The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit


The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit (often known as the BDG for short) is a very controversial gambit line starting with 1.d4 d5.2.e4, in which White sacrifices the e4-pawn and then aims to blast open the f-file with f2-f3.  Blackmar’s idea was to meet 2...dxe4 with 3.f3, but then 3...e5 is very strong, so Diemer improved upon this idea by interposing 3.Nc3 first, encouraging 3...Nf6, and only then 4.f3.  It provides many club-level players with a lot of fun and fine, attacking wins, though objectively White may fall a little short of full compensation for the pawn with best play.

The line 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 is essentially a mirror-image of the Göring Gambit (this is partly what attracted me to this opening), and following 4...exf3 5.Nxf3, we have a Scandinavian “Banker” (1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd8 4.d4 Nf6 5.Nf3) but with White’s f-pawn removed.

Common themes include attacking a black bishop on g4/f5 with Nf3-e5, g2-g4 and h2-h4, gaining space on the kingside, and attacking down the f-file with Qf3 and bringing a rook to f1. White can also choose to castle on either side of the board.  Kingside castling enables a rook to come to f1 immediately and is often associated with Qe1-h4, putting considerable pressure on the black kingside, while queenside castling helps to support a d4-d5 push and enables White to take more liberties in pushing the g and h-pawns, especially if Black castles kingside.

There are a fair number of books out on the Blackmar-Diemer, though most of them are somewhat biased in favour of one side or the other.  Christoph Scheerer’s Blackmar-Diemer Gambit- A modern guide to a fascinating opening provides an impressively thorough and reasonably objective coverage, although some of his assessments are based on low-quality internet games.  Guido de Bouver’s book Attack with the Blackmar-Diemer is also worth checking out, as are his blog entries at

Although the Blackmar-Diemer traditionally begins with 1.d4, to play it successfully it helps to be familiar with some 1.e4 lines (e.g. 1.d4 d5 2.e4 e6 transposes to the French Defence, against which the attempts to stay in BDG territory with 3.c4 and 3.Be3 are both somewhat dubious).  It can also be used as part of a 1.e4-based repertoire.


The Hübsch Gambit

White can also try to get into a Blackmar-Diemer Gambit after 1.d4 Nf6, with 2.Nc3 d5 (else White gets into a Pirc or Modern Defence with 3.e4, which may lure Black into unfamiliar territory) 3.e4!?, which transposes after 3...dxe4 4.f3, but Black has the so-called Hübsch Gambit 3...Nxe4!? 4.Nxe4 dxe4.  White has to be careful here for in most variations, including the popular 5.Bc4, Black can get a significant advantage by undermining the d4-pawn with ...e5 or ...c5.  However, I think that after the prophylactic 5.Be3, adding defence to d4 and contributing to development, White’s chances are no better or worse than in the “normal” Blackmar-Diemer.


1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3



Blackmar-Diemer Gambit coverage


3rd and 4th-move alternatives

Starting with the moves 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3, analysis of 3rd-move alternatives to 3...Nf6, and following 3...Nf6, White’s alternatives to 4.f3.  The most important of these lines is probably 3...e5 which is generally known as the Lemberger Counter-Gambit.

3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3- 4th-move alternatives for Black plus 4...exf3 5.Qxf3

A close look at some of Black’s important alternatives to 4...exf3, of which 4...c6 and 4...Bf5 are the most challenging.  4...c6 is often used as a way of getting into the 4...exf3 5.Nxf3 c6 line while narrowing down White’s options, after 5.Bc4 exf3 6.Nxf3, though it is not as theoretically critical as 5.Nxe4 gives equality.  I also look at the Ryder Gambit, 4...exf3 5.Qxf3, which appears to be rather unsound.

Blackmar-Diemer Gambit Accepted

Coverage of Black’s 5th-move options following the moves 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3, focusing mainly on the most important ones: 5...Bg4, 5...e6, 5...Bf5, 5...g6 and 5...c6.  I feel that the last three objectively provide White with difficulties getting full compensation for the pawn, though White retains good practical chances in all lines.

The Hübsch Gambit

Coverage of the lines following 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 Nxe4, focusing mainly on the lines 4.Nxe4 dxe4 5.Bc4, 5.Bf4 and 5.Be3.


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