Friday, August 14, 2015

Exploratory Weapon

With almost 300 games in The Database, Bill Wall does two things very well: experiment and win. The following strange game has only 50% of that, however.

It contains enough excitement for a half-dozen games. It is well worth close examination.

Wall, Bill - Vilmos, 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6 7.Qf5+

So many of Bill's games include moves that prompt the response "He can't do that, can he?". Here Bill plays with the "nudge" in this line, which usually appears as 7.Qd5+ (or doesn't appear at all, as in 7.Qxc5).

Anyone wishing to follow in Bill's footsteps will need to study this game closely.


Offering to exchange Queens is natural, but, as White's plans to move on, 7... Nf6 might be a bit stronger.

8.Qxc5 d6

Not surprisingly, Bill has been this way before:

8...Nf4 was seen in Wall,B - Tony7,, 2011(1-0, 48);

8...N8e7 was seen in Wall,B - Doantaung,, 2010 (1-0, 18); and 

8...c6 9.O-O Nh6 10.d4 d6 11.Qc4+ Be6 12.Qb4 Qe7 13.Bxh6 gxh6 14.f4 Nf8 15.f5 Bc8 16.Nd2 b5 17.Qb3+ Ke8 18.Qc3 Bb7 19.f6 Qf7 20.e5 dxe5 21.dxe5 Ne6 22.Ne4 Kd7 23.Nd6 Black resigned, Wall,B - Smith,R,, 2010.

9.Qxc7+ N8e7 10.O-O Rd8 

This offer of a Rook is a very, very strange move. I hope Bill appreciated it. (I hope it was not simply a "blunder" by Black.)

Previously Bill had met 10...Be6 in Wall,B - Guest2900292,, 2012 (1-0, 24).

The move 10...Nf4!? leads to crazy complications, but is the way to go if Black wants to try to win. A sample: 11.d3 Nxg2 12.e5 (12.Kxg2 Bh3+ 13.Kg3 [13.Kxh3? Qf3+ mates] 13...Rhc8 14.Qa5 Rc5 15.Qxc5 dxc5 Black is winning) 12...dxe5 13.Nc3 Nh4 14.Ne4 Qc6 15.Qxc6 Nxc6 16.f4 Kg6 17.fxe5 Bg4 18.Bd2 Nxe5 when Black has a piece for a pawn, and White's compensation is lacking. 

11. Qxd8 Nh4

Shades of Blackburne's double Rook sacrifice, Black also had 11...Bh3!? 12.Qxa8 Nh4 13.Qxb7 Nf3+ 14.Kh1 Bxg2+ 15.Kxg2 Nh4+ 16.Kg3 Qf3+ 17.Kxh4 Qf4+ 18.Kh3 Qf3+ although it only leads to a draw.

The move in the game should lead to the same result.


Stockfish 6 recommends, instead, 12.f4, leading eventually to a draw, but the analysis can go on for a long time, and the position is tactically rich. Here is a sampling:

12.f4 Qg6 (12...Bh3 13.Qa5 [13.Qxa8? Qg6 mates] 13...Bxg2 14.Qh5+ g6 15.Qe2 Bxf1 16.Qxf1 Qd4+ 17.Qf2 d5 White has an edge) 13.Rf2 Nxg2 (13...Bh3 14.Qa5 [14.Qxa8? allows mate after 14...Nxg2] 14...Nf3+ 15.Kf1 Nxh2+ 16.Kg1 Nf3+ 17.Kf1 Nh2+ draw) 14.f5 Bxf5 15.Rxg2 (15.exf5 Qg4 16.h3 [16.Qxa8? Ne3+ mates] 16...Qg3 17.Qxe7+ [17.Qxa8 Ne3+ 18.Kh1 Qxh3+ mates] 17...Kxe7 18.Rxg2 Qe1+ 19.Kh2 Qxc1 20.Rxg7+ Kf8 21.Rg1 Qxc2 Black is better; or 15.Rxf5+ Ke6 16.Qxa8 Nh4+ 17.Kf1 Qg2+ 18.Ke1 Qxe4+ 19.Kd1 Qh1+ 20.Ke2 Nhxf5 21.c3 Nh4 22.Qf8 Qxc1 Black is better) 15...Qxg2+ 16.Kxg2 Bxe4+ 17.Kf2 Rxd8 18.d3 Bc6 even game. 

12...Bh3 13.Qa5

The strongest move. White does not wish to be "Blackburned."


Black slips, or perhaps his heart has had enough excitement and he is looking for the draw. After 13...Qg6!? 14.g3 Bxf1 15. Kxf1 Nxf3 16.Kf2 Nd4 Black has enough threats to not only balance his 2-pawn deficit, he holds an advantage. Crazy!

14.Rf2 Qg6 15.d3 d5 16.Nd2 Bh3+ 17.Kh1 Bg2+ 18.Kg1 Bh3+ Draw

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Multi-Tasking vs ADHD

After posting Bill Wall's latest game to this blog (see "Winning With the Jerome Gambit: A Game Full of Lessons"), I ran across the following game with the same opening line. I chuckled as play went from one area of the board to another to another; and I couldn't decide if the players were expert multi-taskers or suffering from inattention...

Johnstone, Michael - Egan, Michael
IECC, 1999

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

5...Kxf7 6.O-O d6 7.Nbd2 h5 8.Nb3 h4 9.c3 

White plans to counter Black's wing aggression with play in the center.


More consistent would have been 9... h3!?

10.d4 Bb6 11.Bg5 Qd7 12.Bxh4 Nf4 13.dxe5 Qg4 14.Bg3 


Black has a piece to burn, but he would have done better to move another attacker closer to the enemy King with 14...Nxe5. White's Bishop on g3 helps hold the defense together.

15.Kxg2 Qh3+

This was Black's idea, but it doesn't produce the attack he had hoped for.

16.Kg1 Rh5 17.exd6 Bg4 18.dxc7 

The hungry White pawn wanders while Black piles up on the Kingside.

18...Kg8 19.Nbd4 Nxd4 20.cxd4 Rf8 21.Qb3+ Kh7

If Black's attack does not succeed, White's extra pawns will win the day. On the other hand, White must defend well, if he wants those pawns to win for him.


The Knight vacates the hot square f3, but this gives Black a chance to grab the advantage. Safer for White would be 22.Nd2, with a possible continuation being 22...Bxd4 23.Qd3 Bb6 24.Rac1 Rc8 25.e5+ Bf5 26.Qf3 Bxc7 27.Qxb7 Bb6 when Black has captured the dangerous passer at c7, and grabbed one of White's center pawns, but he remains three pawns down, and White has a protected passer at e5.


Taking the dangerous pawn is understandable, but Black's chance was to knock out the key to White's defense with 22...Rxe5 23.dxe5 Bf3 which wins the Queen after 24.Qxf3 Rxf3. White would have a Rook and four pawns for his Queen, which is probably not enough.

23.Nxg4 Qxg4 

White maintains his three pawn advantage.


White's attention wanders from the Kingside, as he is convinced that he has put an end to Black's attack. Therefore, why not grab a pawn?


Overlooking the drawing combination 24...Bxg3 25.fxg3 Qe2, when White will be unable to avoid repeated checks and a draw (unless he falls into checkmate). Black, too, has overlooked the Kingside.

From here on, White's pawns advance, he uses his pieces to defend his King, and the full point is obtained.

25.Rad1 Rf6 26.Rd3 Rfh6 27.f3 Qg5

A bit stronger is 27...Qg6 28.Qc8 Rxh2 29.Qf5 Qxf5 30.exf5 Rxb2 31.Rf2 Rb1+ 32.Kg2 Rh5 33.f4 Rxf5 when White's lead would be one (passed) pawn, but it would be sufficient.

28.e5 Rxh2 29.Qe4+ Kh8 30.Qg4 Rh1+

Similar to the note above is the alternative, 30...Qxg4 31.fxg4 Rxb2 32.Rf2 Rb1+ 33.Kg2 Kg8 34.Re2 Kf8 35.d5, which leaves White with two passed center pawns. 

31.Kg2 R1h5 32.Qxg5 Rxg5 33.f4 Rg4 34.d5 Kg8 35.Re1 g5 36.e6 Kf8 37.e7+ Ke8 38.Rc3 Bd8 39.Rc8 gxf4 40.exd8=Q+ Kf7 41.Qd7+ Kg6 42.Rg8+ Kh5 43.Qxg4 checkmate

Monday, August 10, 2015

Winning With the Jerome Gambit: A Game Full of Lessons

Winning with the Jerome Gambit, as many posts here have shown, can be explosive and fun. It can, as we have also seen, be slow, difficult and demanding.

In the following game Bill Wall faces a prudent opponent who is in no hurry to self-destruct. This reticence works against the defender, however, when his best line requires boldly sacrificing material to initiate an attack. The moment passes - and Bill fights his way to victory.

Playing through this game and enjoy its lessons.

Wall,B - Albulus, 2015

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

White enters the Jerome Gambit via the Two Knights Game or a closed variation of the Giuoco Piano. In doing so, he transposes into a "modern" Jerome - one without 5.Nxe5.

5...Kxf7 6.0-0

If Black had tricked White, a proponent of the "classic" Jerome lines (with 5.Nxe5), into an unfamiliar area of chess theory, that might have been a plus. Ah, but Bill has been here, and near here, before. Alternatives include

6.Nc3 Ng4 7.Ng5+ Kg8 8.Qxg4 d6 9.Qf3 Nb4 10.Qf7 checkmate, Wall,B - Richard123,, 2010; and

6.Be3 Bxe3 (6...Bb4+ see Wall,B - Westender,, 2010 [1-0, 19] ) 7.fxe3 Rf8 8.0-0 Kg8 9.c4 d6 10.Nc3 Ng4 11.Qe2 Qe8 12.Nd5 Qd7 13.Nh4 Nf6 14.Rf2 Nxd5 15.Rxf8+ Kxf8 16.exd5 Ne7 17.Rf1+ Kg8 18.Qh5 b6 19.Qf7+ Kh8 20.Ng6+ hxg6 21.Qf8+ Kh7 22.Rf7 Bb7 23.Qxg7 checkmate, Wall,B - Hovo,D,, 2010.


Alternatives Bill has faced include

6...h6 7.Nxe5+ (7.Be3 see Wall,B - Mukak,, 2010 [1-0, 24] or 7.Nc3  Wall,B - Guest2622844,, 2013 [1-0, 39]) 7...Nxe5 as in Wall,B - Lee,S,, 2015, (1-0, 22);

6...Kg8 7.c4 as in Wall,B - KRM,, 2010 (1-0, 25); and

6...Rf8 7.c3 Kg8 (7...d5 8.b4 Bb6 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.b5 Nce7 11.c4 Nf4 12.Bxf4 exf4 13.Nc3 Kg8 14.Qb3 Be6 15.Ne4 h6 16.Rae1 Bf7 17.Ne5 Ng6 18.Nxg6 Bxg6 19.c5+ Bf7 20.Qc3 Rc8 21.cxb6 cxb6 22.Qd2 Qd5 23.Qxf4 Qxa2 24.Nd6 Bb3 25.Qe4 Rcd8 26.Nf5 Bf7 27.Qe5 Qe6 28.Qxg7 checkmate, Wall,B - Mokdad,M,, 2010) 8.b4 Bb6 9.a4 a6 10.Be3 d6 11.Qb3+ Kh8 12.Bxb6 cxb6 13.Nbd2 Ng4 14.h3 Nh6 15.d4 exd4 16.cxd4 Qf6 17.Qc3 Ne7 18.Qc7 a5 19.Qxb6 axb4 20.Qxb4 Nc6 21.Qc3 Bd7 22.Rfc1 Na5 23.Qc7 Bc8 24.d5 Rf7 25.Qb6 Qg6 26.Qd8+ Ng8 27.Rxc8 Rxc8 28.Qxc8 Black resigned, Wall,B - Bandera,M,, 2010. 

7.Nc3 Nd4 

There is nothing wrong with the ordinary 7...d6.

8.Na4 Nxf3+ 9.Qxf3 Be7 

Black continues to play ultra-safely. It is interesting to see how White proceeds against this.

10.d4 d6

Black can give a piece back with 10...exd4 11.e5 d6 12.exf6 Bxf6, but he prefers to make White do the work.

11.dxe5 dxe5 12.Rd1

Pressure along the d-file.

12...Bd6 13.h3

Bill points out the dangers of going after the b-pawn: 13.Qb3+ Be6 14.Qxb7 Rb8 15.Qxa7 (15.Qa6 Nxe4 16.Be3 Qh4) 15...Ra8 16.Qb7 Rxa4. White needs to be patient. He starts by keeping enemy pieces out of g4. Perhaps he will be able to launch his kingside pawns later.

13...Kg8 14.Bg5 Rf8

Lining the Rook up on the same file as the enemy Queen. Apparently Black did not want to "create a weakness" on his Kingside, as he had available 14...h6 15.Bxf6 (15.Bh4 g5 16.Bg3 Qe7) 15...Qxf6 16.Qxf6 gxf6, as pointed out by Bill; which looks okay for the second player.

15.Qb3+ Kh8 16.Nc3 c6 

Bill's comment in an email about this game is enlightening: I was losing for a long time in the opening and middlegame... 

"Objectively", White does have a "lost" game after 4.Bxf7+, despite the complications. He has to play on, however, hopefully - often towards success.

Qe7 18.f5

The f-pawn may become the spearhead of a pawn advance. Currently, it limits the movement of Black's light-squared Bishop (which, in turn, limits the movement of Black's Rook), which is another small benefit.

18...h6 19.Be3 b5

Black's solution to the pressure on the b7 pawn (and the Queenside) is a pawn advance. This allows him to feel comfortable "doing something", and leads to the win of a pawn - which turns out to be poisoned, alas.

a5 21.Ne2

The alternatives Bill gives do not look attractive: 21.a3 a4 22.Qa2 Bc5 23.Bxc5 Qxc5+ 24.Kg2 Nxe4 25.Nxe4 Qxc2+ 26.Nd2 Rd8; or 21.a4 Bc5 22.Bxc5 (22.Re1 Bxe3+ 23.Rxe3 Qc5 24.Nd1 b4) 22...Qxc5+ 23.Kh1 b4 24.Ne2 Nxe4.

The game move leads to a very complicated position.

21...Nxe4 22.Qd3 

Black has grabbed the e-pawn, but now faces the possible loss of either his Knight or his dark-squared Bishop. He decides to continue building up his attack.


The fact is that even after this move Stockfish 6 sees Black as better. However, the fact that the second player has to meekly give back a piece cannot feel good to the human competitor.

Did he have a better move? He did, as Bill pointed out: 22...Bxf5! 23.gxf5 Qh4 24.Kg2 (24.Kh2 Rxf5 25.Rf1 Raf8 26.Rxf5 Rxf5 27.Bg1 Rf6 28.Rd1 Nf2) 24...Rxf5 25.Rf1 Raf8 26.Rxf5 Rxf5 with an attack on the enemy King.

The sacrifice was hard to see. Worrying about losing Piece A or Piece B, Black misses the fact that he should give up the cramped and limited (until now!) Piece C...

23.Qxe4 c5 24.Qd3 Rfd8 25.Nc3

It certainly was not time for 25.Qxb5? Ba6 26.Qb3 Bxe2 as Bill points out. 

25...c4 26.Qf1 

26...b4 27.Nd5 Bxd5 28.Rxd5 Bc7

Black suddenly goes in for exchanges. Does he believe in his passed pawn that much?

29.Qxc4 Rxd5 30.Qxd5 Rd8 31.Qe4 Qh4 32.Kg2 Qe7

33.Rf1 Rd6 34.Bc5 Rd2+ 35.Rf2 Rxf2+ 36.Bxf2 Qd6

It is a good thing that White is not emotionally exhausted from his struggle from a "losing" position back to a "better" one. Converting his extra pawn will take a good bit of work, as long as the Queens and Bishops remain on the board. White decides to stir things up.

37.Qa8+ Kh7 38.Qb7 e4

Bill points out a couple of alternatives: 38...g6 39.fxg6+ Kxg6 40.Qe4+ Kf7 41.Qh7+ Ke8 42.Qg8+ Kd7 43.Qf7+ Kc6 44.Be3; or 
38...Bd8 39.Qe4 Kh8 40.Qf3.

Black has miscalculated: unfortunately, he does not have a mating attack.

39.Qxe4 Qh2+ 40.Kf1 Qxh3+ 41.Ke2 Kh8

This is not Black's best defense, but it is now only a matter of choosing which way to lose.

42.Qe8+ Kh7 43.Qg6+ Kh8 44.f6 Black resigned

A "Jerome pawn" assists in the mating attack.