Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Best Jerome Gambit Game of the Year (Part 2)

We continue from the previous post, considering a game that has lept to the top of the heap for Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+) games this year.

As indicated, Readers are encouraged to dispute my assessment by sending in other great Jerome Gambit games...

Wall, Bill - Guest871838, 2014


Of the offer of the Rook with 7...d6, Blackburne wrote in Mr. Blackburne's Games at Chess (1899), "Not to be outdone in generosity." The cost to White of taking the Rook is to have his Queen locked out of the action, at a time when Black's pieces begin to swarm the Kingside.

Blackburne's book also contained the following: "NOTE. I used to call this the Kentucky opening. For a while after its introduction it was greatly favoured by certain players, but they soon grew tired of it."

A resonable explanation of the reference to the "Kentucky opening" has appeared previously in this blog (see "A New Abrahams Jerome Gambit" for a summary). 

As for the "certain players" who "greatly favoured" the Jerome Gambit, it is difficult to identify them by games played, as I have discovered the games of only a dozen or so players (other than Jerome, himself) who played the opening between when it was introduced in 1874 and the publication of Blackburne's book in 1899. Andres Clemente Vazquez, of Mexico, has four games in The Database, while E.B. Lowe, of Great Britain, has three.

Blackburne might well have been referring to authors who included analysis of the Jerome Gambit in their opening books, in which case George H.D. Gossip, of Theory of the Chess Openings (1879) and The Chess Player's Vade Mecum (1891) ; William Cook, of Synopsis of Chess Openings (1882, 1888); E. Freeborough and C. E. Rankin of  Chess Openings Ancient and Modern (1889, 1893, 1896);and Mortimer of The Chess Player's Pocket book And Manual of the Openings (1888 - 1906); are all likely suspects. Certainly, more research is still needed.


This is Blackburne's counter attack, threatening 9...Qxf2+ 10.Kd1 Bg4 mate.


Munoz and Munoz, in their notes to Amateur - Blackburne, London, 1885, in the Brooklyn Chess Chronicle, suggested "He should have attempted to free his pieces by P to Q4 [d4] before castling." 

The move 9.d4 received a good look in "Updating the Jerome Gambit (Part 1)", including references to L. Elliot Fletcher’s energetic Gambit’s Accepted (1954), an internet article on Amateur - Blackburne (at by Brazil's Hindemburg Melao, and some musings and analysis from Bruce Pandolfini, in his 1989 Chess Openings: Traps & Zaps !


The door closes on White's Queen.


Melao mentioned that Idel Becker, in his Manual de xadrez (1974), attributed the move 10.d4 to Euwe (source not mentioned). Melao was skeptical about the move, giving Black’s counter-attack 10…Bh3 11.gxh3 Rxh8 12.dxc4 Qxh3 13.f3 g5 14.Rf2 g4 15. Bf4 gxf3 16.Bg3 h5 17.Nd2 h4 18.Nf3 Qg4 with advantage for Black. He preferred 10.Qd8 - another suggestion (without further analysis) by Munoz and Munoz in the Brooklyn Chess Chronicle, August 1885, who opined "The only hope he had was 10.Q to Q8 [10.Qd8], thus preventing the deadly  move of Kt to Kt5 [...Ng4]."

Bill Wall mentioned that 10.d3 loses to 10...Bh3 11.Qxa8 Qg4 12.g3 Qf3 as was brutally demonstrated in RevvedUp - Hiarcs 8, 2 12 blitz, 2006 (0-1, 12).


Most consistent for Black is 10...Bb6, covering the c7 pawn and enforcing the embargo on the Queen. White should return a pawn to free Her Majesty with 11.e5 dxe5 12.Qd3 as in Wall,Bill - Foo,Nathan, Palm Bay, FL, 2010 (1-0, 33). 

[to be continued]

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Best Jerome Gambit Game of the Year (Part 1)

Although the year is only about half-over, the following game has lept to the top of the heap for Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+) games. It has history, analysis, tactics, strategy, surprises and come-backs - not bad, for a 10-minute game!

Readers are encouraged to dispute my assessment by sending in other great Jerome Gambit games, but at this point I can think of only one game (hint: see "The Jerome Gambit is Going to Drive Me..." Part 1 and Part 2) likely to challenge (and that was only mentioned, not played, in 2014).

Wall, Bill - Guest871838, 2014

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

The Jerome Gambit.

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

This defense is attributed to Joseph Henry Blackburne, whose miniature game brought the Jerome Gambit to the attention of chess players all around the world.

That game appeared in the August 15, 1885 issue of the Brooklyn Chess Chronicle, which noted that it was "played some months ago in London between Mr. Blackburne and an Amateur." It is likely that the game appeared elsewhere, most likely in a British chess magazine or newspaper chess column, but to date I have not found such an appearance. (Any help, Readers?)

The game received greatest exposure when included in Mr. Blackburne's Games at Chess (1899), although it was given there as played "at Simpson's Divan about 1880." Dr. Tim Harding, currently completing a biography of J.H. Blackburne, notes "It has been estimated that Blackburne may have played as many as 100,000 chess games"; so a small error in recall on behalf of the chess master is not unexpected. Six years ago on this blog, in "Flaws" Part I and Part II, I speculated about this possible "mis-remembering".

In my early years exploring the Jerome Gambit, I collected games from everywhere, including electronic game databases, some of which might best be referred to as "junk bases" because their inclusiveness (i.e. as many games as possible) often accentuated their inexclusiveness (i.e. including errors and bogus games). Two games complicate the story of Blackburne's Defense.

The first game is "Halpern, Jacob C. - Von Scheve, Theodor, England, 1880" which is given as having the exact same moves as Amateur - Blackburne, London, 1885. However, "Halpern - Von Scheve" has not shown up in any of the print resources (i.e. 19th and early 20th century newspaper chess columns, chess magazines, chess opening tomes) that I have encountered to date (over a decade of research) - and as such has to be considered spurious.

Equally curious is "Amateur - Neuman, Guestav, London, 1880" which follows the Blackburne game exactly, except that it substitutes 10.b3 for 10.c3, robbing the sacrificial ending of some of its logic (i.e. White's Queen can escape and defend). A note to myself from 10 years ago suggested, as well, "I have doubts about the reality of this game, based on a Google translation of a Wikipedia article from German (no English available) which suggests Neumann quit chess before 1880." Without further support from contemporary sources, the game must also be considered bogus.

Finally, it must be noted that it has occasionally been suggested that Blackburne's opponent in his fateful game was a player named "Millner" - although, again, my research has not confirmed this (or even identified the player). Occasionally the date of the game is given as other than 1885 or 1880, and the "amateur" involved has been mistakenly identified by one author as Alonzo Wheeler Jerome, himself. 

[to be continued]

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Another Bagatelle

I was able to dash off the following game at work the other day - a light-hearted thing (another bagatelle) played in a few minutes; but the final position brought a smile to my face.

perrypawnpusher - anonymous

casual over-the-board game, 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 h6

Wow! Okay...

I think I've seen this kind of defense in the Myers Openings Bulletin and in a couple of books by Gunderam. The idea is 3.Nxe5 Qe7 4.d4 d6 5.Nf3 Qxe4+ 6.Be7 and White is doing fine - but he is playing his opponent's game.

I didn't realize how much I wanted to play my type of game, instead.

3.Bc4 Nc6 4.Bxf7+

Yipes! Where did that come from? I usually respond in the Semi-Italian Opening with either 4.0-0 or 4.Nc3, waiting for 4...Bc5 and the chance to play 5.Bxf7+, the Semi-Italian Jerome Gambit. Must have been that wish to play my kind of game.

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6

The other time that I jumped the gun with 4.Bxf7+, I met 6...Ke6 here, instead, in perrypawnpusher - marapr, blitz, FICS, 2007 (1-0, 27).

7.0-0 d6 8.f4 d5

Last move or this, ...Nf6 was the proper move, although White proved to be very fortunate in playing against it in Vuquoclong - gabrielisaac, FICS, 2013 (1-0, 27).

9.f5 Qg5 10.fxg6+ 


The proper retreat is essential here - on this move, to e8, or, on the next move, to d6. Instead, Black's King is overly courageous.

11.Qh3+ Ke5 12.Qc3+

I had a funny idea here, but surely better was 12.d4+ Kd6 13.e5+.

12...d4 13.Qa5+ Kxe4 14.d3 checkmate.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Belated Happy Birthday

Ah, yes, another birthday has escaped me (I usually overlook my twin brother's birthday, too) - on June 10th of this year, this blog became 6 years old!

On top of that, about the end of July of this year, this blog will see its 1,900th post.

The Database, too, a free collection of Jerome Gambit and Jerome-related games, has grown to over 30,000 games.

Not bad, all-in-all, for a site devoted to "the worst chess opening ever".

Of course, little of this would be possible without the support of many Readers, world-wide, to whom I express my heart-felt thanks.

Surprises, laughs, and not a few groans lie ahead as we dash into Year 7. Feel free to come along!