, not unknown to BDG fans, found a rare piece of game played in 1896 being maybe the 1st BDG game from the very beginning!? Let's him tell himself...

1896: The first Blackmar-Diemer Gambit?
by Lev D. Zilbermints
Chess Champion of Essex County

Most chess players know that the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit was invented by two players. They were Armand Edward Blackmar, who first proposed 1. d4 d5 2. e4 dxe4 3. f3? in 1882, and Emil Joseph Diemer, who played 3. Nc3! Nf6 4. f3! But nothing is new under the sun. I bring you the very first Blackmar-Diemer Gambit game, played by transposition, in 1896. However, a few explanatory words are in order.

The move 3. Nc3 (after 1. d4 d5 2. e4 dxe4) was first proposed by Ignacy von Popiel, a Polish master. His analyses were published in Deutsche Schachzeitung, the German chess newspaper, in 1893. Apparently, von Popiel was familiar with Blackmar's analyses. Blackmar first published his analyses in the July 1882 issue of Brentano's Chess Monthly, an American chess periodical.

Now, a few words about the players. Pavel Pavlovich Bobrov was a Russian. He was the Secretary of the Moscow Chess Club, and one of the strongest chess players in Moscow. William Steinitz was the former world champion, who lost the title to Lasker in 1894. Steinitz also lost the rematch in 1896.

The game given below is from a simultaneous exhibition by Steinitz in Moscow. Watch how the contest develops:

Pavel Pavlovich Bobrov - Wilhelm Steinitz
Simultaneous Exhibition, February 19, 1896 in Moscow, Russian Empire
Polish Gambit To Pre-Blackmar-Diemer Gambit

1. d4 d5 2. e4 dxe4 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5...
[Bobrov - Steinitz diagram 1]
This is the Polish Gambit, first proposed and analyzed by Ignacy von Popiel.
This move is nowadays considered to be one of the three main lines. It is also one of the ways to transpose into the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.
5. Bxf6 exf6 6. f3 exf3 7. Qxf3 Bc8
By transposition, we have arrived at a line in the Vienna Defense to the BDG. That variation goes:
1. d4 d5 2. e4 dxe4 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. f3 Bf5 5. Bg5 exf3 6. Qxf3 Bc8.
Apparently, Bobrov was familiar with Popiel's analyses. I wonder if he played any other games with this line besides this one?

8. 0-0-0 Be7 9. Bc4 0-0 10. Nge2...
[Bobrov - Steinitz diagram 2]
10...Nd7 Too slow. 10...c6 with the idea 11...b5 is better.
11. Ne4 Nb6 12. Bd3 Nd5 13. c3 f5 14. Nf2 Bg5+
15. Kb1...

[Bobrov - Steinitz diagram 3]
15...Ne3? Steinitz's last move makes his Knight a target. Black is still undeveloped, with no attack, whilst White is about to begin attacking.
16. Rde1 Re8 17. Ng3 g6? This weakens the Kingside.
18. h4!... Bobrov begins the attack.
18...Bh6 19. h5 Ng4 20. Rxe8+ Qxe8 21. hxg6 hxg6 22. Nxg4 fxg4 23. Qf6! Bg7 Despite being a pawn up, Steinitz has a hard time defending his King.

[Bobrov - Steinitz diagram 4]
24. Qh4 Qe3?? A major blunder, after which the White attack crashes through. Correct was either 24...Bd7 or 24...Be6 with some holding chances. But even then, 25. Ne4!... gives White a big edge. Perhaps Steinitz, worn out by simultaneous play, simply blundered, perhaps he did not see the response. In any case, it is all over but the shouting.
25. Qd8+...

[Bobrov - Steinitz diagram 5]
25...Bf8 26. Rh8+!!... A brilliant sacrifice, one that seals the Black king from the rest of his pieces.
26...Kxh8 27. Qxf8+ Kh7 28. Qxf7+ Kh8 29. Bxg6 Qh6 30. Qe8+ Kg7 31. Nh5+ Qxh5 32. Qf7+ Kh6 The proud Steinitz refuses to believe he has been beaten so easily, and plays until mate.
33. Qh7+ Kg5 34. Qxh5+ Kf4

[Bobrov - Steinitz diagram 6]
35. Qe5 Checkmate.
Here is what the Russian language Chess Dictionary (Moscow, 1964) had to say about Bobrov:
BOBROV, PAVEL PAVLOVICH (1862-1911), Russian chess community statesman, journalist and composer. Connected with Bobrov's name is the publication of the magazine Chess Insight, published at intervals between 1891-1910. Bobrov was the editor of chess columns in many Moscow newspapers and magazines. He played a key role in publishing the chess column in Raduga (Rainbow) magazine, where from 1882 to ceasing of publication in 1897 were published the original chess problems of
Russian authors. In this same chess section was organized the first contest of two-move problems, the judge of which was Bobrov himself.

An enthusiast of chess art, Bobrov was the secretary, effectively the leader, of the Moscow Chess Circle, one of the organizers of the First, Second, and Third All-Russian Chess Tournaments. [The first was held in 1899; the second in 1900/1901; and the third, in 1903-LDZ] Bobrov was a very good problemist; a propagandizer of chess problems; organizer and judge of many chess contests, and author of articles on the questions of chess compositions.

I should add that, according to my chess research, Bobrov also played in simultaneous exhibitions and consultation games conducted by Steinitz and Lasker.

Wieland Belka

Copyright © 2004 Atlantic Chess News (Official Publication of the
New Jersey State Chess Federation), All Rights Reserved.