Saturday, January 9, 2016

Old News

The American Chess Journal for December 1876 (page 119) under its "Chess News And Notes" mentioned
In a letter recently received from Max Judd, the well-known St. Louis champion, in referring to the article in November JOURNAL concerning "Jerome's Double Opening," he remarks: " What you say about the Jerome Gambit is just so. In an off-hand game you can try many other sacrifices which might succeed, but I know of no gambit wherin a piece can be safely sacrificed, and it is a question whether even a pawn can be safely given up."

Thursday, January 7, 2016

History Clouded

In Mr. Blackburne's Games at Chess (1899), the notorious Jerome Gambit game Amateur - Blackburne was given as "played at Simpson's Divan about 1880."

I have questioned the date that Blackburne gave - See "Flaws (Part I)" - as the August 15, 1885 issue of the Brooklyn Chess Chronicle (J.B. and E.M. Munoz, editors) presented the game as having been "played some months ago" which would suggest that it was played during 1885, but not likely in July or August of that year.

It now looks like I will have to back off from my correction, and add even more uncertainty to the date of the game.

Tim Harding's Joseph Henry Blackburne A Chess Biography (2015) - which, as I have noted, does not give Amateur - Blackburne - shows that the British master left for Australia in December 1884, and spent the first half of 1885 "Down Under". A return home was short-lived, as there was an important tournament to participate in
Blackburne and son apparently disembarked at Plymouth on 4 July. As the ship was only docked at Gravesend on the fifth, they must have come up to London by express train. Every day counted, the first round in Hamsburg being on 12 July. After less than a week in England, Blackburne was off on his travels again. 
The Hamburg tournament ended July 27, wherupon Blackburne went to Hereford for the Counties Chess Association Masters tournament, which started August 3.
The events of 1885, therefore, do not appear consistent with the Brooklyn Chess Chronicle admittedly casual dating.

It is possible to extend Munoz and Munoz's "some months" further back in time and look for Amateur - Blackburne in 1884, although there are difficulties in this, too. Harding notes
Blackburne's mid-career health breakdown began before Christmas 1883 when he was forced to cancel all his engagements.
In an age "long before antibiotics or even aspirin and other effective medicines", Blackburne was quite ill.
In late April or early May [1884] he resumed playing at the [Simpson's] Divan; some casual games are preserved from that period...
However, his participation in Simpson's handicap tournament in the spring was affected by his "unfortunate illness" and it is worth noting
[T]he Morning Post, 30 June 1884, said that Blackburne's illness had "left him in a weak state of health, and has prevented him for several months from pursuing his avocation."
Although he travelled to Glasgow the last week in July 1884, it does not appear that his full health returned before his trip to Australia.

Unless I guess "late April or early May" 1884 (above), then "about 1880" (from Blackburne's book) will be as "precise" as I will be able to date Amateur - Blackburne, until another chess column, magazine, or book reference surfaces; especially if we recall the uncertainties mentioned by Brazilian chess master Hindemburg Melão, Jr. in his article for the online chess site, SuperAjedrez,
...Some sources indicate year of the game as 1868, others indicate 1888, and others indicate 1880. Some sources affirm that it was played in Manchester, others in London. Normally the name of the adversary is not given, having only "NN" or "Amateur", but in at least one source "Millner" is indicated as the name. Also it is not known if it was an individual game or part of a simultaneous display... [T]he game deserves to be cited as one of most beautiful pearls of blindfold Chess...

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Jerome Defense to the Evans Gambit

I recently received an email from Philidor 1792 who shared a game of his where his Evans Gambit Declined was met with a Jerome Gambit-style defense. The game became quite complicated, although our hero won in the end. (Ask not for whom the chess clock flags, it flags for thee...)

Philidor 1792 - guest234
blitz, 3 0,, 2015

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4

The Evans Gambit. Black declines the pawn.

4...Bb6 5.a4 Nf6

This is risky, but perhaps Black had already planned his sacrifice.

6.a5 Bxf2+

In the only similar game that I have seen, Black avoided the sacrifice: 6...Bd4 7.Nxd4 Nxd4 8.Nc3 O-O 9.d3 h6 10.Ne2 Ne6 11.f4 exf4 12.Nxf4 Nxf4 13.Bxf4 c6 14 Be3 d5 15.Bb3 Bg4 16.Qd2 Re8 17.exd5 cxd5 18.O-O d4 19.Bf2 Be6 20.Bxe6 Rxe6 21.Qf4 Rd6 22.Bg3 Nh5 23.Qxd6 Qxd6 24.Bxd6 Rd8 25.Bc5 Rb8 26.Bxa7 Ra8 27.Bxd4 Rc8 28.c3 Rd8 29.Rf5 g5 30.Rb5 Nf4 31.Rxb7 Nxd3 32.a6 f5 33.a7 Nf4 34.a8=Q Ne2+ 35.Kf1 Rf8 36.Bc5 Ng3+ 37.hxg3 Rxa8 38.Rxa8 checkmate, Ian Rodrigo Sanchez Su - Enzo Quesada, IRT SANTISIMO NOMBRE DE JESUS 2015 -III

7.Kxf2 Nxe4+ 8.Kg1 d5 9.Bb3 Qd6 10.d3 Nf6 11.c3 O-O 

Black has two pawns for his sacrificed piece, plus a solid pawn center, good development and a safe King. While Stockfish 6 rates White as about 1/2 a pawn better, the first player's uncertain King and locked in Rook make things anything but easy.


Choosing the Queenside to battle. Otherwise, 12.Bg5.

12...Nxa5 13.Ba3

The computer gives a couple alternative lines: 13.Rxa5 Qb6+ 14.d4 Qxa5 15.dxe5 Qb6+ 16.Nd4 Nd7 17.Bf4 c6 18.bxc6 bxc6; or 13.Bc2 Qb6+ 14.d4 Re8 15.h3 e4 16.Ne5 Rxe5 17.Rxa5 Bd7 18.Ra3 Rf5

13...Qb6+ 14.Kf1 Ng4 

Things are becoming uncomfortable for White - but, remember, he is a master of the 3 0 blitz game, and, as the Rolling Stones sang, "Time is on my side."

15.Qe2 Nxb3 16.Ra2 Ne3+ 17.Ke1 e4 18.Nd4 Nxd4 19.cxd4 Qxd4 White won on time

Sunday, January 3, 2016


My suggestion is that Readers start off the new year by looking back. There is a lot of information in the previous 2,160 blog posts here!

Not sure of the names of all of the lines in the Jerome Gambit? Review some "Jerome Gambit Nomenclature".

Check out "Some History of the Jerome Gambit" Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.

Catch up on "Jerome Gambit: Early Opening Tomes" Part 1 and Part 2.

Play over "The Classics I (a first look)" and "The Classics II (a first look)".

Of course, if you want to go waaaaaaaaay back - with the help of the internet archive WaybackMachine - you can read my earliest posts at the Chess History Center website, which pre-date this blog, but show that I was investigating the Jerome Gambit as far back as 2001.