The Bodensee Counter Gambit in action

The White player isn’t too serious about the game. He enjoys fun openings, then lets his engine take over after the first few moves. This approach can lead to cool games, but also to desasters like this one. White plays machine moves until he is lost.

Black on the other hand uses his powerful helper better, gladly taking its advice to manage the tactis, but refusing it at key points in order to have the attack go into the right direction. Already when analyzing the consequences of 7…Ng4 I had the position after 18…Re3 on the board.

It was one of the cases where the engine’s 0,00 means that it has no clue what’s going on and asks for guidance to be able to see more deeply. And what a sight it was!


Villain (1.956) – Hero (2.218)

Correspondence game, Lechenicher Schachserver 2016

1. f4 d5 2. c4 


No opening is absurd enough to remain anonymous. I was surprised to find out that even this has a name: The “Sturm Gambit”.

2… e5

Black can choose between a variety of solid moves and be fine. 2…e5 is the most aggressive and the most original approach – and not yet a pawn sacrifice.

(2… c6 has been played by grandmasters twice, but I don’t like it. 2…c6 is too timid and no way to punish White for starting the game with two suboptimal moves. If not 2…e5 then I would very much prefer 2…d4 and ask White how he intends to set up his central pawn formation and develop his queenside without creating holes in his position.)


3. fxe5 d4!


Important inbetween move, asking White the questions mentioned in the former comment. The e5 pawn can always be retrieved via …Nc6 and …Ng8-e7-g6.

4. Nf3 Nc6 5. d3


5… f6

Voilá, the “Bodensee Counter Gambit”, opening files and diagonals towards the white king for the price of a pawn. 5…f6 is not the engine’s first choice, but given how this game went this may be the best way to go.

(The solid 5… Nge7 is perfectly fine. Black gets back his pawn and may even have a slight edge after 6. g3 Ng6 7. Bg2 Ncxe5 8. Nxe5 Nxe5 9. O-O)

6. exf6 Nxf6


7. a3

If White allows …Bb4+ he will also have to allow the Nf6 to jump towards e3.

(7. g3 Bb4+ 8. Bd2 Ng4 and White is in trouble.)

7… Ng4!?

7…Bd6 or 7…Ng4? I couldn’t decide, both moves look fine, and often they will transpose into each other. In the end I played …Ng4 mainly for the reason that my opponent and I were in the business of being the more original than the other. So if there’s an opportunity to move a developed piece a second time in the opening, why not take it? Also while analyzing it I already had the winning position after 18…Re3 on the board and badly hoped I could steer the game towards it.


8. g3?!

At this point White would have needed to take a timeout of a few days and come up with a working defensive setup if he seriously wants to save the game. I doubt that he can ever survive g3, Bg2 and then castling into Black’s attack without his troops from the queenside being able to defend his majesty. There are just too many attacking patterns apparent already.

(8.h3 Creates another darksquared hole next to the white king, exactly what Black aimed to provoke with 7…Ng4, but maybe the move is not as stupid as it looks. When thinking hard outside the box White could have come up with a line like this: 8… Nge5 (8… Ne3) (8… Nf6) 9. Nbd2 Nxf3+ 10. Nxf3 Bd6 11. g4 with the idea of walking the King to c2, hiding it there and being a pawn up. In fact although I had provoked it I wasn’t sure how to react to 8.h3 since all three possible knight moves seemed to make sense.)

8… Bd6 9. Bg2 O-O 10. O-O Qe8 11. Qe1


Overprotecting g3 and directed against the natural 11…Qh5. After a sequence of logical moves Black now needs to look deeply into the position to find a good continuation and break through. Apparently Black’s position is already good enough to just play the slow 11…a5, stopping any White queenside expansion and making it difficult for White to come up with something sensible. 11…Ne7 intending a piece sacrifice is one of Stockfish’s suggestions, giving 0.00 and many variations of perpetual checks after 12.h3 Nf5. But delving deeper into the jungle of lines it turns out that the complications after 13.hxg4 are good for Black. Often when the engine says “0.00” this means it has no clue first of all.

11… Ne7

Just enjoy the following sequence. I’ll keep the lines and alternatives to a minimum to keep it consumable.

(11… Qh5?! 12. h3 Nf6 13. g4 followed by Qh4 (one of the ideas of 11.Qe1) and White is alive with his kingside holding for now.)

(11… a5)

12. h3

(12. Nxd4 Looks incredibly dangerous, but may have put up more resistance. After 12…Rxf1+ 13. Bxf1 Nf5 14. Nxf5 Bxf5 Black has a pleasant combination of options and threats, …Bxd3, …Bc5+, …Qh5, …Rf8. Not sure if White survives, I hadn’t analyzed this properly, but I would have gladly gone for this.)

12… Nf5


13. hxg4 Nxg3 14. Rf2 Bxg4 15. Nbd2 Qh5


16. b4

(16. Nxd4 Bh3 -+)

16… Rae8


Everybody needs to join the party!

17. c5

(17. Nxd4 Nxe2+ -+)

17… Bf4 18. Nf1 Re3!


Total domination. Black has sacrificed a piece in order to let his whole army appear in front of the white king. White is lost, he has no way of transferring any defenders from the queen- to the kingside. If only there was a piece on e4 in order to form the perfect rectangle e1-e4-g4-g1 😉

19. Ra2 Nxf1 20. Rxf1 Rxf3


21. Bxf4

(21. Rxf3 The huge blok of pieces in front of the White king dissolves, and in the end a lost pawn endgame appears on the board: 21…Qh2+ 22. Kf1 Bh3 23. e3 Bxg2+ 24. Rxg2 Qh1+ 25. Ke2 Qxg2+ 26. Qf2 Qxf2+ 27. Kxf2 Bxe3+ 28. Bxe3 dxe3+ 29. Kxe3 Rxf3+ 30. Kxf3 -+)

21… R3xf4 22. Rxf4 Rxf4


The dust has settled, and Black is a pawn up with a much better position. But White’s position is just not bad enough to resign, so he dragged it out until he was left with a hopeless queen ending.

23. e3 Qe5 24. Be4 Rxe4 25. dxe4 Qxe4 26. Qd2 Be6 27. Rb2 d3 28. Qf2 Bd5 29. Qg3 Qc4 30. Qe5 h6 31. Qd4 Qc1+ 32. Kf2 Kh8 33. a4 Be4 34. Qxe4 Qxb2+ 35. Kf1 Qf6+ 36. Ke1 Qa1+ 37. Kf2 Qxa4 38. Qxd3 Qc6 39. Qd8+ Kh7 40. Qd3+ Qg6 41. Qd7 h5 42. Qxc7 Qf5+ 43. Kg3 Qg4+ 44. Kf2 Qxb4 45. Qe5 Qh4+ 46. Kg2 Qg4+ 47. Kf2 h4 48. Qd5 Kh6 49. Qxb7 Qf5+ 50. Kg2 Qxc5 51. Qa6+ Qb6 52. Qa4 Qg6+


White resigned.


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[…] by 23…Re3, is nice. It very much reminds me of the beautiful geometry in an earlier game („The Bodensee counter gambit in action“) when 18…Re3 (see diagram on the right) paralyzed the white position and made it collapse […]