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The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit [D00] Purchases from our

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It has been a while since I covered gambits, so this month I chose to brave the
black side against the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.

1.d4 d5 2.e4

Explained ECO D
by Chess Informant

Abby Marshall
[FEN "rnbqkbnr/ppp1pppp/8/3p4/3PP3/
8/PPP2PPP/RNBQKBNR b KQkq - 0 2]

White signals that this game will be something different. Playing black, I
would probably sigh upon seeing this move, because once again all my
Translate this page preparation involving innumerable Tarrasch lines and other tricks is useless,
and now I have to think right from move two. Although playing 1.d4 often
means that a player has graduated to more sophisticated and subtle play,
queen-pawn openings still have gambit lines! Black should have a general
strategy for dealing with these gambits, since theory is less important than
knowing a couple defensive motifs.
Beating 1.d4 Sidelines
2.Nc3 This is the start of the Veresov opening for White, although the move by Boris Avrukh
order can transpose to the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit after 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.
Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5. I want to take a quick look at this variation, since I have
faced it a couple times in tournaments. 2...Nf6 3.Bg5 (3.e4 Nxe4 This is the
main move, though 3...dxe4 will transpose to the main gambit line after 4.f3)
3...Nbd7 This is Black's main move against the Veresov. The logic is clear:
Black is poised to recapture with a knight if White takes on f6, and the d7-
knight can help facilitate ...e5 or ...c5 breaks. 4.e4 This move marks the
gambit line. Otherwise we are in a main-line Veresov a completely different
opening for White. 4...dxe4 This is back to Blackmar-Diemer territory, sort
of. White could play 5.f3 and we would get the classic style gambit, but first
let's see what can happen if White goes to recover the pawn right away. 5.Qe2
Play through and download h6 6.Bh4 e6 This position is similar to a line in the Veresov where instead of a
queen on e2, White has a knight on f3. That can get dangerous for a distracted Gambit Opening Repertoire
the games from by Valeri Lilov
ChessCafe.com in the black player. However, here White is less aggressively placed. 7.Nxe4 Be7
& John Shaw
ChessBase Game Viewer. 8.0-0-0 Nxe4 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Qxe4 Nf6 11.Qh4 Bd7 12.Nf3 Bc6 13.Ne5
[FEN "r3k2r/ppp1qpp1/2b1p2p/4N3/3Pn2Q/
8/PPP2PPP/2KR1B1R w kq - 0 14"]

A nice move that gets Black activity. Objectively the position is equal. Black,
himself is a grandmaster, is able to outplay his 2600+ opponent instructively,
so I will give the whole game: 14.Qxe7+ Kxe7 15.Re1 Nf6 16.Nxc6+ bxc6 17.
g3 a5 18.Bg2 Ra6 19.a4 Rd8 20.c3 c5 21.dxc5 Nd7 22.Bb7 Ra7 23.c6 Nc5 24.
Kc2 Nxb7 25.cxb7 Rxb7 26.Re4 Rd5 27.b4 c6 28.Rhe1 Ra7 29.Kb3 axb4 30.
cxb4 Rd3+ 31.Kc4 Rd2 32.R1e2 Rxe2 33.Rxe2 Rxa4 34.Kc5 Kd7 35.Rd2+
Kc7 36.Rd6 Rxb4 37.Rxc6+ Kd7 38.Rd6+ Ke7 39.Rd2 Re4 40.f3 Re5+ 41.
Kc4 g5 42.Ra2 Re3 43.Rf2 e5 44.Kd5 Kf6 45.g4 Kg6 46.h3 h5 47.Rf1 h4 48.
Rf2 e4 49.f4 gxf4 50.Rxf4 Rxh3 51.Kxe4 Rg3 52.Rf1 Rxg4+ 53.Kf3 Rg5 54.
Rh1 Kh5 55.Ra1 h3 56.Ra8 Rg6 57.Rh8+ Rh6 58.Rf8 Kg6 59.Rg8+ Kf6 60.
Rg1 h2 61.Rh1 Kg5 62.Kg3 f5 63.Kf3 Rh3+ 64.Kg2 Kg4 65.Kf2 Ra3 0-1,
Zvjaginsev,V (2674)-Sasikiran,K (2661)/Khanty Mansiysk 2007.


It is nice to be up a pawn for a moment. In return White has more potential

activity, since both bishops can get out.

Of course 2...e6, the French, or 2...c6, the Caro-Kann, are also possible if you
play those openings and d n ot want to learn something new.


The approach advocated by Emil Diemer, hence the name of the gambit.
White develops a piece before offering the gambit pawn with f3.

3.f3 was the original idea that Armand Blackmar came up with in the late
nineteenth century, but it was not very good because of 3...e5!. Suddenly the
queens come off and it is an entirely different game. Also, it is in Black's
favor. 3...e5 4.dxe5 Qxd1+ 5.Kxd1 Nc6 Black is doing very well with more
development and better pawns.


So far we have been playing easy to remember moves. Nothing mysterious

going on yet: the knight gets active and defends the e-pawn. The e-pawn, by
the way, is not the gambit pawn, since to recover the pawn White can just
play Qe2, but that would not be the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.

[FEN "rnbqkb1r/ppp1pppp/5n2/8/3Pp3/
2N2P2/PPP3PP/R1BQKBNR b KQkq - 0 4"]

This is the gambit: Black has the chance to become irrevocably up a pawn. In
return, White gets quicker development and open central lines. So there is
some pressure, but Black is very solid. There is no clear target like the f7-
square in 1.e4 e5 openings, when the kingside knight and bishop are the
attacking pieces.


The best way to refute a gambit is to accept it.


White has a few ideas: quick development and swing the queen to h4 via e1,
or castling queenside and launching some sort of attack, or there is still the
possibility of piling on f7 with Bc4, Ne5, and a rook on f1. One of the
problems is that while White has diverted a black pawn from the center, the
white e-pawn went away too, so it is not like the King's Gambit where White
gives up the f-pawn and gets two pawns in the center to Black's single d-
pawn. Black has good center control and the e-pawn is a useful defender of
either the f6-knight or maybe ...e6.

5.Qxf3 This is not as popular anymore. 5...c6 And this is not fully necessary.
Any normal move should turn out fine. (5...Qxd4 6.Be3 Qd8 Playing this way
requires cold blood. Now White gets far ahead in development and has more
open lines than before. I do not think it is necessary.) 6.Bd3 g6 7.h3 Bg7 8.
Nge2 0-0 9.Bd2 Black can bust open the center. 9...e5 10.dxe5 Nfd7 11.e6
Ne5 and Black has become the aggressor.


This is the system I recommend. It is called the Bogoljubov Defence, in

homage to the world championship challenger Efim Bogoljubov, who
famously said that as white he wins because he is white, and as black he wins
because he is Bogoljubov. However, with regard to his games against
Alekhine, it seems to me the slogan has always been as black he loses because
he is black, and as white he loses because he is Bogoljubov. Nevertheless, the
system is quite good.


For many Blackmar-Diemer players the search is endless for new attacking
combinations, tiny adjustments on the same themes, and anticipating future
defensive ideas, so that they will be ready with fresh attacking maneuvers.
Above all they keep trying to perfect the gambit; this is the nature of
obsession. Not all your opponents will be like this, but there is something
about this gambit that has inspired unadulterated devotion. I think it is wise to
meet their main ideas head-on and try to prove the advantage of the extra
material. I am not interested in refuting the gambit as much as reaching a
promising game that gives a modicum of safety.

6.Bd3 This set-up is what 5...g6 is partly meant to counteract since the bishop
is not attacking h7. The g6-pawn and bishop on g7 give Black an extra layer
of protection. White is exerting more control over e4, so this move is worth
considering. 6...Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Qe1
[FEN "rnbq1rk1/ppp1ppbp/5np1/8/3P4/
2NB1N2/PPP3PP/R1B1QRK1 b - - 0 8"]

The standard idea. 8...Nc6 9.Qh4 Nb4 This is pretty annoying. I would not be
too thrilled about losing the bishop-pair.

6.Be3 We will look at Ne5 and Bg5 on the following move. Otherwise, the
bishop makes sense here since it helps protect the d-pawn and gets White
ready to castle queenside, which would be the main reason to play the dark-
squared bishop before the light-squared one. 6...Bg7 7.Qd2 0-0 8.0-0-0 c6 (8...
a5 A straightforward move. Without an f-pawn or e-pawn, I do not feel a
much heat on the kingside. 9.Bh6 a4 10.h4 a3 11.b3 and now 11...Bg4 would
be a good move. The ...e5 or ...c5 fireworks can come later.) 9.h3 Bf5 10.Bh6
Nbd7 11.Bxg7 Kxg7 12.Nh4 Be6 13.Kb1 Qa5 14.b3 Nb6 15.Ne4 Qxd2 16.
Nxd2 Rad8 Black did not do anything special and got a better game in
Fuernkranz,R-Mayer,J/Poysdorf 1994.


Another nice thing about the bishop on g7 is that it eyes the d4-pawn.


White is a couple moves ahead of Black, since White has three pieces out and
is castled; while Black has two pieces out and has yet to castle. The rook
makes it to f1. The lack of leverage due to the absence of the f- and e-pawns
again makes me unafraid of this position.

7.Ne5 This variation always felt the most Blackmar-Diemer-ish to me. Maybe
it is the unsettling feeling of being immediately attacked, on the f7-square no
less. 7...0-0 8.Bg5 White maintains flexibility and does not provide a clue
where the white king is going to end up. (8.0-0 Nc6 9.Nxf7!? This move
comes up from time to time. 9...Rxf7 10.Bxf7+ Kxf7 11.d5 Na5 Black is
completely safe.) 8...Nbd7 8...Nc6 is more what I am advocating in this
column, but it is good to look at this move too, since it shows typical ideas.
9.0-0 c6 (9...c5 is bad because of 10.Nxf7 when things get uncomfortable.
However, what White does shows how fast the game can go in Black's favor.
10.Nxd7 Qxd7 11.dxc5 Qc7 12.Be3 A blunder. 12...Ng4 13.Qf3 Qxh2# 0-1,
Canal Oliveras,J (2310)-Padreny Gutierrez,J (2285)/Barcelona 1996) 10.Bb3
(10.Nxf7 Rxf7 11.Bxf7+ Kxf7 12.d5 Qb6+ 13.Kh1 Kg8 It is worth
remembering this simple retreat. Black is just up a lot of material.) 10...Nb6
Black is okay here, but you can feel pressure. That is why ...Nc6 is my
preference over this kind of play.

7.h4 I am not afraid of this hyper-aggressiveness. 7...c5 A strike in the center

seems appropriate to counter an attack on the kingside. 8.h5 (8.Bg5 cxd4 9.
Nxd4 0-0 Black has dissolved White's center.) 8...Nxh5! I do not see any
White threats and now there is a lot of pressure on d4.


There is no reason to stick around in the center. White is also kept guessing
where the knight on b8 and bishop on c8 will end up.

This is the big idea against the Bogoljubov Defense. The queen is going to h4,
where it keeps an eye on the d4-pawn and attacks the h6-square, weakened by
the push to ...g6.


I like the knight here better than on d7 where it kind of gets in the way of
everything. On c6, the knight controls more central squares and can cause
trouble with ...Nb4 or ...Na5.

8...Bg4 is the first illustrative game and has a good reputation. Often Black
plays ...Nc6 anyway next move. Although in the column I am looking at ...
Bf5, which is less common but just as good, ...Bg4 illustrates typical ideas
and provides a backup line.


White follows through on his idea: Bh6, Ng5, and Rxf6 followed by Qxh7
mate are threatened.

9.d5 is not really seen in the Blackmar-Diemer because it makes the pawn
more vulnerable and blocks the white pieces. 9...Nb4 Double attack on c2 and
d5. 10.Qh4 Nbxd5 (10...Qd6 This is safest. 11.Bf4 is met by 11...Qc5+) 11.
Nxd5 Nxd5 12.Bh6 f6 (12...Bf6 This is better. 13.Ng5 Re8 14.Rae1 c6 15.
Rxf6!? Let's see if Black can weather the fireworks. 15...exf6 16.Rxe8+ Qxe8
17.Ne4 Qe5 18.Bxd5 g5 19.Qf2 Bf5 The h6-bishop is trapped and all the
white pieces are discombobulated.) 13.Rad1 c6 14.Bb3 Qb6+ 15.Kh1 Kh8
Black is giving too much here. 16.c4 was a threat since after the knight
moves, 17.c5+ would be a discovered attack that wins the queen. But why not
15...a5, meeting 16.c4 with 16...a4 and using the queen to mess with White's
queenside. 16.Ne5! Kg8 (16...fxe5 17.Rxf8+ Bxf8 18.Bxf8) 17.c4 Bxh6 18.
Qxh6 Qe3 19.Qh4 Even after making some mistakes Black is still better,
though White has compensation for the two pawns. 19...Qxe5 20.cxd5 Kg7?
21.d6! And White won in a few moves by attacking on the seventh rank.
Anyway, earlier Black has many chances to lock up the position and prevent
this kind of counterplay.

9.Ne2 Strategically this move makes plenty of sense. It prepares c3 to defend

d4 and gets another piece to the kingside. Unfortunately for White, it is too
slow. 9...Bf5 10.c3 Na5 11.Bb5 White does not want to give up the bishop-
pair. 11...a6 12.Ba4 b5 13.Bd1 Nc4 14.b3 Nd6 White has only weakened the
queenside and Black has firm control over e4.

9.Be3 Another slow move that lets Black take the lead. 9...Bf5 10.Bb3 Na5 11.
Rd1 Nxb3 12.cxb3 Nd5

[FEN "r2q1rk1/ppp1ppbp/6p1/3n1b2/3P4/
1PN1BN2/PP4PP/3RQRK1 w - - 0 13"]

Even without the extra pawn Black would be doing well here, since the
isolated d-pawn has few prospects and the black bishops are raking through
White's center.


As I said earlier, I am advocating this over ...Bg4, just because ...Bf5 is less-
played and Black gets to keep the bishop rather than exchange it on f3.

9...b6?! An example of what not to do, and what to watch out for! This is not
a terrible move, but if Black just sails along then White can drum up
something. 10.Bh6 Bb7? 10...Bf5 was still possible. (10...Ng4 This move, so
effective in the first illustrative game, is not good here because of the light-
square weaknesses created by 9...b6 11.Bxg7 Kxg7 12.Bd5 Qd6 13.Ng5
Threats on h7 and f7.) 11.Rad1 (11.d5 is even stronger, but already White is
much better, since the Black has wasted time.) 11...Na5 12.Ng5! A great piece
sacrifice. 12...Nxc4 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.Rxf6! h6 15.Rxf7+ Rxf7

[FEN "r2q4/pbp1prk1/1p4pp/6N1/2nP3Q/
2N5/PPP3PP/3R2K1 w - - 0 16"]

16.Nxf7!! This is an incredible move. White correctly judges that winning the
queen with 16.Ne6+ is not the best move. 16...Kxf7 17.Qxh6 The attack
continues against the exposed king. 17...Qg8 18.Qf4+ Ke8 19.Qxc7 Nd6 20.
Re1 Be4 21.Nxe4 Qe6 22.Nxd6+ 1-0, Alexopoulos,G (2235)-Niculescu,S/
Jamaica 1992. White played impressive chess. Black should have been more
on guard and more direct. Stuff like ...b6 is not necessary.


A typically handy move to make with the king open to checks on the g1-a7
diagonal, in this case likely from d4.

10.Bh6 The standard plan. 10...Ng4! This is the subject of the second
illustrative game.

10.h3 is a useful move, preparing g4, while preventing any black pieces from
going to g4. 10...Nb4 The first we get to see of ...Nb4 in action. 11.g4 (11.Bh6
is less reckless and better. 11...Qd6 taking on c2 is possible, though why not
make White think about it on every move? Black is already up a pawn.) 11...
Bxc2 12.Be3 Bd3 13.Bxd3 Nxd3 14.Ng5 h6 White's aggression is rebuked
and Black is up another pawn.


It is surprising how quickly White gets into trouble. Again the knight and
bishop on f5 make a good team.


This is poor timing, though it is hard to recommend much else. The bishop is
needed for the center.


There is little risk in taking more material this way. The knight is actually
doing a good job controlling the central d4-square.


Another advantage of the bishop on f5 is that it stops Rxf6 ideas. White's

timing did not work out in this game.
12...Qxd4 13.Rf4 Qe5 14.Nf3 Qc5 15.b4 Qe3

[FEN "r4rk1/ppp1ppbp/5npB/5b2/
1PB2R1Q/2N1qN2/P1n3PP/R6K w - - 0 16"]

Black had a winning advantage in the game Lopez Pereyra,A (2125)-Pinto

Henriquez,R (2238)/Sunny Beach 2007. However, he misplayed the position
and lost in the end. In any case, as long as Black remains active, White has
limited ammunition to throw at the black king. Often the game takes an ugly
turn if White tries for too much at the wrong time, which is what happened

Baron, Michael (2225) Pavlovic, Milos (2481)

Oz.com qual blitz ICC INT (2), 05.03.2000

This is a blitz game and Black outrated his opponent by more than 200 points.
That aside, the game is instructive, even if it cannot claim to be strong proof
that this variation is flawed for White given the conditions of the game.

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Qe1

[FEN "rn1q1rk1/ppp1ppbp/5np1/8/2BP2b1/
2N2N2/PPP3PP/R1B1QRK1 w - - 0 9"]

This is an alternative to ...Bf5 and is the more common move.


Black has chosen to focus on the d4-pawn, so this move has to be played
sooner or later.

9.d5 Nbd7 Just like in the theory section, this move is usually not good. It
makes room for Black's pieces and weakens the pawn.


This dilutes some of White's attacking potential, but I never liked giving up
the bishop-pair in this gambit. Though this is the idea of ...Bg4 in the first

10.Rxf3 Nc6 11.Rd1

White is quickly boxed into a defensive position.

11.Qh4 Nb4 is less fun without a bishop on f5. 12.Bb3 c6 13.Raf1 Nbd5 14.
Rh3 h5 15.Bg5 White doesn't have much here and if Black can weather the
storm, the extra pawn will tell.


Black starts to make irritating threats on d4. The power of the g7-bishop
manifests itself in this position, something we have not really seen yet.


The dark-squares become a huge problem for White and just gives Black
more room to move.

12.Kh1 Nxe3 13.Qxe3 Qd7 Black still has that extra pawn and can rapidly
generate play against the d-pawn. (13...Bxd4 14.Qh6 is not worth the pressure
White gets.)

12...Nce5 13.Rf4 Nxe3

13...Bh6 As far as I can tell this wins material.

14.Qxe3 a6

14...Qd6 I like this move immediately. The idea is to target the queenside,
bolstered by the strong g7-bishop.

15.Bb3 Qd6 16.Ne4

[FEN "r4rk1/1pp1ppbp/p2q2p1/3Pn3/
4NR2/1B2Q3/PPP3PP/3R2K1 b - - 0 16"]


Black is giving too much here. Keep the queens on the board and make White
strain for activity.

17.Qxb6 cxb6 18.d6 exd6 19.Nxd6 Rad8 20.c3 Rd7

Black is still better given the extra pawn. I do not like the fact that White has
a target on f7 to focus on.

21.Rfd4 h6 22.Ne4 Rxd4 23.Rxd4 Kh7 24.Nd6 f5

24...Rd8 25.Nxb7 Rxd4 26.cxd4 Ng4 would have been the superior option.

25.Nxb7 f4
[FEN "5r2/1N4bk/pp4pp/4n3/3R1p2/
1BP5/PP4PP/6K1 w - - 0 26"]


Trading rooks is a mistake. The white rook owns the d-file and can mess
around with the black pawns.


26...Rxd8 is better.

27.Rxf8 Bxf8 28.Nd8 Nd3

Now White has a hard time defending.

29.Ne6 Bd6 30.Bc4 Nxb2 31.Bxa6 Na4 32.c4 Nc3 33.Kf2 Kh6 34.Kf3

34.h4 had to be played, when White might be able to defend.

34...g5 35.Nd4? g4+ 36.Kf2 Bc5 0-1

It is fitting that the star of the game, the dark-squared bishop, gives the final
blow. Not a perfect game, of course, since it was blitz, but a good show of the
g7-bishop's power.

Ellrich, Jochen (2104) Khenkin, Igor (2629)

Rhein Main op 10th Bad Homburg (2), 07.06.2007

Black also far outrates his opponent in this game, so the minor details will be
put aside for more general trends.

1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Qe1
Bf5 9.Qh4 Nc6 10.Bh6 Ng4

[FEN "r2q1rk1/ppp1ppbp/2n3pB/5b2/
2BP2nQ/2N2N2/PPP3PP/R4RK1 w - - 0 11"]

A surprisingly effective move that takes advantage of White's hastiness.

Playing h3 at some point would have prevented this move, but also blocks
potential rook swings to h3.

Unless White wants to lose time this capture makes sense.

11...Kxg7 12.h3

12.Rae1 is a natural move. 12...e6 (12...Nxd4!? invites White to get up to

some shenanigans. 13.Ng5 h5 14.h3 Nf6 15.g4 hxg4 16.hxg4 Rh8 17.Qg3
Nxg4 It looks like Black has done pretty well, though these things are always
easier with the computer helping. 18.Nxf7 Nf3+ 19.Qxf3 Qd4+ Black must
come out of this mess on top.)

12...Ne3 13.g4 Nxd4!?

Cool. 13...Bd7? 14.Ng5 is a disaster for Black.


This is as interesting move as any to stir up the position.

14.gxf5 is the first variation that has to be calculated. 14...Ndxf5 15.Qf4 Nxf1
16.Rxf1 Qd6 A rook and three pawns for two pieces seems like a good deal
for Black.

14.Nxd4 Qxd4 did not really work out for White, since the discovered attack
and attack on c4 bode poorly.

14...h6 15.Nxf7

The point of 14.Ng5. White hopes that the black king will end up without
adequate pawn cover. But which king ends up in real danger?

15...Rxf7 16.Bxf7 Nxf1 17.Rxf1 Kxf7 18.Qxh6 Qh8 19.Qe3?

[FEN "r6q/ppp1pk2/6p1/5b2/3n2P1/
2N1Q2P/PPP5/5RK1 b - - 0 19"]

White should just accept the pawn down endgame. Now the queen is tied to
the h-pawn.

19...Nxc2 20.Qf3 Qd4+ 21.Kh1 Ne3

This part is just the clean-up.

22.Re1 Nxg4 23.hxg4 Qxg4 24.Qd5+ e6 25.Qd7+ Kg8 26.Qxc7 Qh4+ 0-1

White loses the rook next turn. It is not easy being attacked and Black did not
have an easy game, but nonetheless showed that he was always in control.

Lessons Learned

The Blackmar-Diemer gambit is worth taking seriously, since its

adherents are die-hard players who know a tremendous amount about
this opening. If you have trouble recalling the variations, at the very
least, remember g6, Nc6, and Bf5. The rest will follow.
The most dangerous White idea is Qe1-h4, Bh6, Ng5, and Rxf6. This is
best answered by swift Black counterplay on the queenside using the
knight on either a5 or b4, or the other knight on g4. The bishop on f5 is
a good tool since it controls the c2/d3 squares that the knight may
target, too. The bishop on g7 can also become quite strong against the
center and queenside.
Piece play rather than pawn breaks are the norm here, so forget about ...
c5 for the most part, except against crazy White pawn pushes like h4 or


Although usually not on the black side of this gambit, Armand

Blackmar was both an avid chess player and musician in the middle of
the nineteenth century. He lived in New Orleans and crossed paths with
Paul Morphy during that time period.
Igor Khenkin is a German grandmaster. He is consistently among the
top 100 players in the world.
Milos Pavlovic is a Serbian grandmaster. He has worked as a trainer for
multiple grandmasters and was the Yugoslav champion in 2002. He has
written three books on chess openings and writes for ChessPublishing.

Further Reading

Beyond the many books on this opening, time is well spent relying on
more up-to-date informal networks, such as Tom Purser's blog on the
Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.
The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit by Christoph Scheerer
Grandmaster Repertoire 11: Beating 1.d4 Sidelines by Boris Avrukh

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