Saturday, October 6, 2012


Sometimes a defender, having wandered into the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+), feels out of place, as things are not quite what was expected, as if it's a trip to Wonderland...

perrypawnpusher - anelante
blitz, FICS, 2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.Qf5+ Ke7 

The earliest example I have of this move (which might as well be called the "buyer's regret" variation) in The Database (with the addition of my game, White has scored 89% in 23 games) is SirOops - mentalGIANT, standard, FICS, 2001 (1-0, 25); although it certainly must have been played over-the-board earlier.

8.Qxe5+ Kf7 9.Qxc5

Surprisingly, I missed playing my usual "nudge" 9.Qd5+, driving the King to the back line to interfere with the Rook. 

9...Nf6 10.Nc3 d6 

White is up two pawns, and it is hard to see Black's compensation.


Probably not best, given that it leaves White's Queen and King on the same file that Black's Rook can quickly go to. Nothing bad happens, as a result, but this reinforces the point that White should have "nudged" when he had the chance.


Black prudently castles-by-hand. After the game Rybka suggested the wild 11...d5 12.Qf4 g5!? 13.Qg3 (13.Qxg5 Rg8 14.Qf4 Rg4 15.Qe5 dxe4 16.0-0) 13...dxe4  to reduce White's advantage.

12.0-0 Kg8 13.d4 b6 14.f4 Bb7 15.e5 Re8 

16.Qd3 Ng4 17.Qg3 

Or 17.h3 as Rybka later suggested.

17...Bc8 18.f5 dxe5 19.Qxg4 exd4 


Missing the better 20.Ne4

20...Qf6 21.Bg5 Qc6 22.Nd1 Black forfeited on time

A Need for New?

If there are already adequate ways to deal with Black's audacious 3...Nd4, the Blackburne Shilling Gambit, why should White bother to introduce a Jerome Gambit theme? As the following game illustrates, a few small errors on Black's part can quickly add up to a hopeless game.

sahistonline - BDJ
standard, FICS, 2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 

The Blackburne Shilling Gambit.


The Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit.

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke8 6.c3 

An interesting alternative to the direct 6.Qh5+. Black's response, instead of just retreating his Knight (6...Ne6), causes trouble for the defense. 

6...Bd6 7.cxd4 Bxe5 8.Qh5+ 

The move still has bite. Black's best response is to shift his King to f8.

8...g6 9.Qxe5+ Qe7 10.Qxh8 Qxe4+ 11.Kf1 Kf7 12.Nc3 d6 Black resigned

Friday, October 5, 2012

Piece vs Pawns

In the following game I had the typical Jerome Gambit extra pawns vs extra piece imbalance. As my time ran short, I think my opponent tried to push things a bit, and it was then, as he focused upon his own ideas, that my opportunity appeared. 

perrypawnpusher - trmii
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.Qd5+ Ke8 9.Qxc5 d6 10.Qe3 

10...Ne5 11.f4 

Slightly better might be 11.d4, as in perrypawnpusher - Kotimatka, blitz, FICS, 2009 (1-0, 21) and perrypawnpusher - Eferio, blitz, FICS, 2011 (1-0, 24). 

11...Nc4 12.Qd4 b5 13.Qxg7 Qf6 14.Qxc7 Ne7

White has 4 "extra" pawns for the sacrificed piece, but I was uncomfortable with my Queen's cramped quarters, so I decided to give one back immediately. I could have tried 15.d3, instead.

15.e5 Qe6 16.exd6 Qxd6 17.Qxd6 Nxd6 18.Nc3 Bb7 19.d3 Rg8

The Queens are off the board, but Black has a nice attacking idea on the Kingside.

20.Rf2 Nef5 21.Bd2 Nh4 22.Re1+ Kd7 23.Ne4 Nxe4 24.dxe4 Rae8 25. g3 Ng6 

26.Rfe2 Ba6 27.Bb4 Bb7 28.Rd2+ Kc7 29.e5 Ne7 30.Bxe7 Rxe7 31.Red1 Bc6 

I am sure that my central "Jerome pawns" could advance and act spear-like, but I was a bit short of calculating time and decided to use the pawns as a shield instead. My opponent seemed to be moving quickly now, as if he wanted to take advantage of my time pressure.

32.Kf2 a5 33.Rd6 Rh8 34.R1d3 h5

Attacking the "shield" but overlooking the idea behind my last move.

35.Rc3 Rd8 36.Rcxc6+ Kb7 37.Rxd8 Kxc6 38.Rd6+ Kc5 39.Rh6

39...Kd4 40.Rxh5 b4 41.Ke2 a4 42.Rh6 b3 43.c3+ Kc5 44.a3 Black resigned

Thursday, October 4, 2012


I was going to quietly slip the following embarrassing game into The Database and make no passing mention of it, treating it simply as a symptom of sleep deprivation; but in the follow-up game my opponent took the White pieces, played a gambit, and won my Queen again – and I thought that it was only fair to acknowledge karleinkarl's fighting play.

perrypawnpusher  - karleinkarl

blitz, FICS, 2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6

7.Qf5+ Kd6 8.f4 Qf6 9.fxe5+ Qxe5 10.Qf3 Nf6 11.d3 

In the past I have referred to this (and similar) lines as an "optical illusion variation", as at least 7 times my opponents have allowed me to subsequently pin their Queen to their King. Strange, but true.


My opponent does not fall for the "trap"; but, don't go away – there's one more laugh ahead.

12.Nc3 Bd4 13.Bf4 

Simply 13.Bd2, followed by 14.0-0-0, as in mrjoker - CEF, blitz, ICC, 2008 (1-0, 24) was the smart way to continue.

13...Bxc3+ 14.Ke2 Qh5 15.bxc3 d6 


Obviously the victim of an "optical illusion" – or something.

16...Bg4 White resigned

My opponent, a good sport, did not tease me. He has had his own "mysterious" games.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Post Script

Spend any time at a book store looking at its selection of chess titles and you will probably run into at least one book offering Play X and Win! – with "X" being the particular opening that the author is enthusiastic about. Thumb through the volume and you will be convinced that you have to play X!

Wander down the book shelf, however, and  you may well encounter Play X and Be Destroyed!, the effort of another author (or, perhaps, the same one) to convince you that playing X is the road to ruin!

If your book store has a very comprehensive chess section, even further down the book shelf will be Smashing the Destroyers of X!, and perhaps even the hot-off-the-presses response, Crushing the Smashers of the Destroyers of X!

As Ken Smith wrote in a series of pamphlets on the Blackmar Diemer Gambit
For every White initiative a better defense always seems to present itself for Black, and for every refutation the Black side recommends improvements are found for White.
How much easier it is with the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+)! As early as the July 1874 Dubuque Chess Journal its editor put the opening in proper perspective

and White has a pawn ahead
Note: It should be understood that Mr. Jerome claims in this New Opening "only a pleasant variation of the Giuoco Piano, which may win or lose according to the skill of the players, but which is capable of affording many new positions and opportunities for heavy blows unexpectedly."

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


[continuing the imaginary discussion of the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+) started three day's ago with "It's hard to explain..." and continued with "More to the Point.." and "And yet..."]

Beating the Jerome Gambit is a straightforward multiple choice test:

A) accept the two offered pieces and use the extra material to win;

B) accept the two offered pieces, return one, and use the extra material to win;

C) accept one offered piece and use the extra material to win;

D) accept one offered piece, return it, and win;

E) take White out of his game by refusing any and all offered pieces

F) all of the above

How hard can it be? After all, Bobby Fisher said "I don't believe in psychology. I believe in good moves."

one-eye bishop - blackburne
ChessWorld, 2004

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 0-1

And blackburne is the strongest player using the Jerome Gambit in over-the-board, risk-your-rating, dare-to-embarass-your-club-mates, matches. He should know.

Monday, October 1, 2012

And yet...

[continuing the imaginary discussion of the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+) started two day's ago with "It's hard to explain..." and continued yesterday with "More to the point..."]

Doesn't a defender's basic chess knowledge help in fighting against the Jerome Gambit?

Well, it does, and it doesn't. For example, the basic notion that "it is easier to attack than defend" is believed by many club chess players, and that automatically adds discomfort when they are the target.

But, don't defenders ever think "that's junk, it'll never work"?

Sure they do. Sometimes. And if they dig down and work hard (and avoid time trouble) they can develop a solution. That is, if they don't become over-confident and careless and decide everything that White does is an error. Of if they only "half-remember" the refutation.


Sometimes, though, nervous club players think that they have run into a "hole" in their own opening preparation, as nobody would dare sacrifice a piece (or two) for "nothing". They figure there has to be something to the opening, or their opponent wouldn't be playing it. At times this line of thought leads to the notion of not going along with the ideas of the attacker at all: "if he wants me to take the piece(s), then I won't take the piece(s)"

A "Jerome Gambit declined"? That's rather generous.

Generous, but not unseen. Worse is the situation where Black has kept his wits about him, played competently, and then leans back and thinks "I have weathered the opening properly and have a small advantage" – and then follows this up inaccurately... 

Or with a "boom"?

Or with a "boom".

Isn't there any way to defeat the Jerome Gambit??

Oh, don't be silly – it's been refuted many times.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

More to the Point...

[continuing the imaginary discussion of the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+) started yesterday with "It's hard to explain..."]

Explanations for any success of the Jerome Gambit (and there are players like Bill Wall who score 95%+ with it) must be found in the  blitz and casual practice of club chess players, not the international tournaments of masters or grandmasters.

That now seems obvious. "The masters, they are different", right?

More important is the way in which club players are different. A good example is Geoff Chandler's fanciful "Blunder Table" which, when the laughter is done, contains a lot of chess truth. Chandler suggests that in a game between players rated over 2000, the loss of a pawn should be enough to decide the outcome. For players rated around 1800, a couple of pawns would be the winning advantage. For a game between two 1500 players, however, an extra Bishop or Knight would be necessary to "guarantee" one side a win.

[Blush] [Silence] [Drumming of fingers]

In many Jerome Gambit games, White has given up a piece for two pawns – the equivalent of spending about a pawn to get to the kind of positions that he is comfortable with, and his opponent, far more likely than not, is not. That amounts to "suicide" among masters, but "unclear" among many club players.

True, but can't Black take the time to settle himself down and work out a defense?

Of course, and the stronger the defender, the more likely that is to happen. In blitz games, however, that will cost time. And in casual games, it will require attention.

Delaying, but not eliminating the "blunder bomb"?

Exactly. Also, some "advantages" are easier for club players to take advantage of, while some are more challenging. For example, which would you rather have, an extra piece, or an extra two or three pawns?

Well, it depends, doesn't it?

It almost always "depends", yes, but, remember, it is the Jerome Gambiteer choosing when such a thing happens. I have seen hundreds of games where White advances his two "Jerome pawns" against Black's position, and the "logical" outcome – instead of allowing his position to become fatally cramped or dangerously opened up via pawn exchanges – should be that the defender "simply" returning the extra piece for the foot soldiers, with at least an even game. But it rarely happens.

Sometimes returning the extra piece is anything but simple.

Ah, so I see that you have tumbled to the Jerome Gambit as well, eh?

Perhaps we can continue this discussion another time...

[to be continued]