Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Drawing Conclusions

How do you get a draw with the Jerome Gambit?

How do you get a draw against the Jerome Gambit?

Are they the same question?

When I submitted the following game to Stockfish 8 for a "blunder check" analysis (set for two minutes a move) it came back with no suggestions - after the Jerome Gambit setup - until move 22! 

Wall, Bill - Guest640699
PlayChess.com, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Bxd4 7.Qxd4 d6 8.a3 

White has a pawn for his sacrificed piece and he plays - this? (It is a novelty, according to The Database.)

This is another example of the psychological strategies Bill Wall will inject into his Jerome Gambit games. He will eventually have 2 pawns for the piece, then 3 pawns, then 4 pawns - each weighing against Black's sense that, somehow, he must be winning (but how?).

8...Nf6 9.Nc3 Be6 10.f4 Nc6 11.Qd3 Re8 12.O-O Kg8 

Black has castled-by-hand and developed his minor pieces.

I wonder what would have happened had he offered a draw right now?

13.Bd2 Qd7 14.Rae1 Re7 15.b3 Rae8 

Black is prepared for a break on the e-file, so White moves his attentions over to the Kingside.

16.f5 Bf7 17.Bg5 Kh8 18.Qh3 Ne5 19.Bxf6 gxf6 20.Qh6 Bg8 21.Qxf6+ Rg7 

22.Qh6 Qf7 

Now was the time to counter White's wing attack with a hit in the center  - 22...d5.

The text still leaves Black better, but his advantage is slipping.

23.Rf4 Rf8  24.Nd5 c6 

Stockfish 8 prefers 24...Rg4 25.Rxg4 Nxg4 26.Qg5 Qg7 27.Qxg7+ Kxg7 28.Nxc7 Rc8 29.Nb5 Rxc2 30.Nxd6 Bxb3 31.Nxb7 Ba4 32.h3 Ne5 33.Rd1 Bc6 34.Na5 Ba8 35.Rd6 Kf7 36.Re6 Nd3 37.Rh6 Bxe4 38.Rxh7+ Kf6 39.Rxa7 Rxg2+ and sees Black still as better, but after all those exchanges (and with White having 3 pawns for the piece) it looks rather drawish to me.

25.Qxd6 cxd5 26.Qxe5 dxe4 27.Rexe4 h6 28.f6 Rg6
29.Re2 Qd5 


White has 3 pawns for the piece now, and with pawn majorities on both sides of the board and the annoying pawn at f6, he is not ready to exchange Queens.

30...Kh7 31.Qc7+ Bf7 32. Ref2 Re8 33. h3 Re1+ 34. Kh2 Rf1 

Black's pressure on g2 is a danger White must constantly monitor. Black's move here is creative, and he has another one coming up, but White will not be fooled. 

35.c4 Rxf2

Nice. If White now takes Black's Queen, he will be checkmated.

36.Rxf2 Qe6 37.Qxb7 Rxf6 38.Rxf6 Qe5+ 39.Kg1 Qxf6 

It looks like both players are at risk of a draw at this point.

40.Qxa7 Qa1+ 41.Kh2 Qe5+ 42.Kg1 Qa1+ 43.Kh2 Qe5+ drawn

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Tactic Fatigue

Jerome Gambit games are often about tactics. Sometimes White develops an attack and tactics help bring him the point. Sometimes Black defends well, and White must look for the tactical chance to pull even, or take the advantage.

All that calculation can lead to tactic fatigue and miscalculation, as in the following game.

Wall, Bill - Guest3211185
PlayChess.com, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

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

A standard position for the variation. One plan for White is to develop his pieces, advance his f- and e-pawns, and take aim at the enemy King who is sitting on a half-open file.

8.O-O Nf6 9.Nc3 

9.f3 a more conservative setup, was seen in Wall,B - Guest903719, PlayChess.com, 2013 (1-0,47). 


This move seems more dynamic than 9...c6, as seein in Wall,B - Guest708676, PlayChess.com, 2016(1-0, 32).


Bill has played 10.Bg5, instead, in a number of past games - Wall,B - Foman, Chess.com, 2010 (1-0, 22); Wall,B - Guest4809124, PlayChess.com, 2013 (0-1, 41); Wall,B - Guest5111265, PlayChess.com, 2014 (1-0, 47) ; Wall,B - Guest1561957, PlayChess.com, 2014 (1-0,25); Wall,B - U80, PlayChess.com, 2016 (1-0, 29);  Wall,B - Smith,J, lichess.org, 2017 (1-0, 20)  - and one recent one:
10...Be6 11.f4 Nc6 12.Qd3 Kg8 13.a3 h6 14.Bh4 Qd7 15.Bxf6 gxf6 16.Rae1 Qf7 17.Rf3 Kh7 18.Rfe3 f5 19.Qe2 Rg8 20.g3 Rg7 21.Qd3 Rf8 22.Kh1 fxe4 23.Nxe4 Bf5 24.c4 Qh5 25.Qd5 Qg6 26.Nf2 Bd7 27.Qe4 Bf5 28.Qd5 Be6 29.Rxe6 Black resigned, Wall,B -Vertufizen, lichess.org, 2017. 

10...Nc6 11.Qc4+ 

Or 11.Qd3 as in Wall,B - Ferreira,J, lichess.org, 2016. 

11...Be6 12.Qd3 Kg8 

Castling-by-hand, frequently a good defensive strategy for Black.

13.b3 Nb4 

14.Qd2 d5 

Possibly Black was looking toward 15.exd5 Bf5, doubly attacking c2. White's response doesn't rule out the Bishop move, but it makes it more complicated.

15.e5 Ng4 

Moving the Knight away from the attack. Messy would have been 15...Bf5 16.exf6 Nxc2 17.g4 Nxa1 18.gxf5 Qxf6 19.Bb2 d4 20.Ne2 Nxb3 (desperado) 21.axb3 c5 although Black, with a Rook and 2 pawns (one passed and protected) for 2 pieces, would still have the advantage.

Black's "hovering" Knights can be useful for attack on either or both wings, but figuring out what exactly to do takes time and brain effort.

16.f5 d4 

Black figures: why not hit the center, too? Things are getting pretty complicated, and the better calculator will prevail.

17.Nb5 Bf7 

With two pieces hanging, Black's best move was to ignore them and play 17...Ne3!? To make that work, after White wins two (three?) pieces for a Rook with 18.Qxb4 Nxf1 19.fxe6 it was necessary to find 19...Qh4!? when White will discover (one way or the other) that the Black Knight cannot be taken due to checkmate.

White can defend with 20.h3, but after 20...Qg3 the Knight is still off limits. He does best with the piece swap 21.Bf4 Qxf4 22.Rxf1 (there!) When 22...Qe3+ 23.Kh1 Qe2!? will net the c-pawn for Black. Then White's counter-grab, 24.Nxd4 will be met with 24...c5!? 25.Nxc2 (forced) cxb4 will leave Black the exchange ahead, and White's center pawns (one will fall) are not adequate compensation.

All this makes my head hurt. 

18.Qxb4 Rxe5 19.Qxd4 Qxd4+ 20.Nxd4 Rd8 

Black and White have made their way through the excitement, and the position is about equal, with Black's piece activity blancing White's extra pawn.

21.Bb2 Red5 22.Rf4 Ne3 23.Re1 Rxd4

After all that brain work, this miscalculation is unfortunate. 

24.Rxd4 Rxd4 25.Bxd4 Nxc2 26.Re4 Black resigned

Black is only down the exchange, but White's Rook will win at least one pawn. The defender will get ground down. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Quirky

The following Jerome Gambit game is a bit quirky. I can well imagine that such bits of humor keep Bill Wall interested in the otherwise "refuted" opening.

Wall, Bill - Guest709079
PlayChess.com, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Kf8 6.Nxc6 bxc6

Capturing toward the center, as is often recommended. In this case, however, 6...dxc6 was better. See"Bad Penny".


White has scored 10 - 1 in the other games with this position in The Database, reflecting, at least in part, that Black's capture with the b-pawn instead of the d-pawn allows d2-d4 as a response. 

7...Bb6 8.O-O Ne7 

A novelty acccording to The Database.  Possibly better was 8...d5

9.c4 Ba6 10.c5

Things start to become odd.

An alternative is 10.Qa4!? Qc8 11.Be3 d5.

Instead, Bill offers the exchange. 

10...Bxf1 11.Kxf1 Ba5 

Black had also 11...d5!? 12.cxb6 axb6, with possibly a small edge.


Strangely, Stockfish 8 suggests instead the drawing-by-repetition line 12.Qa4 Bb6 13.Qd1 Ba5 14.Qa4, etc. 

12...Kg8 13.Qa3 

There is also the idea 13.b4!? Bxb4 14.Qb3+ Kf8 15.Qxb4 with an even game.

13...Bb6 14.Qb3+ Kf8 15.cxb6 cxb6 

15...axb6 might be a little bit better. 

White now has a pawn for the exchange.

16.Nc3 Ng6 17.Be3 Qh4 18.Kg1 Nf4 

Black hopes that his Knight and Queen will cooperate in an attack on the enemy King, but he needs to add a Rook or two (e.g. 18...Ke8 and 19...Rf8) to make progress.

19.g3 Nh3+ 20.Kg2 Qg4 21.Qd1

Not waiting until Black tries ...h7-h5-h4, boosting his attack. The Queen move also undermines the support of Black's Knight.

21...Qxd1 22.Rxd1 Nxf2 

There is no retreat. I don't think Black saw that coming.

23.Kxf2 Ke7 24.d5 c5 

With two pieces for a Rook, White has the advantage. Black tries to counter this by advancing his King - the exact opposite of what he should do, as King safety will become an issue.

25.Bg5+ Kd6 

See the previous note.

26.Nb5+ Ke5 27.Ke3 h6 28.Be7 Rhe8 29.Rf1 Rxe7 30.Rf5 checkmate

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Inexplicable

In the following Jerome Gambit game Black is holding his own, having smartly returned the sacrificed piece to build his attack. In the meantime, White surprisingly suffers from a malady that usually pains Black: an undeveloped Queenside. The roles have been reversed: inexplicable.

Then Black decides to return another piece - for what reason, it is not clear. The decision eventually costs him another piece, and the game.

Again, inexplicable.

Wall, Bill - Guest637090
PlayChess.com, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Bxd4 7.Qxd4 Qf6 

Black's Queen often comes to f6 when defending against the Jerome. The not-so-subtle threat is ...Nf6+, winning White's Queen.

8.Qe3 Nh6 9.O-O 

There are only 3 other games in The Database that have the position after 8...Nh6, all games played by stretto. One of them:

9.Nc3 Rf8 10.Nd5 Qd8 11.O-O c6 12.Nf4 Kg8 13.Nh5 d6 14.Nxg7 Kxg7 15.Qxh6+ Kg8 16.f4 Nf7 17.Qh5 Qf6 18.f5 Kh8 19.Rf3 Rg8 20.Rh3 Rg7 21.Bf4 Bd7 22.Rd1 Rag8 23.g3 Be8 24.Qf3 Rg4 25.Be3 Ne5 26.Qf2 a6 27.c4 R4g7 28.b3 Ng4 29.Bd4 Nxf2 30.Bxf6 Nxh3+ 31.Kg2 Ng5 32.Bxg7+ Rxg7 33.Rxd6 Nxe4 34.Rd8 Rg8 35.Kf3 Bh5+ 36.Kxe4 Rxd8 37.f6 Kg8 38.Ke5 Kf7 39.h3 Bd1 40.g4 Bc2 41.g5 Bb1 42.a4 Ba2 43.b4 Bxc4 44.h4 Bb3 45.h5 Bxa4 46.g6+ hxg6 47.hxg6+ Kxg6 48.Ke6 Bb3+ 49.Ke7 Rg8 50.f7 b6 51.fxg8=Q+ Black forfeited on time, stretto - Tollens, FICS, 2008.


It is always tempting to harass the White Queen.

Also seen: 9...Rf8 10.Qb3+ Qe6 11.Qxe6+ dxe6 12.Bxh6 gxh6 13.Nc3 a6 14.Rad1 b6 15.f4 Ng4 16.Rde1 Bb7 17.h3 Nf6 18.e5 Nd5 19.Nxd5 Bxd5 20.b3 Rg8 21.c4 Rxg2+ 22.Kh1 Bb7 23.Rd1 Rxa2+ 24.Kg1 Rg2+ 25.Kh1 Rd2+ 26.Kg1 Rxd1 27.Rxd1 Ke7 28.Kf2 Rd8 29.Rg1 Kf7 30.Kg3 Rg8+ 31.Kh4 Rxg1 White resigned, stretto - Tollens, FICS, 2008. 


Or: 10.Qb3+ Ke8 11.f4 Nc6 12.e5 Qg6 13.Nd2 Nd4 14.Qd5 Ne2+ 15.Kh1 Nxh2 16.f5 Ng3+ 17.Kxh2 Nxf1+ 18.Nxf1 Qxf5 19.Ng3 Qxc2 20.Bg5 h6 21.Rf1 hxg5+ 22.Kg1 Qg6 23.Rf5 Qb6+ 24.Kf1 Qa6+ 25.Ke1 Qe6 26.Qe4 Qxa2 27.Ne2 Rh1+ 28.Kf2 Qxb2 29.Qd5 Qb6+ 30.Kf3 Qe6 31.Qe4 Rf1+ 32.Kg3 Rxf5 33.Qxf5 Game drawn as both players ran out of time, stretto - sLAVmi, FICS, 2008

10...h5 11. h3 h4 

Black's plan is simple, to drive off the enemy Queen and attack the enemy King. His Rook is well-placed for attack, and his King is not in danger, at least for now. He is willing to return the sacrificed piece in order to heat things up.

12.Qb3+ Kf8 13.f4 Nc6 14.hxg4 Nd4 15.Qe3 h3 

16.gxh3 Qh4 17.Rf2 d5 18.f5 

A messy position, but White may be a little bit better.


I am not sure what Black is up to, but it does not turn out well. Perhaps a time issue?

Stockfish 8 suggests that Black can keep the deficit to a pawn and a half with the line 18...Qxh3 19.Qxh3 Rxh3 20.Kg2 Rh4 21.Kg3 Rh1 22.Be3 Rg1+ 23.Kh3 Nb5 24.Rd2 Re1 25.Bf2 Rc1 26.Na3!? (returning an exchange) 26...Rxa1 27.Nxb5 Bd7 28.Nxc7 Rc8 29.Nxd5 Rxa2 30.Nc3 Rxb2 31.Nd1 Rcxc2 32.Rxd7 Rxf2 33.Nxf2 Rxf2 34.Rxb7. 


The Black Bishop is not going anywhere.

19...Qg3+ 20.Kf1 Qxh3+ 21.Ke1 Qh1+ 22.Rf1 Qh4+ 23.Qf2 Qh3 

White's Queenside pieces all are at home, yet he has a won game.

24.Qxf5+ Ke7 25.Bg5+ Kd6 26.Qxd5 checkmate

Monday, August 14, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Appearance and Reality

Black's slip on move 13 in the following Jerome Gambit does not look very significant, but it shows that the defender does not have as good a grasp of the position as the attacker does. A few more slips, and Black's game comes crashing down.

Wall, Bill - Guest100198
PlayChess, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

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

8.O-O Nc6 9.Qd5+ Be6 10.Qh5+ g6 11.Qe2 Kg7 

If Black were not convinced that he is winning - the extra piece! - he can now smile happily to himself as White's Queen is driven from pillar to post.

12.Nc3 a6 13.f4 Nge7 

I was flabbergasted to see that Stockfish 8 gave White a slight edge after this move, preferring 13...Qf6.

How can that be? It turns out that the position has hidden complications, and Black should have restrained White's f-pawn.

14.f5 gxf5 15.exf5 

Exposing Black's Bishop to attack, encouraging his response.

15...Bxf5 16.Rxf5 Nxf5 17.Qg4+ Kf7 

Now it looks like White will be down the exchange after 18.Qxf5+, but Bill has seen further.

18.Bg5 Qd7 19.Rf1 Ncd4 

This looks like an oversight due to shortage of time.

The Knight at f5 needs further protection, but the defender should have gone to e7. The play would then continue to be complicated, with White for choice, i.e. 19...Nce7 20.Bxe7 Kxe7 21.Qg5+ Ke8 22.Nd5 Qg7 23.Re1+ Kd7 24.Qxf5+ Kd8 25.Re7 Qxe7 26.Nxe7 Kxe7 . Black's uneasy King gives White's Queen chances to pick up materaial against the two Rooks.

20.Qxd4 Rhf8

Recruiting support for the Knight. 

21.Qg4 Ke8 

Relieving the double pin on the Knight, but there is nothing but misery ahead. The position is too complicated and too deadly to survive.



The action moves over to the e-file. If Black's King tried to slip out with  22...Kf7, instead, White could collect a piece with 23.Rxf5+ and after 23...Kg8 play the threatening 24.Bf6, which will net him a further exchange.

23.Re1 Rf7 24.Nd5 Kf8 25.Nxe7 Re8 

Black tries a pin of his own, but the game is over.

26.Bh6+ Rg7 27.Rf1+ Black resigned

It is checkmate the next move.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Jerome Gambit:Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

I have a great idea: the next time you have the white pieces against Bill Wall, why not play the Jerome Gambit? I mean, he wins overwhelmingly with it, so wouldn't it give you an advantage? And he hardly could be expecting to opening, right?

What could possibly go wrong?

Guest687197 - Wall, Bill
PlayChess.com, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.d4 

A popular line: there are 2,219 games with this in The Database.

On the other hand, White scores only 38%, which is poor, even for the Jerome Gambit.

Perhaps the plan is to fool White...


Of course, 5...exd4 is also playable, as in 6.c3 d6 7.cxd4 Bb4+ 8.Bd2 Bxd2+ 9.Nbxd2 Nf6 10.Qb3+ Ke7 11.O-O Rf8 12.Rfe1 Na5 13.Qa3 Nc6 14.d5 Nb8 15.e5 Kf7 16.exf6 Qxf6 17.Ne4 Qf4 18.Rac1 Na6 19.b4 Bg4 20.b5 Nc5 21.Nxc5 dxc5 22.Re4 Qxe4 23.Ng5+ Black resigned, Wall,B - Anonymous, lichess.com, 2016.


White might have considered 6.c3, e.g. 6...Bb6 (6...Bc5 7.Qd5+ Ke8 8.Qxc5 Qe7 9.Qc4 Nf6 10.O-O d6 11.Be3 Be6 12.Qb5 Qd7 13.Ng5 a6 14.Qxb7 Rb8 15.Qxa6 Ke7 16.Nxe6 Kxe6 17.Qc4+ Ke7 18.a4 Rxb2 19.a5 Ra8 20.a6 Ng4 21.Bg5+ Nf6 22.Nd2 h6 23.Bxf6+ gxf6 24.Nf3 Rb6 25.Nh4 Qe6 26.Nf5+ Kd7 27.Qd3 h5 28.Ne3 Qb3 29.Nd5 Qb5 30.Qh3+ Kd8 31.Qe6 Rbb8 32.Qg8+ Kd7 33.Qf7+ Kd8 34.Qf8+ Kd7 35.Qg7+ Kd8 36.Nxf6 Ne7 37.Qf8+ Qe8 38.Qxe8 checkmate, Wall,B - Guest1366999, Playchess.com, 2011) 7.Qb3+ Kf8 8.Bg5 Qe8 9.O-O Nf6 10.Nbd2 d6 11.a4 Qe6 12.Qc2 h6 13.Bxf6 Qxf6 14.Nc4 Be6 15.Qe2 a6 16.Nxb6 cxb6 17.Rfd1 Rd8 18.Qe3 Bg4 19.Qxb6 Bxf3 20.gxf3 Qxf3 21.Qxb7 Ne7 22.Re1 Nf5 23.Qb6 Qg4+ 24.Kh1 Qf3+ 25.Kg1 Qg4+ 26.Kh1 Qf3+ drawn, Wall,B - Guest2627909, Playchess.com, 2012 

6...exd4 7.O-O Nf6 

8.e5 Nxe5 9.Bg5 

He could also have considered 9.Qxd4.


10.Nd2 d5 11.c4 Nxc4 12.Rc1 Nxb2 White resigned

White could have continued with his idea 13.Qc2 Nc4 14.Nxc4 dxc4 15.Qxc4+ Qd5 16.Qxc5+ Qxc5 17.Rxc5, destroying much of Black's pawn center; but he would still be down a piece and a pawn.

Alas, no chess opening, even the Jerome Gambit, is a guarantee of victory.