Saturday, January 12, 2013


The Jerome Gambit is full with psychological ploys. With 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+  the first player announces "Welcome to the Jerome Gambit". Black, for his part, can immediately (if not strongly) respond "No thank you" with 4...Kf8.

Typical is Black's plan with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ g6 7.Qxe5 when 7...Bxf2+ 8.Kxf2 Qf6+ forces the exchange of Queens. Black abandons his material advantage - actually, going down a pawn - to take the excitement out of the position and ask his opponent "Can you win against this?"

We have also recently seen how annoying "The Annoying Defense" - curiously, quite popular among computer programs which are supposedly bereft of "psychology" - can be.

Below, Bill Wall's opponent returns some of his material advantage,  remaining with a Rook against a Knight and a pawn, and posing the question "Can you win against this?"

Wall,B - Filipmihov 
FICS, 2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Kf8 

7.Qxe5 d6 8.Qg3 Nf6 9.d3 

Bill has also played 9.Nc3, in Wall,B - Ahmadi,S,, 2010,(0-1, 59)


Also seen: 9...Kf7 as in Wall,B - Badbeat994,, 2010 (1-0, 48); and 9...Be6 as in Wall,B - Milsrilion,, 2010 (1-0, 50).

Black has a specific idea in mind.

10.0-0 Qf6 11.c3 Bxf2+ 12.Rxf2 Qxf2+ 13.Qxf2+ Nxf2 14.Kxf2 Be6 

Can you win against this?

15.Nd2 Ke7 16.Nf3 Rhf8 17.h3 Rf7 18.Bg5+ Kd7 19.Kg3 h6 20.Bd2 g5 21.Rf1 Raf8 

22.c4 c6 23.b4 b6 24.c5 g4?!

He probably should have grabbed the a-pawn.

25.hxg4 Rg8 26.g5 hxg5 27.Rh1 g4 28.Ng5 Re7 29.cxd6 Kxd6 30.Rh6 Kd7 31.a4 Bf7 

Black's aggression on the Kingside has not yielded anything. In the meantime, White's pieces have become more active, and he has a protected passed pawn at e4. White is for choice here.

Now Black's attention slips.

32.a5 b5?! 33.Bf4 Rg6??

Rybka 3 recommends 33...Bg6 34.Kxg4 Reg7, with White better.

34.Nxf7 Rxh6 35.Nxh6 c5 36.bxc5 Kc6 

37.Nf5 Re8 38.Bd6 Rd8 39.Nd4+ Black resigned

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Another Puzzler

As previously mentioned, the top scorer in the 2nd Jerome Gambit Race at was RRustyy1, with a score of 6 wins and two losses, clearly ahead of oleppedersen and Jordi-I, each with 4 wins and 4 losses. Curious was one of the losses the leader experienced: take a look, as it is interesting to see what each player saw (and overlooked), and it is unclear what White observed at the end.

RRustyy1 - oleppedersen
2nd Jerome Gambit Race,, 2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.f4 Nf6 

This apparently knee-jerk reaction will cost Black two pieces.

8.Qxe5+ Kf7 9.Qxc5 d6 10.Qe3 


It is interesting that here and in none of the games in The Database did Black snap off the e-pawn with 10...Nxe4. To protect against this move, Houdini 2 suggests an odd line of play instead of 10.Qe3 for White: 10.Qb5 a6 11.Qb3+ Be6 12.Qf3 Bg4 13.Qg3 h5 14.d3 h4 15.Qf2 h3 16.Nc3 Qe7 17.Bd2 c5 18.Rg1 Rae8 19.gxh3 Rxh3 20.Rg3 Rxg3 21.Qxg3 Qd7 22.Be3 Kg8 23.f5 b5 with advantage to the first player.

11.d3 b6  12.Nc3

Running similar risks with the Queen and King on the same file. Prudent was 12.0-0 Kg8 13.Qg3.


Finding safety for his King. Stronger was 12...d5, taking advantage of the pin on the White e-pawn.

13.Bd2 c5

There was still time for 13...d5 and an equal game.



Still good.


Played too quickly, as Black shows.

15...Bg4 16.Qg3 Bxd1 17.Rxd1 dxe4 18.Nxe4 Nxe4 19.dxe4 Rxe4 

White has a pawn for the exchange. The game is roughly equal.

20.Bc3 Qe7 21.Be5 Re8 22.Qf3 Ra4 

23.b3 White resigned.

It is difficult to explain White's sudden capitulation, unless he was upset over having missed 23.Qb3+, winning Black's Rook. In the game, even after 23...Rxa2, White would not be worse.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Update: Old Dog Can Still Bite

Most chess players, if they have ever heard of the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+), know of the game Amateur - Blackburne, London, 1885, where the British master dismantled the opening and then destroyed it with a Queen sacrifice. They have a pretty good assessment of the Blackburne Defense, 4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5 Nxe5 6.Qh5+ g6 7.Qxe5 d6!?, giving up the Rook to distract, and, eventually trap out of play, White's Queen.

Players more familiar with the Jerome Gambit may have seen analysis that indicates that White, not Black, is better in this line.

Players very familiar with the Jerome Gambit may have seen analysis that indicates Black can draw, or force a draw, in a very, very complicated position.

All of which suggests that White can be happy when facing the Blackburne defense - if he knows what he is doing. Otherwise, that old dog is likely to bite, as in the following game.

burraburra  - rsiemon
blitz, FICS, 2012

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Nf3 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ g6 7.Qxe5 d6 

8.Qxh8 Qh4 9.g3

White's Queen-escape line is, instead, 9.0-0 Nf6 10.Qd8 Bb6 11.e5 dxe5 12.Qd3.

This seems a lot saner than 9.d4, e.g. 9...Nf6 (or 9...Qxe4+) 10.e5 dxe5 11.Nd2 Bxd4 12.0-0 Be6!? when there is plenty of madness in the position after 13.Nf3 (or 13.Qxa8 Bd5 14.Qc8 Ng4 15.Qxc7+ [15.Nf3 Bxf3 16.Qxc7+ Kg8 17.Qc4+ Kf8 18.Bh6+ Qxh6 19.Qc8+ Ke7 20.Qc7+ etc] 15...Ke8 16.Nf3 Bxf3 17.Bf4 Bxf2+ 18.Kh1 Qh3 19.Qc8+ Ke7 20.Bg5+ Kf7 21.Qxg4 Qxg4 22.Rxf2 Qxg5 23.Rxf3+ Kg7 24.Re1) 13...Bxf2+ 14.Rxf2 Qxf2+ 15.Kxf2 Rxh8 16.Nxe5+. The game is even, if White survives.

However, the text in the game, 9.g3 wins - for Black.

9...Qxe4+ 10.Kf1 Qxh1+

Or 10...Bh3+, Black resigned, facing 11.Kg1 Qg2# as in LukeWarm - blackburne, Jerome Gambit Thematic, 2010.

11.Ke2 Qe4+ 12.Kd1 Bg4+ 13.f3 Bxf3 checkmate

graphic by The Wizard of Draws

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Head Scratcher

The following game caused a bit of head-scratching here at

Doctoroldhead - chesstux
standard, FICS, 2012

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Nf3 Nd4 

The Blackburne Shilling Gambit.


The Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit.

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke8 6.c3 Qg5 

Now, White forfeited by disconnection.

It is hard to know if White simply lost his connection to FICS at this point. If he did, maybe he was not able to log back in and continue the game. Or, maybe his opponent had set his "noescape" variable so that any disconnection would be treated as a forfeit.

It is also possible that White saw Black's last move - thematic to the Blackburne Shilling Gambit (and its relations) - and figured his Jerome Gambit strategy had failed. So, why play on?

I checked The Database for games with the final position. There were 80 of them, including efforts (with White) by well-known Jerome Gambit Gemeinde members GOH, GmCooper, Darrenshome, DragonTail, drumme, sTpny and jfhumphrey. White scored 54%.

In those 80 games, White's average rating was about 47 points higher than Black's average rating, consistent with White's edge in scoring. Also, Houdini 2, at 20 ply depth, rated White's position to be about 2/3 of a pawn better - again, consistent with the scoring of the games in The Database.

Conclusion: no need for White to despair.

Of course, he needs to find the right idea, which is to capture the Black Knight with 7.cxd4, and after 7...Qxg2, find 8.Qf3. Black then has nothing better (and a lot, worse) than exchanging Queens with 8...Qxf3 9.Nxf3.
analysis diagram

White has an edge, thanks to his extra pawn. That is certainly nothing to give up on, unless things beyond the chessboard were more pressing.