Friday, September 1, 2017

Just Look Ahead and Move!

Years ago, after playing over a number of Akiba Rubinstein's (1880 – 1961) games, I was inclined to think that he had reduced chess to a few easy steps: play 1.d4, win a pawn, exchange all the pieces, win the endgame. (Actually, it was a lot more complicated than that.)

With a chuckle, I was reminded of Rubinstein when playing over the following online blitz game by shugart. He offers a piece, Jerome Gambit style, but his opponent declines it. Like water rolling down hill, the game then progresses. It doesn't seem that there is a lot of need for tactical calculation - just look ahead and move!

Actually, it is a lot more complicated than that, as the notes show... A very eduational endgame! 

shugart - snob
3 0 blitz, FICS, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4

The Blackburne Shilling Gambit. 


The Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit.


Black declines the gift of a piece. If you want me to take the Bishop, then I won't take the Bishop.

5.Bxg8 Rxg8 6.Nxd4 exd4 

Comfortable with an extra pawn - plus a safer King and a better pawn structure - White is comfortable letting the game unfold.

7.d3 h6 8.Qh5 d6 9.O-O Be6 10.f4 Bf7 

Black has the two Bishops. He is not in a hurry, either.

11.Qh4+ Kd7 12.Qh3+ Be6 13.f5 Bf7 14.Bf4 Kc8 15.Nd2 b6 16.Nb3 c5 

Black has secured his advanced d-pawn.

17.Qg3 Kc7 18.e5 Bxb3 19.exd6+ Bxd6 20.Bxd6+ Qxd6 21.Qxd6+ Kxd6 22.axb3 

In a 3 0 game, such exchanges happen quickly and help with the clock.

Will White's kingside pawn majority be enough?

22...Rgf8 23.g4 a5 24.Rae1 Rae8 25.Rxe8 Rxe8 26.Kf2 Rf8

It was time, instead, for Black's Rook to invade via 26...Re3, with his King to advance behind it, keeping the game balanced. White now shows how it's done.

 27.Re1 Rf7 28.Re6+ Kc7 29.Kf3 b5 30.Ra6 Re7 

The issue here is not Black's a-pawn. It is the fact that when Rooks come off the board White will have a straight-forward win.

31.Ra7+ Kd6 32.Rxe7 Kxe7 

Okay, how fast can you move your pieces? The game is barely half over.

33.h4 Kd6 34.Ke4 b4 

Now the inhuman Stockfish 8 declares a checkmate in 26, but the ticking clock will inject a few inaccuracies before White grasps the full point.

 35.g5 h5 36.Kf3 Ke5 37.f6 gxf6 38.gxf6 

The more accurate 38.g6!? was the way to win, with many hassles: 38...Ke6 39.Kf4 Ke7 40.Kf5 c4 41.bxc4 a4 42.c5 a3 43.bxa3 bxa3 44.g7 Kf7 45.c6 Kxf7 46.c7 a2 47.c8/Q a1/Q 48.Qd7+


39.Kf4 Ke6 40.Kg5 

White should admit that he has only a draw, and mark the enemy King with 40.Ke4, keeping it out of mischief. He also should keep his King closer to home, as Black can now cause pawn mischief similar to the note above: 40...c4 41.bxc4 a4 42.c5 a3 43.c6 Ke6 and it is Black who will have a checkmate in 26!

40...Ke5 41.Kxh5 Kf4 

Black's King advances aggressively, but it needed, instead, to mark White's King with 41...Kf5 and let his pawns do the work, e.g. 42...c4.

The advantage agains shifts to White.

42.Kg6 Ke3 43.h5 Kd2 44.h6 Kxc2 45.h7 Kxb3 46.h8=Q Kxb2 

This is a pretty crazy position, but quite won for White - with enough time to think. Amazingly, there is.

47.Qe5 Kc3 48.Qxc5+ Kxd3 49.Qxa5 Kc3 50.Kf5 d3 51.Ke4 d2 52.Qc5+ Kb3 53.Qd4 Ka3 54.Qxd2 b3 

If only the pawn were on the a-file or the c-file, Black might have drawing chances.

55.Qc3 Ka2 56.Qc4 Ka3 57.Qc5+ Ka2 58.Qa5+ Kb1 59.Kd3 b2 60.Kc3 Kc1 61.Qg5+ Kb1 62.Qb5 Kc1 63.Qf1 checkmate

An amazing game for 3 0!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Punishment Like A Lightning Bolt

The following game is another lightning affair from shugart at FICS. Both sides play relatively calmly - after White starts with the Jerome Gambit, of course - and then at one point Black slips. Punishment strikes light a lightning bolt.

shugart - kisa
1 2 lightning, FICS, 2017

 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.d3 Kf7 12.f4 Re8 13.Nc3 c6 14.b3 Kg8 

15.Ba3 c5 16.Rae1 b6 17.Qg3 Bb7 18.Bb2 

18...Nh5 19.Qg4 Qh4 20.Qf3 

Continuing with the theme of trapped knights that we have seen in recent posts (see "Jerome Gambit: Quirky" and "Jerome Gambit: Beware the Calm After the Storm"), White had 20.Qxh4 Nxh4 21.f5 d5 22.g3 Nf6 23.gxh4 dxe4 24.dxe4 Nxe4 with an equal game.


21.g3 Qh5 22.Qg2 Qg4 23.Nd1 h5 24.Ne3 Qd7 

25.f5 Ne5 26.Qe2 g6 


27.fxg6 Nxg6 28.Rxf6 Black resigned

Monday, August 28, 2017

Jerome Gambit: An Unusual Mate

I recently received a couple of games from chessfriend shugart, who plays at the online site FICS. The time control for each game is 1 minute, with a 2 second increment per move.

That kind of speed melts my brain, so the whole field of lightning - or bullet - chess always amazes me. Especially when it involves the Jerome Gambit.

Years ago I reviewed Bullet Chess One Minute to Mate by Hikaru Nakamura and Bruce Harper. A quote from that book is worth sharing

It is important to realize that bullet chess is not really about "truth," to the extent that some chess players use the term to refer to the objectively best moves, but rather whatever works. Bullet chess won't often help you in your search for "chess truth," although it will certainly help you learn how to play chess more quickly! But bullet chess will teach you a lot about chess psychology, as there is always a reason  that any particular move is played it may not be a good reason, and it may not have much to do with the actual position, but there is always a reason. In this book, we explore the reasons why players do what they do when they are short of time, especially when it comes to making mistakes.

Clearly, the largely unknown and often unappreciated Jerome Gambit is going to cause the defender many "huh?" moments - deadly, in and of itself, when time is of the essence.

The final position brings a smile to the face.

shugart - kisa
1 2 lightning, FICS, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

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

Okay, commenting on moves in this game would be something like watching someone juggling chainsaws, and saying "That one over there doesn't look so sharp". But, I do have to point out that White's Queen is unprotected and at risk of being lost after ...Nf3+.

8.O-O Ne7 9.f4 N5c6 10.Qc4+ Qe6 11.Qe2 Rf8 12.Nc3 Kg8

Black has castled-by-hand. White has to give him something to worry about.

13.Be3 a6

A good sign. I remember that whenever my Chess Challenger 7 computer felt its position was fine, or it could not come up with a move that improved its position, it would begin to move its Rook pawns. That often allowed me to slowly improve my own position without disruption.

14.Rae1 d6 15.f5 Qe5 16.Bf4 Qc5+ 17.Be3 Qe5 

Will there be a draw?


White does not repeat the position. We can guess who is ahead on time.

18...Bd7 19.Bf4 Qa5 20.Bg5 Nd4


Tactics prevail.

21...Kh8 22.Qxd4 Nc6 23.Qc4 Rae8 24.f6 g6 25.f7 Re5 26.Bf6 checkmate
Very nice!