07 October 2014

Naming the Opening Variations

Years ago, when I moved from the U.S. to Europe, I left most of my chess books at my parents' house. Through the years, whenever I visited them, I would rummage through the remaining books and take a title or two with me when I left. On the most recent trip I took the last two books: Volumes I and II of 'Discover the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit' (DBDG). Calling them 'books' isn't completely accurate. The first has 40 pages, the second only 22. A better word is 'booklets'.

These inexpensive opening monographs in descriptive notation, both published by Chess Digest Magazine in 1971, show how far opening theory has advanced in the years since they were published. Amazon.com tells me that there were four volumes in the DBDG series, the first by Anders Tejler alone, the others with Nikolajs Kampars as co-author:-

  • Volume 1 [Introduction]
  • Volume 2 - Gunderam Defense
  • Volume 3 - Vienna Defense
  • Volume 4 - Bogoljubow Defense

How do those names relate to specific variations? Volume 1 gives 'An Outline of BDG Variations':-

Shortly after Nick Kampars began publication of the chess magazine: "Blackmar-Diemer Gambi" in 1962, he sent me an outline of BDG variations which readers may be interested in because of the names given to these variations.

I copied these into a PGN file for my own education (and in the unlikely event that someone might want to do something with it):-

[Event "'Discover the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit' by Anders Tejler"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "W"]
[Black "B"]
[Result "*"]

( {I.} 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.--
( 3.f3 {Blackmar Gambit} )
( 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 {von Popiel Polish Gambit} )
( 3.Nc3 e6 4.Be3 {Rasa-Studier Gambit} )
( 3.Nc3 e5 {Lemberger Counter Gambit} )
( 3.Nc3 e5 4.Be3 {Soller Attack} )
( 3.Nc3 e5 4.Qh5 {Sneiders Attack} )
( 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nxe4 {A.Lange Gambit} )
( 3.Bc4 {Fritz Attack} )
( 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 {Blackmar-Diemer Gambit} )
( 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 Bf5 {Hans Muller's Vienna Defense} )
( 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Qxf3 {Dr.Ryder Gambit. Also referred to in Diemer's book as the 'Classical Double-Pawn Sacrifice'} )
( {II.} 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 --
( 4...Bf5 5.fxe4 {Diemer Gambit} )
( 4...Bf5 5.g4 Bg6 6.g5 Nd5 7.fxe4 {Kampars Gambit} )
( 4...exf3 5.Nxf3 e6 {Euwe Defense} )
( 4...exf3 5.Nxf3 g6 {Bogoljubow Defense} )
( 4...exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 {Teichmann Defense} )
( 4...exf3 5.Nxf3 Bf5 {Tartakower Defense} )
( {III.} 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 --
( 5...g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.O-O O-O 8.--
( 8.Qe1 {Studier Attack} )
( 8.Kh1 {Kloss Attack} )
( 5...Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.g4 Ne4 {Gunderam Counter Gambit} )
( {IV.} 1.d4 d5 2.e4 e6 3.--
( 3.c4 {Diemer-Duhm Gambit} )
( 3.Be3 dxe4 4.Nd2 {Alapin Gambit} )
( 3.Be3 dxe4 4.f3 {Diemer-Alapin Gambit} )
( {V.} 1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.--
( 3.d4 {Kampars Gambit} )
( 3.d4 Nxe4 {Hubsch Gambit} )
( {VI.} 1.d4 Nf6 2.f3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.fxe4 {Diemer Gambit} )

Where do these names come from?

The names given to the above variations are reportedly those of E.J.Diemer. Presumably they are named after the person who has either innovated or analyzed the particular variation.

As for the other DBDG volumes, the subject of 'Volume 2 - Gunderam Defense', isn't explained in the list. Since I have the booklet in front of my eyes, I can say for certain that it is included in section III as the first five move pairs of the 'Gunderam Counter Gambit': 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bf5. Thanks to Amazon, I can also confirm that 'Volume 3 - Vienna Defense' is indeed in section I, 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 Bf5, aka 'Hans Muller's Vienna Defense'. The last booklet, 'Volume 4 - Bogoljubow Defense', must be as listed: 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 g6.

'The Oxford Companion to Chess' (1992) lists only the 'Blackmar-Diemer Gambit' ('its soundness is doubted'), but gives two move orders: 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3, and 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3. It also gives the 'Blackmar Gambit' ('an opening of doubtful merit') as 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.f3.

Who were Blackmar and Diemer? Blackmar is the less well known of the two. DBDG Volume 1, in the introductory chapter 'History', starts 'Armand Edward Blackmar was born in Bennington, Vt. on 30 May 1826...'. The rest of the paragraph can be found in Edward Winter presents: Unsolved Chess Mysteries (11) [1 August 2007], under the heading 'Blackmar the composer'.

Diemer is better known. His Wikipedia entry is at Emil Josef Diemer; his Chessgames.com entry at Emil Joseph Diemer, ('Number of games in database: 208; Years covered: 1933 to 1987'). Diemer appears to have been a somewhat unsavory character, which is perhaps why his entry in DBDG Volume 1 starts,

Unfortunately, at least for the present, we are unable to provide any biographical information about E.J.Diemer, the German chess master [...]

Attaching various names to all cataloged variations didn't help popularize the opening named after him. Why should it?

No comments: