Friday, December 19, 2014

Too Smart (Not Smart Enough) For My Own Good

Sometimes when I am playing the Jerome Gambit I think I should take Nike's advice and "Just Do It!"... Over-thinking something has its problems. In the following game, by the time I figured out what I was supposed to remember, the game had wandered off.

perrypawnpusher - catmandu

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+ Nxe5 7.d4 Nf3+

A sharp and realatively unknown idea - this game is only the 10th example in The Database. It seemed familiar to me, though - and it actually was. I had responded with 8.gxf3 four years ago in perrypawnpusher - wertu, blitz, FICS, 2010 (1-0, 20).


During the game against catmandu, however, I thought I remembered perrypawnpusher - AirmanLeonidas, blitz, FICS, 2010 (1-0, 18), where, in my annotations, I had suggested that capturing with the Queen was better.

This was not entirely correct: against AirmanLeonidas I was playing the Semi-Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit - with 0-0 and ...h6 added to the current position - so that certain lines were playable then, but not now.


At this point I realized that 9.e5 would not work (it hadn't worked in stretto - NoWar, FICS, 2007 [0-1, 28] or yorgos - ANDGREG, FICS, 2009 [0-1, 51] either, I learned later); and that the idea starting with 9.Nb5 followed by 10.Qb3+, as in my game against AirmanLeonidas, would stumble upon the fact that my King in this game was still on the e-file.

I could have made more of a game of it with 9.Ne2 Be5 10.Qd3 c6 11.f4 Bc7 but of course Black would still be better.

Without any particular idea in mind, I just started "making moves". 

9.Bg5 Rf8 10.0-0

After the game Houdini suggested the move complicated (hence, giving me more chances) 10.Ne2 Bxb2 11.Qb3+ Kg6 12.h4 h6 13.Nf4+ Kh7 14.Qxb2 Qe8 15.0-0-0 Qxe4 16.g3 Qc4 17.Bxf6 Rxf6 with Black still for choice. 


Black has castled-by-hand, and compensation for White's piece sacrifice is insufficient.

11.Nd5 Nxd5 

One last oversight.

12.Qb3 Qxg5 White resigned

Next time, instead of trying to do all that remembering, I'll just focus on playing the game.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Nothing To It

Chess players who first encounter the Jerome Gambit often decide that there is nothing to it. They accept the first sacrificed piece. They accept the second sacrificed piece. They casually block White's brash Queen check with their g-pawn. Then they settle down to figure out how to play the rest of the game.

Too often, it is already too late.

perrypawnpusher - tripledubs
blitz, FICS, 2014

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

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ g6

7.Qxe5 Nf6

Defenders familiar with the Jerome Gambit will try 7...d6 (Blackburne's Defense) or 7...Qe7 (Whistler's Defense) or some defense of their own concoction.

In the game, Black, in returning one piece, sees that his Rook is endangered, and so protects it - returning a second piece. 


White is two pawns ahead. He will be temporarily uncomfortable while behind in development (whose gambit is this, anyhow?) but his opening can be considered a success.


Best is 8... Nxe4 as in perrypawnpusher - LibertasProVita, blitz, FICS, 2009 (1-0, 45) and perrypawnpusher - ibnoe, blitz, FICS, 2012 (1-0, 16).

Also playable is  8... Qe7 as in perrypawnpusher - marbleschess, blitz, FICS, 2009 (1-0, 48).

A bit better than the text is 8...d6 followed by ...Nxe4 as in perrypawnpusher - MsD, blitz, FICS, 2007 (0-1, 27), perrypawnpusher - brain50, JG3 thematic 2008 (1-0, 24) and perrypawnpusher - tiagorom, blitz, FICS, 2009 (1-0, 41).

9.d3 d5

More strident than 9... d6 as in perrypawnpusher - Alternative, blitz, FICS, 2005 (1-0, 63), perrypawnpusher - andrecoenen, blitz, FICS, 2010 (1-0, 15), and perrypawnpusher - Gryllsy, blitz, FICS, 2014 (1-0, 33).


This is an improvement over 10.O-O of Vuquoclong - VonKortez, FICS, 2013 (1-0, 22) and  10.Bg5 of UNPREDICTABLE - ornito, FICS, 2011 (1-0, 36).

10...c6 11.Bg5

Better is 11.Nc3 or 11.O-O, as the text allows Black to grab back a pawn with the combination 11...Nxe4 12.fxe4 Qxg5.

11...dxe4 12.dxe4

Thoughtless, expecting the game to "play itself". Better and more principled would be 12.fxe4 because then 0-0 would put more pressure on the Black Knight at f6.

12...Be6 13.Nc3 Kg7 14.O-O Qc7 15.Bxf6+ Kxf6


Here I overlooked a nice tactic with 16.Nb5!? based on Black's pinned c-pawn, his attacked Queen, and the placement of his Rooks.

16...b6 17.Qf2 Red8 18.a3 Rd7 19.Rxd7 Bxd7 20.Rd1

So far I have been pretty good at doing nothing, but here I could have tried 20.Qh4+ Kg7 21.Qe7+ Kg8 22.Rd1. The funny thing is that I kind of get there, eventually.

20...Rd8 21.Qh4+ Kg7 22.Qg3

Cowardice. Better 22.Qe7+ Kg8 23.e5.


It was probably better to exchange Queens.

23.Qe5+ Kg8 24.Qd6 Qa6 25.e5 Qc4 26.e6 Qc5+
27.Qxc5 bxc5

Black resigned

The Bishop is lost.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chess Life for Kids

I write a regular column for the United States Chess Federation's Chess Life for Kids magazine.

I noticed that in Don Maddox and Ranae Bartlett's article, "The Bridge", in the December 2014 issue, the following game appeared. It is from a team match played, via Skype, between elementary students in Madison, Alabama, USA and Xiamen, China.

Wilhelm,J - Lexuan,W
Madison, AL - Xiamen, China Skype match, 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Nc3 Na5

Readers who are familiar with this kind of move, or who recall "Another Coffin, Another Nail" or "Kick Me" know what will happen next.

5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Ke8

FM Bradley Denton, writing in Chess Life for Kids, recommended, instead, 6...Kf8 7.Qh5 Qe8 8.Nxd7+ Bxd7 9.Qxc5+ Ne7 10.Qxa5, although White would still be better.

 7.Qh5+ g6 8.Nxg6 hxg6 9.Qxh8 Kf8 10.d3 Qf6 11.Bh6+ Kf7 12.Qh7+ Ke6 13.Qxg8+ Kd6


Missing the killer move 14.Bf8+! that would wrap things up. That's okay, White still has things in hand, up the exchange and three pawns.  

14...Qxf8 15.Bxf8+ Kc6 16.Bxc5 Kxc5 17.0-0 d6 18.f4 Bd7 19.f5 

Jerome pawns, forward!

19...gxf5 20.exf5 Rf8 21.f6 Nc6 22.Rae1 Nd4 23.Re7 Kc6 24.Rg7 Nxc2 25.f7 Be6 26.Rf6 Bc4 

This slip hastens the end.

27.dxc4 Nb4 28.Rg8 Rxg8 29.fxg8Q Na6 30.Qd5+ Kd7 31.Rf7+ Kc8 32.Qe6+ Kd8 33.Qd7 checkmate

(Yes, Readers, I once wrote "The Worst Chess Opening Ever!" - on the Jerome Gambit - for the June 2010 and August 2010 issues of Chess Life for Kids. I don't remember, off hand, if they ran my article on "The Knucklehead Gambit," however...)