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"What is the current status of the Morris gambit?" is a question recently asked on the forum.
The answer, that this update intends to support, is: good for White in its accepted form and with an enhanced surprise value. Indeed, theory seems to have become beset by a lack of White followers 4 years ago but Black has forgotten it was because of 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 c5 3.e4 Nc6! and not 3...dxe4 4.d5!

Download PGN of November '12 d-Pawn Specials games

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The Morris Gambit Accepted 3.e4 dxe4 4.d5, 6.Qe2 [D00]

Now 4...Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Qe2 is the typical Morris Gambit Accepted approach: White wants his pawn back!

He achieved this in both Game 1 (after 6...Nbd7) and Game 2 (after 6...g6) in addition to managing to achieve the d5-d6 breakthrough against a possibly suboptimal move order from Black. Under appropriate circumstances the surge of this pawn right into the enemy camp provides White with excellent play to make up for his rather "naked" queenside castle.

Instead 6...Bg4 precipitates the move which competes with 6.Qe2 against this Black setup (6.f3), 7.f3! exf3 8.Qxf3 g6 9.0-0-0 Bg7 10.h3 Bxf3 11.Qxf3 with excellent compensation already:

In game 3 White opted for the kingside attack after 11...0-0 12.g4!? when in game 4 he stuck to the acknowledged recipe of 11...Nbd7 12.d6!, although the final results did not reflect the course of either of the games!

6.a4 [D00]

6.a4?! Is an interesting move on principle, more than once picked up by 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 c5?! 3.e4 dxe4 4.d5 Veresov players (for this reason?!) in the next few games which transpose after 4...Nf6 5.Bf4! However, some concrete reasons make it appear rather dubious at the end of the day.

After 6...g6 7.Nge2?! is a typical device from the Albin Counter Gambit to try to win the pawn back, but it does not work in this case, with an extra tempo, when the queen's bishop is outside the pawn chain because b2 is hanging! The result turned into a complete opening fiasco for White in game 5.

7.Bc4 intends to refine the idea by developing the bishop first. It backfired again in game 6 following 7...Bg7 8.Qd2?! 0-0 9.Nge2 Nbd7 10.Ng3 Nb6 11.Ba2 c4!:

7.f3!? is the most correct Morris Gambit Accepted move order with possible transpositions into the BDG accepted. Instead of 7...Qa5 8.Qd2 which faltered in game 7, White then may have tried 8.Bd2 exf3 9.Nxf3 Bg7 10.Bc4:

with normal BDG compensation considering 10...Qb4? 11.Qe2!

6.f3 [D00]

If White wants to exploit this more radical gambit idea it is also possible to do without advancing his a-pawn and try the immediate 6.f3!?

Black refused it in game 8 by 6...e3? and ended up crushed after 7.Qd3! g6 8.0-0-0 Bg7 9.Qxe3.

After 6...exf3 7.Qxf3!? is an option that worked well in game 9:

From what I have understood, this must be a typical feature of the "Brombacher Countergambit" to the BDG, which is normally generated from the move order 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 c5 and now 5.d5 exf3 6.Qxf3!?. It is not clear that the inclusion of the moves Bc1-f4 + ...a7-a6, which is typical of the Morris Gambit, actually favours White because neither ...a6 (especially at this stage), nor Bf4 (as this bishop may be better placed on g5), look mandatory in the position. The development of the queen to f3 followed by long castling alleviates the pressure on the d5 pawn, and allows White to do without a2-a4 but still dissuade ...b7-b5 (because of d5-d6, opening the long white diagonal). On the other hand, he will have to spend a tempo on h2-h3 to prevent ...Bg4, although this serves his plans of kingside expansion by g2-g4 anyway.

A special mention goes to game 10's astonishing move order for the disorientation a possibly unprepared Black will have to cope with in his pet King's Indian following 7.Nxf3 g6, transposing.

In any case the BDG approach does not improve the White prospects.

Blackmar-Diemer Gambit ...c5 [D00]

For a matter of training rather than theory, the following 5 supplementary games, without the inclusion of the typical sequence Bc1-f4-...a7-a6, skate over the similarities the BDG may have to the Morris Gambit in their accepted forms.

Not withstanding any subtle BDG move order destined to avoid the Hubsch in case of an Indian Defence opening by Black, the basic position is reached after 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 c5, the Brombacher Countergambit, presumably.

5.d5 exf3 (with the bishop still on c1, Black should not refuse the gambit as game 11 tells us) 6.Nxf3 (6.Qxf3!? being a specific feature of this move order - see game 12).

This is the Kaulich Defence, I have been reliably informed, where theory continues 6...a6 7.a4 (rather than 7.Bg5?! as in game 13) 7...Nbd7 8.Qe2:

The move chosen by the Specialist himself in game 14 ... refuted the other way round in the return match, also mentioned in the notes to game 14!!

6...g6 is characteristic of the Bogoljubov defence although I was told on the Forum that it is usually played without ...c7-c5. Yet, apart from the course of game 15 which may be improved, I do not see how White is supposed to handle this mix of the Brombacher/Kaulich/Bogoljubov!?

See you soon, Eric

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