Saturday, December 16, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Adding to History of a Gem

My chess researches recently took me to The Maitland Weekly Mercury, of New South Wales, Australia, for Saturday, November 18, 1899 (page 6)
The following brief and dashing game is interesting, as an example of the attack which this very unsound opening gives when the defence is rather weakly played. D. Y. M. is, no doubt, Mr. D. Y. Mills, the Scotch champion. 

D.Y.M. - Anonymous, 1899

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 

7.Qf5+ Kd6 8.b4 Bxb4 9.c3 Ba5 10.Ba3+ c5 

11.Bxc5+ Kxc5 12.Qxe5+ Kb6 13.Qd6+ Kb5 14.a4+ Kc4 15.Qd5 checkmate.

This gem is obviously the game "Played recently at a Garden Party given to the Edinburgh Chess players" according to The Newcastle Courant, Saturday, September 9, 1899 p.2 - see "Research: British Newspaper Archive (2)". The 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Black is Better, It Will Not Last

"I was beating you," my chessfriend would lament, years ago.

"Right up until the point I checkmated you," I would counter.

Back then I had not yet encountered the Jerome Gambit, but I was already familiar with its dynamics.

As in the following game...

Wall, Bill -Guest624070, 2017

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

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Bxd4 7.Qxd4 d6 

Here we have a standard Jerome Gambit position. There are 357 game examples in The Database. White scores 44%.

It is relevant to note, however, that Bill is 42-3-3 (91%) in games with this position (and has a draw with the Black pieces). This compares favorably with his 92% scoring in 405 games for the Jerome Gambit in general.

Next to skill, experience is a positive factor in playing the obscure Jerome Gambit.


Frequently experimenting, Bill tries out something new. (Not surprisingly, the only other game with this line in The Database was his.) He has also played Alonzo Wheeler Jerome's 8.Nc3 and 8.0-0.

8...Nf6 9.b3

If White's Knight is going to d2, it makes sense that his Bishop will go to b2 - but not always: 9.O-O Rf8 10.Re1 Be6 11.f4 Nc6 12.Qc3 Kg8 13.Nf3 Bg4 14.Qb3+ Kh8 15.Ng5 Qd7 16.f5 h6 17.Ne6 Rfe8 18.Qxb7 Na5 19.Qxc7 Nc6 20.Bf4 Ne5 21.Qxd7 Nfxd7 22.Nc7 Black resigned, Wall,B - Guest2467942, 2017.

9...Nc6 10.Qc3 Re8 11.Bb2 Kg8 12.O-O Qe7 

White is ready to begin advancing his "Jerome pawns." His Rooks are linked and plan on working on the center files.

Black is better, but that often is the case in the beginning in the Jerome Gambit. It will not last. 

13.f4 d5 14.Rae1 d4

Bill notes the threat along the a1-h8 diagonal: 14...Nxe4 15.Nxe4 dxe4 16.Rxe4 Qxe4? 17.Qxg7 checkmate.

15.Qd3 Qd7

16.Nf3 Nb4 

"I can resist everything except temptation" said Oscar Wilde.

Black spoils his position and drops a piece by pestering White's Queen. The first player cannot count on that always happening, but he needs to be ready to recognize it, when it does.

17.Qc4+ Nbd5 18.exd5 Rxe1 19.Rxe1 Nxd5

Black has returned the sacrificed piece, and is temporarily level in material. However, he is lagging in development, including the typical Jerome defender lament: his light-squared Bishop is blocked in on its home square, and in turn restricts his Rook.

He should have played 19...Qxd5, even at the cost of allowing 20.Qxc7.


Instead of grabbing the d-pawn, White appears to assembling a Kingside assault, whereas he actually threatens 21.Qxd5+ Qxd5 22.Re8 mate


Missing the point. After 20...c6 21.Qxd4 Nf6 White would simply be better, a pawn up; but the game would continue, and Black could even harbor visions of a Bishops-of-opposite-colors endgame.

21.Qxd5+ Black resigned

The simple threat is 21...Qxd5 22.Re8 checkmate.

The second point is that if Black defends by moving his King with 21...Kh8, White can offer the Queen a different way, while threatening mate: 22.Qf5. There is only 22...Qxf5 23.Re8+ Qf8 24.Rxf8 mate, or 22...Kg8 23.Qxh7+ Kf8 24.Qh8+.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Heavy Blows Unexpectedly

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As early as July 1874 it was clear that Alonzo Wheeler Jerome had no illusions about his gambit, as the Dubuque Chess Journal noted

It should be understood that Mr. Jerome claims in this New Opening "only a pleasant variation of the Giuoco Piano, which may win or lose according to the skill of the players, but which is capable of affording many new positions and opportunities for heavy blows unexpectedly."

Indeed. In the following game, Black plays a move that would have been fine as his 10th, but is totally inadequate as his 11th. After his 14th move - he cannot escape checkmate.

Wall, Bill - Guest433702, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Bxd4 7.Qxd4 Qe7 

An unusual replacement for 7...d6, although Black has done well with it, according to The Database, which has 24 games - and Black has won 14 of them (White scores 42%). The defender looks even better if you subtract the 4 wins with White (against no losses) that were scored by Bill Wall.


White takes a break from castling, which has also been successful for him: 8.0–0 Nf6 (8...c5 9.Qd5+ Qe6 10.Qxc5 Ne7 11.f4 d6 12.fxe5+ Black resigned, Wall,B - Anonymous,, 2016) 9.Nc3 c6 (9...Nc6 10.Qd3 Nb4 11.Qc4+ Kf8 12.e5 Nh5 13.f4 Nxc2 14.Nd5 Qe6 15.Qxc7 Nxa1 16.f5 Qxd5 17.Qd8+ Kf7 18.e6+ dxe6 19.fxe6+ Kxe6 20.Re1+ Qe5 21.Rxe5+ Kxe5 22.Qxh8 Nc2 23.Qe8+ Black resigned, Wall,B - Bojovic,D,, 2017 *This is arguably the best Jerome Gambit game of the year*) 10.f4 Ng6 11.e5 Ng4 12.h3 Nh6? 13.f5 Nh4 14.f6 gxf6 15.exf6 Nf3+ 16.Rxf3 Qe6 17.Bxh6 Rg8 18.Qd3 d5 19.Qxh7+ Ke8 20.f7+ Black resigned, Wall,B - Guest2327120,, 2014

8...d6 9.Nc3 c6 

Aiming to keep White's Knight out of d5, although it weakens his d-pawn, and this becomes an issue as the game develops.

10.O-O-O Ke6

Brave, but probably unnecessary. Black could afford to develop with 10...Nf6 and let the d-pawn go.

11.Rd2 Nf6 

Suddenly, this move is no longer a good idea. The Knight crowds Black's King, and makes it vulnerable to the upcoming Queen check along the a2-g8 diagonal. Black would have done better to retreat his King with 11...Kf7, reserving the e6 square for his Bishop. If White then grabbed a pawn with 12.Qxd6, then 12...Nc4!? would have stabilized the game, e.g. 13.Qxe7+ Nxe7 14.Rdd1 when Black would have his typical piece for two pawns.  

12.Bxe5 dxe5 13.Qc4+ Nd5

He has no choice but to return the extra piece.

14.exd5+ cxd5 15.Nxd5 

Black cannot escape checkmate.

15...Qf7 16.Nc7+ Kf6 17.Qh4+ Kg6 18.Rd6+ Kf5 19.g4+ Ke4 20.Re1+ Kf4 21.Qg3+ Kg5 22.h4 checkmate

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Jerome Gambit: The Best "Explanation"

The previous post suggested that

Often the best way to learn an opening is to play over the games of an experienced practitioner 
True, that, but sometimes a game becomes very complicated, and the best "explanation" of what is happening is the series of moves that the winner plays. There is a way out of the maze, but sometimes it is not easy for the reader to discover it without help.

Wall, Bill - Guest423598, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Kf8 

Here we have another Sorensen variation where Black is satisfied with accepting one sacrificed piece. It remains an important defense - see "Critical Line: 5...Kf8 (12 and 3)".

6.O-O Nxe5

This time Bill tempos with 6.0-0, and his opponent changes his mind and grabs the second piece.

Alternately Bill has faced:

6...Qf6 7.Nxc6 (White goes back to the main idea) Qxc6 (7...dxc6 8.Nc3 Bd6 9.d4 h6 10.e5 Bxe5 11.dxe5 Qxe5 12.Re1 Qg5 13.Bxg5 Black resigned, Wall,B - NN,, 2016) 8.d4 Bb6 9.Nc3 d6 10.Bg5 Qe8 11.f4 Qg6 12.h4 Qe8 13.f5 Ba5 14.f6 gxf6 15.Qf3 Qf7 16.Nd5 h5 17.Bxf6 Nxf6 18.Nxf6 Be6 19.Qg3 Ke7 20.Nd5+ Bxd5 21.Rxf7+ Bxf7 22.Qg5+ Kd7 23.Qxa5 b6 24.Qb5+ c6 25.Qf5+ Be6 26.Qf6 Rh7 27.d5 cxd5 28.exd5 Bg4 29.Re1 Rg8 30.Re3 Rc8 31.a4 Rc7 32.a5 bxa5 33.Re6 Rc5 34.Rxd6+ Kc7 35.Rc6+ Rxc6 36.Qxc6+ Kd8 37.d6 a4 38.Qa8+ Bc8 39.c4 Rb7 40.c5 Rg7 41.Qf3 Rg6 42.Qf7 Re6 43.c6 Ba6 44.Qd7 checkmate, Wall,B - Computer-level 6,, 2017 and

6...d6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.d4 (8.Nc3 Nf6 9.d4 Bb4 10.Qf3 Bg4 11.Qf4 Kg8 12.e5 Bxc3 13.exf6 Qd7 14.bxc3 Bf5 15.Qg3 Bxc2 16.Bh6 g6 17.Rfe1 Qf5 18.Re7 Qxf6 19.Rae1 Bf5 20.Rxc7 Rb8 21.h3 Rc8 22.Qe3 Rf8 23.Qe7 Qf7 24.Qxf7+ Rxf7 25.Re8+ Rf8 26.Rxf8 checkmate, Wall,B - Anonymous,, 2016) 8...Bb6 9.Nc3 Ba6 10.Re1 Qf6 11.e5 Qh4 12.Re4 Qe7 13.Qf3+ Qf7 14.Rf4 Qxf4 15.Bxf4 d5 16.Bh6+ Ke7 17.Bxg7 Black resigned, Wall,B - Guest399227,, 2016

7.d4 Bb6 

It is sometimes useful to search for understanding in a line by looking at and comparing transpositions.

For example, suppose instead of playing 5...Kf8Guest423598 had tried 5...Nxe5 and after 6.d4 had played 6...Bb6, with White following up with 7.O-O as in the current game - well, there are actually 3 games by jfhumphrey (he has 278 games in The Database) with that line, and it is significant that two continue with 7...Ng6 and one continues with 7...Nc6; in none of the cases did Black feel the need to play ...Kf8, which would transpose to the current game.

Does that leave Black in our current game a tempo behind the jfhumphrey games, or is his King safer on f8 versus f7?

Of course, experience and analysis suggest that the more critical misstep for Black was withdrawing the Bishop, rather than giving it up in exchange for White's d-pawn, i.e. 7...Bxd4 8.Qxd4 Qf6 9. Qe3 Ne7 10. Nc3 d6 11. f4 N5c6 12. Nb5 Ng6 13. Nxc7 Rb8 14. Nb5 a6 15. e5 Qe6 16. f5 Qxe5 17. fxg6+ Kg8 18. Nxd6 hxg6 19.Qxe5 Nxe5 20.Bf4 Rh5 21.Rae1 Black resigned, Wall,B - Guest1442,, 2017.

Black would also have done better giving up the Knight, e.g. 7...Bd6 8.dxe5 Bxe5 9.f4 Bd4+ 10.Qxd4 Qf6 11.e5 Qb6 12.Qxb6 axb6 13.Nc3 Ne7 14.Nb5 c6 15.Nd6 g6 16.f5 gxf5 17.Bh6+ Kg8 18.Nxf5 Nxf5 19.Rxf5 d5 20.Rf8 checkmate, billwall - DeDrijver,, 2012

8.dxe5 Qe8 9.Qf3+ Qf7 10.Qa3+ Ne7 11.Nc3 c6 

Black's Bishop plans to retreat and protect the pinned Knight.


Applying pressure. Oddly, Stockfish 8 suggests 12.Be3 Bc7 13.f4 Qc4 14.Rad1 b5 15.Rd4 Qf7 16.Rd2 Qc4 17.Rd4 etc. with a draw by repetition. I can't see either human player being satisfied with that.

12...Bd8 13.f4 h6 14.Bh4 Ke8  

Defending in Steinitz-like fashion, Black now anticipates trouble along the f-file, and moves his King off of it. Stockfish 8 suggests that the King belongs at h7, instead, in a rather turgid, if balanced, position.

Jerome Gambit players should decide: how should White continue?

15.f5 g5 

Not fearing 16.fxg6 ep Qxg6 with an open line against the White King, although the attack would develop slowly.

16.Bg3 b5  

Black wants to work around the central "Jerome pawns" by advancing on the wings. It is an interesting idea, but also a dangerous one, as his King is stuck in the center and vulnerable to a pawn break through.

I have to say that Black's psychology would have me raving with impatience with the White pieces - but Bill Wall is a cool character, and he decides to occupy a "hole" in his opponent's position.

17.Qd6 Bb7 

And, just like that, Black's position blows up.

Upon reflection, 16...b5 was a mistake. Should he have gone all in with 16...h5, and pushed the Kingside attack?

Should he have avoided the g-pawn push on move 15 and noodled around with something like 15...Bc7, instead? 

Was 14...Kg8, headed toward h7, the way to go after all?

The best that Stockfish 8 can come up for him now is 17...Qf8 18.e6 Nxf5 19.exd7+ Bxd7 20.Qg6+ Qf7 21.exf5 Qxg6 22.fxg6  with a very exposed King. 

18.e6 dxe6 19.fxe6 Black resigned

Black will have to give up his Queen to avoid checkmate.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Playing Over Games

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Often the best way to learn an opening is to play over the games of an experienced practitioner - that is what this blog is all about - and pay attention to what is going on - especially when play varies from past experience and analysis.

The following Jerome Gambit game is a good example of what to look at.

Wall, Bill - Guest129367, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Kf8

Checking Bill's Jerome Gambit nomenclature, I am reminded that this is the Sorensen Variation, where Black declines the second sacrifice and moves his King closer to safety.

Lieutenant S. A. Sorensen wrote an early analysis of the Jerome Gambit in his "Chess for Beginners" column in the May 1877 issue of Nordisk Skaktidende. It was widely translated and republished.

He was anticipated in his discussion by Alonzo Wheeler Jerome, who first looked at the line in 1874. The earliest game example that I have in The Database is Jerome - Brownson, Iowa, USA, 1875 (1/2-1/2, 29). For history of the line, see "Critical Line: 5...Kf8 (1, 2 and 3)".


I was a bit surprised to find that, according to The Database, this move is a novelty, although the game will transpose to an earlier Bill Wall game in a few moves.

White simply develops a piece, and waits to see what Black can make of the position. Similar would be 6.0-0, which Bill is 7-0 with. He also suggests 6.d4!?, which brought him a win the one time he tried it.

Seen more often, and recommended by both Jerome and Sorensen, is 6.Nxc6.


The Black Queen sometimes goes to f6 to help defend; here it is also attacking.

Of course Black had the option of capturing the Knight with 6...Nxe5, and after 7.d4 Bxd4 8.Qxd4 d6 the game would have transposed into more mainstream play. There is a practical argument for 6...Nxe5 as well: Bill is "only" 8-2 against it. 

Stockfish 8 (30 ply) shows a tiny preference for 6...Nxe5, but also suggests the wild 6...Qg5!?, which it recommends that White meet with 7.Qf3+, looking to exchange Queens. Not surprisingly, The Database has no examples of 6...Qg5.


White can no longer exchange off his Knight because of 7.Nxc6?? Qxf2 checkmate.

7...Bb6 8.O-O d6 

The game has transposed to Wall, Bill - Tim93612,, 2010 (1-0, ), which began 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Kf8 6.Nd3 Bb6 7.0-0 Qf6 8.Nc3, but then continued with 8...Nge7 (1-0, 36).

With a piece for two pawns, Black can be said to have a small advantage, especially in light of White's blocked development. Black has to be aware, however, that his King and Queen are on the same file, which could prove risky if White can exchange off pawns to expose his Rook at f1.


White wastes no time unpinning his f-pawn, so he can advance it.


Black would love to exchange Knights at d3 and bury White's Bishop. Bill recommends, instead, 9...Qf7


The attack on Black's Queen gives White time to exchange off Black's troublesome Bishop and double a couple of pawns - if nothing better comes up.

Why didn't White play the Knight jump the previous move, instead of "wasting time" with 9.Kh1 ? Probably because Black could have answered the move with 9...Qd4, and the Queen would have recaptured, keeping his pawns intact.


Bill suggests, instead, 10...Qe6 11.N3f4 Qf7. Why is this different from moving the Queen to f7 immediately?

11.Nxe5 dxe5 12.f4 

Suddenly the "Jerome pawns" take on a menacing potential.

Stockfish 8 suggests that Black continue with reasonable defense, 12...Ke8 13.fxe5 Qg6 14.d4 Ne7 15.Nxe7 Kxe7 16.Qd3 and with 3 pawns for the piece - despite facing the two Bishops - White appears to have somewhat better chances.


Black's first real slip. Development is good, and shielding the Queen and King is noble - but the enemy Rook on the f-file is still a danger.

13.fxe5 c6 14.exf6 g6 15.Ne7 

Not only is White up 3 pawns, his advanced Knight and pawn are full of trouble - especially with Black's pawn on g6. (Perhaps Black's Queen should have gone there, instead, with 14...Qg6, but after 15.Nxb6 axb6 White could have continued with 16.b3, intending 17.Bb2 with further pressure on Black's kingside.)

15...Be6 16.d4 Rd8 

Overlooking White's main threat, which could have been met with 16...h5. At that point White would not have an immediate shot, but could continue to build his attack with 17.b3 and 18.Ba3, or work for a breakthrough with 17.d5.

17.Bh6+ Ke8 

Now there is already the win of the exchange after 18.Bg7, but White wants to go after the enemy King.

18.d5 cxd5 

It is difficult to find a safe retreat for Black's light squared Bishop, so Black decides to return it for a couple of pawns. This leaves him down a Rook (and a couple of pawns)

19.exd5 Bxd5 20.Nxd5 Rxd5 


Please excuse Bill for overlooking the checkmate in 20 moves that starts with 21.Qg4 (silly computer) - the text is strong enough (and would checkmate almost as fast, if Black didn't resign sooner).

21...Kd7 22.Qg4+ Kc7 23.Re7+ Black resigned

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Building Anxiety

Here is another interesting and educational Jerome Gambit game from Vlasta Fejfar.

The game might as well be titled "What shall we worry about today?" as the little things seem to build up for Black, and he suddenly turns over the game.

vlastous - Makaviel , Sandro
Internet, 2017 

 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6 


The "nudge". I am not sure that it is necessary, or leads to anything more than the direct capture 7.Qxc5 does, but, in my experience it can get Black to take some time worrying "What is he doing?"

7...Ke8 8.Qxc5 N8e7 

So - what is going on here?

White has sacrificed a piece for two pawns, and has already moved his Queen three times. He needs development while taking advantage of Her Majesty's options.

Black is ahead in material and development, but his King is stuck in the middle of the board, at least for now. He needs to design a route to safety, when he can then use his advantages.

9.O-O b6 

This is a reasonable move, opening up the a8-h1 diagonal for his Bishop - or, as in the game, the a6-f1 diagonal. 

Also possible are 9...d6 and 9...Rf8. There are game examples in The Database.


A small improvement over the retreat 10.Qe3, which I have used in a couple of wins: perrypawnpusher - Lark, blitz, FICS, 2009 (1-0, 59) and perrypawnpusher - jdvatty, blitz, FICS, 2010 (1-0. 28).

From c3 the Queen threatens Black's g-pawn, which is probably enough to cause the defender some anxiety, although in the long run it is probably risky for White to play Qxg7 as long as Black is able to play ...Rg8, with dangerous pressure on the file against White's King.


Black chooses a different development, attacking White's Rook at f1. Is he worried about the partially open f-file his King will have to cross in order to castle-by-hand? Possibly.

11.d3 Kf7 

Guarding the attacked g-pawn and seeking safety. 
12.f4 Rf8 

Black's move is all part of his plan, but he would have been more prudent to play 12...d6, as will immediately be seen.


Awkward. Where is Black's Knight to go? It turns out that White's Queen was also attacking the e5 square.


Uncomfortable. Unsafe.

Instead, Black could try 13...Nh8, but 14.f6!? would be a troubling answer, winning the Knight on e7.

Stockfish 8 suggests the pragmatic return of the piece with 13...Kg8 14.fxg6 Rxf1+ 15.Kxf1 Nxg6 which Black probably saw, but which he hoped to avoid.

14.Bg5 c5 

I don't understand this move. Perhaps it is played to prevent a possible d3-d4 by White? Possibly better was getting a pawn for the piece with 14...Nxg2.

15.Bxh4 Kg8

Well, it looks like Black's King has finally found sactuary.

Not so! says White.


This breakthrough works, even with White not fully developed.

16...gxf6 17.Bxf6 Rf7 

18.Nd2 Qf8 19.Rf3 Nc6 

Black's two developed minor pieces on the Queenside are out of the action and largely irrelevant.

White now has a brutal attack on the g-file. 

20.Rg3+ Rg7 21.Rxg7+ Black resigned

Black will have to give up his Queen (and eventually his Rook, too) in order to avoid checkmate.