Winkelmann-Reimer Gambit - ECO C15

"A computer beat me in chess, but it was no match when it came to kickboxing"
    - Emo Phillips (1956 - ?)

Introduction

The Winklemann-Reimer Gambit is a saucy and dangerous continuation in the dull-as-bricks Winawer French. Named for Thomas Winkelmann and Wolfgang Reimer, two strong German correspondence players, this gambit, while very unsound, may be fun for the club player, where pulling his or her opponent out of what small amount of book they have is worth a lot more than a single pawn.

Most gambits are not for the faint of heart, but this one is only for the truly brave. Most continuations are bad for white and you'll end up wading into a deep pool of unhappiness more often than not.

Definition

The Winkelmann-Reimer Gambit is defined by the following moves:

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 dxe4 6.f3


                         Diagram 1: After 6. f3
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |BR |BN |BB |BQ |BK |   |BN |BR | 8
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |BP |BP |BP |   |   |BP |BP |BP | 7
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |   |   |   |   |BP |   |   |   | 6
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   | 5
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |   |   |   |WP |BP |   |   |   | 4
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |WP |   |WP |   |   |WP |   |   | 3
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |   |   |WP |   |   |   |WP |WP | 2
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                     |WR |   |WB |WQ |WK |WB |WN |WR | 1
                     +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                      A    B   C   D   E   F   G   H
                        

As is evident in Diagram 1, white's queenside pawn structure is wholly destroyed, and although white has lots of space and nice diagonals for the bishops, there are also too many weaknesses, and the entirety of the pawn structure has become difficult to defend. The only half-open file for white at this point is the b-file, and that's hardly ideal for a quick attack and mate.

WRG Declined

This is a very dubious gambit, and as such most of the declined positions are very good for black. I've opted to give you the bad news first so that you can see how uncomfortable this line can be against a worthy opponent.

  • 6. ... c5

    If you are playing against a stronger opponent, this is the move you really do not want to see. This is the chief refutation of the Winkelmann-Reimer Gambit. Most games end badly when white tries to continue to play aggressively with 7. Bb5+ or 7. Qd2.

    
                            Diagram 2: After 6. ... c5
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |BR |BN |BB |BQ |BK |   |BN |BR | 8
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |BP |BP |   |   |   |BP |BP |BP | 7
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |   |BP |   |   |   | 6
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |BP |   |   |   |   |   | 5
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |WP |BP |   |   |   | 4
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |WP |   |WP |   |   |WP |   |   | 3
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |WP |   |   |   |WP |WP | 2
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |WR |   |WB |WQ |WK |WB |WN |WR | 1
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                          A    B   C   D   E   F   G   H
                            
    

    The problem here is that you have given up your pawn structure for ... nothing! You've gained no tempii, your open lines are terrible, you've got very little you can use by way of aggression--which is the key to gambit play. Black has no real weaknesses and generally can meet you blow for blow with your attempts to gain tempo while whittling away at your massive target of a pawn structure.

    All is not completely lost, though. One move that looks promising and may well be the correct continuation for white is fairly counter-intuitive. As you can imagine from my doom saying, though, this opening has not seen a lot of high level play and no published analysis to my knowledge. The promising move is the unlikely 7. Nh3 (see Diagram 3)

    
                            Diagram 3: After 7. Nh3
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |BR |BN |BB |BQ |BK |   |BN |BR | 8
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |BP |BP |BP |   |   |BP |BP |BP | 7
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |   |BP |   |   |   | 6
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   | 5
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |WP |BP |   |   |   | 4
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |WP |   |WP |   |   |WP |   |WN | 3
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |WP |   |   |   |WP |WP | 2
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |WR |   |WB |WQ |WK |WB |   |WR | 1
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                          A    B   C   D   E   F   G   H
                            
    

    This move, while seemingly very odd, actually shows a small gain for white with the idea of a forthcoming kingside attack. If now 7. ... exf3, white recaptures with the queen setting up for a kingside bombardment and returning the game to slightly more familiar gambit territory. It's still a mess, but in my opinion it is better than just resigning at move 7.

  • 6. ... b6

    This move is slightly more passive for black, as it's opening up for a fianchetto with 7. ... Bb7. It's still not pretty for white, but there are more chances for the much desired tempo or development gains. The usual continuation is 7. Nh3 Bb7 8. fxe4 Bxe4 9. Ng5.

    
                             Diagram 4: After 6. ... b6
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |BR |BN |BB |BQ |BK |   |BN |BR | 8
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |BP |   |BP |   |   |BP |BP |BP | 7
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |BP |   |   |BP |   |   |   | 6
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   | 5
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |WP |BP |   |   |   | 4
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |WP |   |WP |   |   |WP |   |   | 3
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |WP |   |   |   |WP |WP | 2
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |WR |   |WB |WQ |WK |WB |WN |WR | 1
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                          A    B   C   D   E   F   G   H
                            
    

  • 6. ... Bd7

    This ends up largely similar to positions arising from 6. ... b6 except that black has not created the light square weakness on the queenside and can be more flexible with pawn development going forward. The usual continuation looks very similar to the last position with 7. Nh3 Bc6 8. fxe4 Bxe4 9. Ng5 (see Diagram 5).

    
                             Diagram 5: After 9. Ng5
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |BR |BN |BB |BQ |BK |   |BN |BR | 8
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |BP |BP |BP |   |   |BP |BP |BP | 7
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |   |BP |   |   |   | 6
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |   |   |   |WN |   | 5
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |WP |BB |   |   |   | 4
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |WP |   |WP |   |   |   |   |   | 3
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |WP |   |   |   |WP |WP | 2
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |WR |   |WB |WQ |WK |WB |WN |WR | 1
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                          A    B   C   D   E   F   G   H
                            
    

  • 6. ... Nf6

    This seemingly natural move is probably the weakest of the gambit declines and turns out to be decent for white. After 7. fxe4 Nxe4 8. Qg4 Nf6 9. Qxg7 (see Diagram 6) things look much better for white as the destruction of black's kingside makes up nicely for the weaknesses white has on the queenside. Now the center is wide open for white to attack, while black's remaining bishop is trapped behind the e-pawn which will hamper the already underdeveloped queenside pieces, and black cannot hope to castle kingside.

    
                             Diagram 6: After 9. Qxg7
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |BR |BN |BB |BQ |BK |   |   |BR | 8
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |BP |BP |BP |   |   |BP |WQ |BP | 7
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |   |BP |BN |   |   | 6
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   | 5
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |WP |   |   |   |   | 4
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |WP |   |WP |   |   |   |   |   | 3
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |WP |   |   |   |WP |WP | 2
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |WR |   |WB |   |WK |WB |WN |WR | 1
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                          A    B   C   D   E   F   G   H
                            
    

WRG Accepted

This is really what you want to see when playing this gambit. I would recommend only using this opening against known pawn-grabbers, so that your likelihood of falling into despair with one of the stronger declined positions is decreased.

  • 6. ... exf3

    After 7. Nxf3 Nf6 8. Bd3 b6 9. O-O Bb7 10. Bg5 (see Diagram 7) you have all the makings of a delightful kingside attack. You have strong open lines, all your pieces are pointed toward the kingside, you have tons of space, and black is a little cramped. You also have a nice lead in development.

    
                             Diagram 7: After 10. Bg5
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |BR |BN |   |BQ |BK |   |   |BR | 8
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |BP |BB |BP |   |   |BP |BP |BP | 7
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |BP |   |   |BP |BN |   |   | 6
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |   |   |   |WB |   | 5
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |   |WP |   |   |   |   | 4
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |WP |   |WP |WB |   |WN |   |   | 3
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |   |   |WP |   |   |   |WP |WP | 2
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                         |WR |   |   |WQ |   |WR |WK |   | 1
                         +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
                          A    B   C   D   E   F   G   H
                            
    

In Closing

The Winkelmann-Reimer Gambit is not sound, but it is an interesting opening to take on the repertoire if you regularly face French Defense players and want a break from more sound French gambits like the Alapin-Diemer or Diemer-Duhm. It can be fun if black takes the offered f-pawn, but can be very unpleasant otherwise. Use at your own risk.



Resources: Chessbase 8.0 used to cull game statistics.

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