Saturday, October 4, 2014

Not Just An Option

When playing the Italian Game, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5, the Jerome Gambit - 4.Bxf7+ - is one option, among several, for White.

When facing the Blackburne Shilling Gambit, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4, the Jerome approach - 4.Bxf7+ - is, again, one option among others.

However, as we see in the game below, when facing the Semi-Italian Opening, if Black goes overboard with 4...Na5 (hoping to exchange his Knight for White's "Italian Bishop"), then 4.Bxf7+ is not just an option, it is probably the best way for White to respond.

This post is another "public service announcement" for Black's own protection.

jlsdr - WMozartA
standard, FICS, 2013

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6 

The Semi-Italian Opening. Some authors give Black's last move a "?", although, "objectively" it is probably more deserving of a "?!" - I have seen grandmaster games where Black has won with the defense; but the move sometimes is played by an overly-timid club player (instead of 3...Nf6 or 3...Bc4), and perhaps that is why it gets full condemnation 

4.0-0 Na5 

As we have seen in "Too Much of A Bad Thing" and "Final Nail In The Coffin" this is not correct. It must be punished, Jerome-style.

5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Ke8 7.Qh5+ g6 8.Qxg6+ Black resigned

If Black defends well, he will still end up down the exchange and three pawns, with no compensation.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Meeting A Threat With A Threat

In analyzing tactics for a position, players are encouraged to not just find a defensive solution, but to look for a possible counter-threat that would grab the initiative and force their opponents to defend their threats.

This idea of "meeting a threat with a threat" is clearly on the mind of Bill Wall's opponent in the following game. It is interesting to watch Bill meet the new threat with another one of his own - with telling effect.

Wall,B - Guest1561957, 2014

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

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5 Nxe5 6.d4 Bxd4 7.Qxd4 d6 8.0-0

Previously, Bill has played 8.Qd5+ as in Wall,B - Guest344942,, 2013 (1-0,20).

8...Nf6 9.Nc3

Instead, 9.f4 was seen in Jerome,A - Shinkman,W, Iowa, 1876  (½-½, 42).

Earlier, Bill had played 9.f3, i.e. Wall,B - Guest903719,, 2013 (1-0, 47).

9...Re8 10.Bg5 h6 

Black continued without this "kick", with 10...Nc6, in perrypawnpusher - JoseSoza,, 2012 (0-1, 34). 


Bill notes, as an alternative, 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.Rad1 Nc6 13.Qc4+ Be6, which may be less strong than the text. 


Black could also have castled-by-hand with 11...Kg8.

12.f4 c5

Black decides to "meet a threat with a counter-threat", but the straight-forward 12...Nc6 was better. 

13.Qa4 Ng6

Black retreats with a threat, but he has missed one of those by White.

14.Bxf6 gxf6 15.f5 b5

Again, Black conters a threat with a threat, but simpler would have been 15...Kg7 16.fxe6 Rxe6 17.Qb3, although White would be better. 

16.Qxb5 Bd7 17.fxg6+ Kxg6 18.Qd3 Kg7

The smoke has cleared, and White has an extra pawn.

19.Qxd6 Rc8 20.Rad1 Rc7 21.Qg3+

Equally 21.Rxf6 Qxf6 22.Qxc7

21...Kh7 22.Nd5 Rc6 

23.Nxf6+ Rxf6 24.Rxf6 Qxf6 25.Rxd7+ Black resigned.

White is ahead three pawns, and Black has no counterplay.

[Readers of this blog in the month of September, 2014 set a new record for visits, the highest - by far (24% above the previous high) - since the blog began in June, 2008.
I noticed a lot of referrals from Many thanks, and please do come back - Rick]

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jerome Gambit OTB

I have the ChessBase online app for my smart phone, giving me access to a large games database. Every once in a while, I can find a new Jerome Gambit or Jerome-ish game.

The following over-the-board clash was initiated by a 15-year old Lithuanian player.

Jelisejevas, Rokas - Diciunas,Vladas
2nd Mikenas Memorial, Taujenai , 06.08.2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.0-0 

White opts for a "modern" Jerome Gambit variation, one without 5.Nxe5+. He figures he has done enough sacrificing by drawing Black's King out, and so protects his own. He will take his chances as they come.

The Database has 1128 such games, in which White scores 38%. 

5...d6 6.d3 Bg4 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3+ Nf6

9.Nc3 Nd4 10.Qd1 Rf8 11.Be3 Ne6 12.Bxc5 Nxc5 13.Ne2 Kg8 14.f4 Qe7 

White has played his thematic f2-f4, but Black has gotten his King to safety by castling-by-hand, and there is little to show, beyond an extra pawn, for White's piece sacrifice.

The gambiteer is going to need some cooperation from his opponent, and in this game it is not forthcoming.

15.f5 Rad8 16.c4 c6 17.b4 Ncd7 18.a4 Nb8 19.Qb3 Kh8

20.Rae1 d5 21.Nc3 dxc4 22.dxc4 Rd4 23.c5 Re8 24.Qb1 h6 25.Rd1 b6 White resigned

A salute to young Rokas for risking it all, over-the-board, in a rated tournament - and better fortune next time!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

One Game, Several Positions

I have chosen the following Jerome Gambit game to be illustrated by a series of diagrams. The first shows an opening oversight by both players - where White's Queen could have been won before move 10.

The remaining diagrams show the game after it has reached a pawns endgame. The computers say the first player has the advantage - but how does he win?

Black's drawing method is worth remembering.

ainafets - cmdeats

blitz, FICS, 2007

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Bxd4 7.Qxd4 Qf6 8.0-0 

White slips, as covered in "Something To Watch Out For" and "Why Did He Play That Move?" - although Black overlooked his opportunity on the next move.

A game played 10 minutes after this one, on the same date, continued with the same tactical theme, only this time Black caught on: 8.f4 Nf3+ White resigned, ainafets - Papaflesas, FICS, 2007

Later on, the players reached the following position. White has recovered nicely, and reached a winnable endgame.

23.Kf2 Ke6 24.Kf3 Ke5 25.c3 a6 26.h4 h6 27.h3 g6 28.b3 c6

White is in no hurry, and slowly advances his pawns, avoiding anything drastic.

29.b4 c5 30.a3 h5 31.a4 d5 32.exd5 cxb4 33.cxb4 Kxd5 34.e4+ Kc4 35.b5 axb5 36.axb5 Kxb5 

The Queenside pawns have been exchanged off - maybe not the most efficient solution, but leaving much less for White to worry about. He still has a won game.

Houdini actually evaluates the position as a "checkmate in 18 moves" for White, but average players don't have to calculate that far to see a winning plan. The only "trick" is that the first player must realize that it needs to be his e-pawn that gets promoted.

37.Kf4 Kc5 38.Kg5 Kd4 39.Kxg6 Kxe4 40.Kxh5 Kf5

White has a 2-0 pawn advantage, but, due to the nature of those pawns - both Rook pawns - he now has only a draw. Instead, 38.Ke5, followed by shepherding the e-pawn to the 8th rank, was the way to go.

But - don't go away yet.

41.Kh6 Kf6 42.Kh5 Kf5 43.Kh6 Kf6 44.h5 Kf5

Having shown his opponent that he understands how to hold the draw - by keeping White's King trapped on the h-file in front of his pawns - Black suddenly has his King give way.

White now wins by springing his King with 45.Kg7.


Or, not.

45...Kf6 46.Kh7 Kf7 47.h6 Kf6 

Again, Black falters. (It was, after all, a blitz game.) Holding the draw was 47...Kf8.


And White, too, misses another chance to free his monarch. So the point gets split.

48...Kf7 49.Kh8 Kf8 50.Kh7 Kf7 51.Kh8 Kf8 52.h7 Kf7 53.h6 Kf8 Game drawn by stalemate