I have a new chess student who likes risky openings. We conducted an exercise where we played the first 4 or 5 moves to see which openings come naturally to him. He chose the Scandinavian Defence and Queen's Gambit Accepted as Black, and the Blackmar-Diemer gambit as White.

[FEN ""]
1. d4 d5 2. e4

My problem is that I have only come across this opening once, and it does not appear in any of the books I have. It also is that my style of play is very different from my student's. I have a much more cautious style.

So, my question is, to help my student, I would like to know what are the main ideas and variations in the Blackmar-Diemer gambit?

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    Note that black can play 2...c6 or 2...e6 to transpose to a Caro-Kann or French, you probably do know about them. – RemcoGerlich Mar 30 '16 at 13:53
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    @RemcoGerlich: Fair point. For my student I would probably advocate the Nunn-Shirov attack in the Caro, but not too sure what to advise for the French? I'll probably set up the board and see what he plays to 2...e6 – user1108 Mar 30 '16 at 14:02
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    @RemcoGerlich A real BDG fanatic insists on being a pawn down: 1.d4 d5 2.e4 c6 (or e6) 3.c4. – bof Mar 31 '16 at 6:40
  • I've been thinking about your method of seeing which moves come naturally to your student and going with that. When he played 2.e4, was he sacrificing a pawn with an idea behind it? Because if he didn't, I feel he just gave away a pawn and you shouldn't treat that seriously. And if he did have an idea (like 3.f3) then it'd be interesting to us to know what it was. – RemcoGerlich Mar 31 '16 at 6:49
  • @RemcoGerlich: Yep, my student's idea was 1. d4 d5 2. e4 dxe4 3. Nd2?! (instead of Nc3), with the idea of both pressuring e4 and allowing to push the c pawn to c4. We talked about how Nd2 blocks in the c1 bishop, and how white's play in most gambits is based on piece activity – user1108 Mar 31 '16 at 8:23

I've used BDG countless number of times and won virtually everytime over weaker players. This is a dangerous opening if Black simply plays normal development moves, quite tricky to play in a 5-minute blitz game.

White has to attack because he is a pawn down. The most direct and surprisingly effective setup is:

  • Position the light bishop on the d3-h7 diagonal
  • Move the white queen d1-e1-h4
  • Prepare for an exchange sacrifice on the f-file
  • Prepare for bishop sacrifices on the h6 and h7 squares

Why is this effective in a blitz game? An unprepared Black player might just simply make normal development moves, as if there was no gambit. By the time Black sees the checkmate, it'd be too late. If Black plays h7-h6 or g7-g6, White has the the two bishops and f1-rook to do further damage, for example sacrificing by Bxh6.

This gambit can be refuted, possible ideas:

  • Castle to the queen-side
  • Delay castling and strike on the weak d-pawn. If white plays c3, Black has ...c5 to challenge the pawn and try to open the weak g1-a7 diagonal.

I've personally found very difficult to deal with Black castle queen-side, because it is harder to exploit the space advantage in the king-side while the Black king is on the other side of the board.

Here, I give a sample game that I've used many times.

[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]
1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.f3 exf3 4.Nxf3 Nf6 5.Bd3 e6 6.O-O Bd6 7.Bg5 O-O 8.Qe1 Nbd7  9.Qh4 c5 10.Ne5 cxd4 11.Bxf6 Nxf6 12.Rxf6 
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    Strictly speaking 3.f3?! is the Blackmar gambit, not the Blackmar-Diemer. The problem is 3...e5! striking at white's center immediately. The Blackmar-Diemer gambit is 3.Nc3, and if 3...Nf6 4.f3 trying to improve on the Blackmar. – RemcoGerlich Mar 30 '16 at 14:12
  • After 3.f3?! I have %70 something win rate with Whites, the resulting position suits me perfect somehow. – ferit May 16 '17 at 2:13

Student T covered the ideas clearly and RemcoGerlich pointed out the best counterattacks.

IM Martin has a video explaining the finer points. He has this trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srGcegnDqz0.

I did play this opening during my teen years, and found that even if Black castles queenside, the pressure against f7 will win the pawn back. Now I occasionally transpose into it, while playing blitz, when my opponent plays the Scandinavian Defence.

http://tws27.weebly.com/blackmar-diemer-gambit.html has the basic opening lines.

Gary Michael Danelishen wrote "The Final Theory of Chess." He left Fritz running for days analysing the opening, and it claims the the BDG is the best opening. He shows the lines suggested by the computer and its evaluation. Although I would not recommend the book, it does have interesting line for the French.

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If I was trying to explain this to a beginner, I would say that black is up a pawn with no compensation.

Yes, white's position is dangerous but black is fully equal. Refer to the engine for specific lines.

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