Saturday, October 21, 2017

Jerome Gambit Anomaly

The following game is a bit of an anomaly, for a number of reasons.

First, it is a draw in the Jerome Gambit, and a quick look at The Database shows that less than 3% of those 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ games end up as "1/2-1/2".

Second, it is a Jerome Gambit game that Bill Wall doesn't win. Quite rare.

Finally, it is a game where Black's King remains stuck in the middle files, but survives.

Wall, Bill - Guest584771, 2017

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

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Bxd4 7.Qxd4 d6 8.Qd5+

White poses the question: do you want to offer the b-pawn with 8...Be6? Answering with certainty would take a little time for Black. Also, he would have to be comfortable returning material.


8...Be6 is playable, and Bill has two wins and a loss against it: Wall,B - Guest774156,, 2016 (0-1, 26); Wall,B - Javier,, 2016 (1-0, 36); and Wall,B - Guest3335651,, 2017 (1-0, 13).

Black also has 8..Ke7, as in Wall,B - NN,, 2016 (1-0, 20).

And there is 8...Kf8, as in Wall,B - Guest344942,, 2013 (1-0, 20).


Going after Black's Knight directly. Bill has also played:

9.Nc3 Nf6 10.Qb3 c6 11.f4 Nh5 12.O-O Ng4 13.h3 Ngf6 14.e5 Nd7 15.Be3 d5 16.g4 Ng3 17.Rf3 Ne4 18.Nxe4 dxe4 19.Rf2 Qh4 20.Kh2 Nb6 21.e6 Nd5 22.f5 Nxe3 23.Qxe3 Ke7 24.g5 Rf8 25.Rg1 Bxe6 26.Rf4 Qh5 27.Qxe4 g6 28.Qxe6+ Kd8 29.Qd6+ Kc8 30.Qxf8+ Kc7 31.Qe7+ Kb6 32.Rb4+ Ka6 33.Qxb7+ Ka5 34.Ra4+ Kxa4 35.Qxc6+ Ka5 36.b4+ Kxb4 37.Rb1+ Ka3 38.Qa6 checkmate, Wall,B - Guest3467690,, 2017; and

9.O-O Nf6 10.Qb3 Qd7 11.Nc3 Qe6 12.Qb5+ Ned7 13.Be3 a6 14.Qa4 Kf7 15.Rad1 Re8 16.Rfe1 Kg8 17.f4 b5 18.Nxb5 axb5 19.Qxa8 Qxe4 20.Qxe4 Rxe4 21.Rd4 Rxd4 22.Bxd4 Kf7 23.a4 bxa4 24.Ra1 Nd5 25.Rxa4 c5 26.Bf2 Ke7 27.Bh4+ Ke6 28.g4 g6 29.Kf2 Nb4 30.Ra8 Nb6 31.Rb8 N4d5 32.Bd8 Kd7 33.Bxb6 Nxf4 34.Kf3 Nd5 35.Ba5 Ne7 36.Rb3 Kc6 37.Bd8 Nd5 38.c4 Nb4 39.Ba5 Nc2 40.Kf4 Nd4 41.Rb8 Black resigned, Wall,B -Tankins,, 2016.

9...Nf6 10.Qb3 Ned7

11.e5 dxe5 12.O-O e4 

Black's center pawn is annoying.

13.Nc3 Nb6 14.Be3 Qe7 15.f5 

Two can play the annoying-advanced-pawn game.


Black figures he can win the f-pawn. In his plotting and planning he loses sight of the (lack of) safety of his King.

16.Rad1 Ng4 17. Bf4 Qc5+ 18. Kh1 Bxf5 19. Nxe4

Both pawns fall. Black's King is suddenly looking quite vulnerable. But - is he?

19... Bxe4 20.Qe6+ Qe7

If 20...Kf8 then 21.Bd6 is a jaunty checkmate.

21.Qxg4 Nd5

The Knight is supported by the Bishop, which shields the Queen from a pin against the King. That gives White tactical opportunities - but are they more than a piece's worth?

22.Bg5 Nf6

The Knight protects, but also becomes a target.

23.Qh4 Kf7 24.Rd4 Rhe8 25.Bxf6 gxf6 26.Rxe4 

White wins back his piece - or is he sacrificing a Rook? What does he get for it?

26...Qxe4 27.Qxf6+ Kg8 28.Qf7+ Kh8 29.Qf6+ Kg8 30.Qf7+ Kh8 drawn

Thursday, October 19, 2017

BSJG Inquiry

Recently I received a pleasant email from Rodolfo Pardi, of Milano, Italy, inquiring about the Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4!? 4.Bxf7+!?).

Mr. Pardi has written a large number of very attractive chess manuals, in ebook format, all well worth attention. One, of course, is on the Blackburne Shilling Gambit.

I was very pleased to share game examples from The Database. (At the moment there are 5,333 of them.)

We have since exchanged analysis of the BSJG - his, far more extensive than mine, for which I am grateful.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Seems Familiar, But...

The second Jerome Gambit game recently sent by Vlasta Fejfar looks so incredibly "normal" (by Jerome standards, anyhow) it was hard to believe that it became completly "unusual" before a dozen moves.

What was "normal", however, was Black's increasing uncertainty or confusion on defense, followed by increasing pressure by White's "Jerome pawns" - followed by a win by the attacker in under 30 moves.

vlastous - mostafa-salman
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 Qf6 10.O-O N8e7

And, just like that, we have reached a position that seems familiar, but appears in only 2 other games in The Database.

I could make this sound quite incredible by pointing out that The Database has 55,650 games - but that would be a bit unfair; so let me say that, of the 12,823 games in The Database that start with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ - well, there still are only 2 other examples.

11.f4 Nc6 

What's not to like about this move - which is a novelty?

It improves upon a couple of earlier games:

11...Kf7 12.f5 Ne5 13.d4 Nc4?! 14.Qb3?! (14.Qd3!?) 14...b5 (14...Qxd4+!?) 15.Nd2?! Qxd4+ 16.Kh1 Ke8? 17.c3? (17.Qxb5+!?) 17...Nxd2 White resigned, shugart - douthy, lightning, FICS, 2014; and

11...Bd7 12.f5 (12.d4!?) 12...Ne5 13.d4 Ng4?! 14.Qd3 a6 15.h3 Bb5? 16.Qc3? Bxf1 17.hxg4 Bb5 18.g5 Qf7 19.Qxc7 Rc8?! 20.Qxd6 Qc4 21.f6 Qf1+ (21...gxf6 22.gxf6 Ng6) 22.Kh2 gxf6 23.gxf6 Ng6 24.Qe6+ (24.Nc3!?) 24...Kf8? 25.Bh6 checkmate, perrypawnpusher - LeiCar, blitz, FICS, 2010

12.c3 Bd7 13.d4 Kd8

Understandably, Black's King wants to get off of the soon-to-be-opened e-file.

14.d5 Nce7 15.c4 Rf8 16.Bd2 Qf7 

Likewise, Black's Queen - which has been helping hold back White's e-pawn - decides to get off of the a1-h8 diagonal, where White's dark-squared Bishop appears to be heading.

White's central "Jerome pawns" are threatening to advance and cause problems, and it is not surprising that Stockfish 8 already sees the first player as having the advantage.

17.Nc3 Qf6 

Back on the diagonal - but it is also on the file! White strikes.

18.e5 dxe5 19.fxe5 Qb6 

Black's Queen could not capture the e5 pawn because of 20.Rxf8+. 

20.c5 Rxf1+ 21.Rxf1 Qxb2 

Slipping behind enemy lines (pawns) to grab a pawn. Very dangerous!

22.e6 Be8 23.d6 cxd6 24.cxd6 Qb6 

25.dxe7+ Nxe7 26.Qxb6+ axb6 27.Bg5 Rc8 28.Nd5 Black resigned

White's pieces are tied up and tied down, and material will be lost.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Triumph Over the Annoying Defense

I received a couple of Jerome Gambit games from chessfriend Vlasta Fejfar. The first involves a complicated, frustrating, and, ultimately, philosophical defense. The second is almost off-the-road adventuring.

Let's dive into the tough stuff first. After a theoretical opening "discussion" and "scientific" middle game, there follows a textbook attack and a pleasant checkmate. 

vlastous - franciscoribeiro
internet, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.f4 d6 

The annoying "annoying defense" (see 1 and 2 for starters). Computers love it. Vlasta has a lot of experience facing it.

Black offers to return one of the two sacrificed pieces. Although his King appears a bit precarious, much of the dynamism in the game is drained off.

White need to go into the line with a plan - and a decision about what kind of outcome he is looking for.

8.fxe5 dxe5 9.Qh3+ Kd6 10.Qd3+ Ke7 11.Qg3 

Here the game Fejfar,V - Pressl, corr Czech Republic, 2015 was drawn.

Is a draw acceptable to White, who started the game with a Bashi-Bazouk attack, sacrificing two pieces? Is a draw acceptable to Black, who, only a few moves ago, had an "objectively" won game?

It is a typical Jerome Gambit irony that could be expressed in the idea: Both sides stand better (or worse).  


A little bit better is 11...Kf7, although Vlasta has experience with that line, too: 12.Qxe5 Bd7 (12...Bd4 13.Rf1+ Nf6 14.Qh5+ Kg8 15.Qe2 Be6 16.c3 Be5 17.g3 c5 18.d3 Qd6 19.Bf4 Bg4 20.Qe3 Bh3 21.Rf3 Bg4 22.Rf1 Re8 23.Nd2 Bxf4 24.gxf4 b5 25.e5 Nd5 26.Qg3 Qg6 27.Ne4 c4 28.Kd2 Bf5 29.Nd6 Rd8 30.dxc4 bxc4 31.Rae1 Qxg3 32.hxg3 Ne7 33.Ke3 Bd3 34.Rg1 Nf5+ 35.Nxf5 Bxf5 36.Rd1 Kf7 37.Rd4 h5 38.Rgd1 Rc8 39.Rh1 g6 40.Rh2 Ke7 41.a4 Rc6 42.Rd5 Be6 43.Rb5 Rc7 44.Rd2 h4 45.gxh4 Rxh4 46.Rd4 Rh3+ 47.Kf2 Rd3 48.a5 Rxd4 49.cxd4 Bd7 50.Rb8 Ke6 51.Ke3 Kd5 52.a6 c3 53.bxc3 Rxc3+ 54.Kf2 Bc8 55.Ra8 Rc7 56.Ke3 Rc3+ 57.Kf2 Kxd4 58.Rxa7 Ke4 59.Rg7 Kf5 60.a7 Ra3 61.Rf7+ Kg4 62.Rf8 Bb7 63.e6 Rxa7 64.e7 Bc6 65.e8=Q Bxe8 66.Rxe8 Kxf4 67.Rf8+ Kg4 68.Rc8 g5 69.Rc3 Kh4 70.Kg1 Ra2 71.Rb3 g4 draw, Fejfar,V - Goc,P) 13.Qh5+ g6 14.Qxc5 Qh4+ 15.Qf2+ Qxf2+ 16.Kxf2 Nf6 17.d3 Rhf8 18.Nc3 Kg7 19.Ke2 Bg4+ 20.Ke3 Be6 21.h3 Nh5 22.Ne2 Rae8 23.b3 Nf6 24.Ba3 Rf7 25.c4 Rd8 26.Raf1 Rfd7 27.Nf4 Bg8 28.Bb2 Rf8 29.e5 Re7 30.Kd2 Ne8 31.e6+ Black resigned, Fejfar,V - Svoboda, corr Czech Cup, 2016 

He has also seen 11...Ke8 12.Nc3 Bd4 13.Rf1 Qd7 14.Nd5 c6 15.Ne3 Nf6 16.d3 Qc7 17.c3 Bxe3 18.Bxe3 Qe7 19.O-O-O Rf8 20.Rf3 Bd7 21.Rdf1 c5 22.Bxc5 draw, Fejfar - Kyzlink, corr Czech Republic, 2015.

You may have noticed in some of these games Vlasta was testing the Jerome Gambit in correspondence play - like Alonzo Wheeler Jerome did with his gambit over a century ago. A draw is a reasonable outcome.


For comparison,  a couple of other games:

12. Rf1+ Nf6 13. Qxe5 Bd6 14. Qg5 Bxh2 15. Nc3 Be6 $2 16. e5 h6 17. Qe3 Qe7 18. exf6 gxf6 19. d3 c5 $6 20. Bd2 Rd8 21. O-O-O b6 $6 22. g3 Kg7 23. Rh1 Rd4 24. Rxh2 h5 25. Re1 Kf7 26. Rhe2 Rd6 27. Ne4 Rc6 28. Qf3 Kg6 29. Ng5 fxg5 30. Qxc6 Kh7 31. Rxe6 Black resigned, Wall,B - Shah,V, chess-db, 2015; and

12.d3 Nf6 13.Rf1 Qe7 14.Nc3 c6 15.Bg5 Kf7 16.O-O-O Rf8 17.h3 Kg8 18.Rf3 Qe6 19.Rdf1 Be7 20.Kb1 Bd7 21.Nd1 Rae8 22.Qh4 b5 23.Ne3 Qd6 24.Qf2 Be6 25.g4 c5 26.Nf5 Bxf5 27.gxf5 Nh5 28.Bc1 Nf4 29.h4 c4 30.d4 Nh5 31.d5 b4 32.Qe2 c3 33.b3 a5 34.a4 bxa3 35.Rxc3 Black resigned, Wall,B - ubluk,, 2012.


The alternative, 12...Bd6, was seen in a number of games in the legendary Fisher-Kirshner - KnightStalker match in 1993. When people send me Jerome Gambit games, they usually start with Amateur - Blackburne, London, 1884, and then follow with the Fisher-Kirshner - KnightStalker games.

The text is sharp and relatively unexplored. The only other game with it in The Database is the computer game WB Nimzo 2000b - La Dame Blanche 2.0c, Jerome Gambit thematic tournament, 2009 - which was a 109 move draw!

13.g3 Qe7 14.Qxe7+ Kxe7 

The game has left the path of the computers (which contained 14...Nxe7) and has transposed to 3 games played by Philidor1792 in 2012.


Alternately, d2-d3 was seen in Philidor1792 - NN, 5 0 blitz, 2012 (1-0, 30) and c2-c3 was seen in Philidor1792 - NN, 5 0 blitz, 2012 (1-0, 22) and Philidor1792 - NN, no time control, 2012 (0-1, 27).


Played to keep White's Knight off of d5. Probably better was 15...Nf6, but Black seems to have been nervous about a possible Bishop pin at g5 (see move 17).  

16.Na4 Bd6 17.d4 h6 18.O-O Bh3 19.Rf3 Nf6 

A puzzling move. Black gives back his extra piece and secures what should be an even position. Stockfish 8, instead, suggests castling-by-hand on the Queenside, 19...Rf8 20.Bf4 Kd8 21.Nc5 Kc8, with advantage.

It must be said that Black is employing the "scientific" idea (as he did on move 7) of accepting the sacrificed material, and then giving it back some time later.

20.e5 Bxe5 21.dxe5 Nd7 

Vlasta suggested that 21...Ng4 would have led to an even game. 

22.b3 Nxe5 

Black is in too much of a hurry to capture the pawn. It will cost him another piece.

23.Re3 Kd6 24.Ba3+ Ke6 25.Rae1 b5 26.Rxe5+ Kf6 27.Bb2 Kg6 28. Nc5 Rad8 

White is winning now - he has an advantage in material and a developing attack on the enemy King.

29.Re7 Rhg8 30.Ne6 Bxe6 31.R1xe6+ Kh7 32. Rxc6 Rd1+ 

One last Hurrah. White's pressure on g7 is deadly.

33.Kg2 Rb1 34.Bf6 a5 35.Rcc7 Kg6 36.Bxg7 Rd1 

37.Rc6+ Kg5 38.Re5+ Kg4 39.h3 checkmate