Friday, December 30, 2016

Jerome Gambit: White Beware

Not all of the traps and surprises are for Black in the Jerome Gambit. The following game has a nasty snare that White steps in; and it is doubly dangerous in a blitz game. Be aware: chessmanjeff is no stranger to the Jerome Gambit, either; The Database has 239 of his games.

chessmanjeff - hugore
5 0 blitz, FICS, 2016

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

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Kf8

This very early defense to the Jerome could come as a surprise to an unprepared White. For some history of the line, see the post "Merry Christmas! A Hysterical/Historical Jerome Gambit Part 1".


The Banks variation, most recently covered in the post "Jerome Gambit: Battle of Wits" where 6.Nxc6 was given as best - and then Black has the surprise 6...Qh4!?. Mayhem ensues. 


Another surprise. Black offers the exchange. White should not accept!


An alternative, hoping to return to "normal" lines, was not successful: 7.Nxc6 dxc6 8.O-O Nf6 9.Qf3 Qxe4 10.Qc3 Bd4 11.Qb4+ c5 12.Qb5 c6 13.Qa5 b6 14.Qa3 Qxc2 15.Nc3 Be6 16.Ne2 Be5 17.d4 Bd6 18.dxc5 Bxc5 19.Qf3 Bd5 20.Qh3 Qxe2 21.Bg5 Qg4 22.Bxf6 Qxh3 23.Bxg7+ Kxg7 24.gxh3 Rhg8 White resigned, HooahMan - elidede, FICS, 2015.

Play should continue, instead, 7.Qf3+ Nf6 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.d3 d5 10.Nc3 Bg4 11.Qg3 dxe4 12.O-O exd3 13.cxd3 h5 according to Stockfish 8.

7...hxg6 8.Qxh8 Qxe4+

Checkmate is now forced.

This point was overlooked in an earlier game, which is given with light notes: 8...Qf6?! 9.O-O d6 10.d4? (10.c3!?) 10...Nxd4 11.Nc3 Nxc2 12.Nd5 Qd8 13.b4 Bd4 14.Rb1 c6 15.Bb2? (15.Nf4!?) 15...Bxb2 (15...cxd5) 16.Rxb2 Nd4 17.Rd1 Nb5 18.a4 cxd5 19.axb5 Qf6 20.Rb3 dxe4 21.f3 Be6 22.Ra3 d5 23.fxe4 Ke7 24.exd5 (24.Rf3!? Qe5 25.exd5) 24...Bg4 25.d6+ Kd7 26.Rf1 Qd4+ 27.Kh1 Qxb4? 28.Qxg7+ Ke6 29.Qxg6+ Kd5 30.Rd3+ Kc4 31.Qxg4+ Kxb5 32.Rf5+ Ka4 33.Qxb4+ (33.Qd1+ Qb3 34.Qxb3#) 33...Kxb4 34.Rf4+ Kc5 35.d7 Rd8 36.Rc4+?! Black forfeited on time, HooahMan - elidede, FICS, 2015.


Another earlier cautionary tale: 9.Kf1 Qd4 10.Ke1 Qxf2+ 11.Kd1 d6 12.h3 Qxg2 13.Re1 Qf3+ 14.Re2 Bf2 15.d3 Nd4 16.Nc3 Qh1+ 17.Kd2 Nf3 checkmate, splott - mika76,, 2008.

9...d6 10.Re1 Qg4+ 11.f3 Qxg2 12.Re8+ Kxe8 13.Qxg8+ Kd7 14.Qxg7+ Ne7

The "only move" to preserve the win, actually. Take a look at 14...Ke6 15.Qg8+ Ke5 16.Qg7+ Kf4 17.d4+ Kxf3 18.Qf7+ Bf5 19.Qd5+ Be4 20.Qf7+ Kg4 21.Qf4+ Kh5 22.Qh6+ Kg4 23.Qg5+ Kh3 24.Qh6+, drawn by repetition. Amazing!

15.c3 Qxf3+ 16.Kc2 Qe4+ 17.d3 Qe2+ 18.Bd2 b6 19.d4 Ba6 20.dxc5 Bd3+ 21.Kb3 bxc5 22.Bg5 Rb8+

Missing 22...Bc2+ 23.Ka3 Qa6 but it doesn't matter at all.

23.Ka4 Bc2+ 24.b3 Bxb3+

Or 24...Qa6 checkmate.

25.axb3 Qb5+ 26.Ka3 Qxb3 checkmate

Wow! Let's not do that again, shall we?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Jerome Gambit: Update The Database, Keep the Themes

I am updating The Database to include FICS games through the end of 2016. In the process, I ran across the following game which illustrates the ups and downs of playing the Jerome Gambit in blitz. White has over 200 games in The Database, and his play shows many Jerome themes - including a "sudden" mating attack to close the game.

snthor - AntonZ
blitz, FICS, 2016

1.Nf3 Nc6 2.e4 e5 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.O-O 

The "modern" Jerome Gambit, which skips the "classical" 5.Nxe5+ and is much more free form than forcing; the idea being that, given the freedom of choosing a line of play, instead of being forced into it, Black does not do his best.

5...d6 6.c3 h6 7.d4 exd4 8.cxd4 Bb6 

White has the better center pawn structure, and hopes to make progress against Black's slightly weakened King, whose careful ...h7-h6 often proves to have some weaknesses.

9.Qb3+ Kf8 10.Be3 Nf6 11.Nc3 Bg4 12.e5 dxe5 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.dxe5 Nd7 

Here we see a situation typical of a blitz game. If he had more time, Black would probably have avoided the exchanges that brought White's pawn to e5, which threatens Black's Knight, which loosens Black's Bishop... 


White builds his attack, and in the process misses the fork 15.Qb4+. Remember, this is a blitz game.

15...Qe7 16.f3 

I am trying out Stockfish 8, and here it recommends a breathless line of play that would probably appear in a slower time limit game: 16.Nd5 Qe6 17.Bxb6 axb6 18.Qb4+ c5 19.Qf4+ Qf5 20.Re4 Qxf4 21.Rxf4+ Kg8 22.Rxg4 Nxe5 23.Re4 Nc6 24.a3 Rd8 and White is a bit better.

16...Be6 17.Qc2 Re8 18.Bxb6 Nxb6 19.f4 

The "Jerome pawns", backed by Rooks, begin to look threatening. If he is careful, Black can handle them, but White knows they have power.

19...Qc5+ 20.Kh1 Nd5 21.f5 Bc8 22.Rc1 

Distracted by Black's Knight, for a moment White overlooks the thematic 22.f6!?

22...Nxc3 23.bxc3 Qxe5 24.f6 


Fascinating. As if Black realizes that White wants to open up lines, so he refuses to (or so he believes). As if the pawn on h6 has been searching for justification for almost 20 moves, and now "explains" itself.

This is a blitz game, the perfect time for the Jerome Gambit, and here is what we see regularly: Black offers White a chance to get back into the game; in fact, White is now winning.

25.Qg6 Rg8 26.Qxh6+ Kf7 27.Qh7+ Ke6 28.Rce1 

Even more crushing is 28.f7, but White does fine without it, winning Black's Queen. Then comes the King hunt and the checkmate.

28...Qxe1 29.Rxe1+ Kd6 30.Qd3+ Kc6 31.Qc4+ Kb6 32.Rb1+ Ka5 33.Qb4+ Ka6 34.Qb5 checkmate


Monday, December 26, 2016


Recently chessfriend Yury Bukayev pointed out that somehow, somewhere along the way, this blog had lost its "Links" section on the right side... Odd.

Thanks, Yury! I have started to repair the problem.

By the way, December 2016 is the month with the most visitors to this blog, since it began on June 10, 2008. Readers - thank you!

And - I'm sitting on top of the standings in the Giuoco Piano tournament, one point ahead of the field (thanks, in part, to the Jerome Gambit). However, IlToscano has two games left, so he can catch and pass me... Serves me right: against the next-to-last-place player, I allowed a pawn fork of two of my pieces, and resigned. How strange, given that in the Jerome Gambit I routinely give up more material than that! What was I thinking??

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again... who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.

- Theodore Roosevelt

(Who knew that TR understood the Jerome Gambit player???)

Merry Christmas to the Jerome Gambit Gemeinde and to chess players everywhere.

(Readers: I have shared these pictures on earlier Christmas posts. 
If you remember them, you've been around here a long time!) 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Jerome Gambit: A Workaday World

Although the Jerome Gambit can be a lot of help, sometimes White has to rely on  his ability to outplay his opponent. The following game, by the winner (undefeated) of the recent Giuoco Piano Jerome Gambit Tournament, shows how it is done.

SeinfeldFan91 - rigidwithfear
Jerome Gambit Tournament,, 2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6 7.Qxc5 d6 8.Qd5+ Be6 9.Qxb7 

This is a popular pawn-grab which is a bit riskier than, say, 9.Qb5, but White is willing to take the chance. 

9...N8e7 10.Nc3 Rf8 11.d4 Kg8 

Black has wisely castled-by-hand and has the better development. He now faces the challenge that many defenders face: how to take advantage of having the advantage. He seems unsure in the task.

12.d5 Bd7 13.O-O Ne5 14.f4 Nc4

It does not appear that a lot has happened, and that is part of the problem for Black. Stockfish 7 now rates the position as equal. I would call it "messy".

15.Qa6 Nb6 16.f5

An interesting clamp on the position, and there is always the threat at some point in the future of f5-f6.

16...Bc8 17.Qe2 Bd7 18.Bg5 Qe8 19.a4 Rb8 20.Qa6 Qf7 21.Qxa7 

21...Nc4 22.Qxc7 Nb6 23.Qxd6 Rfe8 24.a5 Black resigned

White has been busy gathering pawns - he has 6 for his sacrificed piece - and now he attacks the Knight at b6 that protects the Bishop at d7; one of them must fall.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Jerome Gambit: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Image result

I borrowed part of the title of this blog post from Tim Burton's animated film, but it seemed to be about right in describing the following game.

Those who play the Jerome Gambit need to constantly remind themselves that it is, technically, a refuted opening, and that there are a number of winning defenses that Black can play.

True, there are many circumstances which lead to the defender not making use of his advantages, and White wins - sometimes quite impressively. Learning to take advantage of any slip or error is critical.

However, sometimes there are games like the following. SeinfeldFan91 won the Jerome Gambit tournament by succeeding in all of his games - and that means wins with Black, as well as wins with White.

kristjan - SeinfeldFan91
Jerome Gambit Tournament,, 2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4

At first Alonzo Wheeler Jerome favored this move over 6.Qh5+, and it has much going for it - including winning back one of White's two sacrificed pieces.

A quick look at The Database (which is a good measure of club player success, not necessarily "theoretical" or computer success) shows 1,499 games with 6.d4, with White scoring 52%. This can be compared with 3,793 games with 6.Qh5+, with White scoring 55%.


This is the strongest theoretical response to 6.d4, and it appears in 230 games in The Database. However, as a measure of how chaotic the game becomes in this double-edged variation - White scores 67%!

This is another indication that familiarity and understanding of the Jerome Gambit is very important: Play what you know, and know what you play.


Here the Database statistics line up with the recommendations of the computers. The text move appears in 67 games with White scoring 28% - not bad when considering that the line is "lost" for the attacker, but not best. There are 154 Database games with the also "lost" (but better) move 7.0-0, and White scores 87% - it is always good to understand your practical chances in a wild line! 

7...Qxe4+ 8.Kf1 Nf6 9.Nc3 Qb4 

Some alternatives:

9...Qh4 10.Be3 b6 11.Ne2 bxc5 12.Ng3 d6 13.c3 Ba6+ 14.Kg1 Rhe8 15.Qb3+ c4 16.Qd1 g6 17.Kf1 Neg4 18.Bd4 Nxh2+ 19.Kg1 Nfg4 20.Qd2 Bb7 21.Qf4+ Kg8 22.Rxh2 Qxh2+ White resigned, HauntedKnight - blocbloc, FICS, 2016;

9...Qc4+ 10.Kg1 Qxc5 11.Be3 Qe7 12.g3 d6 13.Kg2 Bg4 14.Qd2 Bf3+ 15.Kg1 Bc6 16.f4 Nf3+ White resigned, HauntedKnight - truuf, FICS, 2014; and

9...Qc6 10.Bg5 Re8 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.Nd5 Qf5 13.Nxc7 Ng4 14.Qd5+ Qxd5 15.Nxd5 Re5 16.c4 b6 17.cxb6 Ba6 18.b3 axb6 19.Nxb6 d5 20.Nxa8 dxc4 21.Nc7 Rf5 22.Nxa6 Nxf2 23.Kg1 c3 24.Rc1 Ne4 25.Nb4 Rf2 26.Rxc3 Rb2 27.Rf3+ Ke6 28.h3 g5 29.Kh2 h5 30.Re1 Ke5 31.Nd3+ Black resigned, PasChat - plamb, FICS, 2014


At this point something like 10.Be3 to focuse on development was probably better. Still, the situation is grim.

10...d5 11.Kg2 Bg4 12.Qe1 Rhe8 White resigned

Playing on a piece down, with the loss of more material imminent, was not appealing.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Jerome Gambit: On the Way to Victory

Here is another fine win from the top player in the recent Jerome Gambit tournament.

SeinfeldFan91 - junnujannu
Jerome Gambit Tournament,, 2016

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

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

7.Qd5+ Ke8 8.Qxc5 d6 9.Qe3 Nf6 10.O-O Qe7 

11.Nc3 c6 12.d4

Also seen in this position:

12.d3 Ng4 13.Qe2 Qh4 14.h3 N4e5 15.f4 Nf7 16.Bd2 Qe7 17.Rae1 Kd8 18.Qh5 Qh4 19.Qa5+ b6 20.Qb4 Kc7 21.d4 a5 22.Qc4 Qe7 23.Nd5+ Kd7 24.Nxe7 Kxe7 25.Qxc6 Bd7 26.Qxb6 Rab8 27.Qxa5 Rxb2 28.f5 Nh4 29.e5 dxe5 30.Qc5+ Kf6 31.dxe5+ Black resigned, shugart - volki, FICS, 2013; and

12.f4 Kd8 13.d4 Kc7 14.f5 Nf8 15.e5 dxe5 16.dxe5 Ng4 17.Qd4 Nh6 18.f6 gxf6 19.Bf4 Black resigned, Wall,B - HeHe,, 2010.


Development (with a subtle flaw).

Black has also attacked the Queen, as a prelude to a push on the Kingside: 12...Ng4 13.Qg3 h5 14.h3 h4 15.Qd3 Nh6 16.f4 Kd8 17.Bd2 Bd7 18.Rae1 Kc7 19.f5 Nf8 20.Qc4 Kb8 21.Bf4 b5 22.Qc5 Nf7 23.a4 Kb7 24.Qa3 a5 25.axb5 cxb5 26.Nd5 Qd8 27.Bxd6 b4 28.Bxb4 axb4 29.Qxb4+ Kc8 30.Nb6+ Kc7 31.Nxa8+ Qxa8 32.Rf3 Rh6 33.Rc3+ Rc6 34.Rxc6+ Bxc6 35.Qe7+ Nd7 36.Qxf7 Qa5 37.c3 Qa2 38.Qxg7 Qxb2 39.d5 Qxc3 Black resigned, mrjoker - Mandragora, Internet Chess Club, 2009.


To deny c4 to the Black Bishop. Also possible was 10.f4

13...b6 14.f4 Nf8 

Black has to do something about the threatened fork of his two pieces. Probably he should return the piece with 14...Bf5 15.exf5 Qxe3+ 16. Bxe3 Ne7 getting the Queens off of the board.


White's threat is e4-e5, and he should probably enforce it directly with 15.Ba3!? and 16.Rae1. He eventually does this, but first he has to address Black harassing his Queen.

15...Nh5 16.Qf3 Nf6 17.e5 Nd5 18.Ba3

The text is okay, although White could have worked to blow things up right away with 18.f5!? Again, he finds the move later.

18...Nxc3 19.Qxc6+ Qd7 20.Qxa8+ Kf7 

White has 3 pawns and a Rook for 2 pieces (one of which he will recover immediately) - as well as an attack on the enemy King. 

21.f5 Ne2+ 22.Kh1 Bxf5 23.Qe4 Ng3+

One of the pieces has to go. Black returns the Knight with a spite check.

24. hxg3 Kg6 25.Qa8

Black resigned

Black's position is a mess, and the closer you look, the worse it appears. The Knight is pinned to the Rook, for example, and the Bishop is pinned to the Knight. The Queen's best move is 25...Qc8, to exchange Queens and get some air, but 26.Qxc8 Bxc8 27.Bxd6 has all the appeal of a root canal.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Jerome Gambit: Today, Hard Work

Chess games have been compared to a work of art created collaboratively by two people. That can especially be said about Jerome Gambit games where, with a little bit of "help" by Black, something spectacular can be created.

On the other hand, without that kind of "cooperation" White can find himself in for some hard work - like in the game below, from chessfriend Vlastimil Fejfar.

Readers are encouraged to play through the game, and see if they can build on Vlasta's efforts. 

Vlastous - irinat, 2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.f4 d6

Ah, man, the "annoying defense" again. By returning the piece Black takes a lot of excitment out of the game - kind of like an over-boiled piece of meat. Computers love the line, as it gives Black an advantage; and computers are less likely to make the kind of "human" mistakes that work toward creating an exciting work of art. In this game, Black does a good job impersonating a computer.

8.fxe5 dxe5 9.Qh3+ Ke7 10.Qg3 Kf7 11.Qxe5 Qh4+ 12.g3 Qe7 13.Qxe7+ Nxe7

White has two pawns for his sacrificed piece, but the "Jerome pawns" are a long way from becoming a dynamic, attacking force.


Previously Vlasta played another difficult game with the interesting 14.h3Fejfar,V - Chvojka, corr, Czech Republic, 2016(0-1, 32). 

14...Bh3 15.d4 Bb6 16.Nd2 c5 17.Nf3 h6 18.Be3 cxd4 19.Bxd4 Nc6 20.O-O-O

20...Bg2 21.Rhg1 Bxf3 22.Rgf1 Nxd4 23.cxd4 Rhc8+ 24.Kb1 Kg6 25.Rxf3 Rc4 26.b3 Rxd4 27.Rxd4 Bxd4

The occupants of d4 and e4 suggest the rest of the story.

28.Kc2 Rc8+ 29.Kd2 Bf6 30.Rf2 Rd8+ 31.Ke2 Kf7 32.Rf5 Rc8 33.Kd2 Ke6 34.Kd1 Bg5 35.h4 Rc1+ 36.Ke2 Bf6 37.Rb5 b6 38.a4 Rc3 White resigned

A valiant effort by White, but now his pawns are under too much pressure, and soon some will fall.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Jerome Gambit: Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Although SeinfeldFan91 topped the recent Jerome Gambit thematic tournament at without losing (or drawing) a game, it wasn't always easy. The following game shows that, at least once, he had miles to go before he could sleep...

SeinfeldFan91- kristjan
Giuoco Piano Jerome Gambit Tournament 2016

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

4...Kxf7 5.O-O 

White starts off with a "modern" Jerome Gambit line (i.e. lacking 5.Nxe5+) but quickly transposes.

5...Nf6 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.d4 Bxd4 8.Qxd4 d6

9.Nc3 Be6 10.f4 Nc6 11.Qa4

According to The Database this is a novelty. More often seen are 11.Qd3 and 11.Qe3.

11...Re8 12.f5 Bd7 13.Qc4+ Kf8 14.Bg5 Qe7 15.Bxf6 Qxf6 16.Rad1 Rac8

White has only a pawn for his sacrificed piece, so he needs to be alert to his opportunities, and keep things complicated.

17.Rf4 Ne5 18.Qd4 Kg8

Completing castling-by-hand.


A risky snack, but White's situation, in general, is risky.

19...b6 20.Nd5 Qg5 21.f6 Kh8 22.fxg7+ Kxg7 23.Rdf1 Kh8

Equality comes closer. On little cat feet.

24.Kh1 Nc6 25.Qb7

Risky, but providing a distraction.

25...Na5 26.Qa6 Bc6

27.Rf5 Qh4

Just the break that White was looking for. Much more to the point was 27...Qd2, keeping the game even.

Now White's Knight and Rook target Black's weak h7.

28.Nf6 Bxe4 29.Rh5 Bxg2+ 30.Kxg2 Rg8+ 31.Kh1 Black resigned

Black will have to give up his Queen to avoid mate.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Up-To-Date Blackburne Shilling Gambit

Concerning the Blackburne Shilling Gambit (see the previous post), 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4, it is clear that there are several good responses, including 4.0-0, 4.Nxd4, 4.c3 and 4.d3. Of course, if you are a Jerome Gambit fan, or if you want to try something that might be a surprise to the defender, there is always 4.Bxf7+...

The following game - another 3-minute blitz - is an up-to-date example. 

marciprevi - nchak
3 0 blitz, FICS, 2016

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Nf3 Nd4 4.Bxf7+ 

The Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit.

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke6 6.c3 Kxe5 7.cxd4+ Ke6


Possibly White's best response to Black's prudent King retreat. (7...Kxe4 is unnecessarily risky for the defender.)


It could be that 8...Kf7 is a tiny bit better. 

9.d4 d6 10.Bg5+ Nf6 11.e5 h6 

Black should probably have simply allowed the return of the piece with 11...dxe5 12.dxe5 Kf7 13.exf6 

12.exf6+ gxf6 13.Bh4 Bg7 

14.Qe2+ Kf8 15.O-O Bf5 16.Nc3 a6 17.Qf3 Bg6 


The trip to e2 and then f4 for the Knight, hitting the Bishop at g6 and eying the square e6, looked a bit better.

18...Kf7 19.Rae1 Re8 20.Ng3 Qd7 21.Rxe8 Rxe8 22.Ne2 Be4

23.Qh5+ Bg6 24.Qf3 Be4 25.Qh5+ Bg6 26.Qf3 Be4 27.Qb3

Wanting more than the draw.

27...Bxg2 28.Re1 

A slip. 28.Kxg2 Rxe2 29.Qxb7 was the way to keep the game in balance.


Returning the favor. Remember: this was a 3-minute blitz game.

29.Qxf3 Kg8 30.Kh1 f5 31.Rg1 Re4 32.Nf4 Qf7 33.Ne6 Rg4 34.Rxg4 fxg4 35.Qxg4 Kh7

36.f3 Bxd4 37.Qe4+ Kg8 38.Qxd4 Qxf3+ 39.Kg1 Black resigned