Friday, July 1, 2016

At Long Last, A Jerome Gambit


The following game (with interesting lessons) is one that I have referred to a number of times on this blog, but never presented it in full, or with notes. I am only 6 years late, but, here we go...

Wall, Bill - Roberts, Conner, 2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nc3

Bill chooses one of the "modern" Jerome Gambit lines. As far as I can tell, in the days of Alonzo Wheeler Jerome, the "classical" 5.Nxe5 was always played.


A few games with different responses, to study:

5...d6 6.O-O Bg4 7.d3 Nd4 8.Nxe5+ dxe5 9.Qxg4 Nf6 10.Qd1 c6 11.Na4 Bd6 12.Be3 Ne6 13.Qd2 Qc7 14.Nc3 Rad8 15.Ne2 Rhf8 16.Qc3 Kg8 17.Qb3 Rde8 18.Bxa7 Kh8 19.Be3 Ng4 20.Bb6 Qb8 21.h3 Nf6 22.Ng3 Nd4 23.Qc4 Nd7 24.Bxd4 exd4 25.Qxd4 c5 26.Qa4 Rd8 27.Nf5 Nb6 28.Qb5 Qc7 29.Ne3 Qc6 30.Qxc6 bxc6 31.a4 Ra8 32.a5 Nd7 33.Nc4 Be7 34.e5 Rfb8 35.b3 h6 36.f4 Bd8 37.a6 Nb6 38.Na5 Rxa6 39.Nxc6 Rxa1 40.Rxa1 Rc8 41.Nxd8 Rxd8 42.Ra5 Ra8 43.Rxc5 Ra2 44.c4 Rd2 45.e6 Rxd3 46.e7 Re3 47.Re5 Black resigned, Wall,B - Rahman,N,,  2010; and 

5...h6 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.Qh5+ Ng6 8.Qd5+ Ke8 (8...Kf8 9.Qxc5+ N8e7 10.f4 d6 11.Qf2 Nc6 12.d4 Qh4 13.g3 Qh3 14.f5 Nge7 15.f6 Nf5 16.exf5 Bxf5 17.fxg7+ Kxg7 18.Nd5 Rhf8 19.Nf4 Rae8+ 20.Be3 Qg4 21.h3 Qg5 22.O-O-O Nb4 23.Qd2 Qxg3 24.Nh5+ Black resigned, Wall,B - Jllib976,, 2010) 9.Qxc5 d6 10.Qa3 N8e7 11.O-O Nh4 12.d4 Neg6 13.f4 Rf8 14.Be3 Bg4 15.Qb3 Rb8 16.f5 Ne7 17.Bf2 Nexf5 18.exf5 Nxf5 19.Rae1+ Kd7 20.Qe6+ Kc6 21.d5 checkmate, Wall,B - Mbgmxm,, 2010.


Here Black's brain should be screaming "Why Did He Play That Move?" I guess it wasn't. After all, he was playing against a ridiculous opening, and it was easy to feel comfortable and conficent and slow down his effort...


To be fair, this move is often part of castling-by-hand to give Black's King needed safety. However, it is not well-timed.

7.Qc4+ Ke8 8.Qxc5 d6 9. Qc4 Qe7 

10.d4 exd4 11.Nxd4 Nxe4

Black is down a pawn, so, of course, he plays to get one back, and there seems to be one available (with White's King uncastled on the same file as Black's Queen!) but in this case he seems to have been affected by the "negative halo effect"
When people notice a good trait in a person, they often assume other positives. With the Jerome Gambit  often a negative "halo effect" occurs – if the early moves are bad, many of the other ones must be bad, too.
No, Bill did not leave the e-pawn hanging.

12.Nxc6 Qh4 13.O-O Rxf2

Black decides to go out in a blaze of glory.

14.Nxe4 Rxg2+ 15.Kxg2 Bh3+ 16.Kh1 Qg4 

Threatening checkmate!

17.Qf7 checkmate

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Advice to Defenders of the Jerome Gambit: Don't Slow Down

When I ran in school, my teacher said not to stop at the finish line, but to aim for a spot well beyond there. He said that would keep me moving as fast as possible while I was racing. Otherwise, I would slow down at the end, and this would be to the benefit of my opponents.

The same advice can be given to those who defend against the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+): When you realize that you have received a piece or two in a "refuted" opening, keep "running" - keep competing - and do not slow down or relax your attention too soon.

Chessfriend Vlastamil Fejfar, of the Czech Republic (see "A Fierce Jerome Gambit Battle", shares a recent online game where his opponent ignored this advice. The result was as expected.

vlastous - rubicon, 2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.f4 Qf6 

Vlasta and Readers have seen this move before, as I noted in an earlier post
A line seen as early as in a note in G.H.D. Gossip's 1891 The Chess Player's Vade Mecum and Pocket Guide to the Openings with all the latest theoretical discoveries and traps in the openings revealed, and more recently supported by FM Eric Schiller in his books on unorthodox openings. (It is fun to read MrJoker's comments about some of Schiller's analysis - see "Joker's Wild" 12and Conclusion.) 
I would like to point out that Schiller in his Unorthodox Chess Openings (1998) wrongly identified Henry Joseph Blackburne's opponent in his classic destruction of the Jerome Gambit as Alonzo Wheeler Jerome, himself. Fifteen years of research into the Jerome Gambit has not turned up any evidence that AWJ ever travelled to London, let alone was able to play HJB at Simpson's Divan. (Certainly Dr. Tim Harding would have included this tidbit, were it not merely a figment of Schiller's imagination, in his exhaustive Joseph Henry Blackburne A Chess Biography.)

In any event, Black has every reason to feel comfortable with his position, as he has played a "refutation" that both time and reference books have presented as sufficient.

8.Rf1 g6 9.Qh3+ Kf7 

But - Black relaxes too soon, as Vlasta immediately demonstrates. Best was the alternative 9...Ke7.

10.fxe5 Qxf1+ 11.Kxf1 d5 12.Qc3 b6 13.d4 Black resigned

White's material advantage is decisive. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

A Pawn Is Worth A Little Trouble

I received some more games from Bill Wall, new to me if not all of them "new".

The following is a good example of Black defending against the Jerome Gambit with nefarious ideas of his own. (For perspective on this kind of "duel" see "Post Script".) He almost makes them work...

Wall, Bill - Royercordova, 2010

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.Qc4 

In his games Bill has chosen many different squares to retreat his Queen to. See "Spicy!" for alternatives.


This move is often part of Black's defense in the Jerome Gambit.

Bill has also faced 9...Qe7 10.O-O Be6 11.Qa4+ Bd7 12.Qb4 b6 13.Nc3 c5 14.Qb3 Be6 15.Qa3 Ne5 16.d4 Nc4 17.Qa4+ Kf7 18.d5 Black resigned, Wall,B - Guest4027845,, 2015 

10.O-O N8e7 11.d4 Nc6 12. c3 Bd7 13.f4 Rf8 14.d5 Na5 

The game has proceeded along typical Jerome Gambit lines: White has a relatively safe King and two useful extra pawns; Black has an extra piece, but his King is stuck in the center. The position is slightly in Black's favor, but it is "messy". It is about to get a whole lot messier.


A calculated risk (Bill gives the alternative 15.Qd3). As Wilhelm Steinitz reportedly said, "A pawn is worth a little trouble". In this case, White gains a pawn and loosens Blacks position a bit, but he risks having his Queen trapped.

The proper order of moves will be important. 


The idea here is clear. Bill gives a more refined version as a suggestion, 15...Bb5 16.Rf3 b6.

16.Na3 Rf7 17.Nc4 

White's Knight races to help his trapped and soon-to-be-threatened Queen. 


Black's best, as Bill pointed out, was 17...Nxc4 18.Qxc4 Kf8, allowing the Queen to escape but perhaps reamaining with an edge. 

18.Nxd6+ Black resigned

After 18...Kf8 19.Nxf7 Qxf7 20.Qxf7+ Kxf7 21.Re1 White will have a Rook against Black's two Knights, but he will have four extra "Jerome pawns" to make up the difference.

Had Black played Bill's suggested 15...Bb5 16.Rf3 b6, White would not have been able to use his Knight for rescue and attack. For example, after 17.Na3, Black can simply retreat the Bishop with 17...Ba6, (although he could also win White's Queen with 17...Rf7 18.Nxb5 Rxc7 19.Nxc7+ Kf8 20.Nxa8 Qd8 21.Be3 Qxa8 22.Bd4 - White may have adequate compensation, however) when White's best chance is to complicate with 18.e5 dxe5 19.fxe5 Qd8.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Definitely With The Gambits

Searching the internet the other day, I came across an interesting and intriguing web page titled "SPRING & SUMMER 2013: Definitely with the gambits" which had, among other things, the following quote
By playing the Jerome Gambit and by paying more attention to the moves of my mate, I came to win against more chessmates than I used to do before.
On the site there is a photo of a couple of people playing chess at an outside table ("Paul & a young Champion at Hunter College") easily placed at the Chess and Checkers' House in Central Park in Manhattan (a short walk from Hunter College).

The site includes a useful link to a Jerome Gambit "database" actually a spreadsheet of opening moves.

The post finishes with
With the gambit, there is really a gamboling of some pieces, a frolicking about of them, most often the Queen, and that is what makes it interesting and a good technic to develop attention, concentration and technical skills in playing Chess.
Elsewhere, the web page's author notes that "chess obeys to Bayesian statistics" - which certainly begs further attention and exploration. I have been unable to track down his manuscript Chess and Bayesian Statistics (Le Jeu d'Échecs et la Statistique Bayésienne) but can note his summary
The manuscript is to prove that chance or hazard has little to do with chess in contrary to playing cards or other saloon's games, since Bayesian statistics deals with conditional or linked probabilities...

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Should Have Known About This Blog

Even a little bit of knowledge can be a good thing, if it is properly applied. If it is missing - things change.

The following is from an ongoing game - the players will go unnamed - from the ongoing "Giuoco Piano Jerome Gambit Tournament" at

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Bxd4 7.Qxd4 Qf6 

This position should feel familiar, if you read the recent post "Again, 'Why Did He Play That Move?' " or are able to recall '"Why Did He Play That Move?"

I feel a bit disappointed that both players seem to have missed that content.

8.O-O b6

Instead, Black had the crushing 8...Nf3+, winning White's Queen on the next move.

(In all fairness, I have to report that the position appears in The Database 40 times, and Black found 8...Nf3+ only 13 times, an unhappy 32.5%. It is important to recall that we are in the land of online club play, not grandmaster gladiator duels. Also, not everyone reads this blog - yet.)

8.Nc3 c5

Ouch. Again, the move to play was 8...Nf3+ with a winning game.


White will win a Rook now.

This game has continued a couple dozen more moves. White is currently up an insurmountable amount of material and should win by checkmate quickly.

What an unfortunate outcome, given that the defender missed an opportunity to be up a whole Queen early on in the game.

Again, we must congratulate the Jerome Gambit player, even as we recall the old saying "It is better to be lucky than to be good". 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Again, "Why Did He Play That Move?"

In every chess game we play, we must often ask ourselves about our opponent, "Why Did He Play That Move?" Failing to do so - or failing to answer the question accurately - can lead to disaster.

Consider the following game.

JeanTylerGabriel - LittleDonkey
Giuoco Piano Jerome Gambit Tournament, 2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Bxd4 7.Qxd4 d6 8.O-O Be6 9.Nc3 Bh3 

Out of a normal (for the Jerome Gambit) opening setup, Black plays an unexpected move. Why did he play that move?


A decent enough response.


Again, why did he play that move?


Wrong answer.

11...Nf3+ 12.Kh1 Nxd4 13.Rf1 Qf3+ 14.Kg1 Qxh3 15.Bf4 Nf6 16.Rac1 Nf3+ 17.Kh1 Ng4 18.Rfd1 Nxf2 checkmate

And this is how we reached one of the positions in "Good Knight".

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Fun With the Jerome Gambit

When recently discussing the "Macbeth Attack" I mentioned the early game Wright - Hunn, Arkansas, 1874, which appeared in the November issue of the Dubuque Chess Journal for that year. The game began 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d4, garnering the comment  "Brilliant but not sound" from the editor. (I suspect Jude Acers and George Laven, authors of "The Italian Gambit and A Guiding Repertoire for White" might challenge that "not sound" assessment.)

After 4...exd4 ("The German Handbuch gives as best variation 4...Bxd4 5.c3 Bb6 6.Ng5 Nh6 7.Qh5 O-O 8.f4 exf4 9.Bxf4 d6 10.Rf1 Qe7 and Black should win."), 5.Bxf7+ the editor commented "An unsound variation of Jerome's double opening." Still, he was able to join in the fun. After 5...Kxf7 6.Ng5+ he suggested that Ne5 "a la Jerome" is better than Ng5. That may not be "objectively" true, but capturing the imaginary pawn on e5 certainly is in line with the outlandish play of Alonzo Wheeler Jerome's creation.

I was surprised to find 40 games in The Database that, wittingly or unwittingly, followed the DCJ's suggestion. The following blitz game shows some of the fun behind the lighthearted suggestion.

SupremacyPawn - northug
blitz, FICS, 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.d4 exd4 6.Ne5+ 

6...Nxe5 7.Qh5+ Ke6 8.f4 Nf6 

Black is having so much fun "punishing" White for his audacity of early Queen moves - well, you know how those things sometimes go...

9.Qxe5+ Kf7 10.Qxc5 

Black has quickly returned two pieces. He would do best to calm himself, rationally look at his new position, and plot a new strategy. Something like 10...d5 comes to mind, with either 11.Qxd4 Ne4 or 11.e5 Ne4 to follow, and despite his previous misfortunes, Black would not be worse.

Alas for the defender, he is sure that White has erred (a clear assessment that is out of date, however) and still can and should be punished for his transgressions.

10...Nxe4 11.Qd5+ Kg6 12.Qxe4+ Kf7 13.O-O 
Black resigned