Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Plenty of Lessons

Playing over lost games, or games where I played poorly, provides plenty of lessons for my chess improvement. The following game has a shelf-full of lessons for both me and my opponent - especially when it comes to middle game play.

perrypawnpusher - genericme

blitz, FICS, 2015

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

The Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit. I have 57 examples of this position in my games in The Database, scoring 73%. (That seems pretty good, but it's below the 81% I have scored with the regular Jerome Gambit; the 89% with the Semi-Italian Jerome Gambit; and the 92% with the Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit.)

5...Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.d4 Nd3+

This is a creative idea from my opponent, and a TN according to The Database. It is the kind of "shocking" move that can be found in blitz games, and I admit that I was expecting the regular (and stronger) 7...Bxd4.

8.Qxd3 Bb4

Black moves the threatened Bishop, and puts pressure on White's e-pawn. Ceteris paribus, such an idea should work - but "all things" are not "equal" here, as White's sacrifice of a Bishop at f7 has moved Black's King. Concrete analysis is important, even in blitz.

After 8...Bb6 9.e5 Ne8 10.O-O d6 11.f4 White could feel that his "Jerome pawns" would balance out Black's extra piece.

9.Qc4+ Kg6

Playing over this game afterward, I am sure my opponent will decide that 9...d5 10.Qxb4 Nxe4 would have been better than exposing his King further.

10.Qxb4 Re8 

I had expected 10...Nxe4 11.Nxe4 Re8 when I planned on castling, although now, after the game, it seems that 12.f3 d5 13.O-O dxe4 14.Bf4 is the way to go.

11.O-O Ng4

After the game, I looked at 11...Nxe4 with Stockfish, which recommended for White something I had not considered: 12.d5!?

analysis diagram

The strength of the move - among other things, threatening to win the Knight at e4 - slowly becomes apparent. 

For example, Black cannot simply hope to exchange with 12...Nxc3, as 13.Qg4+ Kf7 14.Bg5 would allow White to win the exchange (as well as recapture on c3).

Protecting the Knight with 12...Qe7 seems best, but, again, after 13.Qxe7 Rxe7 14.Re1 Nxc3 15.Rxe7 Nxd5 16.Re5 Nf6 White has won the exchange.

And if Black simply retreats the Knight with 12...Nf6, Stockfish recommends the consistent 13.d6!?

analysis diagram

It will be a long while before I play chess like that, though!

12.Bf4 Qh4 

I am afraid that me playing the Jerome Gambit (giving "Jerome Gambit odds") seemed to have convinced my opponent that I was even less skilled than I actually am. Here he goes ahead with an attack that I had already prevented with my last move. Instead, 12...d6 would have been better, but White would have the advantage.

13.Bg3 Qh5 14.f3

The text move consolidates White's position - which was the psychological need I had at the time - while Stockfish, later, suggested that 14.Nd5!? would have deeply troubled Black's. The closer you look, the stronger it appears.


This is about as good as any other move. Black's game unravels from here, as he seems to give up hope.

15.Rf2 Nxc2 16.Rxc2 a5 17.Qc4 d6 18.Nd5 Be6 19.Nf4+ Kg5 20.Nxe6+ Kg6 

Everything leads to material loss and checkmate.

21.Nf4+ Kg5 22.Nxh5 Black resigned.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Great Debate

Alonzo Wheeler Jerome was not only the inventor of the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+), he was an ex-Civil War soldier ("Organized at Riker's Island, NYC on February 27th 1864, the 26thRegiment [U.S.C.T.] served three years in the Department of the East to March, 1864 and in Port Royal, SC in the District of Beaufort, Department of the South, until April, 1865. The 26th was honorably discharged and mustered out, under Colonel William B. Guernsey on August 28th, 1865.) and a hard-working hemp farmer, holding several patents related and unrelated to his work.

He also wrote The Great Debate, subtitled A Platform Scene in the Seven Joint Discussions between Lincoln and Douglas. One of the Relief Pictures in the Dome of the State Capitol at Springfield, Illinois, (1899). 

This work has been mentioned previously on this blog (see "The Great Debate" Parts I, II, III, IV, and Conclusion) and is currently available online in digital form in several download options for history buffs: Abby gz, Daisy, Epub, full text, Kindle and PDF.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Bit More on Chiodini's Gambit

In past posts we have looked at reversed Jerome Gambits, currently referred to as the Busch-Gass Gambit (see "Worth A Second Look" Part 1Part 2, and Part 3; as well as "Busch-Gass Gambit"); and a variation called Chiodini's Gambit.

The most recent look at the latter came in "No Fun Against the Pawns".

I wanted to share a SCID (Shane's Chess Information Database) Opening Report I recently ran across, which has games and analysis on Chiodini's. (For an older Report on the Jerome Gambit, start here.)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Another look at the Sarratt Attack

Image result for free clip art sword

A propos the "Sarratt Attack" which I have looked at in a few posts on this blog, I should have mentioned the three-part series of articles at by "mikrohaus2014" which gives excellent historical and analytical coverage: Parts 1, 2, and 3.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Can You "Jerome" everything?

A game I recently saw at got me thinking: can you "Jerome" everything?

Dorion,Francois - Ouellet,Paul-G


1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nce7 

An extravagant move that calls out for some kind of response. Of course, 4.Nxe5 comes to mind, first... 

It is not clear what Black's idea is - likely he has been away from the game for a while. Yet, I have uncovered two more games with the move (see below).


Understandable. White would like to end the game quickly.

4.Nc3 c6 5.d3 d5 6.exd5 cxd5 7.Bb3 Nf6 8.Nxe5 Ng6 9.Nxg6 hxg6 10.Bg5 Bb4 11.h3 0-0 12.0-0 Bxc3 13.bxc3 Qa5 14.Bxf6 gxf6 15.c4 Be6 16.Qf3 Rad8 17.Qxf6 Qc5 18.Rfe1 d4 19.Re4 Rd6 20.Rh4 Qh5 21.Rxh5 gxh5 22.Qg5+ Kh7 23.Qxh5+ Kg7 24.Qe5+ Black resigned, Boyer,M - Miller,D, Blackpool, 1993

4.0-0 Nh6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.d3 d6 7.Bg5 f6 8.Be3 Bg4 9.h3 Bxf3 10.Qxf3 g5 11.Rad1 g4 12.hxg4 Nf7 13.g5 fxg5 14.Qh5 (14.Qxf7#) 14...Ne7 15.Nd5 (15.Bxf7+ Kd7 16.Qg4+ Nf5 (16...Kc6 17.Bd5+ Nxd5 18.exd5#) 17.Qxf5+ Kc6 18.Bd5#; 15...Ng6 16.Nb4 Nf4 17.Qxf7 checkmate, Oberhofer,C - Fürst,Lm Österreichische Meisterschaften,  2011

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ 

Very Jerome Gambit-ish. Black would do well to withdraw his King with 5...Ke8 now, but his monarch is never really going to feel comfortable.

5...Ke6 6.Qg4+ 

In for a penny, in for a pound.

White sacrifices another piece to make the position even more terrifying for the enemy King. In the cold light of day, however, and psychology aside, 6.d4 was "objectively" more sound.

6...Kxe5 7.d4+ Kf6 8.Qf4+ Kg6 9.e5 d6 10.Nc3 

10...Nh6 11.h4 Nhf5 12.g4 Kf7 13.gxf5 Bxf5 14.Ne4 dxe5 15.Ng5+ 

Black had defended remarkably well. He only has to think of "castles-by-hand" for his next move, and he should weather the storm.


Tempting fate. The move-to-make was ...Kg8.


Surprisingly, White overlooks 16.h5+ Kf6 (16...Kh6 17.Nf7#) 17.Qxe5 checkmate.


Black could fight on a bit longer with 16...h5, but there would be no joy in it.

17.h5+ Kh6 18.Nf7 checkmate

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Tough Loss

I have to admit that I felt a little bad after discovering the following game. Played in the Under 1400 section of the 2014 Colorado Open, it featured the adventurous play of someone with only a little over a dozen rated gamed under his belt.

That White was willing to trust his play against the Blackburne Shilling Gambit (from the eventual winner of the section) - there certainly are other ways to attack the BSG - to the "Jerome treatment" in an over-the-board event was a reflection of his pluck. That he got lost in a sideline... a reflection of his bad luck.

So, here is a restorative lesson.

Zirin, Jacob - Akhavan, Evan
Colorado Open, 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 4.Bxf7+

The Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit.

White can also play 4.Nc3, 4.0-0, 4.d3 or (best) 4.Nxd4 exd4 5.c3 without risk. (Just stay away from 4.Nxe5 on principle.)

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke6 6.Qh5 

The Database has 1,329 games with the Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit after 5...Ke6, with White scoring 52%.

The Database has 117 games with White's 6.Qh5, scoring 52%.

Found in 407 games in The Database is 6.c3, which, while complicated, scored 59%.

My recommended line for White here starts with that last move: 6.c3 Kxe5 7.cxd4+ Ke6 and the game is balanced. It is too dangerous for Black to capture either (any) of the center pawns; that gives the first player too many chances to "capture" the enemy King.

Since this is blog post number 2,064, you would have to look through a lot of information to bring yourself up-to-date on this variation. Let me help.

To learn about the line, it is useful to progress through the following blog posts, in order, from oldest to more recent: "Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit 2", "Why, I oughta...", "Clearly Unclear", "Untangling Lines of Play", " 'Even' does not mean 'safe' ", "Whose Territory Are We Fighting On?", "Starting Over", "Not-So-Instant Victory", "More Updating", "A High Level of Danger", "Blackburne Shilling Gambit: Don't Feed the Greed", and "Caught Out".

(Of course, if you are in a hurry, start from the last and read as many as you can, progressing backwards and checking out the references to earlier posts.)

If you are going to play 6.Qh5, here are a few guidelines from past posts: "Read This Blog", "Scared to Death" ,"Greed Is Not Good" and "Is Still Not".

You're welcome. 


Even stronger was 6...Nf6


White goes after Black's Rook, before Black goes after White's Rook. In theory, attacking first may be a good idea, but here the move (a TN) loses a pawn. Better, according to Stockfish, is 7.Ng4 Qg6 (not 7... Nxc2+ 8.Kd1 Qg6 9.Qxg6+ hxg6 10.Kxc2 when White has an edge) 8.Qd5+ Ke7 9.Qxd4 Qxg4 10.O-O and Black would have his one piece vs two pawns advantage.

7...Nxc2+ 8.Kd1 Qxf7 9.Qd5+ Ke7 10.Kxc2 Qxd5 11.exd5

With Queens off of the board, Black's King is relatively safe. White will have a difficult time scaring up an attack against a position with few weaknesses.

11...Kd8 12.d4 Nf6 13.Nc3 d6 14.f3 Bf5+ 15.Kb3 Kd7 16.Bf4 Re8

17.h4 h5 18.Rac1 a6 19.a4 g6 20.Kc4 Bg7 21.Rhg1 Re7 22.Bg5 c6 23.g4 hxg4 24.fxg4 cxd5+ 25.Nxd5 Be6 26.Bxf6 Bxf6 27.g5 Bg7 

Here White resigned, as the upcoming 28...Rc8+ will chase White's King away from protecting the Knight.

Friday, June 19, 2015

More Errors in Thinking 3.2

[continued from the previous post]

perrypawnpusher - Heler,, Giuoco Piano tournament, 2015


As Bill Wall had suggested, as an improvement over the previously played 17.Rae1.

17...gxf6 18.Nd5

As in my play against Hywel2. I wasn't sure if my change in move order was going to bring about anything more than a transposition; for example, if Black were now to play 18...Qg7 and I were to follow up with 19.Rae1, then 19...b6 would put us back in the earlier game.


Black varies, as well, with the placement of his Queen.

19.Rae1 b6 20.Nf4 a5

The difference from the previous game is that White's Knight is now at f4, not d5, and his Rook is at f1, not f3. This allows Black's threat of ...Ba6 skewering White's Queen and winning the exchange.

I thought pressure along the c-file was the answer, allowing White's Knight to reach a beautiful outpost, but putting his Queen in the line of fire. Her Majesty eventually has to move again.

21.Qc3 Bb7 22.Ne6 Rac8 23.Rf3 Nd8 24.d5 c6 25.Qd2 cxd5 26.exd5

White has two pawns for a  piece, and a nice-looking Knight, but Black's army looks pretty active.


A shock. I was planning on playing on the Kingside. What was my opponent doing??

I figured out a line that might give White the initiative, but I was still worried about Black's Queenside forces.

27.Nf4 Rxe1+ 28.Qxe1 Qf7 29.Re3 Nc6

White pins his hopes on the e-file and Black's weakened back rank, (as well as the possibility of a tricky tactic from the Hywel2 game). My opponent decided it was time to return the sacrificed piece.

30.dxc6 Bxc6 31.Re7

White is a pawn up, and Black decides to level the material.

31...Qxa2 32.Qc3

Suddenly, Black is in grave danger.

For example, if now 32...Rf8, to protect the f-pawn, White has 33.Ng6+ (a tactic right out of the earlier perrypawnpusher - Hywel2 game, which made it easy to see) Kg8 (if 33...hxg6 then 34.Qh3+ leads to mate) 34.Nxf8, and Black can only avoid checkmate by giving up his Queen, e.g. 34...Qa1+ 35.Re1 Qxe1 (or 35...Qa2 36.Ne6 Qxe6 37.fxe6) 36.Qxe1 Kxf8 when the imbalance in material is too great.

32...Kg8 33.Qg3+ Black resigned