Short History of the DDG

"The fun of chess lies more and more with these openings where like mountaineers climbing new peaks you can discover unknown, unbelievable positions at the board."
- Paul Denham at SportSite Chess Discussion

DDG Found by Diemer and Me

I do not know the official history of the Diemer-Duhm Gambit. In the BDG bible Blackmar Gemeinde, a booklet published in 1955-1956, Emil Josef Diemer (1908-1990) named the gambit according to game Andreas Duhm - Jules Martin, played in a correspondence tourney 1908-1909, which is the oldest known game. Incidentally, it started as the Queen's Gambit: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.e4.

I know, however, and even remember, something about my own DDG history. In 1984 I really started to play chess: during breaks at school, after school -- and, of course, sometimes during lessons. For two years I played well over 50 games a week. Many of my chess friends liked the French Defence for some reason. First I found it dull to meet because I liked straightforward attacks, and the solid French pawn structure does not give too much space.

Playing tens of games one after another, we sometimes tried something extraordinary -- just to shake the opponent. I remember playing 1.e4 e6 2.e5 and 2.c4 d5 3.cxd5 several times. My first DDG probably started as 1.e4 e6 2.c4 d5 3.d4. It must have been just a bold throw: how do you refute this?

Is there a hidden secret deep inside the DDG, or were my opponents suitably weaker than me, or was I just a great attacker -- but I really succeeded with the gambit. And when you can keep beating others with a bat, why would you loosen. So I kept playing this strange gambit.

In the late 1980s, I tried to find something, theory or games, about the gambit -- just to check how it should go. And like many other friends of strange gambits, I found nothing in respected opening books.

In 1991 I tried the gambit for the first time in a Finnish ELO tournament. I even managed to play it twice -- and to win both games. Moreover, I won my section in the tournament, and one of my two gambit games was published in Suomen Shakki, the leading Finnish chess magazine, where it was given the ECO code C00-17/103. At that time I thought my game was the only one of that gambit ever published.

World Wide DDG

In the summer 1994 I found the Web. One of my first pages was the French Gambit, on which I collected all my 12-14 (!) games of that gambit. I also added some very modest opening analysis based on the games. I called the 3.Be3 variation the Advanced French Gambit because I had found it more sound than 3.c4. The Alapin French is, of course, considered interesting while the DDG is globally declared unsound.

During the first year there were very few updates on the site: I played only half a dozen games on the gambit, and I heard nothing from the visitors. Having realized that there are in fact standard gambits in the French Defence, I renamed my gambit as the Finnish-French Gambit. Well, I still like the name: a Finn beating the French!

In October 1995, Rick Kennedy sent me an e-mail: "I have seen 1.d4 d5 2.e4 e6 3.c4!? referred to as the Diemer-Duhm Gambit in a Diemer's book Towards Mate from the First Move (in German)." Rick also sent me a few games and lines he had found from books. The gambit had a name, and it had been played before -- I was thrilled! So I had not invented the gambit, but I soon learned to be very proud of rediscovering that offbeat line of Diemer.

Rick also encouraged me to "get more exposure for my ideas", and to contact Tom Purser, editor of BDG World. Tom sent me more games, and he did not have to persuade me too much to write an article for his magazine. With such a great opportunity to spread the word, I even wrote two articles.

The DDG site grew from about 20 pages close to 100 pages during the year 1996, thanks to hundreds of DDG games and countless supportive comments I received from players in the Internet. Dave Regis of the Exeter Chess Coaching Page wrote in 1997: "I think your pages are a model of how to present chess openings on the Web."

I hope the future of the DDG will create more history. Just give the DDG a try!

Jyrki Heikkinen