Friday, January 29, 2016


Is the pawn that White gets in return for his piece in the "annoying defense" variation of the Jerome Gambit enough for equality? "Objective" modern theory would say no, but you could not tell that from the following game by Bill Wall.

Wall,B - Alaric engine
Palm Bay, FL, 2015

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

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

The "annoying" or "silicon" defense. It limits White's attack, but it also limits Black's counterplay.

8.fxe5 dxe5 9.Nc3

For variety. The only game in The Database with this move was played by Bill's brother.


Or 9...g6 as in Wall,S - Guest648596,, 2013 (1-0,57). 

10.Qe2 Ke7 11.Na4 Qd4 12.Nxc5 Qxc5 13.d3 Bg4 14.Be3 Qb4+ 15.Qd2 Qxd2+ 16.Kxd2 Rhd8

The "Theory of Infinite Resistance" suggests that if White makes no further concessions, he can hold on.

17.h3 Be6 18.Bc5+ Kd7 19.Ke3 Nh5 20.Rhf1 Nf4 21.Rf2 g5 22.Bb4 Rg8 23.Bc3 Kd6

A plan for Black to convert his advantage appears to be byond the computer's horizon. On the other hand, White has plans for his "Jerome pawn".

24.b4 a6 25.a4 Rg6 26.Bb2 Rag8 27.c4 Bd7 28.d4 exd4+ 29.Bxd4 a5 30.b5 c5 31.Bc3 Ke7 32.Bxa5 b6 33.Bc3 Rd6 34.Rd2 Rxd2 35.Kxd2 Rd8 36.Kc1 Nxg2

The exchange of pawns on opposite wings has given White an opportunity. It appears that the Manhattan Chess Club epigram, mentioned by Irving Chernev in Capablanca's Best Chess Endings - "Black passed pawns travel faster than White" - will not rule the day in this game.

37.a5 bxa5 38.Rxa5 Bxh3 39.Ra7+ Bd7 40.Be5 Rf8 41.b6 Nf4 42.Kd2 Ke6 43.Bc7 Bc6 44.b7 Bxb7 45.Rxb7 h5

Black's passers look dangerous, but Bill has things under control, especially since he has recovered his sacrificed piece.

46.Rb6+ Kd7 47.Bd6 Re8 48.Ke3 Ne6 49.Bh2 h4 50.Rb7+ Kc6 51.Rh7 Kb6 52.Bd6 Ka5 53.Kd3 Kb4 54.Rb7+ Ka4 55.Ra7+ Kb3 56.Rb7+ Ka2 57.Be5 Rd8+ 58.Kc2 

The Black King's travels have resulted in nothing.

58...Ra8 59.Bc3 Nd4+ 60.Bxd4 cxd4 61.Rg7 Ra3 62.Rxg5 h3 63.Rh5 Rc3+ 64.Kd2 Re3 drawn

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Balancing Out


The second round of the Italian Game Tournament has concluded. After racing to the top of my group, I had to wait while one player, then another, also finished their games and overtook me. I was able to take third place on a tie-break (thanks, in part, to "My Bodygurard!?"), even though my record against the fourth place finisher was only a draw and a loss; and I will advance to the next round. (Will I finally play a Jerome Gambit there??)

This seems likely to balance out what will happen in the Giuoco Piano Tournament, where the last game is almost over (there is a mate in one), and the expected winner will vault into a tie for first place in the group with me. I have a win and a draw against him, but his tie-break points will be better than mine; and only one of us will advance to the next round. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Cooler Head is Likely to Prevail

In complicated chess positions, the cooler head is likely to prevail. In the following human vs computer Jerome Gambit game, the real head outplays the virtual one.

Wall, Bill - Asterisk engine
Palm Bay, FL, 2015

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

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

8.Rf1 Ne7

A novelty according to The Database, but not the best move. 

9.Qh3+ Kd6 10.d4 

Very Jerome-ish. Go pawns!

10...Nd3+ 11.cxd3 Qxd4 12.Nd2 Bb4 13.Ke2 Bxd2 14.Bxd2 Qxb2 

The computer's taste for pawns leads it to poison. 

15.e5+ Kd5 16.Rab1 Qxa2 17.Ra1 Qb2 18.Rfb1 Qc2 19.Rc1 Qb2 20.Ra5+ b5 21.Rxc7 Nc6 22.Rxd7+ 

Notice how little help Black's Rooks and Bishop provide. They will soon leap to action, too late.


Alas for Asterisk, after 22...Bxd7 checkmate will follow: 23.Qxd7+ Kc5 24.Qd6+ Kb6 25.Ra6+ Kb7 26.Qd7+ Kb8
27.Rxc6 Qxd2+ 28.Kxd2 b4 29.Qc7# 

23.Qe3+ Nd4+ 24.Rxd4 Bg4+ 25.Kf2 Qxd4 26.Rxb5+ Kxb5 27.Qxd4 

Black has two Rooks for his Queen, but his King remains unsafe - and there is still the matter of the "Jerome pawns"! 

27...Rad8 28.Qc4+ Kb6 29.Be3+ Kb7 30.Qb5+ Ka8 31.Qc6+ Kb8 32.e6 h6 33.Qb5+ Kc7 34.Qc5+ Kb7 35.Qxa7+ Kc6 36.Qc5+ Kb7 37.Qb6+ Kc8 38.Qa6+ Kc7 39.Bb6+ Black resigned