Saturday, October 7, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Improvisation

Often the Jerome Gambit comes as a surprise for your opponent, providing challenges that have to be solved over the board. An incomplete solution by Black (perhaps due to over-confidence) can lead to quick equality - or more - for White.

On the other hand, even successful experiences with the Jerome Gambit can lead White to explore new ideas in old positions.   

Wall, Bill - Guest625265, 2017.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Bd6 

Facing a strange opening, Black's defensive idea is clear: White will capture the Knight with his d-pawn, and then Black will capture the pawn with his Bishop. The difficulty with this plan is that it isn't deep enough; it doesn't assess what will happen next, something that experience would teach.

Oh, and another problem for the defender is that Bill is 13 - 0 against this line. 

7.dxe5 Bxe5

It is educational to see what Stockfish 8 recommends here, instead: 7...Bb4+ 8.c3 Be7 9.Qf3+ Ke8 10.O-O d6 with a slight edge to Black.

Black's Bishop abandons the idea of capturing the pawn on e5, gives a nuisance check at b4 which encourages c2-c3, making that square unavailable for a White Knight, and then returns to safety at e7.

White's Queen check allows for the dual cheapos 9...Ke6 10.Qf5 checkmate and 9...Kg6 10.Qf5 checkmate, as well as keeping pressure on d5.

8.Qd5+ Kf6 

Black can't be happy with simply giving another piece back with 8...Kf8 9.Qxe5, but it is still his best option.

The psychological pressures on Black - he gave me 2 pieces, and now I have to give them both back?! - are part of the attraction of the Jerome Gambit, at the club level.


I know, I know... Many of you who are playing along with this game have automatically played 9.f4, instead, and that is a good move, a fine move. But what if you wanted to explore something different?

White's move has a "lets finish this game quickly" feel to it, and it certainly has its desired effect. It also explores an idea that appears in only2 other games in The Database, a win and a loss.


"Attack the enemy Queen" is often an attractive tactical idea, as it frequently focuses the opponent on the threat, and draws him away from his own ideas. (Hint: what is White's idea?)

But, again, here Black has failed to examine the position deeper for a response. (This may be the result of a quick time control, a "negative halo effect", or he may have received "Jerome Gambit odds".)

He might have found the defensive move 9...Qe8, which would return the piece and dissolve White's coming attack: 10.f4 Bd6 11.e5+ Bxe5 12.fxe5+ Qxe5+ 13.Qxe5+ Kxe5. White would probably have enough compensation for his pawn deficit, e.g. 14.Nc3 with the idea of 15.Nb5.


This is White's idea.

10...Kg6 11.Qxe5 


Well. White has clawed back the two pieces that he "loaned" Black, and is even a pawn ahead. He is also better developed, and his King is safer.

What is Black to do? He chooses a move that both blocks the Bishop's attack on his Queen and protects the f5 square so that White cannot complete a checkmate (i.e. Qf5+ and g4#). 

Unfortunately, this over-the-board solution does not stand up, although the better 11...Nf6 still gives White the better game.

12.Bxe7 Black resigned

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Jerome Gambit: An Overlooked Defense

One of the great excitements of playing the disreputable Jerome Gambit is that, beyond the historical "refutations" that are out there - and I have presented as many as I am aware of in this blog, out of a simple sense of honesty and for historical accuracy - you will sometimes have the opportunity to face new or little-played "refutations".

Sometimes they will appear as impediments.

Sometimes they will appear more as mere defenses.

You have to get past them all, anyhow. Like in the following game. 

Wall, Bill - Guest532296, 2017

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

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 d5 

Fascinating. And why not? Isn't the proper counter in a King's pawn game the full advance of the Queen's pawn?

So, why are there only four other games with this move in my 55,650 game Database?

Oh, and condolences to Guest532296, but two of them are by his opponent in this game, Bill Wall.


Or 7.dxc5 Nf6 (7...Be6 8.Nc3 d4 9.Ne2 Bc4 10.O-O Qf6 11.b3 Be6 12.Nxd4 Qg6 13.Nxe6 Kxe6 14.f4 Ng4 15.f5+ Black resigned, stretto - JAVAWO, FICS, 2008) 8. O-O Nxe4 9. Bf4 Ng6 10. Bxc7 Qh4 11. Qxd5+ Be6 12. Qd4 Rac8 13. Bg3 Qf6 14. Qxe4 Qxb2 15. Nd2 Rhe8 16. Nc4 Bxc4 17. Qxc4+ Kf8 18. Bd6+ Ne7 19. Rae1 b5 20. Qg4 Rcd8 21. Be5 g6 22.Bxb2 Black resigned, Wall,B - PassCapture, 2017


Also seen was the if-it-works-for-you-maybe-it-will-work-for-me line 7...Bxf2+ 8.Kxf2 Qh4+ 9.g3 Qxe4 10.Re1 Qf5+ 11.Kg1 Ke6 12.Nc3 Ne7 13.Nb5 Rb8 14.Nd4+ Black resigned, Wall,B - PassCapture,, 2017; and the reasonable

7...Qh4 8.O-O Be6 9.exd5 Bg4 10.h3 Bxd1 11.e6+ Ke7 12.Rxd1 Nf6 13.Be3 Bd6 14.Nc3 g5 15.Ne2 g4 16.Nf4 gxh3 17.Nxh3 Ne4 18.Rd4 c5 19.Rc4 b5 20.Bg5+ Qxg5 21.Nxg5 Nxg5 22.Rg4 h6 23.f4 Black forfeited on time, yorgos - Balderboys, FICS, 2009.

Stockfish 8 prefers 7...Ne7 8.Qf3+ Kg8 9.O-O Be6 10.Nc3 Qd7 with an advantage to the second player.

8.O-O Nh6 

Development, and planning to castle-by-hand if allowed.

White has to consider the exchange of his Bishop for the Knight - whose King will the resulting open lines trouble more? 


White probably has a draw by repetition after 9.Qh5+ Kf8 10.Bxh6 gxh6 11.Qxh6+ Ke8, with more Queen checks to follow, but there is also the wacky 12.b4!? Bxb4 13.c3!? dxc3 14.a3!? c2!? 15.axb4 cxb1/Q 16.Qh5+ which should also lead to a draw. (Hat tip to Kenneth Mark Colby, who wrote Secrets of a Grandpatzer - that second line would be a clear "Grandpatzer draw".)

9...Kg8 10.Bxh6 gxh6 11.Nd2 Qg5 

Having chased Black's King back to g8, blocking the Rook on h8, White feels comfortable with the piece exchange. On the other hand, Black still believes that there is a possible attack on the White King - hence the Queen move.

12.Qb3+ Kg7 13.f4 Qe7 

White has hopes for his "Jerome pawns".

Be6 15.f5 Bxc4 

Black was aware that putting his Bishop on e6 would make it a target, and he relied on the text move, attacking the enemy Queen, to counter any pawn push by White.

Since White's attack on Black's King will feature a Queen check from g3, Black's best defense might be 15...d3+!?, closing off the third rank. The game would remain quite complicated, although the first player still would have the advantage. 


An awkward move to meet. White's Queen will be able to escape the attack she faces (e.g. 16...Kg6 17.Qg3+ or 16...Kg8 17.Qg3+, in both cases followed by winning Black's Queen); Black's will not.

16...Kf7 17.fxe7+ Black resigned

The discovered check allows White's Queen to escape.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Jerome Gambit: For Fun


The following game got me thinking about the title of Willy Hendriks' book, Move First, Think Later: Sense and Nonsense in Improving Your Chess. It's a silly affair (the game, not the book, which is quite serious) that has a couple of howlers when it comes to moves, but it's the kind of thing that happens sometimes in 3-minute blitz games, and I hope it gives you a chuckle or two.

Bingoman - noorinut
3 0 blitz, FICS, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6

The Semi-Italian Opening. For some background, see here and here.


In a hurry to go all-Jerome all over his opponent. I prefer 4.0-0, and after 4...Bc5, then 5.Bxf7+; but everyone has their own ideas about excitement.

4...Kxf7 5.d4 Nxd4

The enjoyable thing about playing chess "for fun" is that it often doesn't make demands upon you - no heavy cognition, just think of a move and play it. Here Black plays a "sure, why not?" move (instead of 5...exd4) and then has fewer than 10 more moves to regret it.

To go from a "won" game at move 4 to a "lost" game at move 5 is not unheard of in a 3 0 blitz game - but before the end of the game he will have a chance to get that "won"game back again, if he keeps his wits about himself...

6. Nxe5+ Ke8

Alarm bells should be going off in the heads of Jerome Gambiteers everywhere!

Black should have given up the Rook with 6...Ke7 7.Ng6+ Ke8 8.Nxh8 (White's cornered Knight will escape), remaining an exchange and a couple of pawns down. Instead, he faces checkmate*.

7.Qh5+ g6 8.Qxg6+ Ke7 9.Qf7+ Kd6 10.Nc4+ Kc6 11.Qe6+

It's good to remember White's plan of Queen checks followed by the shepherding Knight check, followed by the Queen check - but not this Queen check.


Overwhelmed by the shock and awe of the attack? Distracted by the clock? Guessing that his opponent made a mouse-slip and giving him a second chance? I dunno.

12.Qd5+ Kd7 13.Ne5+ Ke8 14.Qf7 checkmate

White's Queen and Knight "undo" their last moves and finish the game.

*There's always an asterisk in 3 0 games.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Advance in the Center, Attack on the Kingside, Checkmate on the Queenside

Chris Torres (see "Always Be Ready to Deliver Checkmate", "The Most Violent Chess Game Ever Played!", "Another Lesson in the Jerome Gambit", "More Musings" and "More Useful Junk") of the blog site Chess Musings, always sends exciting Jerome Gambit games.

His game below clearly illustrates why many club players still find a way to play the "refuted" opening.

chessmusings - snoopy2

Internet, 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 

Here we have a fairly representative position from the "classical" Jerome Gambit (5.Nxe5+), 6...Ng6 variation, including the "nudge" 7.Qd5+ (giving Black something more to think about).

10.O-O Kf7 11.f4 Re8 12.Nc3 Qe7 

White has castled and begun to move his central pawns forward. Black is near castling-by-hand and has chosen the e-pawn as a target.

13.d3 Ng4 

Was it Oscar Wilde who said "I can resist anything except temptation"?

Black suddenly decides that harassing the White Queen is a good idea.

14.Qf3 Kg8 

Safe and sound.

15.f5 N6e5 16.Qg3 h6 

A risky waste of time, creating a weakness - all disguised as defensive preparation against Bg5

17.d4 Nxh2 

Things are becoming complicated, and Black decides that, since he has an extra piece, the simplest path would be to return one, grabbing a pawn in the process. However, even if more pieces on the board means more things to calculate, 
17...Nf6 was the proper move.

It is ironic that the Knight sac lures White's King to an exposed square where, in a few moves, Black will be able to check and win back a piece - thereby sealing his fate.

18.Kxh2 Nc6 19.f6 

Oh, those "Jerome pawns"!

19...Qf7 20.Bxh6 

See the note to move 16.


Black is in a very difficult position, as even the boring 20...Nxd4 21.Qxg7+ Qxg7 22.Bxf7 shows - White's extra, passed pawns will give the win.

Black is happy to win the Bishop at h6, but in the process he overlooks White's f-pawn. Time problems? Over-confidence? Despair?

 21.Kg1 Qxh6 22.f7+

22...Kf8 23.fxe8/Q+ Kxe8 24.Nd5 Nxd4

Black can afford to allow the Knight fork at c7, attacking a Rook, because he has his own Knight fork at e2, attacking a Queen.

25. Nc7+ Kd7 

But, here is the thing: the game is no longer just about material advantage (as 26...Kd8 27.Qd3 would show) but also about King safety - and checkmate. 

26...Kc6 27.Qc3+ Kb6 28.Nd5+ Ka6 29.Nb4+ Kb5 30.a4+ Kb6 31.Qc7 checkmate

Very nice.