The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit is a Queen’s Pawn Opening which can arise from a couple different move orders. The most well-known is 1. d4 d5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. e4
While rarely seen in professional chess, this aggressive pawn sacrifice remains popular with amateur players of all levels up to Master. In the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, white sacrifices a pawn in an attempt to accelerate the development of their pieces.
Let’s take a look at what white hopes to achieve if black accepts the sacrifice.
White will attempt to develop quickly, and use the pressure on the semi-open e-and-f files to put black under attack.
One possible continuation is 5…Bg4 (attempting to exchange pieces to diminish white’s attack…but this does concede the bishop-pair!) 6. h3 Bxf3 7. Qxf3 c6 8. Be3 e6 9. Bd3 Nbd7 10. 0-0 Be7 11. Rae1
All of white’s pieces are now developed, and his rooks have arrived at their destination on the e-and-f files. However, black’s position is very solid, and it’s not entirely clear if white will generate any concrete threats in exchange for the pawn!
If white is feeling extra aggressive, white may choose to sacrifice two pawns instead of one! Going back to move five, white has the option to play 5. Qxf3 instead of recapturing the pawn with the knight.
This move gives black the option to win a second pawn with 5…Qxd4, but now white will win some tempos against this exposed queen.
After 6. Be3 Qg4, white should not exchange queens! Going to the endgame two pawns down does not seem like a pleasant prospect. Instead after 7. Qf2, play may proceed 7…e5 (grabbing space!), 8. Be2 Qb4 9. 0-0-0:
White’s lead in development is quite large, although two pawns is a lot to give up for it! This was Gedult-Wassiliewsky, 1970, which I covered in full in the video above. Objectively, white likely does not have enough compensation for the two pawns, but after mutual mistakes, Gedult went on to win this game.
If black does not wish to go into the main lines of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, there are several options to consider:
3…e6 transposes to the Classical variation of the French Defense
3…dxe4 4. f3 Bf5!? is another interesting attempt to hold onto the pawn for the time being, but it allows white to play 5. g4 Bg6 6. g5
White is able to recoup the pawn by “removing the defender,” although white’s kingside is rather exposed for the time being.
3…dxe4 4. f3 e3!? Is another way to give back the pawn, saddling white with an awkward pawn on f3.
After 1. d4 d5 2. Nc3, 2…f5!? avoids the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit altogether. This would transpose to the Dutch Defense.
Finally, 3…Nxe4 is another very promising way to accept the gambit, covered in the video above. I prepared this line once for use as black, against a Master who was known to spring the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit on unsuspecting opponents from time to time! After 4. Nxe4 dxe4, the exchange of a set of pieces may diminish white’s attacking prospects, although the black pawn on e4 could be vulnerable.
White can also reach the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit through this move order, omitting the Nc3 move for now.
After 2…dxe4, play is very likely to transpose to the main lines, for example after 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. f3
What are the upsides of this move order from white’s perspective? White is able to avoid some of black’s alternatives discussed above. For example, 2…f5 is now out of question, and if black wants to accept this gambit, he can no longer do so by taking on e4 with a knight.
But the move has some downsides as well – namely, that white has to know more opening theory to play it!
For instance, Black can decline the gambit with 2…e6, once again transposing to a French Defense – but unlike in the above example, black is not committed to the Classical variation. Any variation of the French Defense is now on the table – quite a tall task for a Queen’s Pawn Opening player to be prepared for!
Black could also play 2…c6, and we reach a Caro-Kann.
In short, omitting the Nc3 move before gambiting the pawn avoids some annoyances black might otherwise throw at you…but be sure to brush up on your King’s Pawn Openings!
The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit is an exciting pawn sacrifice to make in the opening. Black needs to be ready, or white’s attack may prove quite strong!
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