Sunday, April 06, 2008

The New Englunder: I finally like d4

As black, I have always hated when white plays d4. I played the QGD, locking in my light-squared Bishop, settling in for a relatively closed, symmetric, long, boring game. Not any more. The other night, I got pissed when white played d4 so I tried something crazy: 1. d4 e5!?. Fun fun fun! Not just a win but a tactical melee.

I looked it up later and found that it is a gambit line called The Englund Gambit. This extremely rare opening is unsound at GM levels (good news, as this means the opening books for white will likely only offer up a single subvariation, probably insulting it as broken and only popular in the 1880s).

I have gone 3-0 with it so far, and while I know I will amass many losses with the Englund, I finally am looking forward to when white plays d4! What speaks in favor of playing it at my level are a few factors:
1. White immediately is taken out of his comfort zone. Unless he is a Blackmar-Diemer gambit player, most d4 players prefer a slow, closed game. There is no way for white to achieve a slow, closed game against e5.
2. White is immediately taken out of book. As is black, as there is virtually nothing on this opening out there. So both players are playing chess from an early move.
3. Lots of fun little cheapos for black (see this video--I don't play the line in this video, but the line I play has other little cheapo traps that are good as they don't involve weakening the position, but normal developing moves).
4. Great for blitz, which is all I'm playing right now. One or two games a night.
5. The version I'm playing, which doesn't have a name, and which is played in only 146/3000000 games in my database, has a lot of similarities with the Smith-Morra and Danish, both of which I play as white, so there is synergy action.
6. It's actually not any worse (from Fritz's perspective) than other gambit lines I play. Yes, black is down a pawn, but a small price to pay for clearing lines for bishops, castling quickly, and blowing things wide open.
7. Not a bunch of stuff to memorize. I have found playing natural moves leaves me with a good position (i.e., big advantage in piece activity, but down a pawn, which is how I like it).
8. I just like it. It is fun, it fits with my style, and no longer will I let out a groan in 1/5 of my games as black.

The downside, of course, is that if white plays it right, it is better for white. Black makes no effort to recoup his lost pawn, but simply tries to mount an attack. So if white manages to build a stable position and grind down to the endgame, black is at a disadvantage. Luckily, at my level, this hardly ever happens. Even in my QGD games, most of them are decided by tactical oversights.

This makes me want to dive into chess again. Must resist....must resist...

Here is what Cox, in his great book Starting Out: 1 d4 says of the opening, of course in the miscellaneous section at the end of the book:
1...e5, the Englund Gambit, offers a rite of passage every chessplayer should go through in the form of the gamelet [sic] 2 dxe Nc6 3 Nf3 Qe7 4 Bf4 Qb4+ 5 Bd2 Qxb2 6 Bc3 Bb4 7 Qd2 Bxc3 Qc1 mate, but instead 6 Nc3 gives White a virtually winning position.
Hee hee. This is a really good book, fairly broad as well as deep. This quote makes me very happy. It says "I am not taking this opening seriously, and I am showing this as a novelty, as spectacle. Don't worry about this Englund crap, dear reader of my d4 book."

I deviate as black before move five into a line more to my style. My version, which I am dubbing 'The New Englunder' (I am from New England, after all), goes 1 d4 e5!? 2 dxe f6?!. Crazy, looks horrible, but it is actually quite hard to bust, and I have found that nobody I'm playing has any idea what to do. Play often continues 3 exf Nxf6, and I have an acceptable lead in development to compensate for the pawn I just gave up (pic below after these moves, white to move). An open file for my rook once I castle, which will nicely protect the Knight when white invariably moves his dark bishop to g5. I like it. Total open possibilities for my queenside pieces. No need to worry about a cramped light-squared bishop. Heaven.

Note added--of course, this ends up having a name, The Soller Gambit. It is basically a reversed Blackmar Diemer Gambit. Didn't I just sell a book, the bible, of the BDG after reading Collins saying "Nobody who plays good chess plays the BDG, and nobody who plays good chess ever will"? My saving grace is that since I'd be playing black, I don't care. I'd rather be reckless and have fun against d4 than get caught in the crazy world of heavily booked responses.


Blogger tanch said...


if you find the QGD boring, why play it? play something fun like...

KID, Benko Gambit, Czech Benoni, Gruenfeld, Anti-Moscow Gambit, Botvinnik and Moscow variation of the Slav. there's so many flavours to choose from.

If you like defences with counter punches, you can try playing the Nimzo-Indian, the Blumenfeld, Chigorin.

glad to hear you're having fun!

4/07/2008 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I've tried some of those, tanc (nimzo and chigorin), but they didn't feel right. This one just clicked, much like the smith-morra and dutch. I think this is it.

4/07/2008 12:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice. I might try that myself. I have mostly been playing the dutch against d4 (and c4) which generally gets my opponents out of book very quickly and gets me decent results, but I think a change might be good.

4/07/2008 12:52:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Ah, that reminds me I said 'dutch' in my comment above and I meant 'danish.' If I liked the dutch I wouldn't need the Englund.

Wayward: it's fun to try out for blitz!

4/07/2008 02:52:00 AM  
Blogger katar said...

Heaven is playing Blackmar-Diemer gambit a tempo down and without a pawn in the center.

You sound like an addict again, btw.

4/07/2008 04:57:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Katar: lol. Something about the BDG I don't like for some reason, though the New Englandur is similar in many ways.

Yes, I need to be careful of getting sucked back in....this opening is so fun and is the last nail in the coffin of boring chess.

However, it will end soon, the blogging. One more video, then perhaps a summary post linking to all the vids with a list of books given A/B provided by a kind commenter to the previous movie.

4/07/2008 05:23:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

The Hartlaub-Bloodgood gambit is a variation of the Englund. I sometimes use it as a surprise weapon.
1.d4 e5 2.dxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6

4/07/2008 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tempo--yes, I'd consider that the "main line" of the Englund, but because it is such an oddball opening, I'm not sure there are any main lines. Given what version of the Scandy you play, it doesn't surprise me you'd pick that line! I'll probably give that one a try as well, just to keep opponents off guard :)

4/07/2008 11:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I often play the BDG against the Scandinavian - enjoyable games but my results suck.

4/07/2008 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Wayward: that's my worry. Though Scandy players probably are more comfortable with open games than d4 players.

4/07/2008 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger Doug Grant said...

A strategy for white: I play a lot on FICS, and I always play 1. d4. Rather than look up the Englund (my looking up days are long past),I just play 2. e4 and transpose into the Scotch, the Danish, the Goring, or something where Black's book is to no avail.

4/07/2008 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Doug--that is a good way to decline, transposing to the center counter (though many d4 players would be very uncomfortable playing the center counter!)

4/07/2008 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Doug Grant said...

Oh, and while I am thinking about it, in response to the bizarre f6 line I would play Nf3, g3 and Bg2 and just grind. I is too early to decide where the QB belongs, but g2 looks good for the KB.

4/07/2008 06:47:00 PM  
Blogger katar said...

well BDK you mean "Center Game", not center counter. And it's center game only if 3.Qxd4.

4.c3 would yield Danish or Goring, as the man said.

4/07/2008 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Whatever they are called, they are ok for black and more standard open games.

The fianchetto response is pretty common from what I read. But I read only two pages, smacked myself in the head, and threw out the article. I'm goin' on my gut, with some help from Fritz and my database, to find the paths that feel the most natural and with the highest CC for the enemy.

4/08/2008 12:37:00 AM  
Blogger Glenn Wilson said...

The "Wilson Gambit" is an Englund Gambit Reversed. So, you are now playing a "Wilson Gambit" a tempo down!

I have beaten a master in an OTB rated G/30 with the Englund Gambit. My first ever postal game was a win playing an Englund Gambit.

I'm glad to see your chess progressing along a natural arch...

Wilson Gambit
(abandon all hope...)

4/08/2008 07:18:00 AM  
Blogger Loomis said...

My very first game on (and first "turn based" game) went 1. d4 e5 2. dxe5 d6 and I chose 3. Nf3. Overall the game went well for me, but probably just because of later tactics.

4/08/2008 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

i hate to ruin it all for you, but the way to beat the englund gambit is here:
i watched this and learned it, and used it to beat this guy a few times in a row...

4/08/2008 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

CL: yes, that's the vid I link to in the article. I don't play that line as black, as it is too much of a cheapo line and if the trick doesn't work black has a pretty ugly position.

4/08/2008 05:45:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Glenn--good to know I'm in good company!!! :)

4/08/2008 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Lev D. Zilbermints said...

Try the Zilbermints Gambit, 1 d4 e5 2 dxe5 Nc6 3 Nf3 Nge7!

12/20/2009 07:11:00 PM  

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