Saturday, January 25, 2020

Jerome Gambit: History Reset

NN - Blackburne, London, 1884

The other day, I stumbled over a remark (from May 22, 2017) by zanzibar, at the website. He was commenting on the (in)famous Jerome Gambit game,  NN - Blackburne, casual game, London, 1884, and noted
Fine uses a position from this game (p088, d135), after Black's 12th move, but omits the White queen on a8.
zanzibar was referring to Reuben Fine's The Middle Game in Chess (David McKay, 1952), the chapter on "The Mating Attack". After giving the diagram (see above), Fine wrote [descriptive notation changed to algebraic notation]
Blackburne also found the mate in diagram 135 during a blindfold seance. He played 1...Qxh3+!! 2.gxh3 Bxe4 mate
It is likely that, in his diagram, GM Fine left off White's Queen from a8, where it was placed in the game, for instructional purposes, as it arrived on that square after accepting Black's double Rook sacrifice, in the most scruffy of chess openings, where White had sacrificed two pieces - all too much distraction from the case at hand.

GM Fine's contention that the game was played blindfold also raises an eyebrow. The Illustrated London News' May 10,1884 account of the game makes no mention of Blackburne playing blindfold. Indeed, Mr Blackburne's Games at Chess (1899) places the game in the "Games Played Off-Hand, Simultaneously or at Odds" chapter, rather than the "Games Played Blindfold" chapter.

Interestingly, the Blackburne position in The Middle Game in Chess follows one given by Fine as
reached by Pillsbury in a blindfold exhibition 
What is a bit odd about this is that Pillsbury was, according to the diagram, playing the Black pieces - usually the blindfold player is given the White pieces. For example, Jaques N. Pope's Harry Nelson Pillsbury American Chess Champion (Pawn Island Press, 1996), contains almost 250 blindfold games, and Pillsbury has White in all but one of the games. While P.W. Sergeant and W.H. Watts, in their Pillsbury's Chess Career (American Chess Bulletin, 1922) suggest that "he must have played many thousands such games" - only one of their 44 blindfold games had Pillsbury with Black.

Fortunately, Pope comes to the rescue. On the first page of his "Other Games" chapter, he gives the following position, from which follows "a pretty combination he played as black in a knight odds game [emphasis mine] in 1899." Popes's reference is Vol. XIX, no. 22, November 25, 1899, the Literary Digest, which gives the piece placement in a "Pillsbury Brilliancy", describing it as coming from an
offhand game betwen Pillsbury and a strong amateur, the latter securing the odds of a Kt. 

Amateur - Pillsbury, 1899 (Kt odds)
 1...Qf7 2.Bxe4 Reaching the position that Fine started with in his diagram [descriptive notation changed to algebraic notation]. 2...Qf1+ 3.Bg1 Qf3+ 4.Bxf3 Bxf3 checkmate.

(I mean no offense to the memory GM Fine, whose chess set I would have been unworthy to carry. History needed a reset, and I've done it before.) 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Jerome Gambit: Second Worst

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The Jerome Gambit in the Italian (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. Bxf7+??) which is completely refuted by not one, but two brain-dead simple lines. 4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ and now both 6...Ke6 and 6...Kf8 refute the gambit, although 6...Ke6 requires some homework.
Certainly, chesster3145's opinion should be respected, and I appreciate his perspective; although I wonder if refuting the Jerome Gambit is all that "brain-dead simple" - at least in the world of the online club player.
I just checked with The Database, and I noticed 1,120 Jerome Gambit games with 6...Ke6, in which White scored 54%; and 674 Jerome Gambit games with 6...Kf8, in which White scored 50%.
(Of course, I challenged chesster3145 to a game. We will see.) 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Jerome Gambit Coverage Recovered

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While most modern chess masters, justifiably, have nothing to do with the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+), years ago International Master Gary Lane had a bemused affection for the offbeat opening, and discussed it in his "Opening Lanes" column at, and in his book The Greatest Ever Chess Tricks and Traps (Everyman Chess, 2008).

Lane's book is still available, but his two "Opening Lanes" columns - "A Game of Shadows" and "Trash or Treasure?" with Jerome Gambit content are no longer freely accessible in they way they used to be (i.e. direct link via, which means that the links supplied previously by this blog (e.g. in "International Master Gary Lane" and "Opening Lanes") no longer work.

ChessCafe is currently maintained by, which requires a $25 (or more) "tax deductible donation" in order to access their "thousands of PDFs and hundreds of Ebooks" (including "Opening Lanes") available to members.

However, through the wizardry of the archiving Wayback Machine website, you can still feast (gratis) upon IM Lane's Jerome Gambit creativity: "A Game of Shadows" and "Trash or Treasure?". (These links have also been updated in the Wikipedia article on "Giuoco Piano, Jerome Gambit".)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Jerome Gambit: More Fun On Top Of That

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Winning with the Jerome Gambit is fun.

Checkmating your opponent with the Jerome Gambit is even more fun.

Checkmating your opponent with the Jerome Gambit in a 1 0 bullet game is even more fun, on top of that.

Let angelcamina, at, show you. 

angelcamina - khoshghadam
1 0 bullet,, 2020

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6

7.f4 g6

A knee-jerk reaction - Kick that Queen! - that surrenders Black's advantage. The defender spent 3 seconds on this move, which is a bit of a luxury in a bullet game, and which illustrates the dangers of facing the Jerome Gambit at high speed: it's a whole lot easier to figure out a defense when you have time enough to think about it.

8.Qxe5+ Kf7 9.Qxc5 

Recently, we saw Bill Wall capture the Rook at h8, instead.

9...d6 10.Qe3 Nf6 11.O-O Re8 12.d3 Bg4 

I am not sure what this move is about. Black could have hit the center with 12...d5, or protected a part of it with 12...c6, instead.

13.h3 Bd7 14.Nc3 Bc6 15.Qg3 d5

Okay, but White's attack rolls on.

16.e5 Nh5 17.Qf3 d4 

Black attacks a Knight while uncovering an attack on the Queen. However, White's natural response is sufficient.

18.Ne4 Ng7

Anticipating action at f5, but he is already too late.

19.g4 Ne6 20.f5 

20...Bxe4 21.dxe4 

If you saw that 21.fxg6+ right away led to an even faster checkmate, good for you.

21...Ng5 22.fxg6+ Kxg6 23.Qf5+ Kg7 24.Bxg5 Qc8 25.Qf7+ Kh8 26.Bf6 checkmate
A fun conclusion.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Modern Guide to Gambits

The Club Player's Modern Guide to Gambits: Fighting Chess from the Get-go


Nikolai Kalinichenko, a correspondence grandmaster, has written The Club Player's Modern Guide To Gambits: Fighting Chess from the Get-go (Russell Enterprises, 2019).

I was excited, and, since his focus was on "club players", and he was looking at "fighting chess from the get-go" I could not wait to see what he had written on the Jerome Gambit.

Checking out the table of contents, I was pleased to see that his list of gambits included some of the offbeat gambits, such as the Cochrane Gambit, the Latvian Gambit, the Sicilian Wing Gambit, the Icelandic Gambit, the von Hennig-Schara Gambit, the Englund Gambit, and even the Blackmar Diemer Gambit.

Alas, no Jerome Gambit.

Even if it had been a chapter on "How to Defeat the Jerome Gambit", it would have been interesting and welcome. (I guess you will have to settle for the blog posts "An International Master Refutes the Jerome Gambit" and "A GM Faces the Jerome Gambit [Part 1 and 2]").

Oh, well, maybe next time.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

More Jerome Gambit Fun

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I have followed the games of different players online, for years. One is chessmanjeff, who enjoys the Jerome Gambit, and has battled in many of its variations.

I thought I'd share a recent game of his, as it touches on the Jerome Gambit Declined - a relatively rare variation, true, but one that has nagged me over the years, for some odd reason (see "Jerome Gambit Declined: Grumping,Yet", check out the links, check out the links on the linked pages...)

The pieces in the following game fly over the board in odd ways, like a group of acrobats who have a whole lot of energy to burn.

chessmanjeff - fabttt
5 0 blitz, FICS, 2019

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Bc5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.Bxf7+ Ke7 

The Jerome Gambit Declined. Seen more often is 4...Kf8, which does not block the action of Black's Queen.


Every computer suggests that White retreat the Queen with 5.Bd5, 5.Bc4, or 5.Bb3, but chessmanjeff wants to complicate things and open lines - which makes for a livelier 5-minute game.

5...Nxd4 6.Nxe5 Nf6 7.c3 Nb5

Certainly returning to c6 was stronger, but Komodo 10 follows that suggestion up with some spirited play, leading to a draw by repetition: 7...Nc6 8.f4 d6 9.Nxc6+ bxc6 10.Bh5 Nxe4 11.Qe2 Kf8 12.Bf3 Nf2 13.b4 Bb6 14.Rf1 Kf7 15.Bxc6 Bg4 16.Qc4+ Be6 17.Qb5 a6 18.Qe2 Bg4 19.Qc4+ Be6 20.Qe2 etc. Computers, fairly often, see White as willing to grab any chance it can get for a draw in the Jerome Gambit.

8.Bb3 d6 9.Nf7 Qe8 10.Nxh8 Nxe4 11.O-O Qxh8 

White's Bishop and Knight have had fun together. Soon it will be Black's Bishop's and Knight's turn.

12.Re1 Bf5 13.Qd5 Bxf2+ 14.Kh1 Bxe1 15.Qxf5 Nf2+ 

16.Kg1 Rf8

The Rook wants to join in the fun (are all of Black's pieces developed?) but it overlooks impending danger.

17.Bg5+ Ke8 18.Qe6 checkmate


Monday, January 13, 2020

Jerome Gambit Fun

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I have been playing through new and unexamined games in the updated The Database. There are many entertaining and educational games - and one player (among many) who caught my eye was DANNYALBERTO, at FICS. He shows up mostly with Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambits (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 4.Bxf7+) with the occasional Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bc5 5.Bxf7+) thrown in, from 2015 to the present. (He scores a very decent 64%.)

Check out the following end-of-the-game positions, just a few among many. The kind of fun that they represent is what draws many club players to the Jerome Gambit and various Jerome-ish lines.

DANNYALBERTO - Tseatsy, blitz, FICS, 2016

DANNYALBERTO - boggus, blitz, FICS 2016

DANNYALBERTO - NightEagle, blitz, FICS, 2017

DANNYALBERTO - fluters, blitz, FICS, 2019