Saturday, March 22, 2014

Updating the Blackburne Defense (Part 2)

Here we continue from our previous post, "Updating the Blackburne Defense (Part 1)", a look at the Blackburne Defense and what is new (or newer). 

For earlier efforts, see also "Update: Old Dog Can Still Bite","Junk Openings", "A Closer Look (Part V)", "Update: Blackburne Defense" and "Traps and Zaps".

perrypawnpusher - lfcanales

blitz, FICS, 2014

9...Nf6 10.Qd8 Qxe4 

Black's move allows White's Queen to escape and counter-attack. There are a number of alternative moves for Black, two of which bear attention.

Not 10...a6?, as in piratebopper - MiloBot, FICS, 2010, (1-0, 24).

Nor 10...a5? as in perrypawnpusher - MiloBot, blitz, FICS, 2010, (1-0, 24).

Played, if in a stumbling manner, is 10...Bd7?. The core game continued 11.Qxc7 (instead, 11.Qxa8? Nxe4? [Black should finish Blackburne-style: 11...Ng4 12.h3 Bxf2+ 13.Kh1 Qg3 14.Rxf2+ Nxf2+ 15.Kg1 Nxh3+ 16.Kh1 Nf4 17.Qf8+ Kxf8 18.d3 Qxg2#] 12.d4 Bxd4 13.Be3 Bxb2 14.Qxb7 Bxa1 15.Qxc7 Nf6 16.Qxd6 Kg7 17.Qc5 Ne4 18.Bd4+ Bxd4 19.Qxd4+ Kh6 20.f3 Black resigned, UNPREDICTABLE - choron, FICS, 2009) 11...Bb6? (instead, 11...Rc8 12.Qxb7 Ke7 is "gloriously obscure" according to Dr. Andrew Walker, University of Nottingham, personal communication, 2001. Probably 13.Qb3 with the idea of Qg3 is White's answer - not 13.Nc3? Ng4 when Black mates)  12.g3?! (12.Qxd6) 12...Qh3 13.Qxd6? Bc6 14.g4 Qxg4+ White resigned, Harris,S - Quayle,E, Los Angeles, CA, 1944.

Certainly solid, and Rybka's recommendation, is 10...Bb6. White should spring his Queen with 11.e5 dxe5 12.Qd3. The earliest reference that I have seen to this line is from The Art of the Checkmate by Renaud and Kahn (1953), which says White has the advantage. This proved true in Wall,B - Foo,N, Palm Bay, FL, 2010 (1-0, 33).

The most exciting move in the position is Chandler's 10...Bh3!?, when White has to temporarily forego the Rook at a8 and focus on checking Black: 11.Qxc7+ (11.g3? Qxe4 12.Qxc7+ Kf8 White resigned, Siggus -toe, FICS, 2007; 11.Qxa8? Qg4 12.Qe8+ Nxe8 13.g3 Qf3 14.Re1 Qg2#) 11...Kf8! (11...Kg8 lost in Chandler,G - Dimitrov, T/5 minute special game 2004; in Hiarcs 8 - RevvedUp, blitz 2 12, 2006 [1-0, 17]; and AsceticKingK9 - blackburne, ChessWorld JG6, 2011 [1-0, 22] ) and analysis by Geoff Chandler and, later, Dennis Monokroussos (see the two posts on his blog) show that the outcome is a draw, as it is too dangerous for either player to look for more.


This is an improvement over 11.Nc3 Qe7 (11...Qxc2 12.Qxc7+ Nd7 13.Nd5 Qe4 14.Nc3 Qe5 15.d3 Qd4 16.Re1 Qxf2+ White resigned, ionman - GriffyJr, FICS, 2005 (0-1,16); Interested readers should check out "Ionman vs The Bots" ) 12.Qxe7+ Kxe7 as in RevvedUp - Shredder 8, blitz 2 12, 2006 (0-1, 25).


radicalmove played over a dozen games against LuigiBot on FICS in 2012, testing the somewhat weaker 11...Bd7 (see "Poor, Poor Computer" for a couple of examples). The games are in The Database.

Likewise, ionman took on the computer GriffyJr a couple of times at FICS in 2005, over the somewhat weaker 11...Qe7 (the games are also in The Database). White triumphed in Shredder 8 - RevvedUp, blitz 2 12, 2006 (1-0, 28).


Maybe a little better was 12.Qd8+ Kf7 13.d3 Qe5 14.Bh6 Qe8 15.Qxe8+ Nxe8.


The pawn is poison.


After the game Houdini preferred 13.d4!? Bb6 (13...Bxd4 14.Bh6 Bd7 15.Qc4+ d5 16.Qxd4) 14.Qe7 when White steals the Knight in broad daylight.

13...Kg7 14.Qe7+ Kh6 15.Qxf6 Black resigned

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Updating the Blackburne Defense (Part 1)

Chess players who know about the Jerome Gambit are most familiar with the game Amateur - Blackburne, London, 1885. Many believe that the Blackburne Defense, when played properly, leads to an advantage for the second player.

Players a bit more familiar with the Jerome Gambit and past published analysis might well believe that White has the advantage.

Readers familiar with this blog would know that modern analysis has termed the Blackburne Defense as difficult, but actually a draw.

I thought of all of this as I played my most recent game, and decided that the Blackburne Defense needed another update.

Of course, you can start first with earlier efforts: "Update: Old Dog Can Still Bite", "A Closer Look (Part V)", "Update: Blackburne Defense" and "Junk Openings".

perrypawnpusher - lfcanales

blitz, FICS, 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

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

Here is the famous Blackburne defense, from Amateur - Blackburne, London, 1885. The Brooklyn Chess Chronicle (edited by J.B. and E.M. Munoz) Vol. III, August 15, 1885, p. 169, noted the game was

"played some months ago in London between Mr. Blackburne and an Amateur..."
8.Qxh8 Qh4

Here Amateur played 9.0-0. The editors of the Brooklyn Chess Chronicle suggested
He should have attempted to free his pieces by P to Q4 before castling. 
Although my opponent lfcanales played 9.0-0 as well, I would like first to look at the under-investigated 9.d4. After all, if 9.0-0 leads to a draw, as Chandler and Dimitrov have argued, then 9.d4 might be the better chance for White to fight for an advantage.

Here is some of what I have found.

After 9.d4, thematic and best for Black is 9...Nf6, although other moves have been played.

For example, Black has the alternative 9...Qxe4+ 10.Be3 Qxg2 -best - there have been several games with lesser 10th moves:

     1)10...Bb6?! 11.Qxh7+ Kf8 12.Nc3 Qe7 13.Qxe7+ Nxe7 14.0-0-0 Bf5 15.Bg5 Nc6 16.Nd5 Be6 17.Nxb6 axb6 18.d5 Bxd5 19.Rxd5 Nb4 20.Rd4 Nxa2+ 21.Kb1 Ra5 22.Bd2 Black resigned,  MrJoker - carrotop, Internet Chess Club, 2011
     2)10...Bxd4 11.Qxh7+ (better 11.Qxd4) Kf8 12.0-0 b6 13.Bh6+ Ke8 14.Qxg8+ Kd7 15.Qf7+ Kc6 16.Qf3 Qxf3 17.gxf3 Bh3 18.Rd1 Re8 19.c3 Bc5 20.b4 Bxf2+ 21.Kxf2 Re7 22.Nd2 a5 23.a3 Rf7 24.Ne4 Bg4 25.Ng5 Rf6 26.Rd4 Kd7 27.Rxg4 d5 28.Rd1 c5 29.Rxd5+ Kc6 30.Rd8 axb4 31.axb4 cxb4 32.Rc4+ Kb5 33.Rxb4+ Kc5 34.Ne4+ Kc6 35.Nxf6 Kc7 36.Rd7+ Kc6 37.Be3 b5 38.Rd5 g5 39.Rbxb5 Black resigned, mediax - yorkypuddn,  2008
     3)10...Bh3 (shouldn't work here) 11.Qxh7+ Kf8 12.Qxh3 Bxd4 13.Qf3+? (13.Nd2) 13...Qxf3 14.gxf3 Bxb2 15.Rg1 Kf7 16.Nc3 Bxc3+ 17.Ke2 Bxa1 18.Rxa1 Ne7 19.Rb1 b6 20.f4 Rh8 21.Rh1 Nd5 22.Bd2 c5 23.h4 Kf6 24.Kf3 b5 25.Kg4 Ne7 26.h5 gxh5+ 27.Rxh5 Rxh5 28.Kxh5 Kf5 29.Kh4 Nd5 30.Kg3 c4 White resigned, chrisdeb - stephPaillade, 2004
     4)10...Qxc2 11.dxc5 dxc5 12.Qc3 Qxc3+ 13.Nxc3 Bf5 14.Bxc5 Re8+ 15.Be3 Re5 16.0-0 Bd3 17.Rfd1 Bc2 18.Rd7+ Re7 19.Rxe7+ Nxe7 Black resigned, Marfia,J - Stelter,J, offhand game, 1964
     5)10...Nf6 11.Nd2 Qxg2 12.0-0-0 and White wins, comment by Bad Temper,, 2005; 

Continuing -11.Qxh7+ Kf8 12.Rf1 Bh3 (12...Bb6 13.Nd2 Bf5 14.c3 Bd3 15.0-0-0 winning for White - personal communication, Paul Keiser, 2004) 13.Bh6+ Nxh6 14.Qxh6+ Kf7 15.Qf4+ Kg7 16.Kd2 Qxf1 17.dxc5 Rd8 18.Qd4+ Kh7 19.b3 Qb5 20.Qh4+ Kg7 21.Qxd8 Qxc5 22.Qe7+ Kh6 23.Qh4+ Kg7 24.Qxh3 Qxf2+ 25.Kc3 Qc5+ 26.Kb2 Qe5+ 27.Qc3 Black resigned, darumsdad - KolaTwoOFour, FICS, 2013. 

Black can also respond to 9.d4 with 9...Bb4+ 10.c3 Qxe4+ (not 11.Kf1? from perrypawnpusher - bakker, blitz, FICS, 200711.Be3 Qxg2 12.Qxh7+ Kf8 13.Rf1 when White will hold on and keep his advantage.

10.Nd2 Bxd4 11.0-0

Given by Hindemburg Melao, in an internet article  at, (which identified Blackburne's opponent as "Millner") as good for White. 

Instead, 10.dxc5 was given in Chess Openings: Traps and Zaps, by Bruce Pandolfini (1989) - see""Traps and Zaps" -  10...Qxe4+ 11.Be3 Qxg2 12.Rf1 where he wrote

Scenario: Don't be misled by White's extra Rook. It's a meaningless ornament. White is in serious trouble. His King is exposed and his cornered Queen is in danger of being trapped. The cruncher is 12...Bh3 which wins White's Queen by discovery from the a8-Rook.
Actually, the correct response to 11...Qxg2? is 12.Nc3!? which later prevents Black's Knight from moving to e4 and giving mate. After  12...Qxh1+ 13.Kd2 Qxa1? White turns the tables with 14.Bd4! (13...Qxh2 would keep Black's Queen in play) when Black's extra Rook would mean little in the face of White's strong counterattack.

Also, 10.e5 does not appear as strong as 10.Nd2 - and seems more dangerous for White - after 10...dxe5 11.Nd2 (11.dxc5? Qe4+; 11.dxe5?? Qxf2+ 12.Kd1 Bg4 mate) Bxd4 12.0-0 Be6!? 13.Qxa8 Bd5 14.Qc8 Ng4 15.Qxc7+ Ke6 16.Nf3 Bxf3 17.Bf4 Bxf2+ 18.Kh1 exf4 19.Qxf4 g5 20.Qb8 Be2 21.c4 Bxf1 22.Rxf1 Nf6 23.Qc8+ Ke5 24.Qxb7 Ne4 White has an edge, analysis by Houdini.

[to be continued]

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Deus ex Chess Clock

When I play through Jerome Gambit games by Bill Wall or Philidor 1792, I imagine a hero emerging, unscathed, from the center of whirling, churning chaos...

When I play the Jerome Gambit, though, it is a lot more like riding in a car that is careening out of control, heading for a cliff - and, if I am lucky, I can jump out in time...

Something like the following game.

perrypawnpusher - OudeKwakkelaar

blitz, FICS, 2014

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

The Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit.

5...Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ 

My opponent has faced this opening a few times earlier, and may not have been impressed:

6.0-0 Rf8 7.Nd5 Kg8 8.d3 h6 9.Nh4 Nxd5 10.Nf5 Nde7 11.Nxh6+ gxh6 12.Bxh6 Rf6 13.Bg5 Rg6 14.Qh5 Qf8 15.Bxe7 Nxe7 16.Qxe5 Bd6 17.Qb5 Qh6 18.h3 b6 19.Rae1 Qg5 20.g3 Qxb5 White resigned, maharishi - OudeKwakkelaar, FICS, 2006; and

6.Ng5+ Ke8 7.d3 d6 8.0-0 Rf8 9.Nd5 Nxd5 10.exd5 Nd4 11.c3 Nf5 12.Nxh7 Rh8 13.Qh5+ Ke7 14.Bg5+ Kd7 15.Bxd8 Rxd8 16.Qf7+ Black resigned, BurtForFun - OudeKwakkelaar, FICS, 2012.

6...Nxe5 7.d4 Bxd4

This is a slight improvement over our earlier game, which continued with 7...d6, in perrypawnpusher - OudeKwakkelaar, blitz, FICS, 2011 (½-½ , 62).

8.Qxd4 Qe7 9.0-0 

This is a little bit better than 9.f4 as in perrypawnpusher - HGBoone, blitz, FICS, 2010 (1-0, 27); but 9.Bg5, which I played next move, is probably best. 

9...Re8 10.Bg5 Qd6 

The prudent 10...Kg8 was seen in perrypawnpusher - BigKalamar, blitz, FICS, 2011 (1-0, 49).


I just knew that after the game Houdini was going to scold me for not playing 11.Qxd6 and it did, suggesting 11...cxd6 12.Nb5 and Black has an edge, which he keeps, of course, after 12...Rg8 13.f4 Nc4 14.b3 Nd2 15.Nxd6+ Ke6 16.Rfe1 Kxd6 17.Rad1 h6 18.Rxd2+ Ke7 19.Bh4 g5 20.fxg5 hxg5 21.Bg3 b6. 

Now my game is headed for a cliff...

11...Neg4 12.Qh3 h6 13.Bh4 Qc5 14.Qd3 Qh5

Black would have done better with 14...d6, but Houdini still says that White has very little for his sacrificed piece. 

15.Bg3 d6 16.f4 

Here, however, Black forfeited on time.

Once again, White is saved by the Jerome Gambit's "secret weapon".

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Jerome's Double Gamble

Today's post's title plays on an early name for our opening, once referred to as "Jerome's Double Gambit."

As far back as the post "Jerome Gambit Tournament: Chapter IV" I mentioned that Unorthodox Openings Newsletter editor Gary K. Gifford had rightly classified our opening - "Jerome Gambit, or Jerome Gamble?" (UON #17).

Even earlier, in "But - is this stuff playable?" Part I and Part II, I had given an unqualified "no" and a qualified "yes" as answers to my question.

Maybe a more useful question would be -- "Under what conditions might the Jerome Gambit be playable?" ...[A]t the right time (and time control), with the right opponent, playing in the right mood – perhaps the Jerome Gambit is a bit playable...
In the following game, Bill Wall gives it his best shot, but seems to be facing the wrong opponent at the wrong time...

Bill has included a few suggestions.

Wall,B - Guest874250, 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Kf8 7.Qxe5 d6 8.Qg3

Instead, 8.Qf4+ would be met by 8...Qf6


Possibly a bit stronger than the alternatives, 8...d5, which was seen in Wall,B - GoldCoinCollector,, 2010 (1-0, 17); Wall,B - Thieveyen,, 2010 (1-0, 61); Wall,B - GuestZCLK, FICS, 2011 (1-0, 15); and Wall,B - bfcace,, 2012 (1-0, 25); and 8...Qe7 from Banks,P - Dunne,D, Worcestershire v Derbyshire, 2010 (1-0, 35).


Likewise, Bill has played 9.d3, as in Wall,B - Badbeat994,, 2010 (1-0, 48); and Wall,B - Milsrilion,, 2010 (1-0, 50).


Black tried 9...Nh5 in Wall,B - Ahmadi,S,, 2010 (0-1, 59), but that move, alone (about equal to the text) was not responsible for the game's outcome.


Or 10.d3.

10...Rf8 11.d3

Another idea was 11.Qh4 Kg8


Or 11...Kg8 as in perrypawnpusher - truuf, blitz, FICS, 2011 (0-1, 32).


Possibly 12.Kh1 Kg8 13.f4; or 12.Ne2 Nh5 13.Qf3+ Kg6 14.Nf4+ Nxf4 15.Bxf4 Qf6


If 12...Bxe3 then 13.Qxe3.


Or 13.Qg5 Qxg5 14.Bxg5 Kg8.

13...Kg6 14.Qe2

Possibly 14.Qd1 Bxe3 15.fxe3 Qg5

14...Nf4 15.Bxf4 

If 15.Qd2, then 15...Qg5; but not 15.Qf3? because of 15...Nh3+



Ideas: 16.Qd2 Qf6; or 16.e5 Bg4; or 16.Na4 Qg5.

16...Rf7 17.e5

Or 17.Nd5 Bxd5 18.exd5 Qf6; or 17.h4 Bh3 18.Rfe1? Rxf2.

17...dxe5 18.Qxe5

Attacking both bishops.



More attractive than trading Queens with either 19.Qxd6 cxd6 20.Kg2 Bd4; or 19.Rae1 Bf5.


Better for White was either 19...Kh6 20.Rae1 or 19...Kf6 20.Qxb7 


Or 20.Qg2 Re8 

20...Re8 21.Qg2

White's choices are becoming limited, e.g. 21.Qb5 Re5 22.Qb7 c6; or 21.g4 Bxg4 22.Qg2 h5; or 21.Na4 Bh3 22.Nxc5 Qxc5

21...Bg4 22.Ne4 

Or 22.h3 Bf3 23.Qh2 Bc6



Alternatives: 23.Rab1 Qh5 24.Nxc5 Bf323.c3 Qh523.Nxc5 Qxc5 24.c3 Bf3 25.Qh3 Be2. 


Or 23...Bf3 24.Qh3 Bb6


If 24.c3 Qe6 25.d4 Bh3; if 24.b3 Qf5; not 24.Nc3? Qxe1! 25.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 26.Qf1 Rxf2 27.Qxe1 Rxc2+; if 24.c4 h5 25.b4 Bf3 26.Qh3 Bd4.

24...Qe7 25.a3

More solid than 25.h4 Qxb4; or 25.b5 Qd7 26.h4 Bh3; or 25.Rb1 Qd7.

25...Qd7 26.h4 

Instead, 26.Nc5 Bxc5 27.bxc5 Bf3 loses the Queen. 

26...Bh3 27.Qh1 

If 27.Qh2, then 27...Qg4.


Or 27...Bxf1 28.Kxf1 h6.


If 28.Re2 then 28...Qg4 29.Rd2 Be3

28...Qg4 29.Qh2 h6 30.c4 Bd4 31.Rcd1 Rf3 32.Rd2 R8f4 White resigned.