Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Jerome Gambit: Rooked

Image result for free clip art rook

There are many parts to the Jerome Gambit attack. An important one is the power of a White Rook along the f-file, where Black's King often resides. In the following bullet game - one minute, no increment - Black forgets this, to his demise. White has his choice of checkmates, soon after that.

angelcamina - Hamidi1986
1 0 bullet, lichess.org, 2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bc5 5.Bxf7+ 

The Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit.

5...Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.d4 Neg4 

Saving the Knight. In the regular Jerome Gambit line, a Black response (to d2-d4) of ...Bd6 would be suspect, but with the addition of his Knight on f6, as in this game, he is protected from a White Queen check on d5, so 7...Bd6, saving the Bishop, was probably best.  

8.dxc5 d5

Opening things up.


Stockfish 10 prefers 9.cxd6 e.p. Qxd6 10.Qxd6 cxd6, with the position better for Black. Even worse, it would lead to a tedious game, not idea for 1-minute chess.

9...c6 10.d6 Qd7 11.O-O Qf5 


A slip, but Black, in turn, misses 12...Qxc5+. He should have at least asked himself, why did White choose the text over 12.h3.

12...Ne5 13.Ne4 Nxe4 14.fxe4 


14...Qxf1+ 15.Qxf1+ Ke6 16.Be3 

White already sees his checkmate; and, in doing so, bypasses 16.Qf5#.

16...Bd7 17.Qe2 

As above.

17...Raf8 18.Bd4 Nf7 19.Rf1 

Or 19.Qc4# or 19.Qg4#, but the game was already over in White's plans.

19...Ng5 20.h4 

Almost there.

20...Rxf1+ 21.Kxf1 Nf7 22.Qc4 checkmate


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Jerome Gambit: Careless and Inefficient Defense

How many times have you read the caution that an advantageous chess position "won't win itself"? The same holds for a disadvantagous position - say, one that White has at the beginning of the Jerome Gambit. White's game "won't lose itself", either; Black has to make it so. In the following game, the defender slips into carelessness, becoming inefficient - and his game suffers. 

Wall, Bill - NN
Florida, 2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Bb6 

Black's move maintains his advantage. It is not as complicated as 6...Qh4, nor as simple as 6...Bxd4. There are 153 games with 6...Bb6 in The Database; interestingly enough, White scores 57%.

More importantly, Bill is 19-0 against the move.

7.dxe5 Ne7 8.Qf3+ Kg8

Bill has also faced 8...Ke8 9.O-O (9.Qg3 Ng6 10.Bg5 Ne7 11.Nc3 h6 12.Bd2 Rf8 13.O-O-O Rf7 14.e6 Rf6 15.Qxg7 Rxf2 16.Bxh6 d6 17.Qh8+ Black resigned, Wall,B - Guest2896104, PlayChess.com, 2019) 9...Rf8 10.Qh5+ g6 11.Qxh7 d6 (11...g5 12.Qh5+ Rf7 13.Bxg5 c6 14.Nd2 Qc7 15.Nc4 a5 16.Nd6+ Black resigned, Wall,B - WGMS, FICS, 2017) 12.Bh6 Rg8 13.Bg5 Be6 14.Nc3 Qd7 15.exd6 cxd6 16.Rfd1 Kd8 17.e5 Bc5 18.exd6 Bxd6 19.Ne4 Kc8 20.Rxd6 Qe8 21.Rxe6 Black resigned, Wall,B - Guest11863268, PlayChess.com, 2018. 

9.Qb3+ Kf8 10.O-O Ng6 

This is an improvement over 10...d5 seen in Wall,B - Guest6791785, PlayChess.com, 2018 (1-0, 17). 

11.Qf3+ Ke8

The better retreat. Black should not be hypnotized by the g8 square, as he is better in the game: 11...Kg8 12.Qb3+ Kf8 13.Qf3+ Kg8 will only draw.

12.Nc3 d6

Or 12...Rf8 as in Wall,B - Guest5463336, PlayChess.com, 2018 (1-0, 15). 

13.Nd5 Nxe5 14.Qg3 Ng6 

15.Bg5 Qd7 16.a4

White can afford to be patient: from a practical point of view, Black is hampered by his Queen blocking in his Bishop, which, in turn, restrains his Rook - a classic Jerome Gamit defender illness.

16...Rf8 17.a5 Bc5 

You've got nothing, Black likely thinks, and, as a result, he becomes careless and inefficient. The Bishop needed to go to d4, and then f6, directly.

18.b4 Bd4 19.Rad1 Be5

Giving away another free tempo.

20.f4 Bf6 21.Bxf6 gxf6 


Double attacks on both c7 and f6.

My guess is that Bill passed on 22.e5 because after 22...fxe5 23.fxe5 dxe5 24.Nf6+ Black can take the annoying Knight with 24...Rxf6, when 25.Rxd7 Rxf1+ 26.Kxf1 Bxd7 would give Black a Bishop, a Knight and a Rook for his Queen. The position might well be "dynamically equal", but there was no need to find out, when the text was available.


The King had to go to d8 to protect the c-pawn.

23.Nxf6+ Rxf6 24.Qxf6 Qe7 25.Rxd6 Qxf6 26.Rxf6 Ke7 27.e5 Bd7

White has a Rook and 3 pawns for a couple of pieces. Those dangerous "Jerome pawns" give him the advantage.

28.Rd1 Be6 

A slip tht hastens the end.

29.f5 Nxe5 30.Rxe6+ Black resigned

Friday, October 11, 2019

Jerome Gambit: Success At Last (Sort of)

Image result for free clip art tiny award
For some players, a draw is equivalent to losing a half point. To others, it is the same as winning a half point. In the following game, Bill was probably slightly disappointed, but his opponent had every reason to be glad - unless, of course, you think that drawing against a "refuted" opening is underperforming.

Wall, Bill - NN
Florida, 2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Kf8

Black is either happy with accepting only one sacrificed piece, or he is trying to throw White off of his game, by playing something "different". This latter strategy needs to be examined, as the main lines of the offbeat Jerome Gambit are often stronger for Black than the backroads.

The Database has 269 games with 5...Kf8; White scores 55%. More importantly, before the current game Bill was 15-0 against the move.


Bill has also played 6.Nxc6 in Wall,B - WMXW, FICS, 2012 (1-0, 31), and Wall,B - Guest709079, PlayChess.com, 2017 (1-0, 30).

He has tried the interesting 6.d4 in Wall,B - Tim93612, Chess.com, 2010 (1-0, 36), Wall, B. - Guest757851, PlayChess.com, 2014, (1-0, 42), and Wall,B - Guest6399506, PlayChess.com, 2015 (1-0, 24).


Or 6...Nxe5 Wall,B - Mazanbaku, lichess.org, 2017, (1-0, 15); Wall,B - Guest1442, chesstempo.com, 2017, (1-0, 21); billwall - DeDrijver, Chess.com, 2012, (1-0, 20); Wall,B - Guest423598, PlayChess.com, 2017, (1-0, 19); and Wall,B - Guest5244307, PlayChess.com, 2019 (1-0, 16).

Or 6...Qf6 as in Wall,B - NN, lichess.org, 2016, (1-0, 13); Wall,B - Computer-level 6, chess.com 2017 (by transposition), (1-0, 47);  and Wall,B -Guest4658155, PlayChess.com, 2019, (1-0, 29).

Or 6... d6 as in Wall,B - Anonymous, lichess, 2016, (1-0, 26) and Wall,B - Guest399227, PlayChess.com, 2016,(1-0, 17).


This is a novelty, according to The Database.

7...Bb6 8.e5 Ne8 

It is not immediately clear, but 8...Ng8 was stronger. The text move gives White chances that he is not particularly interested in.

9.Qf3+ Kg8 10.Nc3 

Bill refrains from repeated checks that would leade to a draw, i.e. 10.Qd5+ Kf8 11.Qf3+ Kg8 12.Qd5+, etc. Black could respond, of course, by interposing the Knight - 11...Nf6 - but after 12.exf6 Qxf6 13.Qxf6+ gxf6 he would simply be a pawn down, with no compensation.


This move gave me a chuckle. "Objectively", it is an error, as it allows White to pursue the draw, mentioned above, when clearly Black is still better. On the other hand, perhaps Black was okay with a draw, or sensed that his opponent would not be interested in splitting the point so early in the game.

11.Qd5+ Kf8

Just checking.


Avoiding the draw.


See the earlier comments. He could have taken the draw off of the table with 12...Qe7




op. cit.

14.Ba3 Qe7

There you have it: no draw. (For now.)

White is happy to continue his focus on the enemy King.

Black is happy to continue to do "a whole lot of nothing". Note the impact of his dark square Bishop.

15.exd6 cxd6 16.Rae1 Nf6 17.Qf3 Qd8 18.Nc3 h6


An interesting, if complicated, alternative was 19.Ne4!? Kg8 20.Nxd6, although both 20...Bg4 and 20...Nd4 would keep the game in flux.

Instead, Bill goes with the concrete threat, and his opponent misses the idea that giving up the exchange might well be an effective sacrifice.  

19...Kg8 20.Ng6 Rh7 

Saving the Rook by burying it. There was something to be said for 20...Kh7!? 21.Nxh8 Kxh8, when White would have a Rook and two pawns for a couple of pieces - and Black might still have an edge.


A move with poison. Of course, not now 21...Nxd5, as 22.Qxd5+ Be6 23.Qxd6 checkmate. Ouch. In the meantime, e7 seems to beckon to the Knights.



Could be time pressure, otherwise Bill might have settled for simply stoking his attack with 22.Bb2. Stockfish 10 recommends 22.b4, which seems to over-complicate things. Instead, the attack seems to lag. 

22...dxc5 23.c4 Qd6 24.Qd3 Nd4 

Black's Rooks are still parked in their respective garages, but the advantage in material threatens to become a factor.


Another way was 25.Nge7+ Kh8 26.Ng6+ Kg8 27.Nge7+, etc.

25...gxf6 26.Re8+ Kf7 27.Re7+ Kg8 28.Re8+ Kf7 29.Re7+ Kg8 Draw

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A GM Faces the Jerome Gambit (Part 2)

[continued from previous post]

Image result for free clip art chess players

Cliff Hardy (2285) - GM Yasser Quesada Perez (2275), 
Lichess, 1 0, 2019
notes by Cliff Hardy and Rick

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5

Finally! A GM has walked into my trap!


4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ 

Interesting. Some players - including Alonzo Wheeler Jerome, at first - prefer 6.d4, instead. The line is less forcing than the text, and gives Black more chances to go astray. Would the GM have found the sharpest reply, 6...Qh4!? That is a tale for another day, another game.-Rick


So, is this the revealed wisdom of the grandmaster? Is Black's best defense to the Jerome Gambit the Jerome Defense, seen in two Daniel Jaeger - Alonzo Wheeler Jerome correspondence games,  from 1880, both wins by Black?

Not necessarily.

There are at least 3 ways to address this issue.

First, we can ask another "grandmaster", Stockfish 10, what its choice is. It prefers 6...Ke6 over 6...Kf8 by about 3/4 of a pawn, although, of course it sees both moves as decisive for Black.

Secondly, we can check with The Database, which will give feedback on the results of different defensive moves, drawn from online club level player games. There are 529 games with 6...g6, which can lead to either the Blackburne or Whistler's Defenses, and against which White scores a surprising 72% - no doubt because of the complexity of the play. There are 2,071 games with 6...Ng6, and 1,101 games with 6...Ke6; against each White scores 53%. Finally, there are 663 games with 6...Kf8, against which White scores 49%.

So, if the grandmaster is "thinking like a club player", he will choose 6...Kf8.

I am not sure that GM Quesada Perez has ever given a thought to the Jerome Gambit, let alone prepared a special "best" defense against it. I suspect that when confronted by the Jerome in a bullet game, he simply grabbed a move that looked okay, that didn't advance his King further into danger, and that didn't possibly weaken his pawn structure.

To be fair, if the GM had 8 seconds left on his clock at the end of the game, then he used up 52 seconds for 54 moves - an average of slightly less than a second per move. That he spent twice that average - a whole 2 seconds - on 6...Kf8, might be significant only in humorous commentary. (I recall a master suggesting that in over-the-board blitz games, it was best to choose moves on the side of the board closest to the clock.)- Rick

7.Qxe5 d6 8.Qg3 Nf6 9.Nc3 Qd7

Perez's 9...Qd7 caught me on the hop. With more time, I probably would have played 10.h3 here to stop black going for a queen swap with 10...Qg4. Keeping queens on the board, I think gives White better attacking prospects, though I'd be interested in what the database has to say about the success rates of White's different options on this tenth move!

9...Qd7 is a novelty, according to The Database, although there are a couple of related games that this game will transpose into:

ChessCoachUA - PArnaudov, 3 0 blitz, lichess.org, 20171.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Kf8 7.Qxe5 d6 8.Qg3 Nf6 9.d3 Qd7 10.Nc3 Qg4 11.Qxg4 Bxg4 12.h3 Be6 13.Be3 Bxe3 14.fxe3 Ke7 15.O-O Rhf8 16.Nb5 c6 17.Nd4 Nd7 18.a4 Rxf1+ 19.Rxf1 Rf8 20.Rxf8 Nxf8 21.Kf2 g6 22.Nf3 Nd7 23.b3 a5 24.Ke2 Nc5 25.e5 dxe5 26.Nxe5 Kd6 27.d4 Nd7 28.Nd3 Bf5 29.g4 Bxd3+ 30.Kxd3 b5 31.axb5 cxb5 32.e4 a4 33.bxa4 bxa4 34.h4 a3 35.Kc3 Nb6 36.Kb3 Nc4 37.c3 Nd2+ 38.Kxa3 Nxe4 39.c4 Black lost on time; and

ZahariSokolov - puthoor, 5 0 blitz, FICS, 20171.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Kf8 7.Qxe5 d6 8.Qd5 Nf6 9.Qd3 Qd7 10.O-O Qg4 11.Nc3 Be6 12.h3 Qg6 13.Qf3 Ke7 14.Nb5 Bb6 15.d3 a6 16.Na3 Rhf8 17.Qe2 Rae8 18.Be3 Bxe3 19.Qxe3 Kd8 20.Qa7 Bxh3 21.g3 Bc8 22.Qd4 Bd7 23.Rfe1 c6 24.Nc4 Ng4 25.Nxd6 Re6 26.Nxb7+ Kc8 27.Nc5 Rd6 28.Qb4 Qh6 29.Nxd7 Qh2+ White resigned - Rick

10.0-0 Qg4 11.Qxg4

Escaping the queen swap with 11.Qd3?! looked a little silly, with the queen blocking the d-pawn. (Yes, see the ZahariSokolov - puthoor game, above - Rick)

11...Bxg4 12.h3 Be6 13.d3 d5 14.e5 Nd7 15.Kh1


For a second, I thought I'd botched the game, as I missed that 15...Nxe5?? was a possibility. However, if that had been played, 16.Re1 Bd6? 17.Bf4! would then have been a strong line for White, winning the piece back.

16.Bh6+ Ke7 17.f4 Bd4 

I am not sure what is going on here. It looks like Black wants to attack White's pawn at e5, to make the advance of the "Jerome pawns" more difficult. Komodo 10 gives two interesting lines, both with the second player sacrificing the exchange and both leading to equality: 18.g4 Raf8!? 19.Bxf8 Rxf8 20.Ne2 Bb6 21.d4 c5 22.c3 and 18.g4 Be3 19.Nd1 Bb6 20.f5 gxf5 21.gxf5 Raf8!? 22.Bxf8 Rxf8 23.Nc3 Rxf5 24.Rxf5 Bxf5 25.Nxd5+ Ke6 26.Nxb6 Nxb6. - Rick

18.Bg5+? -++

The bishop was actually better placed on h6, where it would be hard for Black to remove it. On g5, it allows Black the chance of a bit of kingside counterplay by moving the h-pawn. 18.Rae1 would have been a better move, though Black would still have had a clear advantage. Unfortunately, after this move, I didn't really get back into the game. My 'trap' is starting to look not quite so good 😉.

18...Kf7 19.Rab1 h5 20.Ne2 Bb6 21.c3 

Hoping to get in d3-d4, but his opponent does not allow it.- Rick

21...Bf5 22.Rbd1 Nc5 23.Nc1 Ne6 24.Bh4 Be3 25.Ne2 c5 26.Bf2 Bxf2 27.Rxf2 d4 

White's extra pawns are blockaded. Slowly, Black makes his extra piece tell. There is a lot of serious strategy in this 1-minute game.- Rick

28.c4 h4 29.Kg1 a6 30.Kf1 b5 31.Ng1 Rab8 32.b3 bxc4 33.dxc4 a5 34.Nf3 a4 

35.Ng5+ Nxg5 36.fxg5 Ke6 37.Rf3 axb3 38.axb3 Rb7 39.Re1 Rhb8 40.Rf2 Rxb3 41.Ra2 Rb2 42.Ra6+ R8b6 43.Ra7 R2b3 44.Rh7 Rb1 45.Rxh4 Rxe1+ 46.Kxe1 

White still has two pawns for a piece, but Black has the dangerous passer.

46...Rb1+ 47.Kf2 Rb2+ 48.Kg3 Rb3+ 49.Kh2 Rb2 50.Rh7 Kxe5 51.Ra7 Kf4 52.Ra6 Ke3 53.Rd6 Rc2 54.Rf6 Rxc4 and White lost on time.

Thanks, Cliff, for fighting the good fight - and then sharing it with us. - Rick