I saw a post somewhere on social media the other day asking for recommendations for openings similar to the Halosar Trap. I’d never heard of the Halosar Trap. Was it something like the Fishing Pole Trap? I decided to investigate.
It turns out it’s a variation of the notorious Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.
1. d4 d5
2. e4 dxe4
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. f3 exf3
White usually plays Nxf3 here, hoping to get a quick attack in exchange for the sacrificed pawn. A foolhardy player might prefer the Ryder Gambit, giving up a second pawn to drive the black queen round the board:
5. Qxf3 Qxd4
5.. c6 is a popular alternative, but, as long as you know what you’re doing, there’s nothing wrong with taking the pawn.
Where should the black queen go? After Qg4, for example, White probably doesn’t have enough compensation for the two missing pawns. A very tempting alternative is..
.. eyeing the b2 pawn and also, you might think, setting a little trap.
This is what White wants to do, but it might also be what Black wants White to do. But who is the trapper and who is the trapped?
After 7.. c6 Black is reasonably safe, but instead he snatches at the bait. It’s very easy to assume that White will just move the queen, but instead..
Creating two threats: Nxc7# and Qxb7. Black has no good defence.
The game might continue:
9. Qxb7 Qe4
10. Qxa6 Qxe3+
11. Kb1 Qc5
12. Qb7 Bxd1
13. Qxa8+ Kd7
14. Nc3 Bg4
White has a winning attack.
The question you’re asking, of course, is “Who was Halosar?”. It turns out he was, unexpectedly, the sucker who fell into the trap. Emil-Josef Diemer – Hermann Halosar (Baden Baden 1925) witnessed Black playing 9.. Rc8 in the line given above, and Halosar resigned after 10. Qxa6.
You might also be wondering who Ryder was. I’ll return to that question another time.
Many players, particularly those learning chess, have an obsession with traps like these which very rarely happen in real life. My database of more than 7 million games has just eight examples of the position after 8. Nb5. Of course, you and I both know that this isn’t what chess is about at all, but if you tell them that chess is mostly about grinding out wins in endings with an extra pawn or a more active rook, they probably won’t want to know.
Many players also have an obsession with the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, while others, mostly much stronger players, hate it with a passion.
Should you play the Ryder Gambit? Probably not, except perhaps in the occasional online blitz game.
What about the main lines of the BDG after 5. Nxf3? If you’re a reasonably strong player, probably not. Your opponents are likely to be well prepared and, more often than not, you’ll find yourself with insufficient compensation for the pawn. If your opponent is good at grinding out wins in endings with an extra pawn you’ll just lose. At lower levels you’ll get the chance to win some quick brilliancies: if that’s what you want from chess and you’re not really interested in improving your rating, don’t let me put you off. I even spent some time playing it in online blitz and bullet games some years ago, and scored some nice victories with king-side attacks.
Objectively, it’s not a good opening, but if you want something fun to play in less serious games it might just be what you’re looking for.