Friday, August 21, 2009

The Kentucky Opening (Part 1)

I was doing a little bit more "tidying up" (see "Jerome Gambit Blog: Tidying Up", "Jerome Gambit Blog: More Tidying Up" and "Jerome Gambit Blog: Still More Tidying Up" for earlier efforts) the other day, and I was able to come up with the answer to a question that has been challenging me since the first days of my involvement with the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+).

As I had written in "Jerome Gambit Blog: Tidying Up":

In "Nobody expects the Jerome Gambit!" I mentioned that Blackburne, in Mr. Blackburne's Games at Chess (1899) referred to the Jerome Gambit as "the Kentucky Opening." I have yet to discover how it is that the British master came up with that name.

The full quote from Blackburne's book is:

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Note - I used to call this the Kentucky opening. For a while after its introduction it was greatly favored by certain players, but they soon grew tired of it.

What I recently discovered, taking up the complete page 250 of the May 1875 issue of the Dubuque Chess Journal, without introduction or explanation, analysis of what was titled "KENTUCKY OPENING". Reformatted and translated from descriptive notation to algebraic notation, and taken out of columnar form, it looked like this:

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Qf6

2...Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Qf6 5.Qb3 Na5 6.Qc3 Nxc4 7.Qxc4 Ne7 8.Nc3 ( 8.Qxc7 Nc6 9.d4 Bd6 g.g.) 8...c6 9.Nf3 g.g. d6


3.Nf3 d6 4.Bc4 Be6 and the second player has a good game. ( 4...g6 5.Qg5 Bh6 6.Qxf6 Nxf6 7.Nc3 Bg4 8.Be2 Nbd7 good game) ;

3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Nf3 d6 5.Nc3 c6 6.d3 g6 7.Qg5 h6 8.Qg3 Be6 good game

3...c6 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.Nf3 d6 6.d3 g6 7.Qg5 h6 8.Qg3 Be6 9.Bxe6 Qxe6 g.g.

It is significant to note that the format and presentation of the Kentucky Opening analysis was very similar to that on page 38 of the January 1875 issue of the Dubuque Chess Journal, where analysis of "Queen's Gambit in Jerome's Double Opening" had been given. (The latter was part three of Alonzo Wheeler Jerome's introduction of his gambit, the first two having seen print in the April 1874 and July 1874 issues of the Journal.)

The reference to "Queen's Gambit" was odd, having nothing to do with 1.d4 d5 2.c4, or even the sacrifice of a Queen – it referred to the sally of the Queen at move 5 of the Jerome Gambit, i.e. 5.Qh5.

In fact, the Queen move in the Jerome Gambit, and the Queen move in the Kentucky Opening are an outstanding – but similar – feature in each opening, something which likely caught Blackburne's eye.

No comments: