Friday, July 15, 2016

Semi-Italian Jerome Gambit: It's Not A Blunder Until It's Refuted

Image result for free clip art blunder

The following blitz game allows me to comment on a rare Jerome Gambit line (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.0-0 h6 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.Qh5+ by transposition) and an improvement for Black that has yet to be played, despite its mention here.

perrypawnpusher - Duwasi
10 0 blitz, FICS, 2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6

The Semi-Italian Opening.

4.O-O Bc5 5.Bxf7+

The Semi-Italian Jerome Gambit.

5...Kxf7 6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.Qh5+ g6

Three years ago I wrote in a post "By the Numbers"
The Database has almost 27,000 games in it, yet there are only 7 (until now) with this position; and I had White in all of them, scoring 100%.
The Database now has over 55,000 games, and there are 10 with this position; I had White in all of them, still, scoring 100%.


Here Black resigned in perrypawnpusher - JohnBr, blitz, FICS, 2010 and perrypawnpusher - AcesFullofKings, blitz, FICS, 2011.


Black tried 8...Nf6 in perrypawnpusher - islanderchess, blitz, FICS, 2008 (1-0, 46), perrypawnpusher - wadada, blitz, FICS, 2009 (1-0, 19) and perrypawnpusher - Entangle, blitz, FICS, 2014 (1-0, 24).

Black played 8...Bd6  in perrypawnpusher - apinheiro, blitz, FICS, 2010 (1-0, 35) and perrypawnpusher - eaadahl,, 2013, (1-0, 37).

Black essayed 8...Qf6 in perrypawnpusher - alekbb, blitz, FICS, 2010 (1-0, 47).

Black tried 8...Be7 in perrypawnpusher - PravinMamania, blitz, FICS, 2010 (1-0, 50).

Black's best choice i8...Bf8, as the Rook is then off-limits - 9.Qxh8? Bg7 10.Qh7 Nf6 and Her Majesty is doomed. White does best with 9.d4, but after 9...d6 10.Qb5 c6 11.Qd3 Black is better.

It is possible that Black's move in the game - and the Rook sacrifice - was prompted by some knowledge of the game Amateur - Blackburne, London, 1885, but the addition of ...h6 and 0-0 in our game makes a big difference.

9.Qxh8 h5 10.Qc3

Quickly extracting the Queen, and unnecessarily so, as safety was no longer an issue. It was wiser to play 10.d4 Bb6 11.Qh7+ Kf8 12.Bh6+ Nxh6 13.Qxh6+ Kf7 and gain some more material.

Still, White is the exchange and a couple of pawns ahead, and plays it safe the rest of the way.

10...Be6 11.d4 Bb6 12.d5 Bd7 13.Qf3+ Nf6 14.Bg5 Bg4 15.Qxf6+ Qxf6 16.Bxf6 Kxf6 

17.Nc3 Bd4 18.h3 Bd7 19.Rad1 Be5 20.f4 Bxc3 21.bxc3 Ke7 22.e5

22...Bb5 23.Rf2 Bc4 24.e6 Bxa2 25.f5 gxf5 26.Rxf5 h4 27.Rf7+ Kd8 28.Rf8+ Ke7 29.Rxa8 

I think Black played on because he was ahead on the clock and I was playing in an uninspiring manner - a reasonable idea, although, in this case, an unsuccessful one.

29...a6 30.Rf1 Bxd5 31.Rh8 Kxe6 32.Re1+ Kd7 33.Rxh4 Kc6 34.c4 Be6 35.Rxe6 b5 36.cxb5+ axb5 37.Rb4 Kc5 38.c3 c6 39.Ree4 d5 40.Rh4 Kd6 41.g4 Ke6 42.g5 Kf5 43.Rhg4 Kg6 44.h4 Kh5 45.Kg2 Kg6 46.Kg3 Kg7 47.Rbf4 Kg6 48.Rf6+ Kg7 49.h5 c5 50.h6+ Kh7 51.Kh4 d4 52.cxd4 c4 53.Rb6 c3 54.Rxb5 c2 55.Rg1 Kg6 56.Rc1 Kh7 57.Rxc2 Black resigned

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mr. Fletcher's Gambits

I recently stopped by the website of the Bedford Chess Club, where I noted an interesting entry concerning "Mr. Fletcher's gambits", referring to  L. Elliot Fletcher's delightful book, Gambits Accepted, A Survey of Opening Sacrifices (1954).

The Bedford CC site has examples of 84 gambits that Fletcher covered, as well as 11 gambits that he had missed.

Interestingly enough, the site does not give the Jerome Gambit game that Fletcher provided, but includes the significant Sorensen - X, Denmark, 1888 (1-0, 27).
Fletcher quotes a club game for the Jerome; and none of the surviving games by Jerome himself were won by White. But apparently the Danish player and problemist Soren Sorensen showed an interest in the gambit. 
It is relevant to point out to Readers Sorensen's early article on the Jerome Gambit that was translated into a number of languages and was very influential in popularizing the opening.

I quickly emailed the Club secretary 
Dear Mr. Gill, 
I was delighted to come across your post on "Mr. Fletcher's gambits". A pleasant book I recall fondly, and hope your Club members appreciate as well. 
My own interest in gambits focuses on the Jerome Gambit, which I have researched for 15 years and maintain a blog about ( I was impressed that you substituted the Sorensen game for Mr. Fletcher's anonymous club game. 
As a small, niggling point, I wanted to mention that I have 7 Jerome Gambit wins by Alonzo Wheeler Jerome in my database (which also includes 9 losses, 2 draws and 6 incomplete games). They are out there, they just required some digging. 
By inference I conclude that you did not accept Eric Schiller's erronious contention in his "Unorthodox Chess Openings" (1998) that the famous Blackburne win (London, 1880) was against Jerome himself; just so. 
Best wishes, 
Rick Kennedy
I soon learned that I had contacted the wrong person. Still, it was great to hear back from Bedford 
Good evening. 
I have to own up to being the perpetrator of the games collection on the Bedford club site based on Elliott Fletcher's book. Given that since I discovered the book in my 'teens (half a century ago) I have had a predilection for dodgy gambits, I guess I should share your view of Fletcher's book as "delightful". Revisiting the book I did find his uncritical attitude to a lot of complete trash a bit annoying and at times his analysis is seriously ropey (the irritation only vents itself openly, I think, in the last note to game 21). 
I think I probably found the Sorensen game courtesy of your blog and apologise for the fact that I didn't look hard enough to find the White wins by Jerome. I am asking the webmaster to amend the noted to Sorensen-NN on the website accordingly. 
I didn't know that friend Schiller was claiming that Blackburne's victim was Jerome himself. Had it been, I think Blackburne might have mentioned the fact in his own collection of his best games; and the fact that Tim Harding finds no evidence for it is pretty strong negative evidence as far as I am concerned. I accept that Schiller is a far stronger player than I will ever be, but (like you, I think) I don't rate him as an author. 
Neil Hickman

It was easy to finish up with
Dear Mr. Hickman, 
I had a pleasant, good-natured chuckle at your comment that you found Fletcher's "uncritical attitude to a lot of complete trash a bit annoying" and that "at times his analysis is seriously ropey". Well put - and I agree. Nobody is likely to mistake "Gambits Accepted" for, say, Tartakower and Du Mont's "500 Master Games of Chess". Gary Kasparov's comment that "chess is not skittles" holds true for his portion of the chess world... 
Still, I am delighted at an actual, published  look (before the internet!) at amateur games by an amateur player. "Gambits Accepted" reminds me a bit of Rainer Schlenker's "Randspringer" - with weaker analysis, of course. 
I want to apologize for my snarky comment relating to Alonzo Wheeler Jerome's wins with his gambit. Finding them is not so easy, unless you're a bit of a fanatic (with too much time on his hands) like myself. 
I agree, if AWJ had crossed the pond to have his head handed to him by Blackburne in London in that famous Jerome Gambit game, Dr. Harding would have uncovered some trace of it. Certainly, over here, I have found no trace that the gambiteer ever even left the US. 
Thank you for your time. 
Best wishes,Rick 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Jerome Gambit Toolbox

Image result for picture toolbox

There are a number of recurring tactical ideas in the Jerome Gambit which I like to think of as tools in a toolbox - at hand to help White construct an effective game.

perrypawnpusher - subhann
10 5 blitz, FICS, 2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6 7.Qd5+

The "nudge", a small, but useful tool in the Jerome Gambit toolbox. A good number of opponents take time trying to figure out what the move means. White uses a tempo, but he will get it back against 7...Kf8 or 7...Ke8 if Black later castles-by-hand; while if Black chooses 7...Ke7 or 7...Kf6, his King will be in  the way of effective development.

7...Kf8 8.Qxc5+ N8e7

A relatively rare move. See "Wilderness". I have only met this once, in perrypawnpusher - Jaqueperpetuo, blitz, FICS, 2011 (1-0, 25)

9.O-O d6 10.Qe3 Be6

A bit careless, encouraging White to pull out another tool.


Of course: the threatened pawn fork.


Instead, 11...Bf7 was seen in mrjoker - cherryhead/Internet Chess Club, 2008 (1-0, 50).

White can still use the center pawn press.

12.f5 Ne5 13.d4 Nc4 14.Qd3

14...b5 15.b3 Nb6 16.f6 

The "Jerome pawn" advances to open up the enemy position. It is not immediately decisive, as White still has to complete his development to follow through on the open lines, but the advantage it provides is clear.

16...gxf6 17.Rxf6+ Kg7 18.Qf3 


This move turns the game over to White. Stockfish 7, after the game, suggested 18...Bf5!? returning the extra piece, although after 19.Bg5 Bg6 20.Re6 Rf8 21.Bf6+ Kg8 22.Rxe7 Qxe7 23.Bxe7 Rxf3
24.gxf3 White would have a two pawn advantage.


One last tool - the Bishop check from h6.

19...Kh8 20.Rxf8+ Ng8 21.Rxd8 Rxd8 Black resigned

White wins the exchange after 22.Qf7 Nxh6 23.Qf6 Kg8 Qxd8+ with an overwhelming material lead