Saturday, March 19, 2016

The "Return" of the "Blackmar-Jerome Gambit"


We have been here before: see "'Tis A Puzzlement" and "The Blackmar-Jerome Gambit?!".

I was reading GM Boris Alterman's The Alterman Gambit Guide Black Gambits 2 - in particular, the chapter on The Traxler Counterattack - when I noticed
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Bc5!? 
Traxler gave the following comments about his invention "An original combination that is better than it looks. A small mistake by White can give Black a decisive attack. It is not easy to find the best defense against it in a practical game and it is probably theoretically correct." 
He also stated that "it somewhat resembles the Blackmar-Jerome Gambit: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc3 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7?! Kxf7 5.Nxe5+?" although fortunately he was referring to its optical appearance rather than its correctness.
Clearly the auythor was quoting from Karel Traxler's chess column of October 11, 1892, in Golden Prague. But what else, if anything, did GM Alterman know about the "Blackmar-Jerome gambit"?

I emailed him, and quickly received a friendly response, including
I tried to find any info on the web and even in Russian sites, but no much info on Blackmar-Jerome Gambit has been found.
Too bad.

The American Supplement to the "Synopsis": Containing American Inventions in the Chess Openings; Together with Fresh Analyses in the Openings, Since 1882, edited by J.W. Miller (1884), gives two gambits by Blackmar (neither related to the Jerome)
Mr A E Blackmar, of New Orleans, sends to the editor the following analysis of winning positions in two interesting Gambits invented by him, and which he has been playing for four years. The second Gambit [1.d4 f5 2.e4 fxe4 3.f3] is not played much, because few make use of the Hollandish Defense, Black 1 P-KB4 [1...f5]. 
In the first Gambit [1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.f3] the general opinion is that Black should not capture the second Pawn, but play 3 P-K3 [3...e6] or 3 P-K4 [3...e5], as suggested by Mr Chas. A. Maurian. 
Mr Blackmar has a manuscript book of over 300 games played at the Gambits, and his conclusion is that both lead to most interesting positions, giving White an immense variety of brilliant attacks to repay for the Pawn sacrificed. 
The second Gambit resembles From's Gambit at White's fourth move except that White is a move ahead.
Additionally, the Supplement has analysis of the Jerome Gambit.  

This leaves me with my original possible explanation
My current hypothesis - complete speculation at this point - is that Traxler, writing in the October 11, 1892, chess column of Golden Prague, recalled the infamous Amateur - Blackburne, London, 1885 Jerome Gambit game and wanted to credit the successful master; but, in drawing up his note for Reinisch - Traxler, he erroniously attached "Blackmar" - instead of "Blackburne" - to "Jerome Gambit".  
Readers who know anything more about the "Blackmar-Jerome Gambit" are asked to enlighten me.


[Readers: this is blog post #2,200. I will keep writing if you keep reading. - Rick]

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