Thursday, March 21, 2019

How to Trick the Trickster

I ran across a copy of GM Lev Alburt's "Back to Basics" column in Chess Life, titled "How to Trick the Trickster", featuring my Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 4.Bxf7+) blitz game against PunisherABD, on FICS.

I want to quote from GM Alburt, as it could be applied to the Jerome Gambit, as well.
When is it OK to use traps that may be somewhat unsound? First, the potential punishment your well-prepared opponent can mete out to you should be relatively mild, while your reward (should he fall into your trap) should be much bigger. Two, at least three out of ten (30%) of your current opponents should go wrong! (When you are faced with the unenviable task of repeatedly defending a worse position rather than enjoying the fruits of your cleverness, it's time to quit. You've outgrown this particular trap.) 
From my students' experience, the trap below (3...Nd4) works well up to the 1400 level. (Even higher in blitz: your opponent might be able to recall/find the right way, but it may cost him too much time for his comfort.)
Something to think about.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Jerome Gambit: Not Alone

I have posted my Jerome Gambit win against Al-der in the "Italian Game Classic" at

Something about the game may have tickled his imagination, as I just noticed that he is now playing the Jerome in the tournament, against PrestonRFD. (I will have to ask if he has played the opening before.)

I wish him good luck - and hope he hasn't spoiled my chances to play 4.Bxf7+ against PrestonRFD, when I have the white pieces against him.😃

Sunday, March 17, 2019


Recently there was a discussion at, about a Jerome Gambit-related line, that caught my eye. It "corrects" one of my recommendations, so it is very much worth sharing with Readers.

NUKE had questions about the defense 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Na5?!, specifically about the response 4.Bxf7+. Being of scientific mind, he set up a game between Stockfish 10 and itself, giving each side an hour, using the ECO opening book from droidfish.

Stockfish 10 - Stockfish 10
1 hour game, 2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Na5

Objectively best for White, here, as I have pointed out many times on this blog, is to capture the pawn that Black has un-protected: 4.Nxe5. Black can gain the "minor exchange" with 4...Nxc4 5.Nxc4, but even after something like 5...d5 6.exd5 Qxd5 7.Ne3 he does not have compensation for the sacrificed material.

More fun, however, especially in club play, is the Jerome-ish 4.Bxf7+, which I prefer, and which is what NUKE asked Stockfish 10 to explore. 

4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke7 

6.d4 Qe8 7.O-O Kd8 

If this is "best" play for Black, I wonder how easy it would be for him to discover it?

8.Nc3 d6 9.Nf3 Be7 10.Re1 Bg4 11.h3 Bxf3 12.Qxf3 Nc6 13.e5 Qf8 14.Qe4 dxe5 15.dxe5 Kc8 

16.Qc4 Bb4 17.Rd1 Bxc3 18.bxc3 Nge7 19.Bf4 a6 20.e6 b5 21.Qe4 Qf5 22.Qxf5 Nxf5 

23.g4 Nfe7 24.Rd7 Ra7 25.Be3 Ra8 26.Bf4 Ra7 27.Be3 Ra8 drawn


Friday, March 15, 2019

Jerome Gambit: Return of the Queen

In the following Jerome Gambit game, it looks like White will be punished for allowing his Queen to roam too far from home. She gets cut off from the action on the Kingside, then idles on the Queenside. But - just in time she returns to the action, and helps finish off the game.

Wall, Bill - Guest6808573, 2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6 7.Qd5+ Ke8 8.Qxc5 d6 9.Qa5 

Bill Wall likes to experiment in the Jerome Gambit. After all, what's a little more risk, once you've sacrificed a piece or two?

9...Nf6 10.O-O b6 

This is not the first time that Her Majesty has relocated to a5. In Wall,B - Guest1151077,, 2013 (1-0, 33), Black tried, instead, 10...Rf8.

11.Qa3 Bb7 12.d3 Kf7 

Black is doing fine, but he must not become complacent.

13.Qb3+ Ke7 14.Nc3 Re8 15.f4 Kf8 16.Bd2 d5 

Hoping to blow up White's center. He has not prepared for the next move, however.

17.e5 Ng4 18.d4 c6 

It looks as if Black wants to protect his d-pawn again, so that he can play his Queen over to the Kingside - but he never gets the chance, as White's "Jerome pawns" continue their advance.

19.h3 Nh6 20.f5 Nh4 21.Bxh6 gxh6 22.f6

22...Ng6 23.Ne2 Bc8 24.Qe3 Be6 25.Qxh6+ Black resigned

The Queen returns, and there will be checkmate.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Jerome Gambit: Ordinary, With Shot

The following Jerome Gambit game is rather "ordinary", with White slowly gaining control over the game - followed by a nice tactical shot to take the game toward the full point.
Wall, Bill - Guest4658155, 2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Kf8 

This move always gives me a smile. Black is happy with one piece, and so moves his King, leaving the White Knight hanging. The earliest analysis was by Alonzo Wheeler Jerome, in 1874. "Objectively" best, now, is for the first player to exchange off the piece.


Bill insists on the piece offer, getting his King out of the way and putting his Rook on the useful f-file.


Black still declines.

Bill has seen the tardy 6...Nxe5 (billwall - DeDrijver,, 2012, [1-0, 20] ) as well as 6...d6 (Wall,B - Guest399227,, 2016 [1-0, 17] and Wall,B - Anonymous,, 2016 [1-0, 26])


Oh, very well...


Or 7...Qxc6, as in Wall,B - computer level 6,, 2017 (1-0, 44)

8.Nc3 Be6 9.d3 Rd8 10.Be3 Bd6 

Black looks like he is doing just fine, but Stockfish 10 is suspicious, and awards White a slight edge. Can you see why? (The "Jerome pawns" can cause mischief.)

11.f4 Bb4 12.e5 Qg6 13.f5 Bxf5 14.g4 Ne7 15.Kh1 Ke8 16.gxf5 Nxf5 

17.Qf3 Nxe3 

Winning the "minor exchange" seems reasonable, but Black would have done better by following up on his 15th move by playing 17...Rf8.

18.Qxe3 b6 19.Ne4 Rf8 20.a3 Be7

The poor Bishop moves, once again.

21.Qh3 Rd5 

It is not immediately clear that this is an error - but that is what chess is all about.


This move wins the exchange - 22...Rxd6 23.exd6 Qxd6 - if Black responds properly. Instead, he goes astray and allows checkmate.

22...Bxd6 23.Qc8+ Ke7 24.exd6+ Rxd6 25.Rae1+ Re6 26.Qxc7+ Ke8 27.Qc8+ Ke7 28.Qxf8+ Kd7 29.Rf7+  Black resigned

To follow: 29...Qxf7 30.Qxf7+ Kd6 31.Rxe6+ Kc6 32.Qf5+ Kd4 33.Re4 checkmate

Monday, March 11, 2019

Jerome Gambit: Why We Play "Bad" Openings

The following bullet game (one minute, no increment) was sent to me by Angel Camiña. Please be sure to read the notes. 

Anonymous - Anonymous
1 0 bullet,, 2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6

This is referred to as the "Semi-Italian Opening" in Euwe & Meiden's Chess Master vs Chess Amateur (1963). It is a cautious attempt to keep a White piece off of g5, at the risk of wasting some time and possibly weakening the Kingside, if Black should castle there.

4.Nc3 Nd4 

Wow, Black goes from "shy" to "outgoing" in one move. He plays the Blackburne Shilling Gambit, with the addition of Nc3 and ...h6. This may well be effective psychology in a bullet game (surprise your opponent, make him take precious time to figure out a novel position), but it is very risky play, nonetheless: In 20 previous games in The Database, Black scored only 20%

Stockfish 10 rates the first player's position as 3 pawns better at this point.


One good surprise deserves another. White gives the "Jerome treatment", creating a sort of "Semi-Italian Blackmar Shilling Jerome Gambit" hybrid.

Why do such a thing? First, White is familiar with Jerome Gambit and Jerome-like themes and tactics (and his opponent may not be). Second, the "proper" response to Black's 4th move, at least as laid out by Stockfish 10, is stylized along BSG lines, and may well not be to the first player's taste. The computer recommends 5.Nxe5 Qg5 (thematic BSG) 6.Bxf7+ Kd8 7.Ng4 Nf6 8.Ne3 Bc5 9.O-O Rf8 10.f4 Qh4 11.b4 Bb6 12.Bg6 d6 13.e5 Bg4 14.Qe1 Qxe1 15.Rxe1 dxe5 16.fxe5 Bh5 17. exf6 Bxg6 18.fxg7 Rg8 19.Na4 Rxg7 20.Bb2 Rd7 where White is up two pawns.

5...Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Ke8 

Home again - and walking into a checkmate.

The computer humorously recommends 6...Ke6 7.f4 Qh4+ 8.g3 Qh3 9.Nd5 Qg2 10.Qg4+ Kd6 11.Qg6+ Nf6 12.Nc4+ Kc6 13.Ne5+
heading toward a draw by repetition.

White is now rewarded for his bold play.

7.Qh5+ Ke7 8.Qf7+ Kd6 9.Nc4+ Kc6 10.Qd5 checkmate

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Jerome Gambit: Checkmate, Of Course

The following bullet game is delightfully misleading. Black appears to be taking advantage of the open h-file, putting together a checkmating attack along it. Then, White goes and checkmates him.

Yes, the Jerome Gambit and bullet chess are like that.

angelcamina - frn000
1 0 bullet,, 2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6 7.Qd5+ Ke8 8.Qxc5 d6 9.Qe3 Nf6 

So far, so routine.

10.O-O Kf7 11.f4 Ng4 

Always the temptation to harass the Queen.

12.Qg3 h5 

Even moreso.

13.h3 Be6 

A daring offer of a piece, but he has an extra one. Or, is he offering two pieces? That can be risky, even in bullet.

14.f5 Bd7 15.fxg6+ Kxg6 16.hxg4 hxg4 

17.Nc3 Qe7 18.d4 Rh7 19.e5 Rah8 

And now there is a forced checkmate - but White delivers it.

20.Qd3+ Kh5 21.g3 g5 22.Kg2 Rf8 23.Rh1 checkmate