In 1996, the DDG was most probably being played more than ever. In January, I had 50 DDG games on the DDG Web site; in December, over 350.
During the year, when I was analysing the DDG, most of the time I actually went through DDG-like games. It was thrilling to find out how many "serious" openings can transpose to the DDG.
The most fascinating transposition comes from the QGD Tarrasch Defence, Marshall Gambit (1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. e4) after 5... dxe4 6. d5!?. This is the same as the DDG variation 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. c4 dxe4 4. Nc3 c5 5. d5 exd5 6. cxd5.
What is more, if one really wants to learn this variation, he can even play it as Black, however, one tempo down: the Albin Counter-Gambit (1. d4 d5 2. c4 e5) reaches the reversed position after 3. dxe5 d4 4. Nf3 c5 5. e3 Nc6 6. exd4 cxd4. Quite amazing.
As a whole, the QGD provides for the richest source for the DDG. The most common way to decline the DDG is 3... c6. After 4. Nc3, it transposes to the Semi-Slav, Marshall Gambit (1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c6 4. e4). Now the standard play continues 4... dxe4 5. Nxe4 Bb4+ 6. Bd2 Qxd4, but with 5. f3 White gets very nice DDG game, where Black has played quite harmless c6-move.
The third important transposition comes from the QGD Charousek Variation (1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Be7). Opening books do not mention 4. e4, but again after 4... dxe4 5. f3, we have a good DDG: the most critical variations are avoided.
In autumn I found one good candidate for the "strongest DDG", namely game Maxim Dlugy - Viswanathan Anand, Wijk aan Zee, 1990:
1. d4 d6 2. e4 Nf6 3. f3 d5 4. exd5 Nxd5 5. c4 Nf6 6. Nc3 e6 7. Be3 Bb4 8. Ne2 O-O 9. a3 Be7 10. Qc2 Nbd7 11. O-O-O c6 draw.
At first this may not look like a DDG, but after 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. c4 dxe4 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. f3 e3 6. Bxe3 we have the same position as in the game, but both players have "won" one tempo. I have met 5... e3 a couple of times in blitz. As a conclusion, the DDG is not so superior: even Anand managed to get a draw.
In June I got by far my best result in the DDG: a draw against GM Bogdan Lalic, world number 113 in the April 1996 PCA rating list! Of course, Black should win after 19... Ne7! 20. Qg4 Ng6 21. Re1 Qc2, but sometimes Greedy Materialists go too far. By the way, Lalic won that 30 + 30 minutes tournament with the result 5/6. The game was also published in BDG World serial 73 (3/96).
Would you believe that someone is playing the DDG every day. Well, actually something, namely Brause, a crafty chess program at Free Internet Chess Servers (FICS). Operator Steffen A. Jakob added the DDG in Brause's opening book in September 1996, and now he sends me about 60 games every month. Brause's rating varies between 2300 and 2400, and it keeps scoring over 80 %, even though half of its opponents have rating over 2000.
Brause plays quite extraordinary DDG. For example, it prefers playing the king's knight to e2, instead of the thematic pawn-move f3, hoping to get the knight to f3 with tempo. More striking is that it seems to be happy to exchange queens early in the game. And what is more, it usually wins those endgames in spite of being a pawn or two down!
From a book Computer Chess (1984) by David E. Welsh, I found a DDG game played in the North American Computer Chess Championship 1977. Being included in a number of computer chess books, it is probably the most published DDG game. Who said computers cannot sacrifice?
The featured game itself is not too interesting: White plays an inferior variation, and loses in 50 moves. But it sure plays a straight DDG: 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. e4.
The first DDG Accepted e-mail tournament, organized by Tomas Segerberg from Sweden, started in October 1996. At the beginning, we had 34 players, including 4 with Elo 2200, and exactly 100 games to be played. Unfortunately, after 6 weeks, 3 master players had withdrawn from the tournament.
I have always known that the DDG is a great weapon in blitz, but I was somewhat worried before the tournament that it would be difficult to get such nice attacks in e-mail games. Besides, Tomas had just knocked me out in our friendly e-mail game as Black.
My fear was partly justified: White has not done too well so far, scoring only 40 %. On the other hand, I have already won all my four games as White. Of course, I had lots of luck, but still I was surprised how easily I managed to get nice attacks. Some players said that they lost faith in the DDG during the tournament, whereas I learned that it is easy to underestimate White's attack: I had terrible positions only as Black.
Quite a few players have asked me to inform when the next DDG e-mail tournament will be held. It looks like we probably have to organize another one right after the first one (any volunteers?). I hope White would do better then. At least opening traps should be avoided as Black won three games in 10 moves or less in the tournament. For example:
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. c4 dxe4 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. Be3 f5 6. f3 Nf6 7. fxe4?? Ng4 8. Bf4 Qxd4 9. Qxd4 Nxd4 10. Rd1 Bc5 0-1.
An East Anglian Daily Times article by Kevin O'Connell, author of almost 30 chess books, featured the DDG in November.
He wrote: "That position, which arises after three very natural moves, can scarcely be discovered in any of the published works on the opening, yet it is great fun and, for the average player at least, quite playable. That just goes to show how fashion-conscious most books (and players) are. I have already played the gambit three times (once each with 1. e4, 1. d4 and 1. c4), so why don't you try it and have some fun?"
Two days after my draw against Lalic, I sent the first DDG Newsletter to a number of players who had shown some interest in the DDG. In January 1997, I sent the second newsletter to over 60 players, including 30 participants of the DDG e-mail tournament. In fact, this Short DDG History of 1996 is mainly collected from those two newsletters. Anyone in the Internet can join the DDG mailing list.
BDGers call themselves Blackmar Gemeinde ("community"), by Diemer's booklet with the same name. The DDG community could be called the DDG network. The argument is obvious: nearly all DDGers I know are in the Internet. And as the Internet is growing all the time, also more DDGers are expected. Diemerdom would also be a nice name.
Eric Schiller will include a page on the DDG in the new version of book Unorthodox Openings, to be published late this year. We are waiting for the definitive bust...
Before that, I will write two articles on the DDG e-mail tournament to some magazines.