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On April 25, 2012 the first Chessgames Thematic Challenge took place. The game involved two large teams of players, in the style of a typical Chessgames Challenge, but with a big twist: the first several opening moves were determined by a vote. After the votes were tallied, the Albin Countergambit was the winner, and the game began after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5. The result was drawn. (See Team White vs Team Black, 2012.)

In 2017 we're doing it again! On November 1st at 12:00 noon (USA/Eastern) the game will begin at the rate of one move every 48 hours. Until then, you can use this page to vote on which opening(s) you'd like to see played.

How to vote: You can vote for as many or as few positions as you like. Simply check the openings (White and/or Black) that are most appealing to you. If there is a position that you absolutely refuse to play, vote for the opposing side, and you're guaranteed to not play it. Or if you like, you can be willing to play an opening from either side of the board. It's up to you!

As people join the team game, they will be assigned to the team that they voted for (e.g. if you voted for the Black side, you'll be assigned to the Black side.) A complete explanation of the voting procedure is at the bottom of this page.

You may want to talk to other users before or after voting; use our special Thematic Challenge Chessforum for that.

Voting will close at midnight on October 31, 2017, and the winning position will be announced shortly thereafter. The first move of the game will be at noon (USA/Eastern) on November 1st, 2017. Please note that while anybody can vote, only Chessgames Premium Members will be able to participate in the game itself.

Please note that you are not currently signed-in. You must be signed-in in order to vote. (New user? Register for free!)

Select as many of the opening positions below and press the "Submit Votes" button at the bottom of the page.

The Blackmar-Diemer Gambit
1 d4 d5 2 e4 dxe4 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 f3
See Diemer vs Portz, 1948

I would like to play White.
I would like to play Black.
COMMENTARY: The Blackmar-Diemer gambit has never enjoyed a good reputation among GMs, but that doesn't mean it's to be taken lightly. White hopes that the opened lines combined with speedy development will regain the pawn... with interest!
The Traxler Counterattack
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Nf6 4 Ng5 Bc5
See Reinisch vs Traxler, 1890

I would like to play White.
I would like to play Black.
COMMENTARY: The Two Knights game has long left Black pondering on the best way to defend the f7 square from nasty checks (Bxf7+) or forks (Nxf7). A Czech priest named Karel Traxler did not defend it at all: he prepared his own sacrifice on f2!
The Frankenstein-Dracula Variation
1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 Bc4 Nxe4 4 Qh5
See Jacob Ost-Hansen vs John Nunn, 2008

I would like to play White.
I would like to play Black.
COMMENTARY: This branch of the Vienna Game is wildly complex and offers chances for both sides. The variation was given its name by Tim Harding who wrote that the bloodthirstiness of the play was such that "a game between Dracula and the Frankenstein Monster would not seem out of place."
The Evans Gambit
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Bc5 4 b4
See Anderssen vs Dufresne, 1852

I would like to play White.
I would like to play Black.
COMMENTARY: The captain of a steam packet that sailed between Wales and Ireland presented to the world an immortal opening notion: sacrifice your b-pawn and Black will not only lose time taking it, but lose more time as you expand your proud strong center!
The Modern Benoni
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 c5
See Kasparov vs Nunn, 1982

I would like to play White.
I would like to play Black.
COMMENTARY: The Modern Benoni is a fighting weapon, ideal for when Black needs to win against an otherwise solid 1.d4 setup. However, like with its cousin the King's Indian Defense, White has a wide variety of attacking plans at his disposal.
The Muzio Gambit
1 e4 e5 2 f4 exf4 3 Nf3 g5 4 Bc4 g4 5 O-O
See Anderssen vs Zukertort, 1865

I would like to play White.
I would like to play Black.
COMMENTARY: The extremely sharp Muzio Gambit sees White forfeits a knight in exchange for three pieces bearing down on f7. While some say it's unsound, Black must take meticulous care to consolidate his position without getting checkmated.
The Tennison Gambit
1 Nf3 d5 2 e4 dxe4
See Keres vs Faltweber, 1932

I would like to play White.
I would like to play Black.
COMMENTARY: The seldom seen opening 1.Nf3 d5 2.e4!? is a radical attempt to provoke weaknesses in the Black camp. However, it should not be dismissed as weak. White can attempt to recover the pawn, assault the kingside, or both!
The Göring Gambit
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 exd4 4 c3
See Paulsen vs Lehmann, 1867

I would like to play White.
I would like to play Black.
COMMENTARY: The age-old debate between material and development is witnessed in crystal clarity with this aggressive cousin of the Danish Gambit. After the first pawn on d4 is accepted, White offers another on c3, and sometimes offers b2 as well!
The Immortal Draw Variation
1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Bc5 3 Na4 Bxf2+ 4 Kxf2
See Hamppe vs Meitner, 1872

I would like to play White. (giving draw odds)
I would like to play Black. (receiving draw odds)
COMMENTARY: In 1872, Meitner sacrificed both a bishop and a queen (!) in order to lure the White king into the open and secure a draw. This game has been the source of debate for over 140 years. Note that Black receives draw odds if this opening wins.
The Halloween Attack
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nxe5
See Minchev vs Petrov, 1994

I would like to play White.
I would like to play Black.
COMMENTARY: There is a story that this gambit was first played by a drunken man who overlooked that the pawn on e5 was protected! And yet, after 4...Nxe5 5.d4 Ng6 6.e5 Ng8 White is threatening to "push Black off the board" with an immense spacial plus.

You must be signed-in to vote!


  1. Which game is selected? - "The most votes on the least popular color" is a method of scoring the votes based on which position has the most interest for the presumably inferior side. For example, suppose we receive 200 votes to play the White side of the Modern Benoni, and 100 votes to play the Black. We would score that opening at 100. To continue the example, suppose further that 1000 people are willing to play the Black side of the Halloween Attack, but only 50 people are willing to play White. Then the Halloween Attack's score would be 50. Repeating the process for all the positions, one position will have the highest score, and that will be the opening that we will use for the game.

  2. How are players assigned to teams? - Once the opening has been established, we will assign people to the White and Black teams, based on how they voted on that opening. For example, if you vote to play the White side of the Benoni and not the Black side, then it is assured that you will be assigned to the White side if the Benoni is the opening chosen. However, if your vote shows that you are willing to play either side, or neither side, then the software will assign you to a team in a random manner. Members who did not vote at all may still play, and they will be assigned to a team at random.

  3. Who can play? - Only premium Chessgames members may play in the game. If you are not a premium member, but are interested in learning the advantages of becoming one, please see the Premium Membership Tour.

  4. Who can vote? - Any registered member of Chessgames may vote on this form. However, since it's the premium members who will actually be playing what is voted for here, each vote cast by a premium member counts for 10 normal votes.

  5. Where can I discuss the game before it begins? - We made a special page for just that purpose, the Thematic Challenge Chessforum. You are encouraged to discuss the merits and drawbacks of the various opening choices.

  6. How to change your vote. - This form will remember your votes automatically: if you return to this page later, the checkboxes you initially marked will remain marked. Therefore, if you change your mind, it's as simple as adjusting your selections and pressing the "Submit Votes" button again. This will revise your previous vote, not count your votes twice. You may do this as often as needed.

  7. How are ties handled? - In the case of a tied score (as per section 1 above) the tie will be broken by using the game with the most votes in total. If the tie persists, we'll use the variation which is shortest (fewest half-moves). If we still haven't broken the tie, we'll resort to random selection.

  8. Other rules and regulations:
    1. Nobody may change team color assignment under any circumstances.
    2. If you have more than one Chessgames account you a positively forbidden from voting on this page more than once. If you find that you've made the mistake in error, simply uncheck all of the votes you made with your alternate account and submit your non-votes.
    3. Books, periodicals, and other reference materials are allowed. Consulting games in databased (including Chessgames) is allowed, and in fact encouraged.
    4. Computers are prohibited. This includes the Analysis Laboratory and Stockfish features built into our game viewer, but does not prohibit seeing the pre-published analysis visible from the Opening Explorer. There is no way to effectively enforce this policy so we ask all members to behave on their honor.
    5. If somebody on a team is found to be posting prohibited computer-analysis (whether or not labeled as such) they will be ejected from the game and not allowed to return. The computer-analysis may, at the discretion of the arbiter, be posted to both forums to nullify the advantage. The game will then continue normally with no further penalties against either team.
    6. It is against the rules to discuss the game in progress with anybody other than your team-mates. For this reason, restrict discussing the game in progress to the official discussion page (and not, for example, your private Chessforum.) This rule applies to all Chessgames members, even those not involved in the game.
    7. If your premium subscription expires while the game is still in progress, you will not be ejected from the team, but get to continue playing until the game is concluded.
    8. In the event of a contingency not explictly covered in these rules Daniel Freeman will act as arbiter.
    9. For more information see The Chessgames Challenge Help Page.

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