ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
A great majority of Blackmar-Diemer Gambit players are highly annoyed when their opponents have the cheek to decline the pawn they so graciously offer; even more so as many players do not quite feel at home in the ensuing variations.

Download PGN of June '11 d-Pawn Specials games

>> Previous Update >>

Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Declined - Vienna Defence 4...Bf5 [D00]

In my previous update, I discussed the current status of the Lemberger Counter-Gambit. Amongst all the ways of declining the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, however, I find the Vienna Defence (which is named after the Viennese master Hans Müller, who discussed this defence quite controversially with Diemer) to be the most important one. This is emphasized by the fact that it is the main antidote in Matthias Wahls' epic tome about the Scandinavian Defence, Modernes Skandinavisch. And since German works about the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit have always been highly regarded, I find it reason enough to shine a light on the current status of the Vienna Defence.

The defence itself arises after 1 d4 d5 2 e4 dxe4 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 f3 Bf5:

Diemer Gambit [D00]

In this position, I consider two main moves: 5 fxe4 and 5 g4. While the latter regains the pawn in most cases (we will discuss the implications further below), with the first move White plays a true gambit (the so-called Diemer Gambit) after all.

Usually, Black answers 5 fxe4 with 5...Nxe4; on some rare occasions, however, it is the bishop who appears on e4:

Personally, I would not know why Black should prefer this to the usual 5...Nxe4. Granted, being a pawn up the general rule says to trade pieces, but it still is a long way to the endgame, and being a fan of the bishop pair, it is easy for me to condemn this move. Nevertheless, it has to be taken seriously, and I would like to take the opportunity to take a look at how White should react best in Vandenbroucke,N - Rogers.

Moving on to 5...Nxe4 6 Qf3, we reach the first important position of this update:

Since 6...Qxd4? is not possible (due to 7 Qxf5 Nxc3 8 Qc8+ Qd8 9 Qxd8+ Kxd8 10 bxc3) Black has to think of a way to take care of his hanging pieces. But not only this: From f3, the white queen is also eyeing b7 and f7.

First, I would like to deal with 6...Nxc3. In my book about the The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit I stated that "this move is less popular [...], but it is not significantly worse". At a second glance, I would like to qualify this, as it is not that easy for Black to get an equal position here.

The diagram shows the position after 7 bxc3 Qc8 8 Bd3 Bxd3 9 cxd3 e6 10 Nh3. Since Black is tied to the defence of b7, it is not easy for him to complete his development. In the meantime, it seems that White has more than one way to create great attacking chances. Let's have a look at Hall, A - McLeod, F to see what I mean.

Therefore, 6...Nd6 is the more common move. And why shouldn't it be? From d6, the knight protects his bishop as well as the aforementioned points b7 and f7!

It is therefore natural to play 7 Bf4, which renews the various threats generated by 6 Qf3. There are several ways to react, even though some are worse than others. I would like to begin our investigations with 7...Bc8 8 0-0-0:

It is obvious that White not only has compensation, but already a decisive advantage. It is hard for Black to survive for too long, as can be seen in Vandenbroucke,N - vor.

More commonly played is 7...Qc8, again protecting the bishop and the b-pawn. Unfortunately, a move that not really obtrudes is quite strong: Surprisingly, after 8 Bxd6! Black is already in trouble:

In my book I gave 8...cxd6 9 Bb5+ Bb7 10 Nge2 Bxb5 11 Nxb5 Qd7 12 c4 as my main line, which resulted in a "crushing position" for White a few moves later. Adding insult to injury, it seems that 12 0-0!? is also playable:

Looking at Leisebein, P - Preussner, M this looks fun, even though Black might be able to escape here after all...

It is now time to move to the heart chamber of the Diemer Gambit. With 7...e6, Black offers his b-pawn, even though White should not take it at all:

Generally, after 8 0-0-0 c6, White would love to open one or even two central files. However, the immediate 9 d5? is refuted outright, as can be seen in Wagner, H - Studier, G.

Instead, White has to pick another target: The bishop on f5! Following 9 g4 Bg6 10 Qe3 (pinning the black e-pawn and freeing the f3-square for his knight) Black already has to be careful:

Since 10...Nd7?! would allow 11 d5 after all, 10...Be7 is necessary. Then after 11 Nf3 Nd7, 12 d5 was the main line in the old days:

Unfortunately, Wahls refuted Diemer's old analysis in his Modernes Skandinavisch, but he failed to acknowledge all the available resources. But that does not mean that 12 d5 is to be recommended: With best play from both sides, the game should end in a draw, as can be seen in Leisebein, P - Burk, D.

Instead of 12 d5, the move 12 Ne5!? is currently the most promising approach, even more so as it is not mentioned by Wahls at all:

The idea is to go after the black bishop after all. Should Black do nothing, White will push his h-pawn, either winning the bishop outright or wrecking the black pawn structure. Therefore, 12...Nf6 13 h4 Nd5 14 Nxd5 cxd5 15 Nxg6 (otherwise the black bishop will escape) 15...hxg6 is rather forced:

White has two ways of treating this position; the first one, which I only mentioned in a side note before, is 16 Bd3, which preserves the bishop pair for the moment. The main idea is to open the kingside in order to utilize the bishop's full potential; despite my remarks in my book, I do think that this is quite viable, as can be seen in Kuni, R - Hole, T.

The other idea is to "sacrifice" the bishop pair with 16 Bxd6 in order to prevent the black king from escaping the center anytime soon. I myself tried this idea in the recent Luebeck GM tournament; knowing that my opponent employed the Scandinavian Defence from time to time, I reckoned he would be familiar with Wahls' analysis. And since 12 Ne5!? was unknown to Wahls, I figured it would be unknown to my opponent as well: And it was! Unfortunately, I lost the game, but that had nothing to do with the opening, as you may see in Scheerer, C - Kopylov, M.

Hara-Kiri Gambit [D00]

Despite its theoretical correctness, players are often deterred by the huge amount of analysis that comes with the Diemer Gambit. For those of you who feel addressed, the move 5 g4 (which has been dubbed the Hara-Kiri Gambit by Peter Leisebein) might be just for you:

After 5...Bg6, White may play 6 g5 which regains the pawn (and guarantees wild positions, as we will see later!), but there is also 6 h4!?, which is yet another way to offer a pawn:

Black can actually afford to play 6...exf3, since then 7 h5?! Be4 is just good for Black. After 7 Qxf3, however, Black has to take care of his bishop as well as of his pawn on b7. In most cases, black players play 7...c6, hoping that after 8 h5 Bxc2 9 Rh2 Qxd4 they will have snatched enough pawns for the bishop.

This is indeed what deters most players from playing this variation, but I would like to throw 9 Qe2!? in the ring. Here, Black gets his pawns as well, but this time White gets his pieces into play more effectively. I invite you to look at the game Tatlow, S - Abbott, S in order to see what I mean.

Should Black be uncomfortable in sacrificing a piece for many pawns, 6...h6 is the move to play. It is also Wahls' recommended response, which makes it even more important to analyse:

The most promising move here seems to be 7 Bg2!? (another move not given by Wahls), which occupies the h1-a8 diagonal. Since Black cannot really allow White to take on e4 (which would regain the pawn in a dominant position), he has to play 7...exf3 after all. Needless to say, that White then manages to generate chances, as in Baroja, M - Arruti, J.

Kampars Gambit [D00]

Turning our attention to 6 g5 Nd5, the so-called Kampars Gambit is characterized by 7 fxe4:

In my book, I dismissed this gambit not for one, but for two reasons. Even though I still cannot recommend the gambit, things are not that easy, as I would like to show you in Leisebein, P - Hensel, O.

Our final game in this update will feature the main line of the Hara-Kiri Gambit, which arises after 7 Nxe4:

With this move, White not only regains his pawn, but also possesses a slight space advantage. On the other hand, his pawn structure is scattered, and his center is prone to attacks. Nevertheless, it is a good way to proceed if you just want to "play a game", since there is not much theory to this line. In order to give you at least a few hinters, I will conclude this update with the game Gedult,D - Jean.

You can buy my new book, The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit: A modern guide to a fascinating chess opening, here.

Cheers, Christoph

>> Previous Update >>