Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Blackmar-Diemer Gambit

I've been really bored with my white repertoire. I have been playing for the Fried Liver Attack, but it rarely happens anymore, and I end up in rather closed middle- game positions: usually some kind of Guico Piano thing, which I've always found tough and unexciting (especially when black plays d6 early, which he usually does). I've actually been dreading getting the white pieces because of a fear of the opening! Something is clearly wrong.

Based on some musing of Quandoman, I played a few blitz games with the Blackmar-Diemer gambit tonight. The games were a hell of a lot of fun. They were wide-open, tactically rich, exciting games. I know that all the GM books say that the BDG stinks, as your pawn structure ends up a mess, but I think I'm gonna play around with it for a while. It will give me a chance to practice some aggressive, attacking chess. Since I tend to play too timidly (in the name of 'building up a good position') I think it will be a good exercise. I just seem to give away the initiative, and the BDG should train me to seize it or die. Another cool thing about the BDG is that people typically play it as black, so in theory I won't have as many "Dammit I hate when black plays this response" moments. If my goal is really to become a solid 1200 player, that should be achievable with BDG. If I'm ever in the Bay area, I'd like to have a beer and a game with Quandoman. That guy has the best rants!

Does anyone know if Chess Openings for White, Explained is ever going to come out? It has been delayed three times now! Their book for black is pretty amazing.


Blogger Chris said...

The BDG has some fanatic followers :) I say play it if you're having fun. It will give you more opportunities for tactical play. This book is considered by many to be the bible for the BDG.

5/04/2006 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I just noticed that Chris. Searching the web, I have noticed that the BDG inspires an almost religious fanatacism (is it a coincidence that the best book on it is written by a Reverend?).

I have also noticed it inspires violent antipathy amongst GMs. Few of my opening books mention it, and those that do universally despise it. I already quoted this at Quandoman's site, but this is from p. 145 of Collins' excellent book 'Understanding the Chess Openings':
I've seen more promising players lured into incompetence by this opening than I care to remember. The basic pattern is this--player learns BDG, tries to get it in every game, thus limiting his chess experience (and, since the opening isn't good, he loses too many games, meaning that his rating stays low and he can't get games against better players). Nobody who plays good chess plays this line, and nobody who plays good chess ever will.

(His emphasis).

See Quandoman's post for discussion of this in the comments.

5/04/2006 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I think Collins is being a little harsh. When you get to the Master level in chess then, yes, I think you better know something beyond the BDG. But at the class level, if you are attracted to it, go ahead and have fun. Most results at the class level are not determined by choice of opening. If you're young and/or think it's a good possibility you'll eventually reach Master level, you probably want to study main line openings as well.

One benefit of the BDG is surprise, since hardly anyone prepares for it. But that only works once against someone if they then go and study it. For example, IM Andrew Martin offers a defense here.

5/04/2006 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Well. . .I wouldn't waste my time on a dead opening.

Frankly, you're going to becme much more than just a solid 1200 player. You will easily become a club stregth player - around 1500 and they really don't know many openings beyond the first 5-6 moves.

I'll just say that if you want a good solid opening for White that is played at all levels, try the Queens Gambit.

You can always get the pawn back and it can transition into a whole lot of openings - The Kings Indian Defense, The Slav, etc. There are always sharp lines and good counterplay - not to mention a whole lot of traps that you can play against the unsuspecting or inexperienced.

5/04/2006 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I wonder what the most trap-heavy opening is. That is, assume your opponent makes reasonable-looking moves. Which opening, for white, has the highest number of zingers to snag him on?

I liked the Fried Liver because of that: a very reasonable looking move for black, but then his king is naked in the middle of the street. But it is very hard to actually reach that once you get above the beginners.

Jim: It's not something I'd stick with a long time, but something to help me become a more aggressive player. By far most importantly, I found the games really fun, and was actually finally looking forward to playing as white again! It felt like a battle right away.

If I do go through with this, once I've had my fill of the BDG, I'll probably go to more vanilla e4-based openings. (Though I had never really considered the Queen's gambit). Tactics training by fire: circles and using the BDG!

5/04/2006 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger katar said...

BDG is a fantastic choice in my opinion. You can get it most every game after 1.d4 d5, and even when you switch to 1.e4 you can still transpose to BDG against defenses that play d5 like Caro Kann or Scandinavian.
So BDG can be a durable surprise weapon... Lemberger countergambit is what i play against BDG. I tried A.Martin's defense in blitz and got crushed.... it's very defensive.

5/04/2006 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

I'm always surprised by the crampy reactions you get when playing an opening that is known as 'not solid'.
Your weakness is your guide.

When I played the Sicilian as black, I hated the Smith Morra gambit.
So I played the Smith Morra gambit for 3 years, until I hadn't any succes with it anymore due to stronger opponents. Now I can play the Sicilian again with black, knowing how to handle the Smith Morra.
That's a logical approach.

For years I play the Alapin Diemer gambit against the French. The Alapin Diemer is a derivate from the BDG. I have a score of 85% with it.
My opponents can find little help in knowing it is not sound!

So feel free and play whatever you want. Below 2000 everything is playable. When you can't bring the opening to an good end, you simply change it!

With bookup or any other openingstrainer you can play a new opening within two weeks with confidence.
No need to feel crampy.

5/04/2006 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger King of the Spill said...

Who can argue with fun? =-)

5/05/2006 02:14:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


While I don't normally give a whole lot of accolades to his books and rarely quote him, Jeremy Silman has a nice little article about how to not only defend against but avoid the tactics and traps of the BDG.

I'm assuming that your are not going to spend all your time playing players rated lower than you, so it's very likely that even a 1300 will know a decent response to the BDG. . .

It's certainly fine to play it a few times to learn the system so you will know how to defeat it while playing Black (which is pretty easy), but beyond that, I can't see investing much time in it.

Anyway, I'm sure a chess coach would advise you not to play it because it's clearly unsound. . .

5/05/2006 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger takchess said...

Playing chess for fun. Man, you are on a slippery slope 8)
I haven't played the bdg but have played it's evil twin the Elephant gambit a little bit. I believe there is a great value to playing trashy opening in the early stages of our chess development.Throw ourself into wild positions and see what happens.I delayed playing the King Gambit because of GM commentary I read about it being unsound. Although I believe now that commentary was perhaps unsound. Play what you feel like playing and see what happens. You may even at some point check out the Grob........

5/05/2006 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Pendrax said...

I've not tried the BDG, but I have looked for a while for a reasonable opening for White that isn't hard to remember. (Getting older means I have that CRS thing going on.) I've been using the Colle System as a way to get a reasonable position, almost no matter how good Black is, but yet still have some tactical possibilites.

I think high-level players don't like the Colle because it's a bit single-minded, but like the BDG, I seem to get a good position.

My strategy is to minimize the amount of time I have to spend memorizing opening variations so I can spend more time on tactics, tactics, and tactics.

5/05/2006 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger Friend of Plato said...

I think one of the most trap-happy openings is the Frankenstien-Dracula Variation of the Vienna. That's some seriously hairy stuff.

Peoples responses to "unsound openings" are curious. I'm totally with all the people who say that at the club level just about anything is playable--I think this is born out empirically. in fact, Chris is right on the money, in my opinion, when he says that, "Most results at the class level are not determined by choice of opening." I think they are primarily decided by tactics (something De La Maza argues for).

As far as the people who say you ought not waste your time on a "busted" opening, i think they are missing the point. If I win over 50% of my games with a "busted" opening, is it really busted?

It seems pretty obvious to me that "busted", when it comes to chess openings, is relative to the level of your opponent.

I know a guy (He is now a master)who answered 1. e4 with 1...f5 (The Fred Defence) all the way up till he was a B player. He did this for a number of reasons. First, you are fighting for your life from move one, so it forces you to think tactically and you learn immediately how to defend properly. But, in short, it got him a fighting, tactical game from the get go. Now The Fred is definately a crap opening, but I've seen games where a c player takes down an A player with this opening. Don't waste your time on a "busted" opening? Well, if you can't bust it, it's not wasted time.

5/05/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger katar said...

David Zimbeck (2200 USCF) invented (as far as i know) an opening for white in casual games, characterized by the moves: e3, Ke2, Kf3, g3, Kg2. Usually with h4 to follow (after getting pieces out) and then possible play on the h-file since the rook is already on h1 and the other heavy pieces can swing over to h1 without being blocked by the king who is usually on g1.

I have seen Zimbeck take out experts with this line.

I'm not saying anyone should play this nonsense, but it goes to show that you can get away with garbage and give opponents problems.

5/05/2006 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger Friend of Plato said...

I like to think that my rants have at least a semblance of plausibility to them.

And, if we do ever have beer together, it has to be the good stuff from The Netherlands or Belgium. I really can't stand American beer (yes, it's a clice, but I rarely ever drink, so if i do, it has to be the best).

5/06/2006 12:10:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I actually am not much of a drinker either. I use that as a stand in for X, where X is any social vice. I'd prefer a good cigar to a good beer. I guess chess has become something of a vice to me, so that would be enough.

5/06/2006 01:22:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

In the words of International Master Predrag Trajkovic "each player 1500 who gives material in opening is fool".

Even with the poor grammar, this is easily understood. . .

5/06/2006 01:27:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Jim, I think the Sam Collins quote above expresses the point well, too. We could get rich by collecting IM and GM diatribes against the BDG.

They are, for the most part, being pedantic. Everyone knows that for patzers, the opening ain't that big a deal. The games are fun: you lose a pawn (crud) but you get a ridiculous lead in development, typically with all your minor pieces out while your opponent still has a bishop trapped.

I figure, why not try it out for a while? Once it stops working, and stops being fun, I'll move on to a more boring and accepted opening, like the Frankenstein-Dracula. :)

5/06/2006 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Friend of Plato said...

Hmm...I'm a bit confused by the quote:

Predrag Trajkovic "each player 1500 who gives material in opening is fool".

Yes, poor grammar aside, what does this mean? What is the context in which this remark was stated? It seems that you could just substitute "1500" for any "n" and the statement remains vague. that is, he might as well have said, " Any 2500 player who gives away material in the opening is a fool." What counts as givig away material? A pawn, does that count? If so, he's advocating that no one ever gambit. That's an absurd notion. perhaps by "giving" he means "giving without compensation." But that reading, again, is unclear without further context. in short, this quote, apart from context, is compatible with both veiws. But I'll refrain from any more pedantics.

Yes, Blue Devil, i knew that "having a beer" was just a placeholder; I was just going with it literally, that's all.

I have a vice to, besides trying to play chess when I should be doing research, and that is: Reading way too many comic books.

5/06/2006 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


As I said, I think you should play the BDG to learn how to defeat it and only to learn it's many flaws so you can beat it and then put it aside. . .IMHO. . .

My experience has been that openings are becoming more and more important the better you become. In tournament play, I have faced 1200's who know openings 8-12 moves deep. I think it makes a lot of difference - time pressure can get to be a real problem. . .

But hey, it's your game. . .I mean, if you want to play the BDG for awhile, I don't care, but as far as an opening for my repertoire, forget it. I have played against the BDG several times and usually crushed it with one word: French.


Predrag's statement is pretty harsh and pedantic, but I guess he can afford to be - as an IM he's better that 99%.5 of the players in the world :)

Frankly, if I listened to Reti, I'd never play the French or the Queens Gambit - he thinks all beginners should play open games to learn tactics. . .

Anyway, have fun with the BDG. . .

5/07/2006 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I've played it in about 10 blitz games so far, and in 100% of games people have played the gambit. Most of my opponents were rated more highly than me, between 1100 and 1300. My percentage is low (I am awful at blitz), probably under 50%, but I was playing more to get a sense of the resulting middle game positions, and they are very comfortable for me.

(Note the low percentage means nothing: I would lose at least 50% as white with my usual opening, if I were playing blitz against more highly rated players).

I was playing the Fried Liver, where you sacrifice an entire Knight to expose his king. This feels like nothing. Maybe I should start with the Ryder gambit (you put yourself down two pawns in the beginning), then go to the standard Blackmar-Diemer, and slowly settle into more conservative play. :P

5/07/2006 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Jim: I bet they won't know the BDG 12 moves in. In my limited experience online, people are making stupid moves by move six.

Even I know certain variations of the Ruy Lopez 12 moves in. When I was playing 1...b6 as black, even the most highly rated players would be stumped. There is something to be said for discarded lines: they usually give me a time advantage in the opening.

Who knows, the BDG may become the new Ruy exchange variation, which was dismissed as weak before the Fischer resuscitation.

The emotions (on both sides) that the BDG evokes is fun. We'll see, Jim, how long until it feels broken. I am mostly working on the circles now anyway, not playing much.

The reasons I have for wanting to try it are sound, plus it's just fun, so I'll let ya'll know when it gets annoying to play. I'll post a game or two also, when I get some time to play slow time controls again.

5/07/2006 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Friend of Plato said...

I always play for the Ryder Variation of the BDG; it's great stuff. I fair well enough with it, both in OTB and in Blitz.

I think it's true that the stronger you get the more important openings become. You can't make a career out of the BDG, but you can get some really good tactical games out of it.

Damn, I just hate the French (double entendre intended); against that I play the Alapin line.

5/08/2006 12:15:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I had never heard of the Alapin. It seems a natural complement to the BDG.

I love studying openings, more than anything in chess. It is a constant temptation, but I really need to focus on tactics and endgame before I get back into a heavy opening study.

5/08/2006 12:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jim is wrong!! BDG is not dead... But GMs dont use it because of Steinitz laws... But Alekhine and Tal played it!!!!

2/16/2008 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I can say at an 1800 level I have yet to see any cracks in this opening's foundation. I know the BDG pretty deep down the main pathways and most of my opponents go wrong early and often.

I think this is a sound opening. It is merely an unfashionable one. What grandmasters perceive as unsoundness is really caused by demanding lines in the midgames of this opening. There is a pathway to an endgame where white's piece activity and pressure remain better and fully compensate for the pawn, but it is difficult to stay on the path. Very often the gambit tempts ambitious players to sacrifice further material in a vain attempt on the enemy's king when sometimes there is no viable attack.

I think this is the issue with opening gambits like the BDG, SMG, and the King's Gambit is that they're very committal. They're not unsound necessarily, they just narrow your options because you've committed material.

I think that the modern attacking strategy is now to play more flexibly out to the nth move and when things get more theoretical THEN unleash a pet sacrifice that you may know better than your opponent. Gambits that occur on move 2 don't have the utility of surprise against strong players. They may not be forcibly lost with correct play but translating that material into momentum in an increasingly complicated midgame becomes harder and harder for a human.

But to the GMs that say all gambits are unsound and good players don't play them... they're liars. Everyone plays gambits. Everyone plays sacrifices. The difference is that good players play novel sacrifices deep into the game. Doing it on move 2 is making a risky commitment when such risk is unwarranted.

9/25/2013 02:47:00 PM  

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