Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Jerome Gambit: Smash Finish

I recently received a 3-minute blitz game from a Chess.com player who has become excited about the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+). Given his success in the following game - including the finish - it is easy to understand why.

3 0 blitz, Chess.com, 2020

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

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6 


The "nudge", another way of getting the defender to waste time on "Why did he do that?"

7...Ke8 8.Qxc5 d6 9.Qe3 Qe7 

10.Nc3 c6 11.d4 Nf6 12.O-O Kf7  13.f4 Ng4 

"When in doubt, attack White's Queen", said many regretful defenders.

14.Qf3 d5

The advantage is flowing toward White, and this quickens things. The bold 14...h5 or the bolder 14...Qh4 might have slowed things down a bit.

15.f5 dxe4

Same slip as with move 13 - but, remember, this is a 3-minute game. Given enough time, this move might never see the light of day. 

16.Qxg4 Nf8 17.Nxe4 h5 18.Qf4 Nd7 

Will the defense hold? One clue: Black's Knight blocks his Bishop which locks in his Rook. Another: next move, Black's King will block his other Rook.

19.Ng5+ Kg8 20.Bd2 Nb6 21.Rae1 Qf6

22.Re8+ Qf8 23.Rxf8+ Kxf8 24.Qd6+ Kg8 25.Qd8 checkmate


Sunday, May 24, 2020

Jerome Gambit: I Am Not As Smart As Bill Wall (Part 2)

[continued from previous post]

perrypawnpusher - LttlePrince
Italian Game Classic tournament, Chess.com, 2020

I was ready to answer 19...Nf2 with 20.Qxf5+ Kg7 21.Qf6+ Kg8 22.Qe6+ Kf8 23.Qf6+ etc. and split the point with a draw by repetition.


My opponent was not amused. I could have now captured a pawn with 20.Qxf5+, but, after 20...Ke7 21.Qg4 he probably would have gone for the Knight fork with 21...Nf2, and there would be no draw for me to find for the loss of the exchange.

20.Rhf1 Ke7 21.Rf3 

The Rook was going - somewhere?

The irony was that while I was considering making moves against the enemy King on both the Kingside and Queenside, Black's Knight stood like a tower of strength in the middle of my position.

21...Qc5 22.Rb3 b5 

At the time, this looked like a consession by my opponent.

23.a4 a6 

Of course. It was a bit too much to hope for 23...bxa4 24.Rb7+.


This was the high point of my optimism about our game. It was mostly downhill, thereafter.

24...Rfg8 25.g3 Rg6 26.Qh5 Ke6 

What to do?

After the game, the computer suggested 27.Kb1, but I chose a different kind of piece shuffling. I wanted to leave my Queen where she was, as she seemed to be keeping the enemy Rooks busy. So - a Rook?

27.Re1 Qc4 

More salt in the wounds. I had the impression that opening a line would now be against my King, but I wasn't ready to give the a-pawn away for free.

28.axb5 axb5 29.Ra3 b4   Black resigned

Black's b-pawn is headed toward b3, and, in the meantime, where is my Rook to go? In the meantime, my Queen isn't holding his Rooks, the Rooks are holding my Queen. His extra Knight still sits there, smiling.

This is what it's like to be decisively defeated by a stronger opponent, one more proof that I am not as smart as Bill Wall.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Jerome Gambit: I Am Not As Smart As Bill Wall (Part 1)

I just resigned my Jerome Gambit game in the third round of the Italian Game Classic tournament at Chess.com. Truth be told, I ran out of ideas, in a bad position.

That's just one way that I am not as smart as Bill Wall - he never seems to run out of ideas. There are other ways, to be sure, and I will get to them.

In the mean time, I have to congratulate my opponent, who steadily and clearly out-played me, even more than I had feared.

Most likely I will finish in 3rd place in the tournament, out of 5 players, behind the undefeated Winawer99, and LttlePrince.

perrypawnpusher - LttlePrince
Italian Game Classic tournament, Chess.com, 2020

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

The Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit.

For the record, I had played this line against AndrewLLL earlier this round, winning in 18 moves. I was a bit worried that LttlePrince might notice, and learn from that game - as well as my blog notes.

This headache was just recently compounded, when I advanced to the fourth round of the Italian Game Battlegrounds tournament at Chess.com, along with TamasHK - and AndrewLLL (we had tied for top in our section and both moved on). So I can expect both of them to stop by and peruse this game coverage, too. (Hi, guys.)

5...Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.d4 Bd6 8.dxe5 Bxe5 


Previously, I had played 9.f4 in perrypawnpusher - joseluislopez, blitz, FICS, 2012 (0-1, 55) and 9.Bg5 in perrypawnpusher - lixuanxuan, blitz, FICS, 2014 (1-0, 22). I did not like how Black damaged my Queenside pawns in that first game, so I chose the text as a way of avoiding the Bishop-for-Knight swap.

According to The Database, 9.Ne2 was a novelty when I played it against AndrewLLL. I hadn't come up with anything better - so I played it again, against LttlePrince. 

9...c6 10.f4 Bc7 11.e5 Ne4 

A slight improvement over 11...Nd5, which AndrewLLL had played. This Knight seems to be floating in air, but, once it is cemented in place, it becomes a dominating force.


Ah, yes. A decade ago, Wall, B - Stevanovic, R, Chess.com, 2010 had continued, instead, 12.O-O Bb6+ 13.Nd4 Bxd4+ 14.Qxd4 Qb6 15.Be3 Qxd4 16.Bxd4 and Black had succeeded in swapping Queens, exaggerating his Knight-for-a-pawn material edge. Since the game was a rare thing - a loss by Bill - I had figured that I could "improve" on his play by avoiding similar excitement along the a7-g1 diagonal. Fair enough; but, as I have pointed out, I am not as smart as Bill Wall...

12...d5 13.Be3 Bf5 14.Qb3 Bb6 15.O-O-O Bxe3+ 16.Qxe3 Qb6

This was my preparation for the line - no need to search for the game, it hasn't been posted on the blog, see "Do I Share Everything? No" - I even had an "answer" to "save" my Queen.

17.Nd4 g6 

Well, my King has castled, and my Rooks are linked - but his Rooks are linked, too. White's chances must lie in mobilizing his "Jerome pawns", starting with h2-h3, perhaps preparing this with g2-g3 in order to counter-act Black's possible prophylaxis with ...h7-h5 and ...h5-h4.

Instead, I decided upon a joke plan that probably would have worked in 1-minute bullet chess, and might have worked in 5-minute blitz chess, but had no place in a 3-days-per-move tournament. 

18.Nxf5 gxf5 19.Qh3 

See? Who could possibly resist 19...Nf2, forking both of my Rooks and my Queen?

Is this chess or stand up comedy?

[to be continued]

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Jerome Gambit: Searching for A Few Answers (Part 2)

[continued from previous post]

We are following a Jerome Gambit game by angelcamina, who has allowed himself the "luxury" of a full 5 minutes to play his game, instead of his usual 1 minute bullet (no increment in either case).

Some of the tactics that follow are both beautiful and mind-boggling.

angelcamina - nanangtisna
5 0 blitz, lichess.org, 2020

Black's Rook is attacked, and there are two moves that allow his Queen to protect it.

In the meantime, White's Queen is menacing the enemy King, but the defense has adequate resources.


Often f6 is the square for Black's Queen, and in some lines (in the Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit) even White finds the need to protect his Rook by putting his Queen on f3 - 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke6 6.c3 Qg5 7.cxd4 Qxg2 8.Qf3 - but not here. In the game, after 10...Nf6 11.Qxg5+ Ke6, Black's King would be shaky, but he would be better.

11.Qxc7+ Bd6

One of the funniest things about computer chess programs, including Komodo 10, is that they seem to have a reasonable, innate distrust of the Jerome Gambit, and, therefore, consider a draw to be an acceptable, even desirable, outcome. So, instead of the text, the recommendation is 11...Qd6 12.Qg7+ Qf6 13.Qc7+ Qd6, etc. with a draw by repetition.

Again, nanangtisna makes a reasonable move - but it is met by an unreasonable response.


When you sharpen your tactics in bullet play, this kind of a shot comes naturally.


The best reply. It is fascinating to look at 12...Kxd4, which is met by the unassuming 13.Qa5. The more you look at White's move, the scarier it gets. Sure, White remains under-developed and a piece down, but he is threatening checkmate, and the enemy King is under fire, such as 13...Kxe4 14.Nc3+ Kf5 (sad, but all others are worse) 15.0-0+ Kg6 (15...Bf4 16.Nxd5) 16.Rxf6+ Nxf6 when White's Queen and pawn outweigh Black's Rook and Bishop.


But the clock still ticks! With 13.Qc3, White would have forced  13...Kf5, giving him 14.O-O+ again, when 14...Kg6 would lose the Queen, as in the above note, and 14...Bf4 would be met by the wonderful 15.Qg3 Qxd4+ 16.Be3.


Incredibly, Stockfish 11 recommends, instead, 13...Kf5 14.O-O+ Kg4!? and exchanging Queens with 15.Rxf6 Bxc7 seems to lead to an edge for Black. Bumping Black's King first, with 15.h3+, and then exchanging Queens is supposed to lead to an even position - but I do not know how to reconcile these two evaluations.

I can't imagine working out these lines while avoiding a time forfeit.


A solid move. If angelcamina had started out with, say, 10 minutes on his clock, he might have found the creative 14.Be3+ which continues the tactics fest: 14...Ke5 (14...Kxe3 15.Nxd5+ Kd4 16.0-0-0+ Ke5 17.Qc3+ and Black will lose his Queen) 15.Qa5 (again threatening mate as in the note, above, to Black's 12th move) Kf5 16.O-O+ and again the Black Queen is a goner.


The clock ticks for Black, too.

Instead, 14...Qe7+ 15.Ne2+ Ke5 seems to give Black (a piece up) hope, but the skewer with 16.Qc3+ would then win a Rook. White would also have the safer 16.Bd2 Bg4 17.0-0-0 - of course, offering a piece that cannot be taken, i.e. 17...Bxe2 18.Bc3+ Kf4 19.Qxd5 - when, after 17...Kf5 18.Qxd5+ Kg6 19.Rhf1 White still offers that piece on e2, and with 19...Bxe2 20.Qf5+ Kh5 21.Qh3+, etc., the game would settle into a draw by repetition of position.

As once Geoff Chandler wryly suggested, maybe the Jerome Gambit is a draw, after all.

15.Qxd5 checkmate

Once again, fortune has favored the bold.

Now, please give me a few minutes to catch my breath...

Monday, May 18, 2020

Jerome Gambit: Searching for A Few Answers (Part 1)

I am used to playing over 1-minute (no increment) Jerome Gambit games by angelcamina. Occasionally I have wondered, what would happen if he had more time to work his magic?

Recently I found out - he sent me a 5-minute game that got weird, fast, and that's saying something for a Jerome Gambit.

For some enlightenment, I did what I usually do: turning to The Database I looked at some of the games with that line that had been played previously. There were only 5, I'm not sure how many of those games had a grip on the line, either.

So, I turned to my trusted Komodo 10 for insight - you can probably guess how that turned out.

Finally, I reviewed my blog, and, although I had peeked at the line, before - see "Boris isn't so hot..." and ''Jerome Gambit Hammer" - there was still more to be said.

Here's how it all came down...

angelcamina - nanangtisna
5 0 blitz, lichess.org, 2020

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.f4 g5 

Here's a position you don't see very often. What is it all about? What is Black getting at?

It is possible to get a hint by looking at a Bill Wall game that continued 8.fxe5 Qf8, as if Black were offering a counter-gambit followed by a threatened Queen check at f2. Bill wasn't impressed, however, and quickly found a solution after 9.Rf1 Qe7 10.Qg4+ Kxe5 11.Qf5+, Black resigned, facing a mate in 1, Wall,B - Lisandru, Chess.com, 2012. The defender's Queen should have gone to g7 instead of e7, but 10.d4 would have then cemented White's avantage. 

8.fxe5 Kxe5 

After a long think (26 ply), Komodo 10 passes up this move, as well as 8...d5 and 8...Ne7, and chooses Stockfish 7's suggestion from 4 years ago, 8...Nf6 9.exf6 Qxf6 10.Rf1 Qg6 11.Qe2 Ke7, with White up about a pawn and a half.

But nanangtisna's choice of move is reasonable.


Setting up a mating net.

Previously, 9.Rf1 was seen in GuestCRJQ - Despistado, FICS, 2009 (1-0, 26),  Wall,B - Boris, sparkchess.com, 2012 (1-0, 16) and Vlastous - PornobeshKumar , internet, 2016 (1-0, 13).

Also successful was 9.c3 Be7 10.d4+ in Black,D - Boris, sparkchess.com, 2012 (1-0, 18). 

Probably best is Komodo 10's (and Stockfish 7's!) 9.d4+, as 9...Bxd4 10.Bxg5 Nf6 11.Bxf6+ Kxf6 12.Rf1+ Kg7 13.Rf7+ Kg8 14.Rf3 Bf6 15.Nc3 Kg7 remains, as I noted
a line worth looking at in detail as an example of building an attack.

Often this strike at the center, opening up lines for development, serves Black well in the Jerome Gambit. Here, though, 9...Nf6 might have been better, although White could meet it with 10.d4+, with play similar to that in Vlastous - PornobeshKumarInternet, 2016.

It is worth pointing out, again, that this is a 5-minute blitz game, and it is always easier to come up with improvements after the fact.


Out of the blue, Komodo 10 prefers 10.b4. It takes a moment to realize that it has not just found a way for White to castle - 10...Bxb4 11.0-0 - as it further recommends that Black answer with 10...Nf6, giving up a piece to 11.bxc5. No, the b-pawn advances to allow White to subsequently fianchetto his dark squared Bishop.

The idea 10.b4 Bd4 11.c3 Bb6 12.d4 reminds me of a suggestion that Stefan Bücker made to me in a similar line, back in 2004, when I still hoped to have my Jerome Gambit article published in his fantastic chess magazine, Kaissiber. See, fittingly, "Delusions of Grandeur".

[to be continued]

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Jerome Gambit: Largely Overlooked by History

I wanted to share another eronald (of lichess.org) game for a number of reasons. He faced one of the more challenging defenses to the Jerome Gambit, he selected a line of play that was recommended over 140 years ago - and which has been scarcely played at all. This game also allows me to tuck in a note from my research that comes from I-do-not-know-where. 

eronald - ayushsankar1006
5 0 blitz, lichess.org, 2020

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ g6 

This can lead to either the Blackburne Defense, 7...d6, or Whistler's Defense, 7...Qe7. Both are complicated and each can be dangerous for the unwary. 

My preference to play, and not to face, is Whistler's. See "More (Update): Whistler's Defense" for a discussion.

7.Qxe5 Qe7 8.Qd5+ 

The highly dangerous (for White) 8.Qxh8 appeared in Jerome - Norton, D., correspondence, 1876 (1/2 - 1/2, 20) and Jerome - Whistler, correspondence, 1876 (0-1, 15). Jerome was fortunate to gain a half point from the two games. The December, 1876 issue of  American Chess Journal, commenting on the Whistler game, recommended 8.Qd5+ without analysis.

Then 8.Qd5+ practically disappeared from the face of the earth. Perhaps it should be referred to as Jerome Gambit Secrets #12 ?

I have in my notes something from a 2020 1 0 bullet game at
lichess.org - the players are not named
If played correctly 7.Qxe5 Qe7 8.Qd5 + Kg7 9.d4 Bb4 + 10.c3 Nf6 11.Qe5 Bd6 12.Qxe7 + Bxe7 13.f3 White plays one piece, and for the second they have more space and two pawns - you can still play very much (position on the interactive whiteboard), both on the one and the other side. Although, objectively speaking, Black has a win, but you need to make fairly accurate moves, let's recall the game of the unforgettable Mikhail Tal - how many could hold their position after the Tal victims, who turned out to be objectively won in the home analysis?
It is not every day that you see the Jerome Gambit and the Magician from Riga mentioned in the same paragraph! 

Of course, Tal has already been mentioned on the blog: see "The Evans-Jerome Gambit Returns (Part 1)" and "Correctness".


If, instead, 8...Kg7, the game continued 9.d4 Bb6 10. Bg5 Nf6 11.e5 Nxd5 White resigned, levigun - obviously, GameKnot.com, 2004. This is the only other 8.Qd5+ game in The Database.

9.O-O c6 10.Qc4 d5 11.exd5 cxd5 


White declines the pawn (12.Qxd5), as Black could then develop his Bishop or Knight, attacking the Queen with tempo. 

12...Nf6 13.d4 Bd6 14.Qd2 Qe4 

This looks a bit odd, although Black retains his advantage.

Given that this was a 5-minute blitz game, and taking into consideration Black's previous move, perhaps he was planning to set up the Bishop + Queen battery, but at the last second, noticed that 14...Qe5 would drop Her Majesty?

15.Re1 Qh4 16.Qh6+ Qxh6 17. Bxh6+ Kf7 18. Nc3 Ng4 

ayushsankar1006 continues to press his attack, even with Queens off of the board. Both players now ignore the pawn at h2 for a short while.

19.Bg5 Be6 20.Nb5  

Perhaps planning to allow the h-pawn capture, and then trap the Bishop with g2-g3, while limiting where the prelate could otherwise retreat to? Or, was the clock ticking? In any event, 20.h3 was probably the move to make. 

20...Bxh2+ 21.Kh1 a6 

The fly in the ointment. The Knight is invited to leave.


Likely the clock.

22...Bxc7 23.f3 White resigned

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Jerome Gambit: Patient Who Suffered Not Too Long

I recently receive a Jerome Gambit game from eronald, who plays online at lichess.org. His comment
For your entertainment, here is my latest Jerome treatment of a patient who suffered not too long.
Indeed! Especially in blitz.

eronald - basel82
5 1 blitz, lichess.org, 2020

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

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.f4 Nf6 

Ah, yes. I am reminded of the comment by FM Stefan Buecker, in the online ChessPub Forum, over a decade ago
Searching for a forced refutation of a rare opening, with the clock ticking, requires more courage than many have.
(For the record, he was not referencing the Jerome Gambit - but he might as well have been. For other "might as well have beens", see "Were They Talking About the Jerome Gambit Again?")

I am also reminded of the old, vaudeville joke, which I pass on to all defenders
patient: Doc, it hurts when I do this [demonstrates] 
doctor: Well, then, don't do that.

8.Qxe5+ Kf7 9.Qxc5 d6 10.Qc4+ Be6 11.Qe2 Re8 12.O-O Ke7

Certainly completing castling-by-hand with 12...Kg8 would have been more prudent.

Please, Doctor eronald, put this patient out of his misery.

13.f5 Bd7 14.d4 Rg8 

Strange symptomatology, Doctor. Will he survive?

15.e5 dxe5 16.dxe5 Nd5 

Oh, dear. Not having the best of days. (Time trouble?)

17.Bg5+ Kf8 

Interposing the Knight with 17...Nf6 is equally horrible, e.g. 18.exf6+ Kf8 19.fxg7+ Rxg7 20.Bxd8 Bc6 21.Rd1 Rxg2+ 22.Qxg2 Kxg2 when White is a Rook, two pieces, and a pawn ahead.

18.Bxd8 Rxd8 19.e6 Re8 

This pin will not hold...

20.exd7 Rd8 

If 20.Rxe2 d8/Qch 21.Re8 Qxd5, etc.


Doc, I keep seeing pawns. They're everywhere!

21...g6 22.Nc3 Rxd7 23.Nxd5 Rf7 24.Rae1 Rxf6 25.Qe7 checkmate