In the Dutch Defence, the following gambit isn't very popular anymore.

[FEN ""]
1. d4 f5 2. Nc3 d5 3. e4 dxe4 (3... fxe4 4. Qh5+)

The same position can arise from the Blackmar-Diemer gambit if black plays the rare 3... f5.

[FEN ""]
1. d4 d5 2. e4 dxe4 3. Nc3 f5

Scheerer, on pages 62-68 of his book the Blackmar-Diemer gambit, analyses 4.Bf4 and seems to like white's compensation.

What is the true evaluation of the position?

If it's good for white, why isn't the 3.e4 gambit against the Dutch Defence more popular?

If it's good for black, why isn't 3... f5 played more often to counter the Blackmar-Diemer gambit?

  • 3
    That is a neat transposition, but there is no contradiction here. It is totally plausible that 1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 is okay for White but other third White moves are better, and 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 f5 is okay for Black but other third Black moves are better, and therefore neither player has much incentive to reach the resulting position.
    – dfan
    Jul 22, 2013 at 16:13
  • A possibly stronger variation against the BDG is 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 c6, "a Caro-Kann with an extra pawn". Aug 1, 2013 at 22:14
  • What does theory say about 4.Bg5 vs 4.Bf4?
    – bof
    Jan 19, 2014 at 22:33
  • 1
    @Bof Scheerer calls 4. Bg5 "the most serious alternative" to 4. Bf4, but doesn't see a good move for white after 4. Bg5 g6!. Jan 20, 2014 at 18:16

4 Answers 4


You raise a very interesting point - you're absolutely correct in saying that 3...f5 is not a common response to the Blackmar-Diemer gambit. However, the gambit can be reached in another way where Black doesn't have the option of playing this move:

[FEN ""]
1. d4 d5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. e4 dxe4 4. f3

In the Dutch, Black can sidestep White by playing this move:

[FEN ""]
1. d4 f5 2. Nc3 Nf6

Your question as to why it isn't played more in the Dutch/more against the Blackmar-Diemer is a bit difficult to answer. Aside from the examples above where White or Black can sidestep this line, it can be reached in the main line of the Dutch against 2...d5 and the mainline of the Blackmar-Diemer with 2. e4. It should be better for either White or Black, so why don't we see it more often?

In my opinion, I think that White has sufficient compensation for the pawn due to the weak e5 square and the possibilities of playing f3, undermining Black's pawn structure. If we go with this assumption, then we're looking at the first scenario in the Dutch Defense. I believe that there are more common replies to 1...f5 such as 2. g3 and 2. Nf3 which tend to score better than the gambit line outlined in the question.

On the flip side, I noticed that Black actually scores better with this line in practice, so I'm rather quite torn. I believe you've hit upon something rather original, and I encourage you to do a bit of studying into the lines yourself and arrive at your own conclusion :) maybe you have found a new main line!

  • 1
    After 1.d4-f5 2.Nc3-Nf6 White can play 3.f3 and on 3.-d5 answer 4.e4 to return to a side variation of the gambit discussed. This side variation scores decently for White in practical play.
    – Halvard
    Jul 23, 2013 at 8:09
  • Black often avoids 1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 Nf6 because of the annoying 3.Bg5.
    – Evargalo
    Aug 31, 2018 at 8:39

I think it is important to stress that people writing a book about the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit will adopt a very different point of view than people studying the theory of the Dutch defense.

The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, in spite of having some hardcore aficionadoes, is a dubious opening. When you study it or write a book about it, you are looking for lines where White can get some initiative and is not clearly worse. Hence, a tense position with some pitfalls for Black or an unclear position with some compensation for the pawn is exactly what you wish for.

I would say the position after 1.d4 d5 2.e4? de4 3.Nc3 f5?! 4.Bf4!? is exactly that: White obviously has some compensation for his pawn with a lead of two moves in development and Black being slightly weakened by f7-f5. My bet is that the objective evaluation is about equality, but one could also argue for a slight edge for either side - I haven't seen Scheerer's analysis but in any case he has no reason not to be enthousiastic about White's perspectives here. At the very least, since there is no forcing play going on, it is pretty sure that Black doesn't have a direct refutation.

Playing Black, I would never consider 3...f5 here: there are so many easier ways (3...Nf6, 3...e5, 3...Bf5) to handle the BDG, with good prospects for an advantage, that entering such an unclear line is totally unpractical.

In the Dutch, by contrast, Black is often playing with some preparation (otherwise it is too dangerous) and he is pretty happy to reach an equal or double-edged position. That's why, from a theoretical point of view, 1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 de4 4.Bf4 is not met very often. White has many other options to try and get some initiative, e.g. 3.Bf4 immediately.

  • Oups, it was in case of 3.f3 instead of 3.Nc3.
    – Evargalo
    Sep 2, 2018 at 12:52

Old question, but up my alley, so I am going to give you my opinion.

First, Stockfish 10 evaluates this as roughly equal (-.08 at a depth of 35), but that is not really the end of the story. White is down a solid pawn, but only down on the eval by -.08? Well, that means that he has +.92 in positional compensation, assuming that black tries to keep the pawn, so let's look at that positional compensation.

People are not computers, so while it is almost equal, virtually no strong player would want to play black there since it looks dangerous. The best move for white is 4.Bg5!, which inhibits black's development even more since it prevents e6 and developing the king-side, or after the relatively-forced Nf6, it will threaten to get the pawn back, but we will talk about that later. If black tries to get by without Nf6, it may even be worse.

The Bc8 has been made bad, and the king-side has been weakened grossly by f5. So, not only has the h5-e8 diagonal been weakened some, but also the a2-g8 diagonal will be a nice for a Bc4 move in the near future. None of those things appeal to a human Master's eye since experience tells me that black's position would be very dangerous if he tries to keep the material.

The reason this variation for white is not more popular is that with best play, white only gets his pawn back with no real advantage. The reason this position is not more popular for black is that if you are going to defend this, there is a much better way with Bf5 soon that does not weaken the king-side with f5?!, so why do that? The best defense is generally considered to be the Gunderam Defense, which starts with 5...Bf5. Here is a sample line, and it is considered very solid for black.

 [FEN ""]
 1. d4 d5 2. e4 dxe4 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. f3 exf3 5. Nxf3 Bf5 6. Bc4 e6 7. O-O c6 8. Ne5 Bg6 9. Bg5 Be7
  • 1
    I would certainly prefer black in that position.
    – yobamamama
    Dec 25, 2019 at 23:27
  • Okay. All I have to do is find it:)
    – yobamamama
    Dec 25, 2019 at 23:35
  • @yobamamama AWESOME. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Dec 25, 2019 at 23:42
  • 1
    You are welcome.
    – yobamamama
    Dec 25, 2019 at 23:45

It seems that Black has weakened his light squares and fallen behind in development. I evaluate this position as equal. Black holds onto the extra pawn, but he also weakens his position.

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