Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Return to Pre-School

I think if the bodacious Blackmar Diemer Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxd4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3) can be referred to as a "high school for tactics" then the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+) can at least be dubbed a "pre-school for tactics".

Every once-in-a-while I wonder if playing the Jerome is helping or hurting my chess play. Then I play a game like the following, and I stop worrying (for a while, anyhow).

I had the White pieces in a Four Knights game played online at FICS. If my opponent and I were stronger players, and if we were not playing blitz, it might be possible to talk of White having the slightest advantage due to his Bishop versus Black's Knight, or White's control of the e-file. As it was, we were both just trying to figure out what to do next.

22.Qe7 Rc8

It looks like Black wants to relieve his Queen from the task of guarding the pawn at c7. I found a way to keep him busy.

23.h4 Nf7 24.Re6 Nd6 


I could hear Bill Wall's voice in my head saying "Don't calculate, just play the sac!" It is clear that White can get three pawns for the piece, and, at worst, probably a draw by repetition. Of course, there could be even more. No reason to waste time deliberating.


Already the critical error.

After the game Houdini suggested 25...Nf5!?, which led to 26.Rxc6 Nxe7 27.Re6 Ng6 28.Bc3 Nxh4 when White can tighten the pressure with 29.Re7, but his advantage would be better piece placement, not greater material. (This is how the "big boys" play.) White would have increased his edge, but there would be plenty of game left.

26.Qxf6 Rf8 

The game is already a mess, but this move, attacking White's Queen, is also a bit of a self-block, although the better 26...Re8 is not a whole lot better.

I had seen this far when playing 22.Qe7, a remarkable feat in and of itself for me. When I arrived at this position, I had enough time left that I could then see my way to a win – not the best or the fastest, but a win.  

27.Qg6+ Kh8 28.Qxh6+ Kg8 29.Rg6+ 

Sharper readers will see 29.Qg5+ Kh8 (29...Kf7 30.Qg6#) 30.Rh6 checkmate.

29...Kf7 30.Qg7+ Ke8 31.Re6+ Kd8 32.Qxf8+ Ne8 33.Rxc6 Black resigned

I was actually a bit relieved to see, after the game, that Houdini could find a "hole" in my plan – I wasn't quite ready to consider myself a "tactical maniac" yet, even if I do play the Jerome Gambit!

Friday, September 21, 2012

An Adventure

Researching and playing the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+) is a lot of fun, but I get the most enjoyment out of hearing from others who have discovered Alonzo Wheeler Jerome's impertinent opening, had had their own adventures.

Here's a recent email that I received; you will see what I mean.

Dear Rick,
I played your beloved Jerome Gambit in a real OTB tournament game (8 man 3 round Swiss G/30) at my local chess club last night.
First, a little background.  I played OTB rated chess at a chess club in the mid 1980’s as a young fanatic just out of school.  Then I got married and raised a family.  Chess was a rare occasional pleasure with friends or family.  I became known as sort of the Shane of my chess playing friends, trying to let the past remain in the past but getting called in from time to time to shoot down someone else’s evil black hatted nemesis.  But of course you know there is a world of difference between rated players and casual players.  So there is little real pleasure in beating Uncle Willie’s plumber.  Not even if it includes  a Fischer-esque ego crushing.
So after a 25 year absence I’ve started playing OTB USCF rated chess again.
I discovered your blog while googling “Bent Larsen quotes” and hit on this:
LOL.  Not the one I was searching for but fortuitously found out “why chess was invented”.  Truly a gift of the gods to a languishing chess world.  An adrenaline junkie’s wet dream.

In my sixth rated game since my return to chess, and the third game of last evening, I was playing white.  My opponent was rated in the mid-1300’s and my rating is probably comparable at this time.  We reached a Guioco Piano position after three moves.  My planned repertoire was to play the Evan’s Gambit vs GP and Max Lange Attack vs Two Knights Defense.   On a whim, I decided to play 4.Bxf7 and have some fun.

“This is totally unsound and should never be tried!” – GM Raymond Keene

With such an endorsement, who can resist?  Here’s the game.

White: Me
Black:  Mr. SF
1.e4            e5
2.Nf3          Nc6
3.Bc4          Bc5
4.Bxf7+      Kxf7
5.Nxe5+     Kf8

Unexpected.  Ke7 is the Paulsen variation.  I hadn’t seen this move on your blog….yet, but I’ve only read a few months worth of posts.  So from here, I’m on my own.  “Intelligence guided by experience.”  (OK Mr. Mystery writer - 10 extra credit points if you can identify that quote without google J)

6.Qh5         Nxe5
7.Qxe5       d6
8.Qh5         Qf6
9.d4            Bxd4
10.Be3       Bxe3

I didn’t want to trade dark squared bishops, and I didn’t want to double the Jerome pawns, but I really, really wanted to open up the f-file for Rf1 pinning and winning the queen.  This is taking on the flavor of a Muzio King’s Gambit.

11. …           Qxb2

How to squirm out of this one?

12.O-O +   

The title of this should probably be “Thank You Mr. Polgar”.  I’ve been going through Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games lately and two themes popped up in my game.

Thank you Mr. Polgar.  The only “mate in one” that I had trouble with in your book was a mate that was delivered by white castling.  So it was fresh in my mind.  This doesn’t deliver mate obviously but it makes my game come alive and saves my rooks.

12. ….          Nf6
13.Nd2        Qc3
14.e5           Qxe3+
15.Kh1        Qxe5

Well done by black.  At this point I’m thinking my game is going nowhere.  I’m down material, my attack is fading, and I don’t have the Jerome big pawn center to shove down black’s throat.  But this is no ordinary game.  This is the Jerome Gambit!  All you have to do is jump on its back and hang on for the ride!  Right?  Right???

16.Qf3          d5
17.Rae1       Qg5

What to do… what to do…. Ah ha!  Let’s sneak in the back door and stir up the hen house.

18.Qa3+      Kf7
19.Qe7+      Kg6

With the intention of Rg3 pinning and winning the queen.  I have to be careful about the back rank mate threats.  I almost played Rf3??

20. …           Re8
21.Rxf6+     Qxf6
22.Qxe8+    Kh6

Removing the back rank mate threat and setting up my next two moves.
23. …               Qf4
24.g4                b6

He missed the point of g4 entirely.
Thank you Mr. Polgar for including a lot of examples in your book of utilizing pawns to help deliver checkmate.  This was the second game of the evening that my pawn pushes put my opponent’s king in peril.

25.Qh5 #

Obviously not a high quality game.  I’m sure we both missed many opportunities.  Just two class C players doing their best.

Thanks for the blog.  Do I have the USCF apply my gained rating points to you?
Mr. J.E.
Danville, IL

A fine adventure, eh, Readers? Many thanks for sharing, Joe.

(From Danville, IL, huh? That reminds me of Danville, Kentucky, which reminds me of the Danvers Opening and the Kentucky Opening, which the Jerome Gambit reminded J.H. Blackburne of... But I digress. - Rick)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Familiar, Unfamiliar

If you are familiar with the opening that you are playing, that's a plus. If you are unfamiliar with the opening that you are playing, that's a minus. Sometimes that overshadows the soundness or unsoundness of the opening that you are playing.

jfhumphrey - ruiaf
blitz, FICS, 2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.O-O 

As with yesterday's post concerning bemillsy - leoarthur
blitz, FICS, 2012, here we have a delayed Jerome Gambit, transposing into a "modern" version of the Jerome.

4...Nf6 5.Bxf7+ 

5...Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.d4 Bb6

Another way to go astray, with all the best intentions: saving the Bishop, giving back a piece, staying a piece up.

Best: 7... Bxd4

8.dxe5 Nxe4

Instead, Black had 8...Ne8 when White could sue for peace with 9.Qf3+ Kg8 10.Qb3+ Kf8 11.Qf3+ etc. (Instead, Teterow - bassosoolo, blitz, FICS, 2011, continued 9.Qf3+ Kg8 10.Rd1 and Black lost on time in 42 moves.)

9. Qd5+ 

An improvement on 9.Qg3+ in jfhumphrey - Gurucool, blitz, FICS, 2011 (1-0, 21).

9...Ke7 10.Qxe4 



11. Bg5+ Black resigned

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Level of Strangeness

The following game has a surprise move in a less-than-usual line, and when I researched it in earlier posts, I found a number of editorial errors. Strange...

bemillsy - leoarthur
blitz, FICS, 2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.O-O Bc5 

See "Jerome Gambit vs Two Knights Defense (Part 4)".


A delayed Jerome Gambit move order (or a transition to a "modern" Jerome Gambit line, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc3 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.0-0 Nf6), although there are about 550 examples in The Database. I have never played the line, but of course Bill Wall has, as have GeniusPawn, GmCooper, HauntedKnight, hinders, sTpny, Teterow, DragonTail and jrhumphrey, to name just a few.

The line was looked at in the games aymmd - MOMLASAM, blitz, FICS, 2010 (0-1, 19)  and Wall, B - Guest848078,, 2012 (1-0, 10) although there were diagram errors and references that subsequently needed correction in both posts.

5...Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.d4 Nf3+ 

A surprise, but not as strong as the routine 7...Bxd4.


The correct capture, with a roughly equal game.

8...Bxd4 9.Bg5 

Overlooking something, perhaps already short of time.


Surprisingly, not Black's strongest move, although it does lead to some advantage. Rybka prefers 9...d6 10.Nd2 h6 11.Be3 Bxe3 12.Qxe3 Re8 13.f3 Qe7 14.Rad1 Be6 15.b3 Kg8 with a clear advantage.


White should try 10.Qb3+, as after 10...Kg6 11.Qxb2 Kxg5 12.e5 he has chances against Black's uneasy King.  

10...Bxa1 11.Rxa1 d6 White forfeited on time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Italian game for black less popular lines

I just ran across a video "Italian game for black less popular lines" offering

Italian game for amateurs explained. I explain here 7 less popular lines in Giuoco Piano...

I intended to make those openings as easy and short as possible since they are for players of ratings up to 1600 on FICS.

What is interesting is that the author covers the Jerome Gambit (without naming it), showing only two of the "modern" lines: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 and now 5.0-0 and 5.d4. There is no mention of the 5.Nxe5+ lines.

Monday, September 17, 2012


The Semi-Italian Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6) is a move order often chosen by Black to avoid premature enemy attacks. It does little, however, to dissuade the bizarre Jerome Gambit.

perrypawnpusher - lkytmr
blitz, FICS, 2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6 4.0-0 Bc5 5.Bxf7+ 

The Semi-Italian Jerome Gambit.

5...Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.Qh5+ Ke6 

Greedy? Brave? Careless? Adventurous?



A few years ago I looked at Rybka's suggested 8.Qh3+ (see "Get back on the horse...") which may be better, but the move did not catch on: there are no examples in The Database.

8...Kd6 9.d4 Bxd4 10.Rd1 c5 11.c3 

Objectively, Black is doing well. With two extra pieces he can afford to return the Bishop while he safeguards his King.

But my opponent is unfamiliar with the position and uneasy with the attack. In blitz, that can become a disadvantage, as his next, unnerved move shows.

11...Nd3 12.Rxd3 Black resigned.

Black will have to give up a second piece, and he will have to give up more material to safeguard his King: e.g. 12...Kc7 13.Rxd4!? b6 (13...cxd4 leads to mate after 14.Bf4+) 14.Bf4+ d6 15.Qf7+ Qd7 16.Bxd6+ Kb7 and then 17.Qxd7+ Bxd7+ 18.Bc5!? leaves White ahead three pawns, when the chance of a drawn Bishops-of-opposite-colors endgame is infinitesimal.

analysis diagram

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blast you, Mortimer Mouse!

I haven't bothered to name my computer mouse, but I am thinking I might call  it "Mortimer"...

perrypawnpusher - tuffmom
blitz, FICS, 2012
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6 

The Semi-Italian Opening.

4.O-O Bc5 5.Bxf7+

The Semi-Italian Jerome Gambit.

5...Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.Qh5+ Ng6 

8. Qe5

Mouse slip.

"I thought so", wrote tuffmom.

8...Nxe5 White resigned

Sic transit gloria.