Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again... who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.

- Theodore Roosevelt

(Who knew that TR understood the Jerome Gambit player???)

Merry Christmas to the Jerome Gambit Gemeinde and to chess players everywhere.

(Readers: I have shared these pictures on earlier Christmas posts. 
If you remember them, you've been around here a long time!) 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Jerome Gambit: A Workaday World

Although the Jerome Gambit can be a lot of help, sometimes White has to rely on  his ability to outplay his opponent. The following game, by the winner (undefeated) of the recent Giuoco Piano Jerome Gambit Tournament, shows how it is done.

SeinfeldFan91 - rigidwithfear
Jerome Gambit Tournament,, 2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6 7.Qxc5 d6 8.Qd5+ Be6 9.Qxb7 

This is a popular pawn-grab which is a bit riskier than, say, 9.Qb5, but White is willing to take the chance. 

9...N8e7 10.Nc3 Rf8 11.d4 Kg8 

Black has wisely castled-by-hand and has the better development. He now faces the challenge that many defenders face: how to take advantage of having the advantage. He seems unsure in the task.

12.d5 Bd7 13.O-O Ne5 14.f4 Nc4

It does not appear that a lot has happened, and that is part of the problem for Black. Stockfish 7 now rates the position as equal. I would call it "messy".

15.Qa6 Nb6 16.f5

An interesting clamp on the position, and there is always the threat at some point in the future of f5-f6.

16...Bc8 17.Qe2 Bd7 18.Bg5 Qe8 19.a4 Rb8 20.Qa6 Qf7 21.Qxa7 

21...Nc4 22.Qxc7 Nb6 23.Qxd6 Rfe8 24.a5 Black resigned

White has been busy gathering pawns - he has 6 for his sacrificed piece - and now he attacks the Knight at b6 that protects the Bishop at d7; one of them must fall.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Jerome Gambit: The Nightmare Before Christmas

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I borrowed part of the title of this blog post from Tim Burton's animated film, but it seemed to be about right in describing the following game.

Those who play the Jerome Gambit need to constantly remind themselves that it is, technically, a refuted opening, and that there are a number of winning defenses that Black can play.

True, there are many circumstances which lead to the defender not making use of his advantages, and White wins - sometimes quite impressively. Learning to take advantage of any slip or error is critical.

However, sometimes there are games like the following. SeinfeldFan91 won the Jerome Gambit tournament by succeeding in all of his games - and that means wins with Black, as well as wins with White.

kristjan - SeinfeldFan91
Jerome Gambit Tournament,, 2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4

At first Alonzo Wheeler Jerome favored this move over 6.Qh5+, and it has much going for it - including winning back one of White's two sacrificed pieces.

A quick look at The Database (which is a good measure of club player success, not necessarily "theoretical" or computer success) shows 1,499 games with 6.d4, with White scoring 52%. This can be compared with 3,793 games with 6.Qh5+, with White scoring 55%.


This is the strongest theoretical response to 6.d4, and it appears in 230 games in The Database. However, as a measure of how chaotic the game becomes in this double-edged variation - White scores 67%!

This is another indication that familiarity and understanding of the Jerome Gambit is very important: Play what you know, and know what you play.


Here the Database statistics line up with the recommendations of the computers. The text move appears in 67 games with White scoring 28% - not bad when considering that the line is "lost" for the attacker, but not best. There are 154 Database games with the also "lost" (but better) move 7.0-0, and White scores 87% - it is always good to understand your practical chances in a wild line! 

7...Qxe4+ 8.Kf1 Nf6 9.Nc3 Qb4 

Some alternatives:

9...Qh4 10.Be3 b6 11.Ne2 bxc5 12.Ng3 d6 13.c3 Ba6+ 14.Kg1 Rhe8 15.Qb3+ c4 16.Qd1 g6 17.Kf1 Neg4 18.Bd4 Nxh2+ 19.Kg1 Nfg4 20.Qd2 Bb7 21.Qf4+ Kg8 22.Rxh2 Qxh2+ White resigned, HauntedKnight - blocbloc, FICS, 2016;

9...Qc4+ 10.Kg1 Qxc5 11.Be3 Qe7 12.g3 d6 13.Kg2 Bg4 14.Qd2 Bf3+ 15.Kg1 Bc6 16.f4 Nf3+ White resigned, HauntedKnight - truuf, FICS, 2014; and

9...Qc6 10.Bg5 Re8 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.Nd5 Qf5 13.Nxc7 Ng4 14.Qd5+ Qxd5 15.Nxd5 Re5 16.c4 b6 17.cxb6 Ba6 18.b3 axb6 19.Nxb6 d5 20.Nxa8 dxc4 21.Nc7 Rf5 22.Nxa6 Nxf2 23.Kg1 c3 24.Rc1 Ne4 25.Nb4 Rf2 26.Rxc3 Rb2 27.Rf3+ Ke6 28.h3 g5 29.Kh2 h5 30.Re1 Ke5 31.Nd3+ Black resigned, PasChat - plamb, FICS, 2014


At this point something like 10.Be3 to focuse on development was probably better. Still, the situation is grim.

10...d5 11.Kg2 Bg4 12.Qe1 Rhe8 White resigned

Playing on a piece down, with the loss of more material imminent, was not appealing.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Jerome Gambit: On the Way to Victory

Here is another fine win from the top player in the recent Jerome Gambit tournament.

SeinfeldFan91 - junnujannu
Jerome Gambit Tournament,, 2016

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.Qe3 Nf6 10.O-O Qe7 

11.Nc3 c6 12.d4

Also seen in this position:

12.d3 Ng4 13.Qe2 Qh4 14.h3 N4e5 15.f4 Nf7 16.Bd2 Qe7 17.Rae1 Kd8 18.Qh5 Qh4 19.Qa5+ b6 20.Qb4 Kc7 21.d4 a5 22.Qc4 Qe7 23.Nd5+ Kd7 24.Nxe7 Kxe7 25.Qxc6 Bd7 26.Qxb6 Rab8 27.Qxa5 Rxb2 28.f5 Nh4 29.e5 dxe5 30.Qc5+ Kf6 31.dxe5+ Black resigned, shugart - volki, FICS, 2013; and

12.f4 Kd8 13.d4 Kc7 14.f5 Nf8 15.e5 dxe5 16.dxe5 Ng4 17.Qd4 Nh6 18.f6 gxf6 19.Bf4 Black resigned, Wall,B - HeHe,, 2010.


Development (with a subtle flaw).

Black has also attacked the Queen, as a prelude to a push on the Kingside: 12...Ng4 13.Qg3 h5 14.h3 h4 15.Qd3 Nh6 16.f4 Kd8 17.Bd2 Bd7 18.Rae1 Kc7 19.f5 Nf8 20.Qc4 Kb8 21.Bf4 b5 22.Qc5 Nf7 23.a4 Kb7 24.Qa3 a5 25.axb5 cxb5 26.Nd5 Qd8 27.Bxd6 b4 28.Bxb4 axb4 29.Qxb4+ Kc8 30.Nb6+ Kc7 31.Nxa8+ Qxa8 32.Rf3 Rh6 33.Rc3+ Rc6 34.Rxc6+ Bxc6 35.Qe7+ Nd7 36.Qxf7 Qa5 37.c3 Qa2 38.Qxg7 Qxb2 39.d5 Qxc3 Black resigned, mrjoker - Mandragora, Internet Chess Club, 2009.


To deny c4 to the Black Bishop. Also possible was 10.f4

13...b6 14.f4 Nf8 

Black has to do something about the threatened fork of his two pieces. Probably he should return the piece with 14...Bf5 15.exf5 Qxe3+ 16. Bxe3 Ne7 getting the Queens off of the board.


White's threat is e4-e5, and he should probably enforce it directly with 15.Ba3!? and 16.Rae1. He eventually does this, but first he has to address Black harassing his Queen.

15...Nh5 16.Qf3 Nf6 17.e5 Nd5 18.Ba3

The text is okay, although White could have worked to blow things up right away with 18.f5!? Again, he finds the move later.

18...Nxc3 19.Qxc6+ Qd7 20.Qxa8+ Kf7 

White has 3 pawns and a Rook for 2 pieces (one of which he will recover immediately) - as well as an attack on the enemy King. 

21.f5 Ne2+ 22.Kh1 Bxf5 23.Qe4 Ng3+

One of the pieces has to go. Black returns the Knight with a spite check.

24. hxg3 Kg6 25.Qa8

Black resigned

Black's position is a mess, and the closer you look, the worse it appears. The Knight is pinned to the Rook, for example, and the Bishop is pinned to the Knight. The Queen's best move is 25...Qc8, to exchange Queens and get some air, but 26.Qxc8 Bxc8 27.Bxd6 has all the appeal of a root canal.