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]

Thursday, March 17, 2016


It had been months since I had played the Jerome Gambit at blitz speed, and I worried that I might have forgotten too much. The following game, however, shows that the opening was as reliable as ever for me.

perrypawnpusher - grosshirn
2 19 blitz, FICS, 2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.Qf5+ Kd6 8.f4 Ng6

Somewhat inexact. See the note (below) to White's 11th move.

9.Qd5+ Ke7 10. Qxc5+ d6 

Better than 10...Ke8 as seen in perrypawnpusher - parlance, blitz, FICS, 2011 (0-1, 22). 


After 11 moves we have reached a position in which White has an extra move (f2-f4) in comparison to the line 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6 7.Qd5+ Ke7 8.Qxc5+ d6 9.Qe3. So, if Black wants to give up his King's Bishop and post his Knight at g6, 6...Ng6 might have been a better choice.

Interestingly, Stockfish 7 recommends the alternate retreat 11.Qc3 (no example in The Database), suggesting that Black meet that with 11...Kf8 (11...Nxf4?12.Qxg7+ Ke8 13.O-O Qf6 14.Qxf6 Ne2+ 15.Kf2 Nxf6 16.Kxe2 Nxe4 with advantage to White) 12.O-O Nf6 13.f5 Ne5 14.d4 Nc6 15.e5 dxe5 16.dxe5 Qd4+ 17.Qxd4 Nxd4 18.Na3 Ne8) with an equal game.


The text is about equal to 11...Kf8 (perrypawnpusher - Valseg, blitz, FICS, 2011 [1-0, 39]), better than 11...Bd7 (perrypawnpusher - GabrielChime, blitz, FICS, 2009 [1-0, 29]), and much better than 11...Be6 (perrypawnpusher - MrNatewood, blitz, FICS, 2010 [1-0, 12]).


Or 12.d4 as in perrypawnpusher - thinan, blitz, FICS, 2010 (1-0, 31).


This seems reasonable at first glance, as Black is considering castling-by-hand. However, 12...Re8 was probably better, as in perrypawnpusher - spydersweb, blitz, FICS, 2012 (1-0, 24) and perrypawnpusher - tjaksi, blitz, FICS, 2014 (1-0, 18). 

13.f5 Ne5 14.d4 Nc4 15.Qd3 Nb6 16.Bg5 h6 17.Bh4 Nbd7

Black has covered up with his pieces, and still has his piece-for-two-pawns material advantage, but White's "Jerome pawns" and freer development give him the advantage.

18.Nc3 c6 19.Rae1 Qb6 20.Kh1 Ke8

Breaking the pin on his Knight, but White is ready to crash through, anyhow. 

21.e5 dxe5 22.dxe5 Ng8 23.f6

Even better, according to Stockfish 7 after the game, was 23.Ne4 Ne7 24.Qd6 Rf7 25.e6 with a forced checkmate.

23...gxf6 24.exf6+ Kd8 Black resigned

Checkmate will be coming soon after 25.f7+.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

PTSD In Chess

In the previous post (see "Faster Than A Speeding Neuron") we saw a lightning fast game where White blundered his Queen just before Black lost on time. Whew!

In the following Jerome Gambit game, Black returns two sacrificed pieces and then resigns when he realizes that he will lose another - or will he?? It is a pretty good example of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in chess.

Masterking80 - beasst
6 8 blitz,, 2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.f4 Nf6 

Not the strongest of defenses, as we have seen, as it returns too much material.

8.Qxe5+ Kf7 9.Qxc5 Nxe4

In 12 previous games in The Database, White scored 75% from this position. White was 8-0 when he found the correct move 10.Qd5+ forking the enemy King and Knight - if we ignore one game where White played the right move but both players timed out and lost. By comparison, in two games White played the innacurate 10.Qf5+ and lost.

10.Qc4+ Black resigned

Wait a minute... Can't Black reply 10...d5 and protect his Knight? In fact, after 11.Qb3 Nc4 12.Qf3 Re8+ 13.Kd1 Qh4 doesn't Black develop a pretty strong initative for his pawn minus?

An interesting example of chess "shock and awe.".

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Faster Than A Speeding Neuron

I can understand that playing the Jerome Gambit, or one of its variants, can give a player an edge in a fast tempo game where the defender has little time to analyze (or even recall) lines. Still, the following internet game, played at 0 seconds with a 1 second increment per move is very fast, and the result is sudden and surprising.

tomi36 - SanChess2005
01,, 2015

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 4.Bxf7+ 

The Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit.

4...Ke7 5.Nxd4 Kxf7 6.Qf3+ Nf6 7.Qh5+ 

Here Black forfeited on time.

I am reminded of the statement of World Champion Alexander Alekhine
The fact that a player is very short of time is, to my mind, as little to be considered an excuse as, for instance, the statement of the law-breaker that he was drunk at the time he committed the crime.
This game, however, presents more as the players trading (alcoholic) shots until one falls over.