Monday, September 22, 2014

Don't, Here, Either

As a parallel to the previous post, I thought I would take another look at the Jerome Gambit Declined, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ and now 4...Kf8 or 4...Ke7. It seems overly generous for Black to decline a piece (and a possible offer of a second one), but sometimes defenders do not want to play a line - whatever its value - that the attackers want them to.

There are 245 games in The Database where Black declines the Jerome Gambit with 4...Kf8, with White scoring 56%. To break that down,  after the retreat 5.Bb3 (Houdini's choice), White scores 61%. The piece exchange, 5.Bxg8, has White score 57%. The complicating 5.Nxe5 scores 50% for White.

By comparison, there are 40 games in The Database where Black declines the Jerome Gambit with 4...Ke7, with White scoring a more encouraging 71%. Again, breaking that down, after the retreat 5.Bb3 (Houdini prefers the three retreats of 5.Bd5, 5.Bc4 and 5.Bb3), White scores 100%, as he does after the exchange 5.Bxg8. The complicating 5.Nxe5 scores 0%.

In summary, if Black does not take the Bishop in the Jerome Gambit, both computer analysis and game play suggest that White should either retreat it or exchange it, with good-to-very-good prospects.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Don't, Here

In the Blackburne Shilling Gambit, Black has high hopes that his third move will bamboozle White and lead to a killing attack. However, in the following game, Black's fourth move practically cedes the point. If this is a "Jedi Mind Trick", it is no match for a good blaster at your side...

sahistonline - aguisou

blitz, FICS, 2013

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 

The Blackburne Shilling Gambit.


The Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit.


The Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit Declined.

A word to the wise defender: Don't.

In 475 games in The Database, White scores 70% 

For a good discussion of this Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit Declined see "Idées Fixes et Manqués",


This complicating move appears in 201 games in The Database, where White scores 66%.

That is a good bit better than 5.Bd5, which appears in 10 games in The Database, where White scores only 50%. Half-way measures, it seems, score half the time.

"Best" according to Houdini, is 5.Bb3, which appears in a mere 14 games in The Database, where White scores "only" 68%. Perhaps the retreat is too "conservative" for many Jerome Gambiteers!

On the other hand, 5.Nxd4 appears in 78 games in The Database, where White scores 70%.

Alternately, 5.Bc4 appears in 32 games in The Database, where White scores 75%.

Finally, 5.Bxg8 appears in 102 games in The Database, where White scores 77%.

So, for White: hang onto your piece with 5.Bb3, or swap it off with 5.Bxg8; but you are by no means limited to these two good, contrasting, ideas. 

5...Nf6 6.Bc4 

White can tell his opponent what Al Capone said in "The Untouchables" - You got nothing.

6...d5 7.exd5 Nxd5 8.c3 Nf5 9.Qf3 White won by adjudication

I've had my problems in the past with adjudication at FICS (see "A Sneaky Way to Defeat the Jerome Gambit") but things look fine here. Down two pawns, with less development and an unsafe King, Black is finished. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Jerome Gambit and Jerome-like games are not usually though of as finesse-filled duels, but in the following game, in seeing to apply a refutation to White's attack, Black makes a couple of slim errors, and the results are unfortunate.

poethe - Principia

blitz, FICS, 2013

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Nf3 Nd4

The Blackburne Shilling Gambit. 


The Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit.

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke6 6.f4 

In 327 games in The Database, White scores 50% with this move, but correct is 6.c3. See "Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit: Don't Feed the Greed" among many relevant earlier posts.


The sharpest response. Now White's King comes under attack. 

7.g3 Qh3 8.Kf2 

Best, according to Houdini, is the alternative 8.Nf3, as in DragonTail - jantonacci, FICS, 2010 (1-0, 37), 8..Nxf3+ 9.Qxf3 when 9...Ke7 is advantageous to Black, e.g. Steelfinder - Sali, FICS, 2012 (0-1, 13).

8...Bc5 9.c3 Nc2+

Black goes directly after material.

Interestingly, Houdini suggests that he first kick out the White knight with 9...d6 10.Nc4 and then go for the Rook with 10...Nc2+ 11.d4 Nxa1 12.dxc5 Nf6, with the idea that Black's Knight on a1 will either eventually escape, or White will spend so much time capturing it that Black's lead in development will prove decisive. 

10.d4 Nxa1

11.dxc5 d6 

Here 11...Nf6 would lead to a complicated, unclear, perhaps balanced position.

The text clarifies things: Black will be checkmated.

12.Qd5+ Ke7 13.Qf7+ Black resigned

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

An Interesting Contrast

After looking at perrypawnpusher - hicks, 2 12 blitz, FICS, 2014 in the last post, I was playing over Philidor 1792 - Sauron 2005, 3 0 blitz, 2014, when I noticed an interesting contrast.

In the previous game, Black was done in by the fact that all but one of his pieces were on the back rank - a positional concession that had a tremendously negative impact. Here, the situation is completely different: Black can hold off White's attack by retreating - 18...Nh8 19.Kb1 Qd8.

analysis diagram

Instead, Sauron 2005 counter-attacked, and lost.

18.Qxa2 19.hxg6 hxg6 20.Qxf6 Bg7 21.Qxg6 Bd7 22.Nh5 Re7 23.Nf6+ Kf8 24.Rh8+ Bxh8 25.Qg8 checkmate

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Professor Houdini (Part 2)

Here we continue the lessons from my last Jerome Gambit, a 2 12 blitz game. Tacticians are encouraged to follow along and discover what I and my opponent missed, and what Houdini later pointed out.

perrypawnpusher - ficshicks

blitz 2 12, FICS, 2014

Here I had just played 13.Nc4+, but, instead, after 13.Qc3!, Houdini rates White over a Rook ahead! 

analysis diagram

White is threatening mate, starting with Qb3+. Black can cover the checkmate square at b5, create "luft" (for his King or Bishop), as well as attack White's center with 13...c6 - if he needs to return a piece, this would make ...Nxd5 more do-able, allowing the Bishop to retreat along the a3-f8 diagonal.

White can then press on with 14.Be3+ Ka6 (if 14...Kc7 then 15.Nb5+ Kb8 16.Nxd6 with a two pawn advantage and an overwhelming position for White) 15.Nc4 Nxd5 16.exd5 Bf8 17.0-0-0

analysis diagram

While on the board White has one more pawn, Houdini rates the first player to be about a Queen ahead. I can not figure all that out, but it has to be due to all those undeveloped Black pieces! Mate or the win of a major piece is not yet apparent, but White clearly is better...


Because of White's inaccuracy on the previous move (12.Nc4+ instead of 12.Qc3!), Black has the option of 13...Ka6 when after 14.Nxd6 cxd6 15.Qxd6+ b6 White has to make use of his 3 extra pawns against Black's extra piece, a relatively more difficult assignment.


A fitting cheapo - that works.


Once again, a6 is the safer square for the Black King to retreat to, when c3 would be the right square for the White Queen. It is hard not to point out that after 14...Ka6 15.Qc3 b6 (best) White would have the hilarious 16.Na5!?, when Black would have to find 16...c6 just to stave off - temporarily - disaster.

15.Qc3 checkmate

Friday, September 12, 2014

Professor Houdini (Part 1)

The other day I played a 2 12 blitz Jerome Gambit game, checkmating my opponent in 15 moves. A simple thing? Hardly. With the help of Houdini, afterwards, I discovered that my opponent and I had missed a whole lot.

perrypawnpusher - ficshicks

blitz 2 12, FICS, 2014

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

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.Qf5+ Kd6 8.f4 Ne7

This is not Black's strongest defense.

An error by the defender, especially in an opening as sketchy as the Jerome Gambit, is a gift. The attacker should know what kind of gift that it is, and respond accordingly. In this case, it is important to realize that White can regain his sacrificed material, but that Black can find safety for his King.


At this point, Black resigned in perrypawnpusher - ktonthat, blitz 10 5, FICS, 2009.


Here, Black resigned in perrypawnpusher - Greystroke, blitz, FICS, 2012.


I had forgotten that 10.Qc3 is the right move here, because a past opponent and I quickly left the path with 10...Qf8 11.d4 Qf6 12.Qxc5 checkmate, perrypawnpusher - nicolasalk, blitz, FICS, 2009.

Instead of expanding his pawn center, and dreaming of checkmate, White should think of pinning and winning the Black Bishop after 10...b6 11.b4 d6 12.d4 Kb7 13.bxc5 dxc5 14.dxc5 Nc6 when Black's King is safe, and White is ahead a couple of pawns.

Even at that point, White should modestly play 15.0-0, instead of grabbing more matrial with 15.cxb6 axb6 16.Qxg7 because of 16...Rg8 17.Qc3 Rxg2 when Black would be winning!


Stronger was 10...d6, as in perrypawnpusher - vypux, blitz, FICS, 2009 (1-0, 20). In that game I was able to get away with 11.Qxg7  because my opponent missed 11...Nf5! 12.exf5 Qe8+ 13.Kd1 Bxf5 after which, if anything, Black would have an edge, despite his two-pawn deficit. Note that 14.dxc5? now would be crushed by  14...Qh5+ Instead White should try the sharp 14.d5+!? 
when Black would be prudent to reply 14...Kb6,

analysis diagram

with in an unclear position where White's King is in more danger than his counterpart, and Black's 2 Bishops and better Rooks give him the more threatening prospects. 

Also, 10...Bb4+ 11.Nc3 (11.c3 is better) appeared in perrypawnpusher - TheChessInnovator, blitz, FICS, 2008 (1-0, 43).

(Having played the line 5 times previously, and apparently having learned very little in the process, I am reminded of the Firesign Theater album, "Everything You Know Is Wrong"!) 

11.d5+ Kb5 

Safer was 11...Kb6 when after 12.Qc3 White has to develop and make threats against the enemy King while taking advantage of Black's trapped (thanks to the Knight on e7) Bishop. Black can, in some situations, consider returning his Knight instead with a well-timed ...Nxd5 followed by a Bishop retreat. Houdini puts White's advantage at less than a pawn, and shows no direct checkmates. 


This move was based on the simple idea 12...Bxa3 13.bxa3 and then White will have the use of the b-file for a winning attack on the enemy King.

However, after the game Houdini pointed out that after 13...Ka6 there is no "winning attack on the enemy King" and that all White has left is 14.Qxg7 Rg8 15.Qd4 b6 (Not 15...Rxg2 right off because 16.Qa4+ Kb6 17.Rb1+ Kc5 18.Qb4#) 16.0-0 when Black's King escapes with 16...Kb7 and the game is about even.

Instead 12.Qd4 was the move to make, and then White's threats against Black's Bishop and King would give him the advantage, although it would still be a long time before the game would be decided.


As suggested above, 12...Ka6 would again leave White with little more than 13.Qxg7 when 13...b6, 13...Ng6 or 13...Re8 (followed by 14.0-0) all look about even. 


[to be continued]