Saturday, October 18, 2014

Jerome Gambit Book

After regular encouragement by Readers, and with the awareness that I will reach 1,950 blog posts before the end of this year, I have finally decided that it is time to commit myself to writing a book on the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+).

With a head nod to the legendary Chiam Schmendrick, the book will be titled All Or Nothing! The Jerome Gambit, and sub-titled Losing, Drawing, and Even Winning with the World's Most Notorious Chess Opening.

Aimed at the amateur and club player, the book will include history of the opening, starting with the life and games of Alonzo Wheeler Jerome. It will have plenty of analysis, both ancient and modern. Of course, none of the many refutations will be neglected - although I will include suggestions on how to address them.

There will also be hundreds of games included, to illustrate the wild and wacky play that can develop from the opening, and to give insight into why Jerome invented his gambit, and why the line continues to be re-invented by other chess-loving souls.

Readers who have their own favorite Jerome Gambit games are encouraged to send them via email for inclusion, to

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Natural Moves

The latest game from Bill Wall came with the following description: Here is a Jerome where my opponent tried to attack, but made errors, grabbed a pawn too greedily and lost a piece and the game.  I just played natural moves and waited for his mistakes.

Bill makes it all look simple.

Wall,B - Guest428245, 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6 7.Qd5+ Kf8 8.Qxc5+ d6 9.Qc3 

Sometimes - but not always, especially in Bill's games - the Queen goes to e3.


Bill points out the alternatives 9...Qg5 and 9...Qh4, looking for counter attack. Black probably didn't want to repeat White's errors of moving his Queen too often.

10.d3 Kf7

10...Qe7 was seen in Wall,B - Guest4149739,, 2013 (1-0, 30); while 10...c6 was seen in Wall,B - Boris,, 2012 (1-0, 32). 


White decides not to go pawn hunting with 11.Qb3+ Be6 12.Qxb7 Qd7. "Natural moves" and all that.


Black continues to castle-by-hand, although Bill points out the alternative 11...b6. 


Houdini slightly prefers 12.Qb3+ Kf8 and then 13.f4 but I am not sure why. It suggests that Black should answer 12.f4 with 12...Kg8, and after a few more moves play ...Kh8; so perhaps the suggestion of the White Queen check is designed to keep Black's King closer to the center, at f8.


Bill recommends that Black finish "castling" with 12...Kg8.

13.Nd2 Ng4 

Black is thinking of counter attack, but, again, should have turned his thoughts toward 13...Kg8.

14.f5 Qb6+?!

Bill offers alternatives: 14...Ne714...Nh814...Nf8;14...Nh4 15.Nc4.


I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Black simply overlooked this reply, expecting, instead, 15.Kh1? Nf2+ 16.Rxf2 Qxf2 17.fxg6+ Kxg6.


Alternatives were 15...Ne7 16.Nc4 Qd8 17.Qg3; and 15...Nf8 16.Nc4 Qd8 17.Qg3. 

16.Kh1 Nf6?

17.dxe5 dxe5

As Bill points out, not 17...Rxe5? 18.Nc4

18.Nf3 Nxe4?

Black is a pawn down, but could continue to play with either 18...Qb5 19.Re1 a5 or 18...Qc7 19.Rd1. The text is a psychological slip along the lines of thinking White can't be better, now, can he, it's got to be an even game, and capturing the pawn will make it so...

I am reminded of the old Jerome Gambit saw: once White has equalized, he has the advantage.

19.Qc4+ Kf8 20.Qxe4 Black resigned

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Proper Way To Blunder A Piece

I was looking for a short Jerome Gambit game to share with Readers, and stumbled upon an "old colleague" - a line of play that keeps showing up, regardless of expectations.

KAVUA - wojowhiskey
standard, FICS, 2013

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

4...Kxf7 5.Ng5+ 

I was surprised to note that this line has been seen in 445 games in The Database. Amazingly, the natural response, 5...Qxg5, was seen in only 318 of those games. 

The first mention of the line on this blog was in "A Closer Look (Part I)" 2008 when I noted that
"The in-your-face 5.Ng5+ was championed by tournament winner Carlos Azcarate (see "Carlos Azcarate Topping Ninja Knights T3") to the tune of one win and four losses."

A year later, when talking about 4 more examples in "Eyeblink Chess: Crash", I wrote
"Relax, readers. This blog, and the support of the Jerome Gambit Gemeinde will help you avoid such crashes."

Alas, it was not to be. The following year "Opening Tale" featured bit of a mystery involving a player who wanted to know what to do, after losing to 5.Ng5+ (put forward by one of the Jerome Gambit Gemeinde).
"..I'm pretty bad at openings I don't know, and lower rated opponents beat me at these, here's a worst case example:"

Later on in 2010, "Death of A Variation" pointed out that
"DREWBEAR 63's only loss to date in the ongoing Jerome Gambit Thematic Tournament at ChessWorld came with the White pieces against his primary rival, Daves111, under unclear circumstances." 
[Daves111 finished first in the tournament with 21 points; DREWBEAR 63 tied for second with 17 1/2 points.]

"Theory From the Thematic Tourney (2)" in the same year presented 5 more games with the line, including 2 wins by White

To reinforce my message, I posted "Reinventing the Flat Tire" making it clear that the line was
"Outrageous, even by Jerome Gambit standards. On the surface, White hopes to exchange his Knight for Black's Bishop at c5 – but the game quickly becomes too chaotic for that."

All the games mentioned to date were played online at FICS, but during 2011, in "Relayed Deaction" I was able to post an over-the-board example of the line from the Nana Alexandria Cup, Poti, Georgia, 2009.

I posted my first PSA later, "Public Service Announcement" with 5 games.

In 2012, I pointed out that "A Mention Is Not An Endorsement".

Even as recently as this year, in "Truth Is Stranger Than - Whatever" I opined
"This move seems to throw away a piece. I much prefer that White throw away a piece, instead, with 5.Nxe5. Even the Jerome Gambit has its limits."

This is White's "plan"...

6...Bxd4 7.Bxg5 Black resigned.

...And it worked to perfection.

Of course, it would only be fair to point out that Black's alternative, 6...Qxg2, wins crushingly.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Further Updating the Semi-Italian Jerome Gambit

Today we return to a rare line in the Semi-Italian Jerome Gambit, on behalf of HauntedKnight of FICS, who has over 230 Jerome Gambit and Jerome-related games in The Database.

HauntedKnight - keeper
blitz, FICS, 2012

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 h6

The Semi-Italian Opening.

4. O-O Bc5 5.Bxf7+ 

The Semi-Italian Jerome Gambit.

5...Kxf7 6. Nxe5+ Nxe5 7. d4 Qh4

Mentioned previously in "Updating the Semi-Italian Jerome Gambit". The move is reminiscent of what I have called a "Pie-in-the-Face Variation" in the regular Jerome Gambit: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5+ 6.d4 Qh4!?

The question here, in the Semi-Italian Jerome Gambit, is, how much does giving White a useful move (0-0) and having Black waste a move (...h6), change what is a clear plan of refutation in the Jerome Gambit proper.


For starters, White gets to capture one of Black's pieces in this variation. In the regular Jerome Gambit line, of course, capturing the Knight with 7.dxe5 would lead to 7...Qxf2#. (There is actually one such game in The Database.) Capturing the Bishop with 7.dxc5 in the regular line would lead to 7...Qxe4+ (best) and White was lucky to score 28% out of 52 games in the Database.

In the current game, White's King is castled, and thus safer. Still, he should have captured the other Black piece with 8.dxc5, leading to an almost-balanced game.

Instead, this move and his following move turn Black's Bishop into a monster. In unexplored territories - remember, this is the only 7.d4 Qh4 Semi-Italian Jerome Gambit game in The Database - there are often monsters.

8...d6 9.exd6

White had to try to hang on with 9.Nc3. 


White now fights valiantly, but to no avail.

10.f4 Nf6 11.e5 Ng4 12.h3 Bc5+ 13.Kh1 Nf2+ 14.Rxf2 Qxf2 15.Qh5+ g6 16.Qd1 

White can only annoy the Black King, and then fall back on defense.

16...Bf5 17.Qd5+ Be6 18.Qd1 Rad8 19.Nd2 Bd5 20.Qf1 Qxf1+

Black is content to simplify; perhaps it was a question of time on the clock. With 20...Qg3 he would have a checkmate in 7 moves. 

21.Nxf1 Kg7 22.Be3 Bxe3 23.Nxe3 Bc6 24.Kh2 Rhf8 25.g3 g5 26.Nf5+ Rxf5 White resigned

Despite the outcome of this game, White should not fear 7...Qh4, but go ahead and capture the Bishop with 8.dxc5, followed by development of his pieces and then the advance of his "Jerome pawns".