Saturday, November 16, 2013

Psychology 102

Many players question the value of the Jerome Gambit. Their task is to play one of the refutations, follow through, and claim the point. One risk, however, is that of being so dismissive of the attack that the defender becomes inaccurate in his play. Again, observe the motto: In the Jerome Gambit, Black wins by force, White wins by farce.

perrypawnpusher - strandskatan
blitz, FICS, 2013

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

The Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit.

5...Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.d4 Re8 8.dxc5 Kg8

Black's play is solid and scientific. He has castled-by-hand and is ready to counter-attack.

Alternately, 8...Nc6 was seen in perrypawnpusher - hudders, blitz, FICS, 2010 (1-0, 13); while 8...Nc4 9.Qd5+?? Nxd5 was one of my personal nightmares, perrypawnpusher - TrentonTheSecond, blitz, FICS, 2010 (0-1,9).

9.0-0 d6 10.cxd6 Qxd6 11.Qe2

After the game, Houdini recommended 11.Qxd6 cxd6 12.Nb5. I wasn't ready to trade Queens.


Instead, 11...Be6 was seen in perrypawnpusher - hklett, blitz, FICS, 2013 (1-0, 31) while 11...Neg4 was Houdini's post-game recommendation. (Often, harassing White's Queen with a Knight proves to be a time-waster, but not in this case.)

12.f3 Bh5 13.Bf4 Qe6 14.Qf2 c6 15.g4

Objectively, not the best move, but I was pretty sure that my opponent liked his 2-piece advantage on the Kingside, and would figure that he had an extra piece to invest in an attack - if he were properly provoked.


Ah, so many of us can resist anything but temptation. The boring 15...Bf7! was probably better, keeping Black's advantage.

16.fxg4 Nxg4 17.Qh4 Bg6 18.Rae1 Rad8 19.h3 Nf6 20.Bg5 Rd4

Despite Black's huffing and puffing, the game is even - which is not the expected outcome of the sacrifice. 

Worse, it is time to recall the ironic aphorism inspired by many of Bill Wall's games: Often in the Jerome Gambit, when the game is equal, White is better. In this case, Black has invested (and continues to invest) too much time in his calculations, and his clock soon will become an issue.

21.Bxf6 gxf6 22.Rxf6 Qe5 23.Rf4 Rd2 24.Rf2 Qd4 25.Kg2 Rxf2+ 26.Qxf2 Qxf2+ 27.Kxf2 Kf7 28.Ke3 Ke6 29.Rd1 Ke5

White's extra pawn doesn't give him much more than a slight edge, but time is now on his side.

30.Rd7 Rb8 31.a4 a6 32.a5 b5 33.axb6

Better was 33.Ra7

33...Rxb6 34.b3 Rb5 

A time-pressure mistake that I missed. I wonder how much precious time my opponent spent trying to figure out why I didn't simply capture the Rook.

35.Rd4 Rc5 36.Rd3 a5 37.Na4 

Almost coming to Black's rescue by dropping material - my clock was ticking too. After the game Houdini suggested the patient 37.h4 Ke6 38.Kd4 Rh5 39.Rh3 Kd6 40.Ne2.

37...Rxc2 38.Nb6 

Another error.

Here, Black is better, and can now win a pawn with 38...Bxe4, but, unfortunately, he forfeited on time.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


In the following game Bill Wall changes up his Jerome Gambit attack, playing 6.d4, the favorite move, at first, of Alonzo Wheeler Jerome. Can his opponent follow him through the maze?

Wall,B - Guest4060198, 2013

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 


The more straight-forward 6...Bxd4 was seen in Wall,B - berserkergang, FICS, 2011 (1-0, 21) and Wall,B - Guest903719,, 2013 (1-0, 47), as well as the seminal Jerome,A - Shinkman,W, 1876, (½-½, 42).

The trickier 6...Bb4+ was seen in Wall,B - ChrSav, FICS, 2010 (1-0, 11);  Wall,B - Caynaboos, FICS, 2011 (1-0, 26); Wall,B - ChessFlower,, 2012 (27);  and Wall,B - Boris,, 2012 (1-0, 31).

The questionable 6...Nf3+ was seen in Wall,B - Guest151963,, 2011 (1-0,17).

6...Qh4, probably Black's strongest reply, was seen in Wall,B - Rajiv,, 2010 (1-0, 33); Wall,B - Gorodetsky,D,, 2010 (1-0, 18); and Wall,B - felineMMXI, blitz, FICS, 2011 (1-0,18).

7.dxc5 Ne7 8.0-0 Rf8 9.Nc3 c6 

Black would do better to follow through on his plan to castle-by-hand: 9...Kg8 10.f4 Nf7. The problem seems to be that he is trying to do too many good things at once - play ...Qf6, safeguard his King, hit back in the center with ...d5.

10.f4 N5g6 11.Be3 d5? 12.cxd6 Ng8 

The "Jerome Pawns" are a scary sight.

13.d7 Rd8

A bit better (but not much) was 13...Bxd7 14.Qxd7+ N6e7.

14.dxc8/Q Raxc8 15.Qh5

Threatening 16.f5. White is up two pawns, with the initiative. 

15...Kf8 16.e5 Qf7 17.f5 Nxe5 18.Bc5+ Ne7 19.Qxh7 Qf6 20.Ne4 Qh6 21.Qxh6 gxh6 22.f6 Black resigned

No matter how he struggles, Black is going to lose a piece and a Rook. Amazing.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bxf7+ against the Philidor Defense

The game Pete Banks ("blackburne") referred to in the last post packs a lot of interesting chess in less than a dozen moves. It blew my mind.

Clark (Halesowen),M - Lloyd (Greenlands),J 
Worcester County League D2, 2013

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 
3.Bc4 Bd7 

A bit unusual for a Philidor Defense. When I first saw it I figured that Black was planning on answering 4.d4 with 4...exd4 and then 5...Nc6.

4.d4 b5 

This is Black's idea, quite unexpected. Now Houdini, analyzing, goes to town, showing White working over the Queenside and then winning a pawn: 5.Bd5 c6 6.Bb3 exd4 7.Qxd4 Na6 8.a4 Nc5 9.axb5 Nxb3 10.cxb3 cxb5 11.0-0 Nf6 12.Bf4 Be7 13.Bxd6


I am not going to call this a "Jerome" anything - but I like the move. The meanest thing Houdini has to say about it is that it leads to an even game.


Of course, Black has to take the sacrifice, as the oppositional 5...Ke7 is met by 6.Bxg8 h6 7.dxe5 Rxg8 8.Qd5


This has the feel of an ad hoc attack, but there are some interesting aspects to the position, starting with the fact that Black is still weak on the light squares, even after White has sacrificed his light-squared Bishop.

6...Ke8 7.dxe5 dxe5 

Played too quickly. Houdini suggests 7...Qe7 8.Nc3 c6 (8...Qxe5 9.Nd5 Na6 10.f4) 9.exd6 Qxd6 10.Qe2 h6 = (10...Qg6 11.f4) 11.Nf3 Bg4 12.0-0 Qg6 13.Re1 Qh5 14.e5 Ne7 15.Bf4 Kf7 =. 

8.Qd5 Qe7 9.Qxa8 Qb4+ 10.c3 Black resigned.

I will have to keep my eyes open to see if 4...b5 ever shows its face in the Worcester County League again.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Comment on all these Bxf7+s

In a comment to "Curse You, Red Baron!" Pete Banks ("blackburne") wrote

Hi Rick, you seem to class anything with an early Bxf7 as some kind of Jerome these days. A member of my club recently won an OTB game in 10 moves after saccing on move 5. I would class it as a Philidor, but if you're interested, it's here:

My response -

Hi Pete,

Thanks for the game reference. I'll share the line with Readers in a few posts. (I'm always disappointed when my opponent plays 2...d6.)

I've expanded coverage in this blog from Jerome Gambit games to Jerome-like, Jerome-ish, and Jerome-inspired lines, as many of those who play the "standard" Jerome also like to toss in Bxf7+ elsewhere.

Best wishes,