Saturday, November 17, 2018

No Way A GM Plays the Jerome Gambit! (Part 1)

Readers of this blog have seen a lot of creative and historical coverage of the Jerome Gambit, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+, and related openings, such as the Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 4.Bxf7+In addition, there have been explorations of "proto-Jerome Gambits" - earlier lines of play that might have inspired Alonzo Wheeler Jerome to create his opening. 

One such Jerome Gambit "relative" was showcased in "Adolf Albin Plays the Jerome Gambit (Part 1 & 2)", highlighting the game Albin,A - Schlechter,C, Trebitsch Memorial Tournament Vienna, 1914. The game began 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Qe2 Bc5 5.Bxf7+, which easily could have been a transposition from 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Qe2 Nf6, a "modern" (no 5.Nxe5+) Jerome Gambit.

White's 4th move was anticipated at least by James Mason, who, in the August 1895 British Chess Magazine, gave a game “played recently by correspondence between Brandfort and Bloemfontein, South Africa” which went 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Qe2 d6. Mason suggested the move 4…Nf6, because “there would be plenty of time to play the Pawn - perhaps two squares instead of one. For, as the Cape Times remarks, if White adopts the ‘Jerome Gambit’ 5.Bxf7+ Black replies 5…Kxf7 6.Qc4+ d5 7.Qxc5 Nxe4 with advantage.”

The Salvio Gambit (see"The Salvio Gambit??" and "The Salvio Gambit?? [more]"), from analysis from the early 1600s, is related: 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Bc5 and now 3.Qe2 Nf6/Nc6 4.Bxf7+.

It is probably timely to reiterate that I refer to 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Bc5 3.Bxf7+ as the "Abrahams Jerome Gambit" (see "Abrahams Jerome Gambit" Part 1 & Part 2), not because Alonzo Wheeler Jerome ever played the line, nor Abrahams, as far as I know, but because it was referred to as the Jerome Gambit in The Chess Mind (1951) and The Pan Book of Chess (1965), by Gerald Abrahams.

It is hard to overlook another possible precursor: the game Hamppe - Meitner, Vienna Club, 1872, which begins a little bit like a reversed Jerome Gambit, 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Bc5 3.Na4 Bxf2+ and is covered in "Godfather of the Jerome Gambit? (Part I, Part II, Part III, and Endnote)".

Another opening with themes akin to the Jerome - with an initial Knight sacrifice at f7 - which may have caught Alonzo Jerome's eye - is the Sarratt Attack, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.Ng5 usually followed by 5...Nh6 6.Nxf7 Nxf7 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7. Similar (although I occasionally mix them up) is the Vitzthum Attack, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.Ng5 Nh6 followed by 6.Qh5. A good review can be found in the post "Capt. Evans Faces the Sarratt Attack".

Then, of course, there was the rumor that culminated in the post, here,"A GM plays the Jerome Gambit??", followed by "Here, have a Bishop..." and "Here, have another...".

That was topped by the rumor that Alexander Alekhine had defended against the Jerome Gambit - see "The Jerome Gambit is Going to Drive Me... (Part 1 & Part 2)"; and then, sadly "Much Ado About... Nothing".

Oh, oh, oh... Can we get back to the time when a modern, 2700+-rated Grandmaster didn't play the Jerome Gambit??

[to be continued]

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Image result for free clipart globe

Well, the Jerome Gambit continues to spread globally...

I do not think that this will affect the current Carlsen - Caruana match for the world chess championship, but I think it could mean more fun for the average chess player.

Just ran across the Twitter feed for Urdu Chess (@UrduChess), "Chess News from Pakistan", that, in turn, links to the "Jerome Gambit Trap" at, previously mentioned on this blog.

It only stands to reason that if players are going to learn about the Jerome, they should start with the refutation. I'm just saying...

(p.s. I tried to explain the Jerome Gambit and this blog to a non-chess-playing psychologist the other day - quite unsuccessfully, as it turns out.) 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

BSJG: Why?

The Blackburne Shilling Gambit - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4!? - has one really risky response from White - 4.Nxe5?! - but several very acceptable responses for the first player: 4.Nxd4, 4.d3, 4.0-0 and 4.c3. So, why engage with 4.Bxf7!?, the Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit? As we have seen recently, the move can be a surprising, unsettling challenge to Black, who had high hopes to be the one attacking.

The following game, played online at, and recently retrieved, is a brutal example of White quickly wresting the game from his opponent.

xuam - maiden_coritiba
League division D2, 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 4.Bxf7+ 

I have long referred to this as the Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit, with a knowing smile. Although the Bishop sacrifice - often followed by a Queen move - is typical Jerome play, there is actually no evidence that Alonzo Wheeler Jerome actually played it. On the other hand, there is no evidence (beyond assumption) that Joseph Henry Blackburne played "his" Shilling Gambit, as well.

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke6 6.Qh5 

White shows an interest in finishing off Black's King, quickly, even if the thematic move is risky.

It is interesting to note that "book" is 6.c3 Kxe5 7.cxd4+ Ke6 
with a balanced game, although Black's King has to be feeling uncomfortable. Indeed, White has scored 12 - 3 in games in The Database. Stockfish 9 recommends the followup 8.O-O Kf7 9.Qf3+ Qf6 10.Qb3+ Qe6 11.Qf3+ Qf6 with a draw by repetition.


It is tempting to go after White's Rook at a1, and this move has been a bit more successful for the second player, who has scored 19 - 17 - 1 in The Database. The "boring" but upright alternative is 6...Nf6!?.

7.Kd1 Nxa1 

Black has the Rook. One indication that he may have been hasty in doing so (a "deep sacrifice" by White, that often occurs in the BSJG) is that The Database shows Black's results dipping a bit, to 12 - 15 - 1.

Another indication is that Stockfish 9 now rates White as being almost a Rook ahead.

(Take a second to ponder the difference between club play, as represented by The Database, and "objective reality", as represented by the computer.)


Oh, dear. Given that Black's "best" response is now 8...Kd6 9.Nf7+, giving up his Queen, White has been amply rewared for his aggression.  

Find the checkmate.

9.Qf7+ Kd6 10.Nc4+ Kc5 11.b4+ 

Or 11.Qd5+ Kb4 12.a3+ Ka4 13.b3+ Nxb3 14.Nc3#

11...Kb5 12.Nc3+ Kxb4 13.Ba3 checkmate

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Jerome Gambit: GameKnot Visit

Every once in a while I stop by the online site, to see what Jerome Gambit games I can pick up. Here are a couple of quick ones.

gocubs2004 - maleeniets
chrusage's mini-tournament IIII, 2005

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 

The Blackburne Shilling Gambit. Tricky - but White does well as long as he avoids the temptation of 4.Nxe5?!.


The Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit. It is quite effective when it comes as a surprise.

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke6 6.c3 Nb5

This is a bit unusual ("book" is 6...Kxe5), but there are 16 previous examples in The Database, where White scores 13 - 3. Since Black's position remains "objectively" better, I suspect the lopsided score in favor of the first player is due to the second players' unfamiliarity with the BSJG.

I think White, in this game, suspects his opponent is adrift, and goes for the jugular.

7.d4 Nd6 8.d5+ Kxe5 9.Qd4 checkmate


byzantine1453 - x-filez
Let's Play Chess, 2018

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 4.Bxf7+ 

Here we go again: the Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit.

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke6 6.Nc4

Again, this is not main line, but there are 167 games with it in The Database, with White scoring 54%.

6...Nf6 7.c3 Nc6 8.d4 d5 9.e5 dxc4 10.exf6 Kxf6 

Black's King looks a bit exposed, but, at this point, it is on White's shoulders to prove compensation for the sacrificed material.

11.Qf3+ Kg6 12.O-O Bd6 13.Nd2 Rf8 14.Qd5 

The Queen seeks sancturary from the attack by the Rook, but this move brings her into even greater danger.

14...Bxh2+ 15.Kxh2 Qxd5 White resigned

Double ouch.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Jerome Gambit: Over The Rainbow (Part 3)

[continued from previous post]

Wall, Bill - Guest4105968, 2018

White's extra pawns give him chances for advantage, but Black's pieces can work together on defense.

This is a game that is much harder to play than analyze.

36...Bd8 37.a3

Patience, or perhaps the clock is beginning to make its appearance. Let Black make the big bold moves, and, perhaps, mistakes.

37...Kf7 38.Qd4 Bf6 39.Qb4 Bh4 40.Qb6 

The Queen creeps around. As long as Black's pieces have to play defense, it causes no harm.

40...Bd8 41.Qa7 Bf6 42.Qg1 Be4 43.a4 

Trying something else before acceding to a draw. 43.c4 was a safe alternative, but giving up the d-pawn is no big deal, as White has things in hand.

43...Bxd5 44.Qg6+ Ke6 45.f5+ 

White's move is another clue that the clocks might be coming into play. He pushes his passed (but blockaded) pawn, bypassing the kind of simple-looking-but-poisonsous move that he has used to win many games - 45.Qd3!?. It looks innocuous, but only 45...Bc6 allows Black to avoid major danger, and the followup, pushing the pawns on the other side of the board, 46.b4 Rg7 47.b5 Bg2 48.a5 Rg4 49.a6 bxa6 50.bxa6 Rxf4 51.Qe2+ Be4 52.a7 looks promising, as well.


And now it's time to split the point.

46.Qg3+ Ke4 47.Qg2+ Ke5 48.Qg3+ Ke4 49.Qg2+ Ke5 50.Qg3+

drawn by repetition of position


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Jerome Gambit: Over The Rainbow (Part 2)

[continued from previous post]

Wall, Bill - Guest4105968, 2018

After examining the opening moves (see previous post) I was inclined to simply write "I don't understand the rest of the game" and give the finishing 40 moves. But, let me persist.


White wants to avoid any uncovered attack by Black's Bishop on his Queen, with ...d5.

11...Nf6 12.Nc3 Ne6 13.O-O-O 


Maybe he should have tried 13...Bxc3, disrupting White's Queenside pawns, as 14.bxc3 would be necessary to preserve the e-pawn.

14.Nd5 d6 15.Rhe1 Rf8 

Preparing to castle-by-hand with ...Kg8.

16.g3 g5 

To forestall f2-f4? I suspect the mundane 16...Kg8 was more to the point.

17.Qe3 Bd7 

Stockfish 9 doesn't like this move ( preferring 17...Kg8) and I can sort of understand why, although I never would have found the recommended line over-the-board (although Bill probably would have): 17...Kg8 18.Nxc7!? Nxc7 19.Qxg5+ Kh8 20.f4 Bd4 21.e5!? dxe5 22.fxe5 Ne6!? (Black's strength is in his pieces) 23.Qh4 Nd5 24.Qe4!? Nb6 25. Rxd4 Nxd4 26.Qxd4 Be6 and White's passed pawn is not to be trifled with. 

18.Nxc7!? Nxc7 19.f4 gxf4 20.gxf4 Nfd5 21.exd5 Bf6 22.Qe4 Kg8

The combination has won White a pawn. What next?


Of course, now 23...Bxh4? 24.Rh1 would be self-injurious for Black.

Instead of the text move, however, Stockfish 9 suggests 23.Qb4, when the Queen will be able to snap off either the b7 or the d6 pawn, and then pull back to await further developments.

That's one of the problems with computer analysis: when there isn't a tactical strike available, too often it suggests that you bide your time, then take a small nibble, wait some more, then, maybe, take another tiny bite... 

It is easy to see why Bill preferred more direct action.

23...Na6 24.Qg2+ Kh8 



Such a practical move.

When I ask the computer for an alternative, it suggests the exchange sacrifice 25.Re6!? Bxe6 26.dxe6 Rae8 27.Rxd6 followed by another one after 27...Be7 - reassuring me that after 28.Qd5!? Bxd6 29.Qxd6 Nxe6!? 30.Qxe6 Rae8 White is winning easily.  

analysis diagram

Looks like a lot more hard work to me.

25...Nc5 26.Re3 Rg8 27.Qf2 Bf5 28.h5 h6 29.Rg1

Bill comes up with an exchange offer, after all. Sacrifices work well when they are disguised as an oversight. Black should not take the bait.

29...Nd3+ 30.Rxd3 Rxg1+ 31.Qxg1 Bxd3 


Taking advantage of the lack of coordination of Black's pieces. But, is it worth trading a Rook for a Knight?

32...Rd8 33.Qe6 Kg7 34.Qe3 Bf5 35.Qxa7 Rd7 

White snarfs a pawn. If this were a Marvel comic book, Black would be yelling "Avengers, assemble!" a his pieces are pulling themselves together again.


Centralizing his Queen.

It goes, almost without saying, that Stockfish 9 criticizes this good move, suggesting its own version of yelling "Jerome pawns, assemble!" - 36.a4 Be4 37.a5 Re7 38.c4 Kf7 39.Qb6 Rd7 40.Kd2 Bf5 41.b4 Bb2 42.c5 dxc5 43.bxc5 Rxd5+ 44.Ke2 Bd4 45.Qxb7+ Rd7  

analysis diagram

Sure, White's three passed pawns look scary, but his King looks like he is about to volunteer to be a pinata. And White is supposed to volunteer to reach this position?

[to be continued]

Monday, November 5, 2018

Jerome Gambit: Over the Rainbow (Part 1)

Over the years, I have loosely classified Jerome Gambit games by strategy: "White attacks aggressively", "Black counter-attacks aggressively", and "Black counters well, so White adopts a slow, solid, come-get-me approach". That covers a lot of games in The Database.

Then there are games like the following, however, which might as well be classified as "somewhere over the rainbow". 

Wall, Bill - Guest4105968, 2018

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5. Nxe5+ Ke6

The move appears in 28 games in The Database (updated). It is somewhat understood, after some serious blog coverage, here - the most recent being in another of Bill Wall's games from 2 years ago (see "Jerome Gambit: This Is How It's Done"), where I wrote
This move follows the "psychology" of "If you want me to take the Knight, then I won't take the Knight", but it is simply not a good move. It is relatively rare: The Database has 24 games, with White scoring 65% . 
Still, it is worth knowing the followup, as this "defense" has shown up in the games of Jerome Gambit regulars: blackburne, MrJoker, Petasluk, stretto, UNPREDICTABLE, and ZahariSokolov. I have faced it a couple of times and come away with wins. 
In fact, I have posted a disproportionate number of times on the line - although, in fairness, they were all interesting posts, going back to "You, too, can add to Jerome Gambit theory" and including "A Strange, But Intriguing Path, Parts 1, 2, & 3" and "Still Strange, Still Intriguing Parts 1, 2, 3 & 4." The most recent post on the line is "We Know What We're Doing (Sort of)".  
Curiously enough, there is still more to learn about the variation, as we shall see.


This move, Stockfish 9's preference, is probably the best move, although it has appeared only 5 times in The Database before the current game.

Actually, computer analysis is only slightly helpful in choosing the proper move. Some examples are: 6.d4, evaluated as 0.00 by Stockfish 9 at 35 ply, is seen as the second best move; while the retrograde 6.Nf3!? (no games in The Database), evaluated as -.28 by Stockfish 9 at 35 ply, is seen as the third best move.

Certainly 6.0-0 (no games in The Database) should be playable, although Stockfish 9 at 35 ply evaluates it as -.65 - what's 2/3 of a pawn between friends, right? The game should continue  6...Nxe5 (the only move for advantage) 7.d4 d6.

Most popular for White, and probably most thematic, has been 6.Nxc6, which Stockfish 9 evaluates (at 35 ply) as -.81 after 6...dxc6. A mistake is 6...bxc6?, as it is strongly met by 7.Qg4+!. Black can mix everything up by not capturing the Knight and playing, instead, 6...Qh4!? although Stockfish 9 rates the position after 7.Qe2, then, as roughly even, +.10 (at 35 ply).

With Stockfish 9 pontificating as usual, it is important to remember that we are usually talking about games between club players, and Geoff Chandler's humorous but accurate blunder table always needs to be taken into account - especially because we are talking about the Jerome Gambit! Play what you feel comfortable playing.

6... Kxe5 7.d4+! Bxd4 8.Bf4+! Kf6 9.Bg5+! Kf7 10.Bxd8 Nxd8

Okay, White has played the "best" moves, and now has a Queen and a pawn for three pieces. As Dorothy said, in "The Wizard of Oz", "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

Indeed, the position looks like a challenge to play. Nobody is going to attack or counter-attack aggressively, and it looks like it would be to White's disadvantage to sit back and do nothing.

(By the way, the snarky 10...Bxb2?!, instead of capturing the Knight at d8, would be met by 11.Qf3+! Ke8 12.Bxc7, when, after 12...Bxa1 13.Na3, White would have an advantage in development and King safety to offset the material imbalance [Q + P vs R + B + N]. White can respond to either 13...d5 or 13...Nf6 with 14.0-0 and Black will not be able to get his defenders out fast enough, as they will also have to run the risk of going to the wrong square and being picked off by the enemy Queen with a checking fork. This is a return to the Jerome theme of "White attacks aggressively".)

Looking for guidance, I discovered that the venerable Basic Chess Endings by Reuben Fine (1941) has about 1/4 of a page covering "QUEEN vs THREE PIECES", which can easily be summarized
Without Pawns this is drawn, but there are a few positions where the pieces win... With Pawns the two forces are roughly equivalent. However, with no other material Q + P vs 3 pieces is drawn, while 3 pieces + Pawn win vs Queen. 
The newer Fundamental Chess Endings (2001) by Karsetn Mueller and Frank Lamprecht has about a page of coverage, devoted to the analysis of two game examples, and the terse bit of advice
Outposts, king security and passed pawns again play a major role
 I then checked out the internet to see what was available. One such article that I found to be helpful is here.

All of this information is enlightening, but, in the meantime, two people were playing the game.

[to be continued]