Friday, June 22, 2018

Jerome Gambit: Jerome Pawns Run Riot

Often White gets "only" 2 pawns for a sacrificed piece in the Jerome Gambit. Yet, if the defender is not careful, those "Jerome pawns" can run riot all over his position.

This latest game from "Cliff Hardy" is a brutal example of such pawns.

By the way, it is also another lightning game - 1 minute to complete the game, no increment. In such situations, a quick appraisal of the position in front of you is essential, and experience in what to look for and value is an advantage. Cliff takes a critical look at his - and his opponent's - moves, but it is all in the service of sharpening his eye for his next Jerome Gambit encounter.

The following notes are his. I have added diagrams. - Rick 

Happy birthday yet again, now you've reached the age of ten! 

I liked the following game as the Jerome pawns were quite successful in it. If only you could force opponents to defend against the Jerome Gambit like you can in a Giuoco Piano themed tournament, like the one in which I played this game, where the first 3 moves for White and Black were obligatory.

I know I am a little critical of the moves sometimes, but when you are looking at the game afterwards with the help of the Stockfish chess engine, it can be easy to be critical 😉. 

Cliff Hardy (2184) - NN (2041), 
1 0 Giuoco Piano tournament, 2018

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6?! 

7.Qd5+ Ke8 8.Qxc5 d6 9.Qe3 Be6?! =+ 

It appears my opponent is not used to defending against the Jerome Gambit as this bishop is running headlong into the pawn fork f2-f4-f5 - 9...Nf6 instead would have kept a clear advantage for Black.

10.0-0 N8e7?! +=

Surprisingly, this defensive move was a big error that allowed my Jerome pawns a bit too much latitude - 10...Nf6 11.f4 Ne7! would have restrained the white pawns and kept a slight advantage for Black.

11.f4 Bd7 12.d4 Rf8 13.f5 Nh8 

13...Nh4 moves in Jerome Gambit games often run into the pawn move g3, trapping the knight, so my opponent chose to retreat to the corner instead.

14.Nc3 Nf7!

Restraining the Jerome pawns.

15.Qg3 Rg8 16.Bf4?! +=

Even though it could be captured there by a knight, putting the bishop to g5 would have been much more incisive, with a clear advantage for White.

16...Nc6 17.Rad1 Qe7?

Black struggled to find a liberating move under the strain of the Jerome pawns - 17...g5!? would have been an interesting attempt to free himself.

18.Nd5 Qd8 19.c3 Ne7 20.Nxe7?! 

20. Ne3! would have kept Black cramped and left White with a clear advantage. 



The Jerome pawns start going on a rampage.

21...dxe5 22.dxe5?

Too much rampaging! 23.Rde1!, keeping open the options of taking on e5 with either the pawn or bishop, would have kept a clear advantage for White.


Black missed a chance here - 22...Bxf5 would have turned the tables and left black with a slight advantage.

23.e6 Nd6 24.Bg5??

I was staggered to find out after the game that this was a big blunder - 24.Bxd6 cxd6 25.f6! ++- (intending fxe7 or f7+) would have been a fitting triumph for the Jerome pawns.

24...Qf8?? ++-

24...Ne4! 25.Bxe7 Nxg3 26.hxg3 Kxe7 -++ would have been much better, when the extra bishop for Black would likely have proven to have been decisive.

25.Qe5 g6

Now the Jerome pawns run riot completely though Black was totally lost anyway - he can hardly move a piece.

26.f6 h6 27.f7+ Nxf7 28.exf7 checkmate

Suitably, a Jerome pawn got to complete the mate.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Good Old Uncle Jerome

Chris Torres, of the online site Chess Musings, sends "a game I just played where I forced a Jerome Gambit where it didn’t belong. 😉 "

Check it out.

chessmusings - Stefanrapp
internet, 2018

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6 4.c3 Bc5 5.Bxf7+

Good Old Uncle Jerome... You can't take him anywhere without him causing some kind of disturbance.

Here, Black was looking for a quiet game, the kind of thing you would reach after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5, and he even tossed in ...h6, so that, after White's c3, the game would be even quieter.

Alas, White sports some Jerome mischief with 5.Bxf7+

It is interesting to note that while the computers clutch at their silicon pearls after such a move, Stockfish 9 suggests, instead, 5.b4 Bd6 6.O-O Nge7 7.d4 Ng6 8.dxe5 Ngxe5 9.Nxe5 Bxe5 10.b5 Na5 11.Bxf7+ - Good Old Uncle Jerome, late to the party, but still livening things up.

5...Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.Qh5+ Ke6 

8.d4 Nd3+

As happens in many a Jerome encounter, Black has a few ideas that are interesting and correct. But this does not end the discussion.

9.Kd1 Be7 

But this move clearly does.

10.Qd5+ Kf6 11.Qf5 checkmate

Like with many conversations, Black is left muttering "What I should have said was..."

Monday, June 18, 2018

Jerome Gambit: Think About It - When You Can

Here is the latest "Cliff Hardy" Jerome Gambit game, another 1-minute wonder.

Notes are by "Cliff" (with diagrams and an occasional addition by me - Rick).

Do not be distressed by "Cliff's" objective, if sometimes gloomy, appraisal of White's position. It is important to understand what he was thinking - and what he was missing.

As the time limit for a game shrinks, strong players move closer and closer to choosing their moves mostly by intuition - and then supporting them through analysis - when there is time. What follows is another lesson in the application and limits of intuition.

This was a fun game.

Cliff Hardy (2111) - NN (1988), 1 0, Lichess, 2018

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6?!

What is the popularity like of this move in your database/s again, Rick? I face it a lot in this particular position - it feels like maybe 75% of the time that I have this position, I encounter the move 6...Ng6.

(I just checked with The Database, in games starting 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+
6...Ng6 shows up in 46% of the games;
6...Ke6 appears in 25% of the games;
6...Kf8 is played in 15% of the games; and 
6...g6 is played in 12% of the games.
I guess many defenders see 6...Ng6 as a common sense move - block the check, save a piece, say goodbye to the other piece because White must know what he is doing & therefore "must" get a piece back, as no real opening lets White sac 2 pieces...-Rick)

7.Qd5+ Kf8 8.Qxc5 d6 9.Qe3 Nf6 10.0-0 Qe7

(This is a small improvement for Black over earlier defenses Cliff has faced: 10...Ke7 in Hardy - NN, Italian Game Bullet Arena,, 2018 [1-0, 37]; and 10...Ng4 in Hardy - NN, 3 0 blitz,, 2017 [1-0, 19] and Hardy - Pomo12, 10 0 blindfold,, 2018 [0-1, 67] - Rick)

11.Nc3 c6?! =+

This looks OK to me, but not to the Stockfish computer program and when I encounter real top eschelon players in the Jerome, they find stronger moves like 11...Kf7! -+ (aiming for 12...Re8, with quick pressure against the white centre) against me, even in lightning games.

12.f4 Bd7? +-

Another move which fails to pressure white's position - 11...b5 would have maintained equality.

13. f5? Ne5 =+

I have a lot of trouble in these Jerome positions figuring out whether to play f5 first or d4 first and then f5 and here again I chose the wrong way - 13. d4 +- would have been very good for White.

14. d4 Nf7!

Holds the Jerome pawns up well.

(The lesser 14...Nc4 was seen in Hardy - NN, 1 0 blitz,, 2018 [1-0, 20] - Rick)

15.Qf3? -++

Quickly developing with 15.Bd2 Rae8 16.Rae1 =+ would've been better.

15...Re8! 16.Re1 b6? =+

Harmless - counter-attacking with 16...c5 -++ would've been better.

17.g4? -++

The less committal 17.Bf4 =+ would've been safer.

17...h618.h4 c5! 19.g5 hxg5 20.hxg5 Nh5 21.Nd5 Qd8

22.g6? Nh6??

It was fun for me to rain the Jerome pawns down but 22...Qh4! -++ would've shown the vulnerability of the exposed white king here.

(This is one of the interesting psychological points in the Jerome Gambit. Club players have grown up playing over attacking games and solving attacking or mating puzzles. Too often, then, in their games, defenders give the attackers the benefit of the doubt concerning their aggression - if he is attacking, there must be something to it - instead of digging in and finding defensive resources. - Rick)


I guess we both missed the possibility of 23.Qxh5 here - oops!

(C'mon, Cliff, it was a 1-minute game with no increment. Fast. I'm surprised your opponent didn't yell "You sank my battleship!" - Rick)

23...Nxf6 24.Bg5 Ng8 25.e5 dxe5 26.dxe5 

26...Be6?? -+

I thought I had some good pressure here but 26...Bg4! -++, intending to take on d5 with the queen, would have been a crusher.

27.exf6 gxf6?? ++-

27...Qxd5 -+ unfortunately would still have refuted my position.

28.Nxf6 Qd4+

29. Re3??

29.Kg2 ++- would have been best here.


29...Rh3! -+ (intending tricky stuff like 30.Qf2 Nxf6 31.Rxh3 Qxf2+ 32.Kxf2 Ne4+! 33.Kg1 Bxh3) was a hard-to-see win for Black.

30.Bxf6 Qxf6??

Sacrificing the queen with 30...Qxe3+ was losing, but was Black's only chance to keep the game going on for much longer.

31.Qxf6+ Kg8 32.Rxe6 Rf8 33.Re8! and Black lost on time

However, White had a checkmate coming here with Rxf8, Qxf8 or Qf7, so Black was dead anyway.

I had another couple of games against this opponent after this one. Unfortunately, the next game in which he was black, he didn't chance playing against the Jerome Gambit and played the French Defence instead.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Happy 10th Birthday!

Image result for free clipart birthday cake

I have been a bit busy lately, so this email hit me by surprise:
Dear Rick, how do you do! My warmest congratulations with 10 years of your nice blog!!! It's an enormous and a noble work! Thank you a lot for it!!! I'm going to post congratulations on my Facebook-page "Newchessrevolution Bukayev" too.Best wishes!Yury

Wow! That's right. June 10, 2008 was the date of the first post on this blog.

For the record, the next post will be number 2,600.

And Yury has been contributing ideas and support for at least 8 years, if my figuring is correct. Many, many thanks!

A profound "Thank You!" to all Readers, and especially those who have contributed analysis, games and ideas, over the last decade.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Jerome Gambit: Sink the Putt

I play chess. I do not play golf. My guess is that facing a "refuted" chess opening in chess - say, the Jerome Gambit - is kind of like hitting a long shot to the green in golf. In the end, you still have to sink the putt. Likewise, even against 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+, Black has to still go on and finish the "win".

The following game is yet another example of Black coming up short.

Wall, Bill - Guest5607084, 2018

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Qh4 

An excellent response, very much like a pie in the face. (You can tell it is strong, as, in 33 games, Bill has scored "only" 86%.)

7.O-O Ng4

Wow. Looks scary.

8.h3 N4f6 9.dxc5 d6

Opening a line for another piece to enter the attack.

10.cxd6 cxd6 11.Nd2 Qh5 12.Nf3 


A move that is difficult to comprehend. I would guess that Black originally planned 12...Nxe4, but at the last moment saw that the move would be well met by 13.Ng5+. Still... 

13.Ng5+ Kg6

14.g4 Qh4 15.e5 

15...h6 16.Qd3+ Bf5 17.Qxf5 checkmate

Nyuk nyuk nyuk...

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

History Update

Earlier this year I posted a game - see "Jerome Gambit: Two English Amateurs" - from R.M. Baird's May 11, 1901 "OVER THE CHESSBOARD" column in The Evening Star.

It turns out that the game had appeared earlier, in the March 17, 1899 chess column (by Samuel Tinsley) in the Kentish Mercury.

It is also quite possible (see "Violet Apple The Life and Works of David Lindsay) that the player of the white pieces was David Lindsay, an early fantasy and science fiction writer (A Voyage to Arcturus [1920], The Haunted Woman [1922], Sphinx [1923], Adventures of Monsieur de Mailly [1926], Devil's Tor [1932]) who appears to have influenced C.S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkien.

There is something "right" about the Jerome Gambit being played by someone caught up in fiction and fantasy.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Tournament Update Update

Things move slowly in the "Italian Battleground" tournament at By my count, there are 11 games to be completed - although 2 of those cannot be started until a couple of ongoing ones are finished. Still, it is possible to identify those in each group who will move on.

In Group 1 there are a couple of games to complete, but  Marek_Sturmvogel, warwar and Iliwo will make it to round two.

Group 2, with two games to go, will see perrypawnpusher (that's me), JohnDuh2 and Abhishek29 move on to the next round.

Group 3 will see 275Jukka, manospawn and either thejamch, Alfonso10, Tarongrig or Asdksafa (yes, that is everyone else) progress. Seven yet-to-be-finished games keep that third spot in competition.

In Group 4, xtfabio, vasbur and XristosGikas will make it to round 2.