Friday, September 25, 2015

Strike First!

Blitz games tend to be less strategic subtleties and more tactical tricks and turns. If you are planning on checkmating someone, it is best to be sure that he can't do the same to you, sooner.

Wall,B - Mydrik,M, 2015

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 

Black would like to take a detour into the Two Knights Defense. One way for White to hold out for a Jerome Gambit is now 4.Nc3, planning on meeting 4...Bc5 with 5.Bxf7+. Bill tries something else.


It is worth taking a minute to go back to the post "Jerome Gambit vs Two Knights Defense (Part 4)"

4...Bc5 5.Bxf7+ 


White has transposed to a "modern" variation of the Jerome Gambit, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.0-0 Nf6. Bill has 11 examples in The Database, all wins. He decides to throw Nxe5+ in, anyhow.

6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.d4 

It is the pawns (White has two extra) vs the pieces (Black, temporarily, has two more), a typical Jerome Gambit imbalance. Bean counters look elsewhere.


Black probably would have done better with 7...Bxd4. 

8.Qh5+ Ng6 9.Qd5+ 

Bill stays true to his Jerome Gambit roots and "nudges" the enemy King to the back row. 

9...Kf8 10.dxc5 Nf6 11.Qd4 d5 12.Nc3

12...c6 13.Bg5 Kf7 14.Rae1 Rf8 15.Re2 Kg8 

Black has castled-by-hand, a practical decision in light of White's lead in development. 

16.Rfe1 Bf5 17.f3 Qd7 18.g4 Nxg4 

Black believes his return of the extra piece is exactly what he needs to press the attack. He is almost right here, but the correct move, leading to a complicated position, was 18...Ne4!.

Now White grabs the initiative.

19.fxg4 Bxg4 20.Re7 

This had to come as a surprise.

20...Nxe7 21.Rxe7 

Best for the defense now is 21...Rf7, when, after 22.Rxd7 Rxd7 White would have the advantage of a Queen and Knight against two Rooks and a pawn, but there would be plenty of play left in the game.

Instead, Black threatens mate - and receives it in turn.

21...Qf5 22.Qxg7 checkmate

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Reality" vs "the Book"

Working on the previous blog post, I noticed that the defender (counter-attacker) had played that variation a few years earlier. The game was interesting enough to share, especially since the defender seemed conversant in Jerome Gambit strategies.. Again, however, "reality" outplayed "the book".

iconsisonline - atizzle
blitz, FICS, 2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Qh4 


This is stronger than 7.dxc5 of Sutarsa - atizzle, blitz, FICS, 2014 (1-0, 19).

7...Ng4 8.h3 Bd6 9.e5 Bxe5

Following Sorensen - NN, Denmark, 1888, pragmatically returning the extra piece for a pawn (or two). Alternatives:

9...Nxf2 10.Rxf2+ Nf6 11.Rf4 Qg3 12.Rf3 Qg6 13.exd6 cxd6 14.c3 b6 15.Qb3+ Ke7 16.Re3+ Kd8 17.Na3 Bb7 18.Re2 Nh5 19.Nb5 Ng3 20.Rf2 Ne4 21.Re2 Rf8 22.Be3 Ng3 23.Rd2 Qe4 24.Re1 Rf3 25.Bg5+ Black resigned, Darthballz - Leftang, blitz, FICS, 2011; and

9...Nxe5 10.dxe5 Bxe5 11.f4 (11.Qd5+ Kf8 12.Qxe5 d6 13.Bg5 Qxf2+ 14.Rxf2+ Black resigned, ndrwgn - balahap, standard, FICS, 2013) Bd6 12.Qd5+ Kf8 13.Nd2 Nf6 14.Qd3 b6 15.Ne4 Bb7 16.Nxd6 cxd6 17.Qxd6+ Kf7 18.Qd3 Rhe8 19.Bd2 Kg8 20.f5 Nh5 21.Bc3 Nf4 22.Qc4+ Kh8 23.Rxf4 Qh6 24.Rg4 Rg8 25.f6 g6 26.f7+ Rg7 27.Qb4 d5 28.f8Q+ Rxf8 29.Qxf8 checkmate, Darthnik - aufdermaur, blitz, FICS, 2011

Black's best defense seems to be 9... Be7 10.hxg4 d6

10.dxe5 N4h6

Sorensen's opponent tried 10...Nxe5, which is playable, if risky, after 11.Qd5+ Kf6. 

11.Nc3 Ne7 12.Re1 Rf8 

Again, Black shows his understanding of the "big issues" in the defense, as he prepares to castle-by-hand.

Unfortunately, the move allows his Queen to be trapped.

White follows up quickly.

13.Re4 Qxe4 14.Nxe4 Kg8 15.Bxh6 gxh6 16.Nf6+ Kh8 17.Qd3 Ng6 18.Qc3 c6 19.Nh5 Rf5 20.e6+ Ne5 21.e7 Black resigned

Monday, September 21, 2015

Keep Fighting

When you are new to playing the Jerome Gambit, you are bound to miss some of its "subtleties", as, most likely, will your opponent. The best advice, as with all gambits, is to "Keep fighting".

The player of the white pieces in the following game has only one Jerome in The Database. Yet his play could be a lesson to veterans of the opening.

Sutarsa - atizzle

blitz, FICS, 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 

This move, as opposed to 6.Qh5+, was Alonzo Wheeler Jerome's preference when he started playing the opening.

The Database has 1,346 games with 6.d4; White scores 51%. By comparison, it has 3,520 games with 6.Qh5+; White scores 55%.


Black's move, a bold counter-gambit seen as early as 1888 in Sorensen - NN, Denmark, is what makes White's 6th move risky - although you will have to take my word for it.

The move shows up only 214 times in The Database (16% of the 6.d4 games) and White scores a misleading 68%.

On the other hand, in a blitz or club game, you might like your odds as White.


This is a dangerous position for White. Best is 7.O-O

7...Qxe4+ 8.Be3 Nf6

Black's move is solid and good, but the consistent 8...Qxg2 is better. 

9.O-O Neg4 10.Nc3 Nxe3 11.fxe3 Qxe3+ 12.Kh1 Rf8 

Black has only one other game in The Database himself, from four years earlier, but he understands the necessity of safeguarding his King - here, by castling-by-hand.

White has to act fast. While behind in material, he can at least take small encouragement in his opponent's undeveloped Queenside.

13.Qd5+ Qe6 14.Qg5 Kg8 15.Rae1 Qc6

This simple "get out of the way of the Rook" move is the cause of Black's upcoming troubles. Instead, 15...h6 16.Qg6 Qf7 would help him consolidate.

16.Re7 Rf7

The alternative isn't much better: 16...Ne8 17.Rxf8+ Kxf8 18.Nd5 Qxc5 19.Rxe8+ Kxe8 20.Nf6+ gxf6 21.Qxc5.

17.Nd5 Qxd5

Black slides toward checkmate instead of surrendering his Queen. Instead, he could have tried 17...h6 18.Nxf6+ Qxf6 19.Rxf6 Rxe7 (19...hxg5 20.Re8+ Kh7 21.Rxf7) 20.Qd5+ Re6 21.Rxe6 dxe6 22.Qd8+ Kh7 23.Qxc7 or 17...Kf8 18.Rxf7+ Kxf7 19.Qh5+ Kf8 20.Nxf6 gxf6 21.Re1 Qe6 22.Rxe6 dxe6 with dreary prospects. Both lines are worth playing over to see the attack unfold.

18.Qxd5 Nxd5 19.Re8+ Black resigned.