DDG and Semi-Slav, Marshall Gambit

I formulated a simple 4-phase plan for the course of the DDG games when I started to analyze the DDG seriously in the mid-90s (if the word "serious" can appear in the same sentence with the DDG):

  1. Obtain the bishop-pair.
  2. Obtain the half-open f-file.
  3. Sacrifice at f6.
  4. Give a checkmate at h7.

Jyrki Heikkinen - Kauko Kaiju, rapid game, 2000

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.e4 c6

Nowadays this seems to be the most common way to decline the DDG. But the game is not yet lost: White can still trick Black into accepting the e4-pawn...


Note that this has transposed to the Semi-Slav, Marshall Gambit: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4!?.


4...dxe4 5.f3 transposes to the Semi-Slav, Gunderam Gambit, of which Schiller wrote in Unorthodox Chess Openings (1998): "Another Diemerish gambit, but this time White has a pawn at c4; and Black has a bad bishop, which makes this somewhat promising. Yet it seems to be remarkably easy to equalize as Black."

Examples of how not to equalize: 5.exf3 6.Nxf3 Nf6 7.Bd3 Be7 8.O-O


Is anyone else playing this move? I have not found any examples. Instead of respectable moves such as 5.e5 or 5.exd5, a gambiteer has interesting alternatives, too:


Phase 1 of the plan: bishop-pair. This loses a tempo, but is played amazingly often.

5...a5 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.Qxc3 dxe4 8.f3 Nf6 9.Bg5 exf3 10.Nxf3 h6 11.Bh4 O-O 12.Bd3 Nbd7 13.O-O Qc7 14.Bc2 c5 15.Qd3 cxd4 16.Bxf6 Nxf6 17.Nxd4 g6?? (17...Rd8) 18.Rxf6 1-0 in 40, Heikkinen - Kauppinen, 2001.

6.Qxc3 dxe4

Psychology is interesting: Black thinks that it is safer to take the pawn now than in the 3rd move. Alternatives:

7.f3 Nf6


More passive is 8.Be3 O-O 9.O-O-O Qe7 10.h4 exf3 11.gxf3 Nh5 12.Ne2 Nbd7 13.Bg5 f6 14.Be3 Nb6 15.Bh3 Na4 16.Qc2 b5 17.Bg4 Qf7 18.c5 f5 19.Bxh5 Qxh5 20.Rdg1 Qxf3 21.Bh6 Rf7 22.b3 Ba6 23.Rh2 Rb8 24.Rhg2 g6 25.Rg3 Qh5 26.Bg5 1-0, Heikkinen - Ristaniemi, 2002.


Phase 2 of the plan: half-open f-file. White is now ready to attack.

9.Nxf3 O-O

9...Ne4! 10.Bxd8 Nxc3 11.Ba5 Ne4 12.Bd3 is better for Black.

10.Bd3 Nbd7 11.O-O Qc7

11...b6 12.Ne5 Qc7 13.Bxf6 Nxf6 14.Rae1 Bb7 15.Rxf6 gxf6 16.Bxh7+ Kxh7 17.Qh3+ Kg7 18.Qg3+ Kh7 19.Re4 1-0, Ruth - Ramsey, 1908. The stem game of the DDG has been reached via transposition. Nothing new under the sun...

12.Ne5 c5

13.Bxf6 Nxf6

The bishop-pair is decisive: 13...cxd4 14.Bxh7+ Kxh7 (14...Kh8 15.Bxg7+!) 15.Qh3+ Kg8 16.Bxg7 or 13...gxf6 14.Bxh7+ +-.


Phase 3 of the plan: sacrifice at f6. Game is pretty much over.


14...cxd4 15.Bxh7+ Kxh7 16.Qh3+ Kg8 17.Re1 wins:

15.Bxh7+ Kh8

15...Kxh7 16.Qh3+ Kg7 17.Qg3+ Kh7 (other moves lose the queen) 18.Rf1! (this might have been difficult to find during the game)

16.Qh3 fxe5

16...Kg7 17.Rf1! fxe5 18.Qg3+ Kh8 19.Rf6 Qd8 20.Bd3! +-.

17.Be4+ Kg7 18.Qh7+ 1-0

The queen checks at h4-g5-h6 would have been followed by phase 4 of the plan: checkmate at h7.

Games in PGN.

DDG News 3, Jyrki Heikkinen (ed.)