Saturday, January 25, 2014

Jerome Gambit Rematch

After our recent game, it is possible that my opponent looked up the Jerome Gambit (maybe even on this site), because when we battled again he was prepared with one of Black's strongest refutations. (Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.)

perrypawnpusher - alvarzr

blitz, FICS, 2014

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

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ g6 

Our two previous games have featured 6...Ng6perrypawnpusher - alvarzr, blitz, FICS, 2013 (0-1, 59) and perrypawnpusher - alvarzr, blitz, FICS, 2014 (1-0, 21).

7.Qxe5 Qe7 

Whistler's Defense. More deadly than Blackburne's Defense. I have a win and a draw against it so far, and have used it once to bring serious pain to a friend.


After 8.Qxh8? Qxe4+ White was quickly smashed in Jerome,A - Whistler,G, correspondence, 1876 (0-1, 15).


Instead, 8...Kg7 was seen in perrypawnpusher - tmarkst, blitz, FICS, 2009 (1-0, 43). The text is slightly better.

9.Qg3 d6 

Instead, Black's choice was 9...Ne7 in perrypawnpusher - Yaku, blitz, FICS, 2011 (½-½, 26).

Having avoided immediate destruction, I now had to put together a plan to work toward equalizing. 

10.Nc3 Be6 11.0-0 Ne7 12.d3 Kg7 

Black is developing and has castled by hand. 

13.Bg5 Qf8 14.Be3 

After the game, Houdini suggested that 14.e5!? was playable.

14...Bb6 15.f4 Bxe3+ 16.Qxe3 Nc6 

17.d4 Qe7 

Too casual - but he gets away with it.

18.d5 Nb4 19.Qe2 

Of course, the proper treatment for such a wandering Knight is 19.Qd4+. I am embarrassed to have missed that fork, as I've picked up a handful of spare pieces from b4 when my Queen has moved from d3 to check along the a2-g8 diagonal - admittedly, in a different variation of the Jerome Gambit, but there should be some transfer of learning.

19...Bd7 20.a3 Na6 21.e5 dxe5 22.fxe5 Bf5 23.Rae1 Nc5 

Comparing this position with that after move 9 (third diagram) I feel a bit like Harry Houdini having escaped a straight jacket.

24.e6 Rad8 

Feeling he has enough pressure against my e-pawn, Black decides to lean on the d-pawn as well. He probably should have considered 24...Rhf8 instead. 

25.Qe5+ Qf6 26.Qxc7+ Nd7 27.exd7 Rxd7

28.Qe5 Qxe5 29.Rxe5 Bxc2 30.Rfe1 Rhd8 31.Re7+ Kh6 32.Rxd7 Rxd7 33.Re2 Bb3 34.Rd2 a6 

The game has settled down, and White has an extra pawn - but not for long. It seemed clear to me that a King march would bring home the full point, so I sent my monarch off to war.

35.Kf2 Kg7 36.Ke3 Kf6 37.Kd4 b5 38.Kc5 Ke5 39.Kb6 Bxd5 40.Rxd5+ Rxd5 41.Nxd5 Kxd5 

42.Kxa6 Kc6 43.b3 h5 44.a4 bxa4 45.bxa4 g5 46.a5 g4 47.g3 Kc5 48.Kb7 Kb5 49.a6 Black resigned

Thursday, January 23, 2014

BSJG: Return of ZekeTheWolf

perrypawnpusher - ZekeTheWolf
blitz, FICS, 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 

The Blackburne Shilling Gambit.


The Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit. 

If you play the BSG at FICS (Free Internet Chess Server), sooner or later you will encounter the BSJG. Before this game, according to The Database, ZekeTheWolf had met it 24 times, winning 10. That's scoring 40%, not quite the score of Black as a whole for the BSJG in 4,272 games in The Database - 44%,

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke7 

Our earlier game continued very differently - 5...Ke8 6.Qh5+ g6 7.Nxg6 Nxc2+ perrypawnpusher, ZekeTheWolf, blitz, FICS, 2010,(1-0, 30).


I tried 6.Qh5?! once, but it did not turn out well in perrypawnpusher - vlas, blitz, FICS, 2009 (0-1, 26). 

6...Ne6 7.d4 

Here we have a bit of a "free form" position, where Black's one weakness is the placement of his King. His extra piece for two pawns gives him an edge, but he has to put together a plan and execute it before he can think about gathering in the point.

7...d6 8.Nd3 g6 9.f4 Ke8 10.O-O Bg7 

Here White would probably do best to patiently continue his development with 11.Be3 and 12.Nd2.

11.f5 gxf5

By voluntarily opening the e8-h5 diagonal, Black, makes his King's life more difficult. After the game, Houdini suggested the curious 11...Ng5!?, with pressure on White's e-pawn, as a way to keep the game in balance.


Okay, but 12.Qh5+ Kd7 13.d5 would have really shaken things up.

Black now decides it is time to give a piece back.

12...Nxd4 13.cxd4 Bxd4+ 14.Kh1 Nf6 

There is a hole in this line that both ZekeTheWolf and I overlooked, which would have made 14...Qf6 the better move.


Again, okay, but missing the fork 15.Qa4+

15...Rg8 16.Re1+


16... Kf7 17.Qf3 Bxc3 18.bxc3

If White has an advantage any more, it is in his better development and safer King. Unfortunately, Black now follows a defensive maxim (to diffuse an attack, exchange pieces) that immediately shifts things back toward the first player.

18...Re8 19.Bg5 Rxe1+ 20.Rxe1 Qd7 21.Re6 Ng8 22.Qh5+

Black resigned

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Why I Still Play the Jerome Gambit

Let's face it. When it comes to chess playing "strength", I compare to other club players the way the Jerome Gambit compares to other chess openings. 

Still, the "worst chess opening in the world" continues to provide me with interesting positions and creative opportunities (even if I often miss them) - and, by studying my games, I hope to learn more and more about what I should already know...

perrypawnpusher - fogab
blitz, FICS, 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6 7.Qd5+ Ke8 8.Qxc5 d6 9.Qe3 Nf6 

The Database says that I have reached this position 47 times, scoring 80%.

10.0-0 Rf8 11.f4 Qe7 12.Nc3 b6 

Black seems to be multi-tasking here. He prepares to castle-by-hand, puts his Queen on the useful e7 square, and looks to fianchetto his Bishop.

I might as well add two more ideas: harassing White's Queen with 12...Ng4 as in perrypawnpusher - obturator, blitz, FICS, 2012 (1-0, 31); and protecting the d5 square with 12...c6 as in perrypawnpusher - parlance, blitz, FICS, 2011 (1-0, 20). 

13.f5 Ne5 14.d4 Nc4 15.Qf4

This is not an improvement on the straight forward 15.Qd3 which would give White an advantage.

Interestingly enough, the one other game in The Database with this position after 14 moves now saw 15.Qg5 which ended well for White in 32 moves in holofernes - kdosch, FICS, 2001.


A mistake which should allow White to correct his Queen placement - and more. This is what I meant in my introductory remarks: when I falter, sometimes the Jerome Gambit (admittedly, with the help of my opponent) gives me a hand.

By the way, one way for Black to take advantage of White's uncertainty about Queen placement was to continue to put pressure on the center with 15...c5, although after the tactical tap dance 16.b3 cxd4 17.Nb5 a6 18.Nxd4 Ne5 not a lot has been decided; Black's King is still in the center, and White can try 19.Ba3!?.


Why is it that Bill Wall can run his Queen all over the board, and it always looks like he is doing the right thing, while my monarch always seems to look like she's scattered and losing her marbles...?

Instead of the text, 16.Qf3 was correct, with the direct threat to Black's Knight on h5 and the upcoming exposed threat to his Rook on a8, after e4-e5

Black can then defend with  16...Qf7 17.e5 Rb8, but White's annoying "Jerome pawn" will advance with 18.e6, creating an interesting tactical situation. If then 18...Bxe6,White can simply capture the Bishop, but he can also try 19.Bg5!? taking advantage of Black's weakness along the e-file, and White's available Rook at a1. This is shown most clearly in the line 19...Bxf5 20.Rae1+ Kd7 21.Re7+ Qxe7 22.Bxe7 Nd2 23.Qxh5 Nxf1 24.Bxf8 Rxf8.

Instead, Black can try to further distract things (after 19.Bg5!?) with 19...Nd2 but the same themes come into effect, to a smaller degree, after 20.Qc6+ Qd7 21.Qxd7+ Bxd7 22.Rfe1+ Kf7 23.Re7+ Kg8 24.Rxd7 Nc4 25.g4 Nf6 26.Rxc7 Rbc8 27.Rxc8 Rxc8 28.Bxf6 gxf6 29.Nd5.

I admit that I looked at these lines with Houdini after the game, but how hard would it have been for a regular, ordinary club chess player to come up with most of this?

At this point I imagine that the ghost of Alonzo Wheeler Jerome was tapping his foot in disappointment. 

16...Nf6 17.Qh4 

Nope. The Queen needed to go to e2, and from there support e4-e5 with a slight edge. 

Now Black can even the game out with the deflating 17...Nxe4 18.Qxe4 Qxe4 19.Nxe4 Bxf5. White would not be losing, but he would not be winning, either.

17...Bb7 18.b3 Na5 19.Bg5 h6 20.Bxf6 Qxf6 21.Qh5+ Rf7 22.e5 dxe5 23.dxe5 Qg5 

24.Qxg5 hxg5 25.Rae1 

Despite White's menacing "Jerome pawns" and Black's broken Kingside structure, the second player has the advantage. His plan to improve his worst-placed piece, however, is not best.

25...Nc6 26.e6 Rf6 27.Nd5 Black resigned

A puzzling outcome, all around. Quite possibly my opponent was simply tired of the game, and surrendering the exchange was the last straw.

Yet, after 27...Rd8 28.Nxf6+ gxf6 Black's Knight and Bishop look  a lot more frisky than White's Rook and two pawns. I would have swapped Rooks with 29.Rd1 Rxd1 30.Rxd1, but then, as long as Black keeps White's Rook off of d7, what is there to worry about?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Overlooked For A Reason

Here's that "overlooked" Jerome Gambit game that I mentioned in my last post, "Another Error, Another Win". It's a painful one to play over, as my opponent offered me an escape from a difficult situation, and I missed it.

perrypawnpusher - alvarzr
blitz, FICS, 2013

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6 7.Qd5+ Ke8

8.Qxc5 Qe7 9.Qe3 Nf6 

Or 9...d5 as in Wall,B - Guest497592,, 2012 (1-0, 23). 

10.Nc3 d6 

Or 10...Kf7 11.0-0 Rf8  as in perrypawnpusher - frencheng, blitz, FICS, 2010 (½-½, 34). 

11.0-0 b6 

Instead, Black got more aggressive with 11...Be6 12.f4 Ng4 13.Qg3 Qh4 in Wall,B - Hirami,Z,, 2011 (1-0, 20) and with 
11...Ng4 in Wall,B - CKSP, FICS, 2010 (1-0, 15); but more careful (castling-by-hand) with 11...Rf8 12.f4 Kf7  in  perrypawnpusher - chingching, blitz, FICS, 2011 (½-½, 36). 

12.f4 Bb7 13.d3 

The more forward 13.f5 Ne5 14.d4 followed in perrypawnpusher-Navarrra, blitz, FICS, 2011 (24) and perrypawnpusher - MarkHundleby1,, 2013 (1-0, 27).


Or 13...a6 14.b3 Kd7 15.Ba3 Rae8 as in perrypawnpusher -MRBarupal, blitz, 2010 (0-1, 22) 


A bit better was 14.Qh3+ Ke8 15.b3

14...Rae8 15.Rae1 Rhf8 

One of the reasons that I have shared a lot of links above is to show how many ideas grow out of these Jerome Gambit positions. In the current game, however, as things went on, I began to think less and push pieces more, and this is never a good thing.

16.Qd4 Kc8 17.Qa4 Nd7 18.Qxa7 Nc5 19.Qa3 

Pawn grabbing with the Queen is not such a deep idea. Instead, it was time to be more dynamic with play like 19.b4 Na6 20.b5 Nc5 21.f5 Nh8 22.Nd5. 

19...Qh4 20.Nd5 Bxd5 21.exd5 Rxe1 


After the game, Houdini suggested that I should have started looking for a draw here with 22.Qa8+ Kd7 23.Qc6+ Kd8 24.Rxe1 Ne7 25.Qa8+ Nc8 26.g3 Qg4 27.Kg2 Re8 28.Rxe8+ Kxe8 29.b4 Qe2+ 30.Kh3 Qh5+ 31.Kg2 Qe2+ 32.Kh3 Qh5+

22...Kb7 23.g3 Qg4 24.Qc3

Overlooking danger: 24.d4 was necessary.


Even stronger: 24...Nh4.

25.Bxf4 Rxf4 26.b4

One last gasp. Where's a good swindle when you need one?


That should do it. Of course, 26...Rxb4 keeps Black on top.


Now White can answer  27...Ka7 with 28.Qxc7+ Ka6 29.b5+ Ka5 30.Qc3+ Ka4 31.Qb3+ Ka5 32.c4 Rxc4 33.dxc4 Qd4+ 34.Re3 and advantage - if he sees it.

27...Kc8 28.Qa8+

Yipes! Instead, my opponent walks into a mate-in-one (28.Re8#) - and I miss it.

We both deserve to lose. I deserved it more.

28...Nb8 29.Re8+ Kd7 30.Re1 

Alas, capturing Black's Knight allows him to checkmate me.

30...Rf8 31.Qa4+ Kc8 32.c4 Qd4+ 33.Kh1 Qf2 34.Re8+ Rxe8 35.Qxe8+ Kb7 36.h4 Qxg3 37.Qe4 Qf2 38.Qg2 Qxg2+ 39.Kxg2 Nd7 

The endgame is fairly won for Black.

40.d4 b5 41.c5 Nf6 42.cxd6 cxd6 43.Kf3 Nxd5 44.a3 Nc3 45.Kf4 Nb1 46.Kf5 Nxa3 47.Ke6 Kc7 48.Kf7 g6 49.Kg7 Nc2 50.Kxh7 Nxb4 51.Kxg6 Nd5 

White's King has gotten his exercise, but it doesn't save the game.

52.Kf5 Nc3 53.h5 b4 54.h6 b3 55.h7 b2 56.h8Q b1Q+ 57.Ke6 Qe4+ 58.Kf7 Qf5+ 59.Ke7 Nd5+ White resigned