Friday, July 1, 2016

At Long Last, A Jerome Gambit


The following game (with interesting lessons) is one that I have referred to a number of times on this blog, but never presented it in full, or with notes. I am only 6 years late, but, here we go...

Wall, Bill - Roberts, Conner, 2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nc3

Bill chooses one of the "modern" Jerome Gambit lines. As far as I can tell, in the days of Alonzo Wheeler Jerome, the "classical" 5.Nxe5 was always played.


A few games with different responses, to study:

5...d6 6.O-O Bg4 7.d3 Nd4 8.Nxe5+ dxe5 9.Qxg4 Nf6 10.Qd1 c6 11.Na4 Bd6 12.Be3 Ne6 13.Qd2 Qc7 14.Nc3 Rad8 15.Ne2 Rhf8 16.Qc3 Kg8 17.Qb3 Rde8 18.Bxa7 Kh8 19.Be3 Ng4 20.Bb6 Qb8 21.h3 Nf6 22.Ng3 Nd4 23.Qc4 Nd7 24.Bxd4 exd4 25.Qxd4 c5 26.Qa4 Rd8 27.Nf5 Nb6 28.Qb5 Qc7 29.Ne3 Qc6 30.Qxc6 bxc6 31.a4 Ra8 32.a5 Nd7 33.Nc4 Be7 34.e5 Rfb8 35.b3 h6 36.f4 Bd8 37.a6 Nb6 38.Na5 Rxa6 39.Nxc6 Rxa1 40.Rxa1 Rc8 41.Nxd8 Rxd8 42.Ra5 Ra8 43.Rxc5 Ra2 44.c4 Rd2 45.e6 Rxd3 46.e7 Re3 47.Re5 Black resigned, Wall,B - Rahman,N,,  2010; and 

5...h6 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.Qh5+ Ng6 8.Qd5+ Ke8 (8...Kf8 9.Qxc5+ N8e7 10.f4 d6 11.Qf2 Nc6 12.d4 Qh4 13.g3 Qh3 14.f5 Nge7 15.f6 Nf5 16.exf5 Bxf5 17.fxg7+ Kxg7 18.Nd5 Rhf8 19.Nf4 Rae8+ 20.Be3 Qg4 21.h3 Qg5 22.O-O-O Nb4 23.Qd2 Qxg3 24.Nh5+ Black resigned, Wall,B - Jllib976,, 2010) 9.Qxc5 d6 10.Qa3 N8e7 11.O-O Nh4 12.d4 Neg6 13.f4 Rf8 14.Be3 Bg4 15.Qb3 Rb8 16.f5 Ne7 17.Bf2 Nexf5 18.exf5 Nxf5 19.Rae1+ Kd7 20.Qe6+ Kc6 21.d5 checkmate, Wall,B - Mbgmxm,, 2010.


Here Black's brain should be screaming "Why Did He Play That Move?" I guess it wasn't. After all, he was playing against a ridiculous opening, and it was easy to feel comfortable and conficent and slow down his effort...


To be fair, this move is often part of castling-by-hand to give Black's King needed safety. However, it is not well-timed.

7.Qc4+ Ke8 8.Qxc5 d6 9. Qc4 Qe7 

10.d4 exd4 11.Nxd4 Nxe4

Black is down a pawn, so, of course, he plays to get one back, and there seems to be one available (with White's King uncastled on the same file as Black's Queen!) but in this case he seems to have been affected by the "negative halo effect"
When people notice a good trait in a person, they often assume other positives. With the Jerome Gambit  often a negative "halo effect" occurs – if the early moves are bad, many of the other ones must be bad, too.
No, Bill did not leave the e-pawn hanging.

12.Nxc6 Qh4 13.O-O Rxf2

Black decides to go out in a blaze of glory.

14.Nxe4 Rxg2+ 15.Kxg2 Bh3+ 16.Kh1 Qg4 

Threatening checkmate!

17.Qf7 checkmate

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Advice to Defenders of the Jerome Gambit: Don't Slow Down

When I ran in school, my teacher said not to stop at the finish line, but to aim for a spot well beyond there. He said that would keep me moving as fast as possible while I was racing. Otherwise, I would slow down at the end, and this would be to the benefit of my opponents.

The same advice can be given to those who defend against the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+): When you realize that you have received a piece or two in a "refuted" opening, keep "running" - keep competing - and do not slow down or relax your attention too soon.

Chessfriend Vlastamil Fejfar, of the Czech Republic (see "A Fierce Jerome Gambit Battle", shares a recent online game where his opponent ignored this advice. The result was as expected.

vlastous - rubicon, 2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.f4 Qf6 

Vlasta and Readers have seen this move before, as I noted in an earlier post
A line seen as early as in a note in G.H.D. Gossip's 1891 The Chess Player's Vade Mecum and Pocket Guide to the Openings with all the latest theoretical discoveries and traps in the openings revealed, and more recently supported by FM Eric Schiller in his books on unorthodox openings. (It is fun to read MrJoker's comments about some of Schiller's analysis - see "Joker's Wild" 12and Conclusion.) 
I would like to point out that Schiller in his Unorthodox Chess Openings (1998) wrongly identified Henry Joseph Blackburne's opponent in his classic destruction of the Jerome Gambit as Alonzo Wheeler Jerome, himself. Fifteen years of research into the Jerome Gambit has not turned up any evidence that AWJ ever travelled to London, let alone was able to play HJB at Simpson's Divan. (Certainly Dr. Tim Harding would have included this tidbit, were it not merely a figment of Schiller's imagination, in his exhaustive Joseph Henry Blackburne A Chess Biography.)

In any event, Black has every reason to feel comfortable with his position, as he has played a "refutation" that both time and reference books have presented as sufficient.

8.Rf1 g6 9.Qh3+ Kf7 

But - Black relaxes too soon, as Vlasta immediately demonstrates. Best was the alternative 9...Ke7.

10.fxe5 Qxf1+ 11.Kxf1 d5 12.Qc3 b6 13.d4 Black resigned

White's material advantage is decisive. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

A Pawn Is Worth A Little Trouble

I received some more games from Bill Wall, new to me if not all of them "new".

The following is a good example of Black defending against the Jerome Gambit with nefarious ideas of his own. (For perspective on this kind of "duel" see "Post Script".) He almost makes them work...

Wall, Bill - Royercordova, 2010

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.Qc4 

In his games Bill has chosen many different squares to retreat his Queen to. See "Spicy!" for alternatives.


This move is often part of Black's defense in the Jerome Gambit.

Bill has also faced 9...Qe7 10.O-O Be6 11.Qa4+ Bd7 12.Qb4 b6 13.Nc3 c5 14.Qb3 Be6 15.Qa3 Ne5 16.d4 Nc4 17.Qa4+ Kf7 18.d5 Black resigned, Wall,B - Guest4027845,, 2015 

10.O-O N8e7 11.d4 Nc6 12. c3 Bd7 13.f4 Rf8 14.d5 Na5 

The game has proceeded along typical Jerome Gambit lines: White has a relatively safe King and two useful extra pawns; Black has an extra piece, but his King is stuck in the center. The position is slightly in Black's favor, but it is "messy". It is about to get a whole lot messier.


A calculated risk (Bill gives the alternative 15.Qd3). As Wilhelm Steinitz reportedly said, "A pawn is worth a little trouble". In this case, White gains a pawn and loosens Blacks position a bit, but he risks having his Queen trapped.

The proper order of moves will be important. 


The idea here is clear. Bill gives a more refined version as a suggestion, 15...Bb5 16.Rf3 b6.

16.Na3 Rf7 17.Nc4 

White's Knight races to help his trapped and soon-to-be-threatened Queen. 


Black's best, as Bill pointed out, was 17...Nxc4 18.Qxc4 Kf8, allowing the Queen to escape but perhaps reamaining with an edge. 

18.Nxd6+ Black resigned

After 18...Kf8 19.Nxf7 Qxf7 20.Qxf7+ Kxf7 21.Re1 White will have a Rook against Black's two Knights, but he will have four extra "Jerome pawns" to make up the difference.

Had Black played Bill's suggested 15...Bb5 16.Rf3 b6, White would not have been able to use his Knight for rescue and attack. For example, after 17.Na3, Black can simply retreat the Bishop with 17...Ba6, (although he could also win White's Queen with 17...Rf7 18.Nxb5 Rxc7 19.Nxc7+ Kf8 20.Nxa8 Qd8 21.Be3 Qxa8 22.Bd4 - White may have adequate compensation, however) when White's best chance is to complicate with 18.e5 dxe5 19.fxe5 Qd8.