Chess players who enjoy playing the Benoni Defense or Benko Gambit will enjoy playing the Blumenfeld Gambit.
- Use the Blumfeld Gambit to get exciting games when White plays 2.Nf3.
- When you wish to avoid soaking up the pressure you can go on the offensive with the Blumenfeld Gambit.
- There are two main options for White – accepting the gambit or declining it with the positional 5.Bg5.
Ideas and Strategies Behind the Blumenfeld Gambit
Sometimes our opponents choose to mix up the move order and not play the moves we would like them to play. If you enjoy playing the Benko Gambit or Modern Benoni, you welcome it if your opponent plays 1.d4 and 2.c4.
Nowadays, many players choose to play 2.Nf3 with the intent to enter a Colle, London, or other similar system openings or to see what Black intends to play after 1…Nf6.
The advantage of the Blumenfeld Gambit is that you can meet 2.Nf3 with your preferred 2…c5. One possible move order to reach the starting position of the Blumenfeld Gambit is 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.d5 e6 4.c4 b5
The Blumenfeld Gambit is named after the Russian chess master Beniamin Blumenfeld, and one of the earliest players to take up the gambit was Rudolf Spielmann. Later the Blumenfeld Gambit found its way into the opening repertoires of strong players like Lev Alburt, Francisco Vallejo Pons, and Andrei Volokitin.
Unsurprisingly, the Blumenfeld Gambit appealed to Alexander Alekhine, who used it to win a game against Siegbert Tarrasch. Nowadays, the typical capture is cxd5, but Tarrasch played cxb5.
Despite the advancements in chess engines, the Blumenfeld Gambit still remains a viable gambit for Black to play against 1.d4. This gambit is particularly well-suited to players who like to meet 1.d4 with the Benoni Defense or Benko Gambit.
Similar to the Benko Gambit in the Blumenfeld Gambit, an outside pawn is offered for a more central pawn. In contrast to the Benko Gambit, where Black gets to play in the a and b-file in the Blumenfeld Gambit, Black can generate more play in the center.
This is thanks to the half-open f-file after dxe6 fxe6 or semi-open e-file when Black plays …exd5.
The central tension in the Blumenfeld Gambit arises from the e6 pawn advance and offers both players opportunities in the center.
White’s Main Options in the Blumenfeld Defense
The two main options for white are accepting the gambit with 5.dxe6 fxe6 6.cxb5 d5 (see diagram below) and the positional approach with 5.Bg5
Despite Black’s impressive pawn center, things are not as simple as they appear at first glance. Black must play accurately to nullify White’s counterplay against the center.
This position requires Black to be well-prepared and know the ideal piece placement.
A central majority is usually only as good as its mobility, and advancing a central pawn majority without providing blockading squares for your opponent is an excellent skill to have in chess.
The most popular response to the Blumenfeld Gambit by a large margin is 5.Bg5, which pins the knight applying pressure to the crucial d5-pawn. Because Black has played …e6, there is no avoiding central conflict as in the Benko Gambit.
All pawn advances leave weak squares behind them, so White is content to adopt a more patient approach after seeing Black play …b5. The pawn on b5 is easily attacked with a4, and if it advances to b4, White will gain access to the c4-square.
Black must play actively and not allow White to seize the initiative in the center. Pinning the knight on f6 relieved the pressure on d5 and made it possible for White to play the natural e4.
The Blumenfeld Gambit is all about dynamic play. The imbalances in this position ought to be welcomed by both players.
The Blumenfeld Gambit Accepted
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.d5 e6 4.c4 b5 5.dxe6 fxe6 6.cxb5 d5
Black must develop the pieces to support the pawn center in this position. An excellent way to start developing pieces is to get the king to safety after …Bd6 and ..0-0.
The light-squared bishop will go to either a6 or b7, and the other black night will develop to c6 or d7.
Unsurprisingly, an effective means of development for White involves a kingside fianchetto. Where the vital pawn move for Black is …a6, White will attempt to play e4.
White must realize that capturing on a6 cannot be avoided since defending the b5 pawn with Nc3 runs into …axb5 Nxb5 ..Qa5+ Nc3 d4!
7.g3 a6 8.bxa6 Bd6 9.Bg2 0-0 10.0-0 Bxa6
Although a lot of play will take place in the center of the board, Black does have the semi-open a and b-file on the queenside. The two black bishops on d6 and b7 aim at White’s kingside while supporting the black center.
White’s strategy will depend on how Black mobilizes the center, but exchanges will deny the center essential support. Exchanging a bishop for the f6 knight and trading light-squared bishops will benefit white.
White Declines the Blumenfeld Gambit With 5.Bg5
Although some say that the best way to refute a gambit is to accept it, sometimes discretion works equally well. If you are a positional player at heart, then declining the Blumenfeld Gambit with 5.Bg5 is likely to suit you best.
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.d5 e6 4.c4 b5 5.Bg5
Now it is Black’s turn to relieve the central tension and create a semi-open e-file with …exd5. By opening the e-file, Black intends to apply pressure against the e4-pawn with …Re8.
The e4 advance is necessary for White to support the pawn on d5. Here we have an imbalance between White’s pawns in the center against Black’s queenside expansion.
Black will use his advanced queenside pawns to interfere with White’s development. For example, if White develops the knight to c3, it can get harassed with …b4. Of course, Black must be sure to keep control of the c4-square, which will no longer be controlled by a pawn on b5.
5…exd5 6.cxd5 d6 7.e4 a6 8.a4 Be7 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.axb5 Bxb2
The dynamic play in the Blumenfeld Gambit will lead to exciting chess games. You will work on your defensive and attacking skills in one opening.
Black has the bishop pair and White greater control of the center. There is everything to play for in this position.
Even though it is a gambit, the Blumenfeld Gambit is perfectly sound. The unbalanced positions make it a fighting defense suitable for players who believe in playing for a win with either color.
There are no cramped positions requiring lots of patient maneuvering in the Blumenfeld Gambit. Even in the positional 5.Bg5 line, there are lots of tactics and counter-attacks.
The Blumenfeld Gambit is an opening for players of either color to embrace joyfully. Use it to ignite your opening play and enjoy playing chess.
The Blumenfeld Gambit Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Blumenfeld Gambit good?
Yes, the Blumenfeld Gambit is a good gambit for black.
Is the Blumenfeld Gambit refuted?
No, despite how much chess engines have improved the Blumenfeld Gambit is not refuted.
Should beginners play the Blumenfeld Gambit?
No, the Blumenfeld Gambit should not be played by beginners.
What is the Blumenfeld Gambit?
The Blumenfeld Gambit is an opening for black that involves the sacrifice of an outside pawn for a central pawn.