Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jerome Gambit OTB

I have the ChessBase online app for my smart phone, giving me access to a large games database. Every once in a while, I can find a new Jerome Gambit or Jerome-ish game.

The following over-the-board clash was initiated by a 15-year old Lithuanian player.

Jelisejevas, Rokas - Diciunas,Vladas
2nd Mikenas Memorial, Taujenai , 06.08.2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.0-0 

White opts for a "modern" Jerome Gambit variation, one without 5.Nxe5+. He figures he has done enough sacrificing by drawing Black's King out, and so protects his own. He will take his chances as they come.

The Database has 1128 such games, in which White scores 38%. 

5...d6 6.d3 Bg4 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3+ Nf6

9.Nc3 Nd4 10.Qd1 Rf8 11.Be3 Ne6 12.Bxc5 Nxc5 13.Ne2 Kg8 14.f4 Qe7 

White has played his thematic f2-f4, but Black has gotten his King to safety by castling-by-hand, and there is little to show, beyond an extra pawn, for White's piece sacrifice.

The gambiteer is going to need some cooperation from his opponent, and in this game it is not forthcoming.

15.f5 Rad8 16.c4 c6 17.b4 Ncd7 18.a4 Nb8 19.Qb3 Kh8

20.Rae1 d5 21.Nc3 dxc4 22.dxc4 Rd4 23.c5 Re8 24.Qb1 h6 25.Rd1 b6 White resigned

A salute to young Rokas for risking it all, over-the-board, in a rated tournament - and better fortune next time!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

One Game, Several Positions

I have chosen the following Jerome Gambit game to be illustrated by a series of diagrams. The first shows an opening oversight by both players - where White's Queen could have been won before move 10.

The remaining diagrams show the game after it has reached a pawns endgame. The computers say the first player has the advantage - but how does he win?

Black's drawing method is worth remembering.

ainafets - cmdeats

blitz, FICS, 2007

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Bxd4 7.Qxd4 Qf6 8.0-0 

White slips, as covered in "Something To Watch Out For" and "Why Did He Play That Move?" - although Black overlooked his opportunity on the next move.

A game played 10 minutes after this one, on the same date, continued with the same tactical theme, only this time Black caught on: 8.f4 Nf3+ White resigned, ainafets - Papaflesas, FICS, 2007

Later on, the players reached the following position. White has recovered nicely, and reached a winnable endgame.

23.Kf2 Ke6 24.Kf3 Ke5 25.c3 a6 26.h4 h6 27.h3 g6 28.b3 c6

White is in no hurry, and slowly advances his pawns, avoiding anything drastic.

29.b4 c5 30.a3 h5 31.a4 d5 32.exd5 cxb4 33.cxb4 Kxd5 34.e4+ Kc4 35.b5 axb5 36.axb5 Kxb5 

The Queenside pawns have been exchanged off - maybe not the most efficient solution, but leaving much less for White to worry about. He still has a won game.

Houdini actually evaluates the position as a "checkmate in 18 moves" for White, but average players don't have to calculate that far to see a winning plan. The only "trick" is that the first player must realize that it needs to be his e-pawn that gets promoted.

37.Kf4 Kc5 38.Kg5 Kd4 39.Kxg6 Kxe4 40.Kxh5 Kf5

White has a 2-0 pawn advantage, but, due to the nature of those pawns - both Rook pawns - he now has only a draw. Instead, 38.Ke5, followed by shepherding the e-pawn to the 8th rank, was the way to go.

But - don't go away yet.

41.Kh6 Kf6 42.Kh5 Kf5 43.Kh6 Kf6 44.h5 Kf5

Having shown his opponent that he understands how to hold the draw - by keeping White's King trapped on the h-file in front of his pawns - Black suddenly has his King give way.

White now wins by springing his King with 45.Kg7.


Or, not.

45...Kf6 46.Kh7 Kf7 47.h6 Kf6 

Again, Black falters. (It was, after all, a blitz game.) Holding the draw was 47...Kf8.


And White, too, misses another chance to free his monarch. So the point gets split.

48...Kf7 49.Kh8 Kf8 50.Kh7 Kf7 51.Kh8 Kf8 52.h7 Kf7 53.h6 Kf8 Game drawn by stalemate

Friday, September 26, 2014


Not long ago, in "Complicate, complicate, complicate" I pointed out the truism
The Jerome Gambit player knows that there may be few - maybe one - chances to steer the game out of its "pre-ordained" path to "0-1" and so must be ready for opportunities as they arise.
In the following game, an opportunity comes before a dozen moves have been played, and White gets to finish off a miniature.

Disquis  - Koryakin
standard, FICS, 2012

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

The Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit, so-called because it can be reached after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nc3 Nf6.

4...Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.d4 d6 

Suggested not long ago in "Okay With the Delay".


This pawns vs pieces setup was discussed in "Overrun". While my heart is with the "Jerome pawns", I would wager on behalf of the pieces.

8...Bg4 9.Qd2 Bb4 10.fxe5 Nxe4 

In a better (many would say "winning") position, Black becomes greedy, when the simple 10...dxe5 would suffice.

11.0-0+ Ke8 12.Qf4 Nxc3


13.Qf7 checkmate

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Playable, if Black figures out the proper continuation...

Creativity in chess has its place, even in the following game, as long as it doesn't overstep its boundaries.

Fandral - LuigiBot
standard, FICS, 2013

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

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Bb4+ 7.c3 Bd6

The computer software LuigiBot (rated in the 1500s at FICS) comes up with an interesting maneuver that has also been seen in the past by Jerome Gambiteers Darrenshome, jfhumphrey, stretto, Sir Osis of the Liver, and HauntedKnight. It is playable, if Black figures out the proper continuation.

8.dxe5 Bxe5 

Missing the proper 8...Be7.

9.Qd5+ Kf6 10.f4 Qe7 

Black should bite the bullet, instead, and play 10...Bxc3+ 11.Nxc3 Ne7, when material would be even, and White would be a bit better due to more central control by the "Jerome pawns" and a safer King.

11.fxe5+ Kg6 12.0-0 Nh6 13.Rf3 Rf8 

Hoping to hold off the attack, but allowing mate.

14.Rg3+ Kh5 15.Qd1+ Rf3 16.Qxf3+ Kh4 17.Rh3 checkmate

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