Monday, September 15, 2008

The Jerome Gambit Gemeinde (early)

Followers of Emil J. Diemer and the Blackmar Diemer Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6) composed a community they referred to as the Blackmar Diemer Gemeinde.

It only seems fitting to outline such a community for those associated with the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+).

Among the early members would of course be Alonzo Wheeler Jerome (1834-1902), credited with inventing the gambit, exploring it in over-the-board and correspondence play, and discussing it in the pages of the Dubuque Chess Journal and American Chess Journal.

Orestes A. Brownson, editor of the Dubuque Chess Journal, deserves membership in the Gemeinde, as he was enthusiastic about the Jerome Gambit, and from 1874 to 1876 published games played by Jerome and others.

William Hallock, editor of the American Chess Journal, was skeptical about the merits of the Jerome Gambit, referring to it at one point as "Jerome's Absurdity," but he carried on a discussion of the opening with Alonzo Jerome in the pages of the ACJ during the years 1876 and 1877. He can be considered part of the "loyal opposition" in the Jerome Gambit Gemeinde, (a role Gerhard Gunderam often took in the Blackmar Diemer Gemeinde).

Andres Clemente Vazquez, Mexican Chess Champion, played the Jerome Gambit three times in his 1876 match against William Carrington, scoring 3-0. The second (1885) and third (1889) editions of his Analisis del juego de ajedrez contain analysis of the gambit.

Henry Charlick, of Australia, who experimented with 1.d4 e5, played the Jerome Gambit in his 1881 match with J. Mann; and earlier experimented in his 1877 game against Holloway with what might be called the "Evans Jerome Gambit": 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Bc5 6.Bxf7 (1-0, 76).

Lt. S. A. Sorensen, whose "Skaktheori for Segyndere" ("Chess Theory for Beginners") in the May 1877 Nordisk Skaktidende analyzed the Jerome Gambit, saw his work translated and published all around the world. His 1888 game against an anonymous player (the first example of 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.d4 Qh4 that I have found) shows that he played the Jerome as well.

S. A. Charles, a member of the Cincinnati (Ohio, USA) Chess Club, wrote opening analyses, first for the Cincinnati Commercial Gazette, then later for the Pittsburgh Telegraph. It is in the latter paper that in 1881 he presented his examination of the Jerome Gambit. That year he also played an incomplete Jerome Gambit correspondence match with Alonzo Jerome.

J.W. Miller
, also of the Cincinnati Chess Club, published in 1884 Cook's Synopsis of Chess Openings A Tabular Analysis by William Cook, With American Inventions in the Openings and Fresh Analysis since 1882. It included a reprint of Cook's Synopsis, 3rd edition (1882) which had been very popular and was already out of print. The Synopsis contained analysis of the Jerome Gambit which was based largely on Sorensen's article. The American supplement portion of the book contained Jerome Gambit analysis based largely on the work of S.A. Charles.

E. Freeborough and and C. E. Ranken included analysis of the Jerome Gambit in their Chess Openings Ancient and Modern (1st edition 1889, 2nd edition 1893, 3rd edition 1896, 4th edition 1910), a book that has been reprinted at least once in the modern era (Hippocrene Books, 1974) and which has been the introduction to the Jerome for a good number of players.

There are others who played or wrote about the Jerome Gambit in its early days, and I hope to welcome them into the Gemeinde in future posts.

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