Let's Play: Rank the Bad Opening!

21j wrote:

what about the Blackmar-Diemer?

I saw a GM play 2. ...  e6 instead of capturing

I would put it above any of the gambits on the list in the OP, but still below theoretically sound (and effective at all levels) gambits like Evans, Lolli, Benko, King's, etc. It's in an inbetweenish group along with the Smith Morra Gambit -- effective and hard to refute below GM level, but never played at GM level.


I really don't understand why so many people have so little respect for the Budapest. It's been played by World Champions and still scores reasonably well in correspondence. 

I'd be very happy if everyone consigned it forever to the trash heap of history, but just wait... Nakamura or Carlsen will play it in a serious event and it will be treated as the prodigal son returned. 

To rank the BDG ahead of the Budapest in terms of soundness?  Really? How many GMs have played the BDG compared to the Budapest?

Budapest is sound in the sense that you can get your pawn back, and that you have great ways to complicate White's position if he tries to keep the pawn. It's just ineffective in the sense that White gets a developmental advantage if he simply returns the pawn and continues developing, and Black has mediocre results with it at high levels. Do GMs use it? Yes. Do they do well with it? Almost never.
Anyway here's Kasparov using a patzer opening.
SmyslovFan wrote:

I really don't understand why so many people have so little respect for the Budapest. It's been played by World Champions and still scores reasonably well in correspondence. 

I'd be very happy if everyone consigned it forever to the trash heap of history, but just wait... Nakamura or Carlsen will play it in a serious event and it will be treated as the prodigal son returned. 

To rank the BDG ahead of the Budapest in terms of soundness?  Really? How many GMs have played the BDG compared to the Budapest?

I would agree that it should rank higher than the BDG. Do you play the Budapest? What do you consider to be critical against it?

I'll look it up too, in my various CC and OTB databases, but it's always good to get others' perspectives.


I don't play it, just against it, in correspondence mostly. I used to play OTB blitz against a NM who has posted numerous things here in the past. He broke 2200 using the Budapest, but the only rated game we played, he lost. I chose a rather baroque system that wasn't studied much. It's probably not much good (an early Bd2, a3, b4 idea). Take a look at Berkovich-Peev, 1992 for the basic idea of what I used to play.

In blitz, I was repeatedly crushed by an IM who sought to sac the R @a8 on f3, so I studied some new lines. I use a plan devised by... Smyslov and Spassky as White.  Tim Taylor wrote an interesting book on the Budapest which mentions this idea. He seems to think White's better, but it's hard to prove.


Some GMs who have used the Budapest several times:

Nigel Short (former title contender), Vladimir Epishin, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (+2700), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ok, he plays everything), Viktor Korchnoi, Viktor Moskalenko, Ian Rodgers, Pavel Blatny, Alexander Budnikov, Jeroen Piket, Normund Miezis... 

Most of these players are known for idiosyncratic, but positionally sound opening repertoires. 

ozzie_c_cobblepot wrote:

Order these, from worst to first: Traxler, Budapest, Cochrane, Englund, Halloween, Albin, and the Parham.

Your topic pre-supposes these openings are bad. Well, you're not fooling me. This is an obvious ploy calculated to enrage the fans of any of these lines. It's a clever idea, but it's not gonna' work in my case. You can criticize the Traxler all you want; it doesn't bother me. So you included a perfectly sound opening among a bunch a' lemons..... So what? I know the Traxler wins in all variations, so take your slings and arrows and go away. Better yet, put an egg in your shoe and beat it! I'll have you know that no less an authority than David Bronstein called the Traxler "the best concept since the square donut!" The very idea of including the Traxler in the same sentence with the Parham! Outrageous! The nerve of some people! National Master or not, you take that back! You take that back about the Traxler!! I won't stand for this! I'm going to live through this, and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again! As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again!!?!        Wink


Confused as to why you picked the Parham as the one you're outraged to be in the same company, when it's clear to me that the Parham is for sure better than the Englund, at minimum. I think that after 1.d4, the two worst moves on the board are 1...g5 followed by 1...e5. And a reasonable case could be made for 1...e5 being worst.


for me it's an insult u put  Englund gambit in that list, i challenge you a match with this opening to shut your mouth.  Englund Gambit is more than variant 3...Qe7 . U can play the Blackburne - hartlaub gambit with 2..d6 ,  gambit soller with 3..f6 or the best line -  zilbermint gambit 3..Nge7 .   I have amazing results against players with 2200-2300 ( i am 2072 FIDE)  . ¿ Why? Because Englund gambit is the best solution to transpose to a open game.  With 1. d4  White player can choose the positional future of the game.  And of course as happens with Latvian Gambit , White player talk to much but then don´t know REFUTE the opening.  Something happen t ¡i ne with Halloween Gambit . I remember when i started to play halloween gambit and i won an old men  and in analysis he told me " that opening is a mistake, u can´t play that " with angry gesture.  That is happen when ur mind is closed to play with romantic style  .

In my general database with 4.5 million of games i have 81 games with Halloween Gambit,   White Wins 59 %  many more than another openings like Italian Opening, Ruy Lopez, etc . 

With Zilbermints Gambit   3. Nge7  i Have  35 games  in the general database with 44% for white.   

Maybe u should try to open your mind , if masters over 2400 don´t play englund gambit, latvian gambit, hallowen.... is because of the risk in the opening .  It´s not profitable in that levels play these risky openings.  

But with 2300 ELO i am sure u will enjoy  profitably playin these openings .


Of course i am talkin in slow games. 


Halloween Gambit is much riskier in slow games and no always black play 4 knight opening .    i prefer king ´s gambit .

Bluebird1964 wrote:

Jurassicmc is correct though he could have been a little more helpful.

All are playable OTB - though blitz/rapid play is best.

A little surprised. I stand by my claim that Englund is terrible.

Let's face it - nearly everything is "playable", in some sense. Let's say you spend a long bit of time preparing the Englund, whatever pet line you want. So OTB your opponent will not be able to find the strongest line. What exactly is the upside?

I played a thematic tournament with this opening, and while my play was far from perfect, I did well.


I wrote a blog about my last round game with black here.


My take-away from this tournament was that having the Englund as a theme for a tournament is analogous to a tennis match where both players have a monster serve. You find yourself looking to hold serve with white (win), and hope somehow for some way of getting a positive result with black (draw). Yes obviously a win with black would be great, but let's be realistic.


I played the Icelandic gambit once upon a time - it's terrible and most players just refuse it and play the exchange french anyway. Englund gambit is awful too, just don't get mated on c1. It's at best a worst version of the budapest gambit, what's to like about it?


budapest is a great opening, i don't know what about you, but i don't use it as a gambit but as a potential for centrelizing the knight with development and only a little lose of tempo.


I agree that all of these are at least playable in blitz. It's playing it in a long game that I have a problem with. Play the thing 10 times, against players at, below, and above your rating, and how will you score? How would you have scored against the same opposition playing a "normal" opening?

I think the Englund would do very badly there.


@Bluebird1964 and @Bobbylow thanks for contributing to my forum!


Some GMs on this site have said they are convinced of Black's compensation in the Icelandic. It is the subject of debate. There is a reason strong players prefer to deny black the chance to play that gambit though with 3.d4, forcing black into a riskier Portuguese system or just having black retake with Nxd5. And the Exchange French is just dandy for Black. Equal odds at that point.


I will agree with the people saying Englund is bad though. You can't sleep on it, just as you can't sleep on any other opening. But it does seem like Black has many better choices against 1.d4 and better e-pawn gambits as well, like the Albin or Budapest.


That's pretty funny, "e-pawn gambits".


Worst opening for white is definitely Fool's mate. Worst opening for black is 4 move checkmate.


Hum... I would put them in two groups, the "jump off the cliff" and the "hazardous speculation". If I really have to classify them, strating from the worse :

-Halloween (because it brings nothing at all at the cost of a knight)

-Cochrane (because if you beat your opponent with that, you could have beaten him with pretty much anything tactical but less material-costing)

-Englund (because Black gets nothing for his pawn)

(end of the "jump off the cliff" group)

-Albin (because White can simply hang to the pawn without any serious positional problem, unlike the Budapest where he has doubled pawns)

-Parham (it has at least the advantadge not to gambit material, but moves that leave Black ahead are not hard to find)

-Traxler (each time I face it, it is a real headache, but I usually find the way out)

-Budapest (because it's the only one in the list that is more or less justified, although I usually score pretty well with the "greedy defense").


@ozzie_c_cobblepot: just curious, now that you have had several pages of reactions, which openings do you consider worst? Do you still stick to your original list or have you changed it? The Damiano, Paris and Irish gambit seem very good substitutes for some openings in your original list. They are considerably worse. I don't think that you will see a game on FM - level or above with those openings. On the other hand, can you call those three openings, just like the variants of macer75 really serious openings, when they are not playable from the onset?