Saturday, July 29, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Reflection

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As a comment to my post "Jerome Gambit: Thematic and Aggressive", chessfriend quickturtle wrote 
By far the BEST regular chess opening blog on the web...... this opening is dangerous to the person underestimating it's traps.
I greatly appreciate his kind words. It is hard to find a suitable response, other than "Thank you" and "I think you understand the Jerome Gambit".

Perhaps I could also add that putting this blog together has been enjoyable and educational, from the first post, "Welcome", on June 10, 2008, to thinking about the next one - which should be #2,450.

I have had the opportunity to meet many players from around the world, through their comments, emails, games and annotations. That has given my work a richness that I greatly value.

Explaining "what this blog about" takes some doing. Not quite 5 years ago I gave a rather detailed "justification" (some might say "explanation") for playing the Jerome Gambit. It continued across several posts, starting with "It's hard to explain..."

It's worth re-reading.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Jerome Gambit: A Mockery of Common Sense

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I really enjoyed the game in the previous post, so I looked in The Database for some more games by the Jerome Gambiteer obviously. The next game is even more wild, as White takes even greater risks - and wins.

obviously - grobnic
GameKnot.com, 2004

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



4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ g6 



This can lead to the infamous Blackburne Defense (7...d6), or the much-less-known but much-more-dangerous Whistler's Defense (7...Qe7).

7.Qxe5 Qe7 8.Qxh8

The Database is notoriously lean when it comes to either early Jerome Gambits, or over-the-board games. Coverage of Whistler's Defense is a good example.

There are 3 early correspondence games by Alonzo Wheeler Jerome (1876, 1879) where he scored 0-2-1.

Then, over 100 years later, there are then a handful of online games at FICS: 1 in 1999 (0-1); 1 in 2001 (1-0); 3 in 2003 (1-1-1); and then 10 in 2004 (4-5-1) - 7 of which involved obviously.

So, White's 8th move in the current game (capturing the Rook) probably deserves the same annotation it garnered in The American Chess Journal, June 15, 1876, when it showed up Jerome - Norton, correspondence, 1876 -
Played experimentally; and analysis will probably show the capture to be unsound. 
Analysis has since shown the capture of the Rook to be unsound - but, then again, analysis, even back in the 1870s, showed the Jerome Gambit itself to be unsound...

We must remember, however, that "all is new that has been forgotten", and that both players in the current game probably had little information on either the Whistler or the Jerome to guide them. That said, obviously obviously had some knowledge of the opening, as he scored 4-0-1 with the Black pieces, and 2-0 with the White pieces.

For that matter, The Database contains 59 games with the Whistler Defense, and White scores 57% - an indication that things are complicated enough that the first player will have his chances, at least in club play.

8...Qxe4+

This is the way to show that White's King is in more danger than Black's.

Bill Wall, who seems to be able to get away with just about anything in the Jerome Gambit, once experienced 8...Qf6 9.Qxh7+ Kf8 10.O-O Black resigned, Wall,B - Sepoli, Chess.com, 2010.

9.Kd1


This move is about as strong as 9.Kf1, e.g. 9...Nf6 10.d3 (10.Nc3 Qxc2 11.h4 b6 12.Qd8 Ba6+ White resigned, grobnic - obviously, GameKnot.com, 2004) 10...Qd4 (10...Qf5 11.f3 Bf8 12.Nc3 d5 13.h4 Qd7 14.h5 Bg7 15.hxg6+ Kxg6 16.Rh6+ Bxh6 17.Bxh6 b6 18.Ne2 Qf7 19.Qf8 Qxf8 20.Bxf8 drawn Jerome,A - Norton,D, correspondence, 1876) 11.Be3 Qxb2 12.Bxc5 Qxa1?! (12...d6 13.Ke2 Qxc2+ 14.Nd2 Bg4+ White resigned, flatchio - obviously, GameKnot.com, 2004) 13.Qf8+ Ke6 14.Qe7+ Kf5 15.Ke2 Qe5+ 16.Qxe5+ Kxe5 17.Re1 d6 18.Kf3+ Kf5 19.Bd4 Kg5 20.h4+ Kf5 21.Re7 Nd5 22.g4 checkmate, Wall,B - Neilson,C, Melbourne, FL 2017.

9...Qg4+

This move is good, but perhaps not quite as strong as 9...Qxg2, e.g. 10.Re1 (10.Qxh7+ Kf8 11.Re1 d5 12.d4 Bg4+ 13.Kd2 Qxf2+ 14.Re2 Qxe2+ 15.Kc3 Qc4+ 16.Kd2 Qxd4+ 17.Ke1 Qd1 checkmate, blackburne - perrypawnpusher, Jerome Gambit thematic, ChessWorld.net, 2008) 10...Qf3+ (going for a repetition in a winning position)11.Re2 Qh1+ 12.Re1 Qf3+ 13.Re2 Qh1+ 14.Re1 Qf3+ drawn, Wall,B - Mathieubuntu, FICS 40 0, 2011.

Black risked most of his advantage with the reasonable precaution 9...Nf6, although he was still able to outplay his opponent: 10.f3 Qh4 11.Nc3 b5 12.Qd8 Qg5 13.Ne4 Nxe4 14.Qxg5 Nxg5 15.d4 Be7 16.d5 h5 17.h4 Nh7 18.Bf4 d6 19.Ke2 Nf6 20.Rhd1 Bb7 21.Bg5 Nxd5 22.Bxe7 Nxe7 23.g4 hxg4 24.fxg4 Rh8 25.Rf1+ Ke8 26.h5 gxh5 27.g5 Rg8 28.Rg1 Bc8 29.Kd2 Bg4 30.Rg3 Rxg5 31.Re1 Kd7 32.Rh1 a5 33.Re1 h4 34.Rge3 Nd5 35.Re4 h3 36.R4e3 Nxe3 White resigned, vallabhan - obviously, GameKnot.com, 2004

10.Ke1

White improves on the historical 10.f3 Qxg2 11.Qxh7+ Kf8 12.Re1 d5 13.Qh4 Qxf3+ 14.Re2 Bg4 15.Nc3 Bf2 White resigned, Jerome,A - Whistler,G, correspondence, 1876.

10...Qxg2 11.Qxh7+ Kf8 12.Rf1 Qe4+


Again, good, but not best (12...d5). It is still hard to see how White will survive, but he does have a material advantage...

13.Kd1 d5

Chess can be incredibly cruel.

White's defense here has in good part consisted of shuttling his King back and forth. Black now plays the move recommended in the last note - and it turns over the advantage to his opponent.

It appears he needed to play 13...Qf3+ first. What difference does the check make? White shows with his next move.

14.f3 

In what appears to be a mockery of common sense, Stockfish 8 now claims that White has a clear advantage, giving 14...Qf4 15.Nc3 c6 16.Ne2 Qf6 17.d3 Bf5 18.Ng3 Re8 19.Nxf5 Qxf5 20.Bd2 Bd4 21.Kc1 Re7 22.Qh4 c5 23.a4 Re2 24.Kd1 Rg2 25.Qd8+ Kg7 26.Kc1 Bxb2+ 27.Kxb2 Rxd2 28.Qc7+ Kh8 29.Qxc5 Qxd3 30.Rf2.

14...Bg4 

It is difficult to explain this move. It is tempting to suggest a mouse slip, but the time control for this game was 5 days per move.

15.fxg4+ Nf6 Black resigned


After 16.Rxf6+ Ke8 17.Nc3!? White's pieces will be able to protect his King from too many Queen checks, while Black's King will be open to great dangers.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Thematic and Aggressive

The following game shows how gambiteers would love the Jerome Gambit to proceed. White's play is thematic and aggressive, while Black's errors tend to be reasonable-looking moves that do not stand up to the situation they are played in. (I should point out that the time limit for the game was several days per move.)

obviously - vallabhan
GameKnot.com, 2004

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



4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.Qf5+ Kd6 8.f4 Ng6



Elsewhere I have referred to this move as "somewhat inexact", as it saves one threatened piece while allowing another piece to go by the board. See "Reliable".

Stronger alternatives are the proactive 8...Kc6 and the counterattacking 8...Qh4+.

9.Qd5+ Ke7 10.Qxc5+ d6 11.Qf2



Putting the Queen on the f-file, where it can be backed up by a Rook on f1, and threaten the enemy King. It also increases the tactical complexity of the position by not guarding the pawn on e4.

11...Nf6 12.f5

I am amazed that this move hasn't been repeated, according to The (55,560 games) Database, as it is the essence of Jerome-ness.

The alternate move 12.d3 has 4 wins and 3 losses.

12...Ne5

If Black plays the logical 12...Nxe4, then Stockfish 8's main line recommendation is 13.Qf3 Ng5 14.Qg3 Ne4 15.Qf3 with a draw by repetition - which may make sense to a computer, but probably not to a human.

I would be more inclined to answer 12...Nxe4 with 13.Qe2, when after 13...Bxf5 14.O-O Qd7 15.d3 Rae8 16.dxe4 Kd8 17.Nc3 Be6 the game is even, but not over.

13.d4 Nc6

This removes the Knight from danger, and puts pressure on White's d4 pawn. Nonetheless, cranky Stockfish 8 prefers 13...Nf7. (That move seems a bit defensive, and I am not sure that a human would be thinking "defense" a piece up - but maybe he should.)

14.Nc3 Re8 15.Bg5 Kf8 16. O-O-O h6 17. Bh4 Bd7



White's moves flow, and the position screams "pawn storm on the Kingside". It doesn't happen, but only because White breaks up Black's Kingside instead.

18.Rhe1 Qc8

Getting out of the pin of the Knight on f6, and getting off the possibly soon-to-be hot d-file; but Black needed to do something drastic, like 18...Kg8 19.Nd5 Rf8 20.e5 Nxd5!? 21.Bxd8 Rxf5 22.Qg3 Nxd8 23.exd6 cxd6 24.Qxd6 Bc6, when he would have three pieces for his Queen, but White should still be better. (Yes, I had help in figuring this out.) 

19.Bxf6 gxf6 20.Qh4 Kg7 21.Nd5 Qd8



Black is in a lot of trouble on the Kingside. The better way of defending his f-pawn, 21...Rf8, still leads to problems, for example 22.Qg4+ Kh8 23.Qg6 Bxf5!? 24.exf5 Qd7 25.Qxh6+ Qh7. Returning the extra piece has allowed Black's Queen to participate in the defense of his King, but White has two extra pawns - and his Rooks are bound to cause trouble as they move up and over to the g- and h-files.

22.Re3 Bxf5

Yes, White's e-pawn cannot capture the Bishop without giving up the Rook, but that was never the  plan.

23.Rg3+ Kh8 24.Qxh6+ Bh7 25.Qg7 checkmate



Sunday, July 23, 2017

Jerome Gambit: There Are Worse Things

I recently consulted The Database.

There are 315 games where I  played the Jerome Gambit with its regular move order, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+. I scored 82%.

There are 59 games with the Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit position, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bc5 5.Bxf7+. I scored 74%.

There are 58 games with the Semi-Italian Jerome Gambit, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6 4.0-0 Bc5 5.Bxf7+. I scored 88%.

There are 58 games with the Semi-Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6 4.0-0 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bc5 6.Bxf7+. I scored 78%.

Not bad, for a refuted opening.

However, there are worse things than losing to the Jerome Gambit. For example, what if White, on top of playing his "busted" opening, suddenly blunders? His only chance is if... if...?

I should blush.

perrypawnpusher - Leoleon
2 12 blitz, FICS, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6 



The Semi-Italian Opening.

4.O-O Nf6 5.Nc3 Bc5 6.Bxf7+ 



The Semi-Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit.

4...Kxf7 7.Nxe5+ Nxe5 8.d4 Bxd4 9.Qxd4 d6 



10.f4 c5

This is a novelty according to The Database. I have faced the alternative 10...Nc6 18 times, going 10-5-3. That's 64%, which is decent - but below my total score against the line.

11.Qe3 Nc6 12.b3 

Instead, 12.e5 looked premature.  

12...Rg8 

I racked my brain trying to figure this out. Was my opponent actually considering ...g7-g5 ? Actually, in light of his next move, this looks like a mouse slip.

13.Bb2 Re8 

A better placement. See the note above.

14.Rad1 

Better might have been 14.Qd3 followed by 15.Rae1

14...Kg8 15.Qf3 

Simply a blunder. I know we were playing a fast blitz game, but this is not due to the "33rd piece".

15...Bg4

Of course. There are worse things than sacrificing two pieces in a dubious opening, and then going down to ignominous defeat - like sacrificing two pieces in the opening and then blundering away the exchange and then going down to ignominious defeat.

16.Qg3

Of course.

16...Bf3 

Oh, no! The "34th piece" strikes again!

17.gxf3 Black resigned



Yes, there are worse things than losing to the Jerome Gambit - like White further blundering away the exchange, only to be "rescued" by a piece-dropping mouse slip by Black... My opponent could have played on, but I think he was no longer in the mood. I could sympathize mightily.