Friday, February 1, 2013

Missed Opportunity

Here is another example of the difficult line (for White) in the Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit discussed in the last post (see "Updated"). 

I would like to call your attention to the position after Black's 31st move.

Skirving - PAMpamPAM
standard, FICS, 2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.d4 Bd6 8.f4 Neg4 9.0-0 Bb4 10.e5 d6 

Already seen was 10...Bxc3 11.bxc3 Nxh2 12.Kxh2 Nd5 in Philidor1792 - Computer, 2011, (0-1, 43)] 

11.h3 Re8 12.exf6 Nxf6 13.g4 Kg8 14.Qd3 Bxc3 15.bxc3 d5 16.f5 Ne4 17.g5 Nxg5 18.Qg3 Ne4 19.Qg2 Qf6 20.Bf4 c6 21.Be5 Qg5 22.Qxg5 Nxg5 23.f6 Bxh3 24.Rf4 g6 25.Kh2 Bf5 26.Rxf5 gxf5 27.Kg3 Nf7 28.Kf4 Nxe5 29.dxe5 Re6 30.Kxf5 Rae8 31.Rg1+ Kf7 

White is a Rook down. After a spite check, he resigns. Perhaps he was also short of time.

As everyone in the Jerome Gambit Gemeinde knows, from Blackburne to Wall, in order to win White has to fight, and fight - and fight some more.

32.Rg7+ Kf8 White resigned

Amazingly enough, instead, after 33.Rxh7, the game would be drawn, as White would threaten to move his King to g6 and deliver checkmate with Rh8. Of course, if Black replies 33...Kg8, White will check with 34.Rg7+ and look to repeat the position.

Perhaps White feared 33.Rxh7 Rxe5+, but after 34.Kg6 Black can only escape checkmate by returning a Rook with 34...Rg5+ 35.Kxg5, when White would have the better chances in the endgame (although Black might still draw).

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Here's an updated look at a Jerome Gambit variant that still holds a lot of poison for White.

In raw position comparisons, The Database has 9244 games after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ where White scores 44%; while it has 1780 games after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Bc5 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.Bxf7+, where White scores 38%.

Ryndael - emranhamid
standard, FICS, 2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Bc5 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.Bxf7+ 

The Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit.

5...Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.d4 Bd6 8.f4

This line was investigated in "Attitude" and "Where Do Ideas Come From?" Parts 12345 and 6

I was surprised to see that Houdini 2, at 20 ply depth, considers it about equivalent to 8.dxe5.

Black's next move is new, however.

8...Nc4 9.e5 Bb4 10.0-0 Bxc3 11.bxc3 Ne4 


A slight improvement over 12.Qd3 d5 13.f5 in Rijndael - creamen, FICS, 2011, (0-1, 28).

12...Rf8 13.Rf4 d5 14.Qh5+ Kg8

White now throws everything into a frantic attack, but there is little hope.

15.Rxe4 dxe4 16.Bg5 Qd5 17.f6 gxf6 18.Rf1 Nxe5 19.Bxf6 Nf3+ 20.Rxf3 Qxh5 21.Rg3+ Kf7 White resigned

graphic by Jeff Bucchino, the Wizard of Draws

Monday, January 28, 2013

Public Service Announcement

Public Service Announcement: It is not necessary to play the Jerome Gambit version of the Blackburne Shilling Gambit. There are a number of ways for White to play safely against the BSG, with advantage. Here is one take, from Bill Wall, who knows both the BSG and the JG.

I felt compelled to post the above PSA after playing over the following game. The Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit will continue to be my preference, but the play gets pretty wild for both sides.

sexymax - Jesuswins

standard, FICS, 2012

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 

The Blackburne Shilling Gambit.


The Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit. I have been playing the line since this blog was in its early months, 4 1/2 years ago. In 37 games, I have scored 91%.

The Database shows 3818 BSJG games, with White scoring 56%.

Of course, Bill Wall has scored 100% in 14 games.

Your mileage may vary.

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke8 6.Qh5+ g6 7.Nxg6 hxg6 8.Qxh8

Pretty standard play for the Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit.


White tears up Black's Kingside while Black tears up White's Queenside. 164 games have reached this point in TheDatabase, with White scoring 53%


Necessary was 9.Kd1, keeping Black's advantage small.


The way out of this mess was 9...Kf7, and only 1 game in The Database has this correct continuation: MkRules - Magico, blitz, FICS, 2004, (1-0, 34). Yes, that's right: Black played the right move and still lost.

Houdini 2 had this to say about the position: 9...Kf7 10.Qc3 Nxa1 11.d4 Qf6 (Black is up two pieces for two pawns) 12.f3 Qc6 13.Kf2 d5 14.Bd2 dxe4 15.Rc1 exf3 16.Qxf3+ Qxf3+ 17.gxf3 Bf5 (the battle over the Knight at a1 continues) 18.Rxc7+ Kf6 19.Nc3 Nc2 20.d5 Ke5 21.f4+ Kd4 22.Nb5+ Kxd5 23.Rxc2 Bxc2 24.Nc7+ Kc6 25.Nxa8 (now it is White's Knight that is trapped, and Black will remain up two pieces for two pawns). 

10.d4 Nxa1 11.Bh6 Kf7 12.Qh7+ Ke6

Black decides to decline the draw implicit with 12...Ke8 13.Qh8 and instead sends his King out into the wide open spaces. This is as dangerous as it looks. And as messy.

13.d5+ Kd6 14.Bf4+ 

Bringing another piece into the attack looks like a good idea, But Houdini 2 gives the key move as 14.Qh8, with a multitude of threats against the King and his army:  14...Ng8 15.Qxg8 Kc5 16.Bxf8+ d6 17.Qg7 Bd7 18.Qc3+ Kb6 19.Bg7 Bb5+ 20.Kg1 c5 21.dxc6 bxc6 22.b3 Nxb3 23.axb3 Kb7 White has recovered his material, with interest.

14...Kc5 15.Qh3 


Amazingly, Black can escape by returning some material to activate his Queen: 15...Nxd5 16.exd5 Qf6. Houdini 2 continues to throw pieces around in its analysis with 17.Qf3 Qxb2 18.Nc3 Qc2 19.Be3+ Kb4 20.Qxf8+ Kxc3 when White does best to sue for peace, i.e. 21.Qc5+ Kb2 22.Bd4+ Kb1 23.Qb4+ Kxa2 24.Qa5+ Kb3 25.Qb5+ Ka2 26.Qa5+ etc.

After the game continuation, White has a forced checkmate. 

16.Qe3+ Kb5 17.Na3+ Ka6 18.Qd3+ b5 Black resigned