Friday, July 3, 2015

Through - Whew!

As updated in "Shelter in Place", I raced to the top of my first round group (without playing a Jerome Gambit) in an Italian Game tournament at, completing my games - only to have to wait until others in my group finished theirs.

Lvercotti surged ahead of me, eventually taking first place in the group with a score of 10-0-2. Next came mikerj, galloping by with 8-2-2. I managed a draw off of each of them.

At 7-2-3 I could only wait for the outcome of the last-to-finish game in our group, FedorMarkov - Lvercotti, to see if  White won, also reaching 8.5 points, possibly knocking me out of third place - and a chance to advance to the second round of the tournament - on tiebreaks.

Curiously, in a R + 5Ps vs R + N + 2Ps, where the  position was balanced, but White seemed to have all the winning chances - the first player lost on time. Given that the time limit was 3 days per move, something must have gone wrong for him...

Group 2 has yet to finish, although it is already clear that will_thrash, 7thSon and Diogenes_of_Sinope will all advance to the second round, in some kind of order, as the trio has broken away from the rest of the pack.

With luck, Round 2 will see some Jerome Gambits.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Plenty of Lessons

Playing over lost games, or games where I played poorly, provides plenty of lessons for my chess improvement. The following game has a shelf-full of lessons for both me and my opponent - especially when it comes to middle game play.

perrypawnpusher - genericme

blitz, FICS, 2015

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

The Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit. I have 57 examples of this position in my games in The Database, scoring 73%. (That seems pretty good, but it's below the 81% I have scored with the regular Jerome Gambit; the 89% with the Semi-Italian Jerome Gambit; and the 92% with the Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit.)

5...Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.d4 Nd3+

This is a creative idea from my opponent, and a TN according to The Database. It is the kind of "shocking" move that can be found in blitz games, and I admit that I was expecting the regular (and stronger) 7...Bxd4.

8.Qxd3 Bb4

Black moves the threatened Bishop, and puts pressure on White's e-pawn. Ceteris paribus, such an idea should work - but "all things" are not "equal" here, as White's sacrifice of a Bishop at f7 has moved Black's King. Concrete analysis is important, even in blitz.

After 8...Bb6 9.e5 Ne8 10.O-O d6 11.f4 White could feel that his "Jerome pawns" would balance out Black's extra piece.

9.Qc4+ Kg6

Playing over this game afterward, I am sure my opponent will decide that 9...d5 10.Qxb4 Nxe4 would have been better than exposing his King further.

10.Qxb4 Re8 

I had expected 10...Nxe4 11.Nxe4 Re8 when I planned on castling, although now, after the game, it seems that 12.f3 d5 13.O-O dxe4 14.Bf4 is the way to go.

11.O-O Ng4

After the game, I looked at 11...Nxe4 with Stockfish, which recommended for White something I had not considered: 12.d5!?

analysis diagram

The strength of the move - among other things, threatening to win the Knight at e4 - slowly becomes apparent. 

For example, Black cannot simply hope to exchange with 12...Nxc3, as 13.Qg4+ Kf7 14.Bg5 would allow White to win the exchange (as well as recapture on c3).

Protecting the Knight with 12...Qe7 seems best, but, again, after 13.Qxe7 Rxe7 14.Re1 Nxc3 15.Rxe7 Nxd5 16.Re5 Nf6 White has won the exchange.

And if Black simply retreats the Knight with 12...Nf6, Stockfish recommends the consistent 13.d6!?

analysis diagram

It will be a long while before I play chess like that, though!

12.Bf4 Qh4 

I am afraid that me playing the Jerome Gambit (giving "Jerome Gambit odds") seemed to have convinced my opponent that I was even less skilled than I actually am. Here he goes ahead with an attack that I had already prevented with my last move. Instead, 12...d6 would have been better, but White would have the advantage.

13.Bg3 Qh5 14.f3

The text move consolidates White's position - which was the psychological need I had at the time - while Stockfish, later, suggested that 14.Nd5!? would have deeply troubled Black's. The closer you look, the stronger it appears.


This is about as good as any other move. Black's game unravels from here, as he seems to give up hope.

15.Rf2 Nxc2 16.Rxc2 a5 17.Qc4 d6 18.Nd5 Be6 19.Nf4+ Kg5 20.Nxe6+ Kg6 

Everything leads to material loss and checkmate.

21.Nf4+ Kg5 22.Nxh5 Black resigned.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Great Debate

Alonzo Wheeler Jerome was not only the inventor of the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+), he was an ex-Civil War soldier ("Organized at Riker's Island, NYC on February 27th 1864, the 26thRegiment [U.S.C.T.] served three years in the Department of the East to March, 1864 and in Port Royal, SC in the District of Beaufort, Department of the South, until April, 1865. The 26th was honorably discharged and mustered out, under Colonel William B. Guernsey on August 28th, 1865.) and a hard-working hemp farmer, holding several patents related and unrelated to his work.

He also wrote The Great Debate, subtitled A Platform Scene in the Seven Joint Discussions between Lincoln and Douglas. One of the Relief Pictures in the Dome of the State Capitol at Springfield, Illinois, (1899). 

This work has been mentioned previously on this blog (see "The Great Debate" Parts I, II, III, IV, and Conclusion) and is currently available online in digital form in several download options for history buffs: Abby gz, Daisy, Epub, full text, Kindle and PDF.