Saturday, July 25, 2015

How Goes the Second Decline?

The following game allowed me to both see what an interesting new Jerome Gambit player was doing, as well as check out another example of a defensive move by Black that I have sometimes underestimated.

ZahariSokolov - naijachampion

standard, FICS, 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke8

Black decides that accepting one sacrificed piece is enough.

His King would be safer on f8, however. See "A Second Chance to Decline".


The text is thematic, but 6.Nxc6 is probably "objectively" stronger. See "Don't drive like my brother", "Ooops..." and "A Short Wall(k)".

6...g6 7.Nxg6 Bxf2+

At first glance a surprise, but Black counts the Bishop's time left as limited, and plans to get a pawn for it.


White escaped twice after declining the piece, but it is not a strategy that I would endorse:

8.Kd1 Nf6 9.Qf3 Rg8 10.Nf4 Bc5 11.c3 d6 12.d4 Bb6 13.h3 h5 14.Re1 Bd7 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.exd5+ Ne7 17.Qxh5+ Kf8 18.Rf1+ Nf5 19.Bh6+ Ke7 20.Rxf5 Bxf5 21.Qxf5 Qd7 22.Bg5+ Ke8 23.Qe4+ Kf8 24.Bh6+ Kf7 25.Nd2 Rae8 26.Qf4+ Kg6 27.Kc2 Qf5+ 28.Qxf5+ Kxf5 29.g4+ Kg6 30.Bf4 c6 31.Bxd6 Re2 32.Kd3 Rge8 33.Nc4 Bd8 34.a4 b5 35.axb5 cxb5 36.Ne5+ Kg7 37.Kxe2 Bg5 38.Rf1 Rh8 39.Rf7+ Kg8 40.Rf3 Kh7 41.Nc6 Re8+ 42.Kf2 a6 43.Ne5 Bh4+ 44.Kg2 a5 45.Rf7+ Kg8 46.Rf5 a4 47.Rh5 Bd8 48.Bb4 Kg7 49.h4 Bf6 50.Kh3 Rf8 51.g5 Bd8 52.Kg4 Bc7 53.Bc5 Bb8 54.d6 Rd8 55.Nc6 Rd7 56.Nxb8 Kg6 57.Nxd7 Black forfeited on time, Petasluk - Klonkku, FICS, 2011;

8.Kf1 hxg6 9.Qxh8 Qf6 10.Qxf6 Nxf6 11.Kxf2 Nxe4+ 12.Ke3 d5 13.Nc3 Bf5 14.Nxe4 Bxe4 15.d3 Bf5 16.Bd2 Kd7 17.Rhe1 Re8+ 18.Kf2 Ne5 19.h3 d4 20.Bf4 Kd6 21.Bxe5+ Rxe5 22.Rxe5 Kxe5 23.Re1+ Kd6 24.Kf3 Black resigned, jecree - lhoffman, FICS, 2008.


8...Nf6! is the correct move here, still unplayed as far as The Database is concerned.


9.Nf4+ is the strongest rejoinder, as seen as far back as Blackstone,J - Dommeyer,C, Campbell, CA 1960 and as recent as Philidor 1792 - Guest834593, 2014.

9...hxg6 10.Qxf6 Nxf6 11.d3 d6 

Black has the standard piece for two pawns. He has seen the Queens leave the board, and his King has escaped danger, but the game is not over.

12. c3 b6 13. Bg5 Ng4+ 14. Ke2 Be6 15.Nd2 Rxh2

A tactical oversight, not just the win of a pawn. 

16.Rxh2 Nxh2 17.Rh1 Ng4

Still missing something, or in shock. It was time to bite the bullet with 17...Bxa2.

18.Rh8+ Kd7 19.Rxa8 Bxa2

White is a clear exchange ahead. From here on he outplayed his opponent.

20.b3 Nge5 21.Rg8 Na5 22.d4 Nxb3 23.Rg7+ Kc8 24.dxe5 Nxd2 25.Kxd2 dxe5 26.Rxg6 a5 27.Be7 Kd7 28.Ba3 Be6 29.g4 c6 30.g5 b5 31.Rg7+ Kd8 32.Ra7 a4 33.Ke3 Kc8 34.g6 Black resigned

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mutual Royal Danger: Knightfall

I was playing over the following Abrahams Jerome Gambit game with Stockfish looking over my shoulder, when the computer made a comment that I didn't understand. It turns out that both players had overlooked something along with me and that only one of them was able to recover, and take advantage of the particular situation...

Korpav - Dagestan

standard, FICS, 2015

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Bc5 3.Bxf7+ 

3...Kxf7 4.Qh5+ Kf8 5.Qxe5 d6 6.Qc3 Qg5 7.Qf3+ Nf6

8.Ne2 Nc6 

To my eyes, Black was doing a good job of dealing with the gambit, and his last move seemed solid and useful. However, Stockfish didn't like 8...Nc6 and suggested, instead, 8...Bg4 9.Qf4 Qxf4 10.Nxf4 Nc6.

Hmmm... First exchange Queens, then bring out the Knight. Okay... Why?


The first thing both players (and the annotator) overlooked was 9.d4!, which allows White, after a bit of exercise, to win back his sacrificed piece with 9...Bb4+ 10.c3 Qg6 11.Nf4 Qxe4+ 12.Qxe4 Nxe4 13.cxb4 Nxb4 when

analysis diagram

Black's active pieces would give him only an edge.

Having missed the opportunity to take advantage of his opponent's Queen's danger, White Queen now experiences her own troubles at the hands of the enemy Knights.

9...Ne5 10.Qg3 Bxf2+ 11.Kxf2 Nxe4+ White resigned

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"And I would have gotten away with it..."

Image result for free clip art scooby doo

I just received the latest Jerome Gambit (delayed) game from Bill Wall. Before - or after - checking it out, you might want to visit "Bill Wall's Chess Page" which has been updated to have even more interesting chess stuff.

The graphic at the top of this post is from the animated series featuring "Scooby-Doo" and his human pals, who got into all sorts of mischief as they solved mysteries. Often the captured villain, at the end of the episode, would lament, "And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!"

Some players who defend against the Jerome Gambit have the same feeling about White's "Jerome pawns". 

Wall,B - Lee,S, 2015

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 
4.d3 Bc5 5.Bxf7+

5...Kxf7 6.0-0

Bill has played this kind of delayed Jerome Gambit a little differently, before, for example: 6.Be3 Bb4+ 7.c3 Ba5 8.b4 Bb6 9.b5 Na5 10.Nxe5+ Kf8 11.0-0 d6 12.Nf3 Ke7 13.Qc2 Re8 14.d4 Kf8 15.e5 Nd5 16.Qxh7 Nxe3 17.fxe3 Nc4 18.Ng5+ Ke7 19.Qxg7 checkmate, Wall,B - Westender,, 2010.


An alternative that shows up in different Jerome Gambit game collections is 6...Re8 7.Bg5 d5 8.Nbd2 Bg4 9.c3 Qd6 10.Qb3 Rab8 11.Bxf6 gxf6 12.exd5 Na5 13.Qa4 Bxf3 14.Nxf3 Qb6 15.b4 Bxf2+ 16.Rxf2 e4 17.dxe4 Nc4 18.Qd7+ Kg6 19.Qf5+ Kg7 20.a4 Qe3 21.Nd4 Qxc3 22.Qxf6+ Kg8 23.Raf1 Qxb4 24.Ne6 Qe7 25.Qd4 Nb6 26.Rf3 Nd7 27.Rg3+ Black resigned, Brookshire,T - Cunningham,D, IECC ,1999 (1-0, 27); alternately, 6...Kg8 would allow transposition to Wall,B - KRM,, 2010 (1-0, 25).


Bill has also played this position without the second piece sacrifice:

7.Be3 would lead to Wall,B-Mukak,, 2010 (1-0, 24); while 7.Nc3 was seen in Wall,B - Guest2622844,, 20137...Rf8 8.Nd5 Kg8 9.Be3 Bb6 10.c4 d6 11.Qb3 Na5 12.Qc3 Nxd5 13.cxd5 c5 14.Nd2 Bc7 15.a3 b5 16.b4 Nb7 17.Nb3 c4 18.dxc4 bxc4 19.Nd2 a5 20.Nxc4 axb4 21.axb4 Rxa1 22.Rxa1 Qh4 23.f3 Bd7? 24.Nxe5 dxe5 25.Qxc7 Bc8 26.Qxe5 Qf6 27.Qxf6 Rxf6 28.b5 Rf8 29.b6 Kf7 30.Rc1 Na5 31.Rc7+ Kg6 32.Bd4 Rg8 33.Kf2 Nb3 34.Bc3 Ba6 35.b7 Rb8 36.Rxg7+ Kh5 37.g4+ Kh4 38.Bf6+ Kh3 39.Rh7 Black resigned

7...Nxe5 8.d4 

Bill has played a similar game, achieving d2-d4 in one move instead of two: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.0-0 h6 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.d4 Nf6 8.dxe5 Nh7 9.Qd5+ Kf8 10.Qxc5+ d6 11.Rd1 Black resigned, Wall,B - Guest2170955,, 2012. 

8...d6 9.dxc5 dxc5 10.Qe1 Re8 

Black has a piece for a pawn as well as better development. He is better, but he needs a plan.

In the mean time, White will develop and unleash his "Jerome pawns".

11.Nc3 Ng6 12.f3 Qd4+ 13.Be3 Qe5 14.f4 Qe7 15.e5 Nd7

Black's Queenside looks dangerously congested.

Bill points out that 15...Bf5 was possible, as 16.exf6? simply loses a piece to 16...Qxe3+ 17.Qxe3 Rxe3

16.Nd5 Qh4

Black's move feints at an attack on the Kingside, threatens to exchange Queens - and ignores the problems of his Queenside.

One fascinating possibility in this position is 16...Qd8 17.Rd1 c6 18.e6+ Kg8  when White simply snags the Knight on d7, with at least equality after 19.exd7 Bxd7 20.Nc3. The point is that Black cannot take the obnoxious White e-pawn with 18...Rxe6, as White can activate his other advanced "Jerome pawn" with 19.f5 Re5 20.fxg6+ Kg8 and the tactics, as Stockfish shows, are in the attacker's favor: 21.Nc7!? Qxc7 22.Qg3 Qa5 23.Rxd7 Bxd7 24.Qxe5 Re8 25.Bxc5 Qd8 26.Qf4 with an advantage to White.

17.f5 Qxe1 18.e6+ Kg8 19.Raxe1 Rf8 20.fxg6 Rxf1+ 21.Rxf1 Ne5 

Perhaps Black breathed a sigh of relief here. True, he has had to return his extra piece, but he has traded Queens and one pair of Rooks, and he can look forward to the possibility of a Bishops-of-opposite-colors endgame where White's extra pawn may make no difference.


Or not.

Here Black resigned, as 22...Kh8 23.Rf8 would be checkmate.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Familiar Oldie

I have been going through (again) my issues of the very creative German chess magazine Randspringer, which has received mention on this blog in the past (see "Randspringer!" and "Unorthodox Chess Openings Magazines").

In fact, the magazine has two short articles on the Jerome Gambit, the first being "Meet Jerome" by Jack Young in Randspringer #6 1990-1991, referred to in "Repairing a Variation (Part 3)".

The second is in the pamphlet Eroffnungspraktikum 1. e4 & 'TROSSINGER PARTIE' 2. Lc4! auf alles (Randspringer #78, 2005), in the small "Lc4:f7+ (!; !?; ?!; ?) (von Kiew bis Kentucky)", with the famous Amateur - Blackburne game, and one by the editor/publisher of the magazine, himself.

A number of years ago I included the Schlenker game in a note to a blog post (see "Jerome Gambit: Drilling Down (12)") but I thought I would bring it out for some individual attention.

Schlenker, R. - Sfrd (DWZ 1850+)

May 24, 2002

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

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6 7.Qxc5

d6 8.Qe3 Nf6 

There are about 330 games with this position in The Database - the vast majority of them played after this game.

 9.O-O Re8 10.d3 Ng4 

A common theme: Harass White's Queen!


Later, players would show a preference for 11.Qf3+. The current retreat is enough to embolden Black further, but his "attack" is brushed off.

11...Qh4 12. h3 N4e5 

The rejected Knight says "Kick me!"

13. f4 Nd7

Instead, Schlenker suggests 13...Nf6, to be met by 14.c3.

The adventurous 13...Bxh3?! was successful in UNPREDICTABLE-Plafond, FICS, 2009, but should not have been: 14.fxe5+ Kg8 15.gxh3 Nxe5 16.Qg2 Rf8 17. Bg5? (17. Be3) 17...Rxf1+ 18.Qxf1?! (18.Kxf1) 18...Qg3+ 19.Qg2 Nf3+ 20.Kh1 Qe1+ 21.Qg1 Qxg1# Once again, fortune favors the bold!

14. Nc3 c6 15. f5 Nge5

Instead, 15...Ngf8!, Schlenker.

It is amazing how many opponents think that once you have played the Jerome Gambit, you have no more good moves left to play. Time to "kick" the other Knight.

16.d4 Nf6 17.dxe5 Black resigned

Schlenker points out if 17...dxe5 White has 18.Qc4+ Kf8 19.b3, and if 17...Rxe5 there is 18.Bf4. In both cases White is better.