Friday, November 10, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Straying From the Right Move, Good and Bad

When I play the Jerome Gambit, I struggle to play the "right" move all the time. I have largely exhausted my creativity at moves 4, 5 and 6. From there, on, it's a question of survivial.

Some players have a different approach - they explore alternatives, within reason but with the idea of exploration for its own sake.

An example is the following game. The attacker strays and creates; the defender strays and does not survive.

Wall, Bill - Guest1061862, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Bxd4 7.Qxd4 Qf6 8.Qc3

Black's idea is to play ...Nf3+ and capture White's Queen, if it is unprotected, so that is White's primary concern - how to react to that threat. 

Is there a "best" move here? I am not sure. In this position Bill has also tried 8.Qc58.Qe3, 8.Be38.Qd2 and 8.Nd2 - all successfully.

8...d6 9.Qxc7+ Ne7 10.O-O Rf8 

Black prepares to castle-by-hand. This is a very good idea. His main concern should not be losing a pawn or two, but protecting himself against the dangers along the 7th rank and f-file. 

11.f4 Ng4 

Worrying about the wrong piece. Black could confidently play, instead, 11...Kg8 when White's annoying f-pawn is suddenly pinned (12.fxe5? Qxf1 checkmate), giving the defender time to retreat his Knight to c6. 

12.e5 dxe5 

Going along with White's plan. It was time for Black to safeguard his King and return a piece: 12...Qh4 13.h3 Kg8 14.hxg4 Bxg4, and the game is about equal. Instead, he gives up his Queen.

13.fxe5 Qxf1+ 14.Kxf1 Kg6+ 15.Kg1 Re8 

Black has a piece and a Rook for his Queen. (He is also down a couple of pawns.)  

16.h3 Nh6 17.Qd6+ Kf7 18.Bxh6 Black resigned

Black can see far enough - 18...gxh6 19.Qf6+ Kg7 20.e6 - to know that he will have to surrender another piece (20...Rf8 21.Qxe7 or 20...Bxe6 21.Qxe6), and there is no future in this game.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Who'd A Thunk It?

I just received another Jerome Gambit game played on the internet by Vlasta Fejfar ("vlastous"). The following game show the need for patience in certain lines of that wild, crazy attack. A certain amount of sitzfleisch helps, too. After a period of calm, White suddenly activates his Rooks, and Black does not react well to the danger.

[By the way, this is post #2,500 on this blog. As Mortimer Snerd - or Edgar Bergen - said, "Who'd a thunk it?"]

vlastous - Nyanyiwa
internet, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Kf8 7.Qxe5 d6 8.Qf4+ Qf6

The defense 6...Kf8 is solid and sensible. It can lead to a position where the Queens come off the board before a dozen moves have been played. "Objectively" Black's extra piece is worth more than White's two extra pawns, but in the rough-and-tumble of club play - especially when the first player has knowledge or experience of such lines - there is play to be had for the gambiteer.

9.d3 Qxf4 10.Bxf4 Nf6 11.Nc3 

White has his two "Jerome pawns". Black's extra piece gives him the "two bishops" which are helpful in open positions.

From a psychological point of view, White should consider keeping the game closed, developing his pieces, increasing his control of space - but, otherwise, acting as if Black is the attacker, and letting him make the first mistake.

Other ideas:

11.c3 Bb6 (11...h6 12.Nd2 g5 13.Bg3 Nh5 14.d4 Bb6 15.Nc4 Nxg3 16.hxg3 Kg7 17.f3 Be6 18.Nxb6 axb6 19.a3 h5 20.Kf2 h4 21.gxh4 Rxh4 22.Rxh4 gxh4 23.Rh1 Rh8 24.f4 Bg4 25.f5 Kf6 26.Ke3 d5 27.Kf4 Be2 28.e5+ Kg7 29.g4 hxg3 30.Rxh8 g2 31.Rh3 g1=Q 32.Rg3+ Qxg3+ 33.Kxg3 Kh6 34.Kf4 Bh5 35.e6 Kg7 36. Ke5 c6 37.f6+ Kg6 38.f7 Kg7 39.Kd6 Bg6 40.Ke7 Black resigned,  Philidor1792 - guest2052, Internet, 2012) 12.Nd2 Bd7 13.Nc4 Kf7 14.Nxb6 axb6 15.f3 Rhe8 16.Kf2 b5 17.a3 Be6 18.Ke3 Rad8 19.d4 Bb3 20.Kd2 h6 21.Rae1 g5 22.Be3 Nh5 23.g3 Kg6 24.Re2 Rf8 25.Rf2 Rf7 26.f4 gxf4 27.gxf4 Rdf8 28.Rg1+ Kh7 29.f5 Rg8 30.Rxg8 Kxg8 31.Bxh6 Nf6 32.Rf4 Rh7 33.Bg5 Rxh2+ 34.Ke3 Kf7 35.Rh4 Rxh4 36.Bxh4 c6 37.Kf4 Bc2 38.e5 Nd5+ 39.Kg5 dxe5 40.dxe5 Nc7 41.Bg3 Bd3 42.e6+ Nxe6+ 43.fxe6+ Kxe6 44.Kf4 Kd5 45.Ke3 Bf1 46.Kd2 Kc4 47.Kc1 Kb3 48.Bf2 drawn, Philidor 1792 - guest2498, 2014

11.O-O Kf7 (11...Bg4 12.Nc3 Bd4 13.Be3 Bxc3 14.bxc3 b6 15.f3 Be6 16.d4 Re8 17.Bf4 Nh5 18.Be3 Kf7 19.Rfb1 Rhf8 20.Bc1 Kg6 21.d5 Bd7 22.Bd2 c6 23.c4 Nf4 24.Kh1 h6 25.Rb3 Rc8 26.g3 Ne2 27.Rd3 c5 28.c3 b5 29.Re3 bxc4 30.Rxe2 Rxf3 31.e5 dxe5 32.Bxh6 gxh6 33.Rxe5 Rxc3 34.Re7 Rd8 35.Kg1 Rc2 36.Rb1 Rxa2 37.Rb7 c3 38.Rb1 c2 39.Rbe1 Bh3 40.R7e5 c4 41.Rc1 Rb8 42.Re2 Rbb2 43.Kf2 a5 44.d6 Kf6 45.Kf3 c3 46.Ke3 Bf5 47.Kd4 Rb3 48.d7 Ra4+ 49.Kc5 Bxd7 50.Rcxc2 Rb5+ 51.Kd6 Rd4+ 52.Kc7 Rd3 53.Ra2 Bg4 54.Re4 Rd2 55.Rf4+ Kg5 56.Raa4 Bh3 57.Rf8 c2 58.Rc4 Rxh2 59.Rg8+ Kf6 60.Rf8+ Kg7 61.Rf3 Be6 62.Rcc3 Re2 63.Kd6 Rb6+ 64.Kc5 Rb1 65.Kd4 Rd1+ 66.Kc5 Re5+ 67.Kc6 Bd5+ 68.Kd6 Re6+ 69.Kd7 Rc6 70.Rfe3 Kf6 71.Rxc2 Bf3+ 72.Rd2 Rxd2+ 73.Rd3 Rxd3+ 74.Ke8 Rc8 checkmate, GNUChess - GNUChess, OS-RGCX-182777, 2003) 12.Nc3 Bd7 13.Be3 Bxe3 14.fxe3 Ke7 15.Rf3 Rhf8 16.Raf1 c6 17.d4 Ng4 18.Rxf8 Rxf8 19.Rxf8 Kxf8 20.Nd1 Be8 21.h3 Nf6 22.Nc3 Bg6 23.e5 dxe5 24.dxe5 Ne4 25.Ne2 Ke7 26.Nf4 Bf7 27.b3 g5 28.Nd3 c5 29.g4 c4 30.Nb2 cxb3 31.axb3 Ke6 32.Nd3 Kd5 33.Kf1 Nc5 34.c4+ Kc6 35.Ke2 Nxb3 36.Nb2 Nc5 37.Kf3 a5 38.e4 a4 White resigned, blackburne - Argento1960,, 2004; and

11.Be3 Bb4+ 12.Bd2 Bxd2+ 13.Nxd2 Kg8 14.O-O-O c5 15.Nc4 Ne8 16.Ne3 Be6 17.h4 Nf6 18.h5 b5 19.h6 g5 20.f3 Kf7 21.d4 b4 22.Rhe1 Rhe8 23.g3 Ke7 24.d5 Bd7 25.e5 dxe5 26.Nc4 Nh5 27.g4 Bb5 28.d6+ Kd8 29.d7 Rf8 30.Nd6 Bc6 31.gxh5 Bxf3 32.Rd3 e4 33.Rd5 Kxd7 34.Nxe4+ Kc6 35.Rxc5+ Kb6 36.Rc4 Rae8 37.Rxb4+ Ka5 38.a3 Rf4 39.Nxg5 Rxe1+ 40.Kd2 Re2+ 41.Kd3 Rxb4 42.axb4+ Kxb4 43.Nxf3 Re6 44.c3+ Ka5 45.b4+ Ka4 46.b5 Rxh6 47.c4 Rxh5 48.Nd2 Kb4 49.Nf1 Rh3+ 50.Ne3 Rxe3+ 51.Kxe3 Kxc4 52.b6 axb6 53.Ke4 b5 54.Kf4 b4 55.Kg5 b3 56.Kh6 b2 57.Kxh7 b1=Q+ 58.Kh6 Qf5 59.Kg7 Qg5+ 60.Kf8 Kc5 61.Ke8 Qg7 62.Kd8 Kd6 63.Ke8 Qg8 checkmate, GNUChess - GNUChess, OS-RGCX-182777, 2003. 

11...a6 12. f3 Kf7

Things quickly went south for Black after 12...Be6 13.Bg3 g5 14.e5 dxe5 15.Bxe5 Kf7 16.Bxf6 Kxf6 17.Ne4+ Black resigned, Wall,B - Guest2651667,, 2015

13.Bg3 Re8 14.Bf2 Bb4 15.a3 Bxc3+ 16.bxc3 b6

Black has surrendered the Bishop pair to injure White's pawn structure. He still has a long way to go to collect more than a half point, however. In the meantime, White startssome action on the Kingside.

17.Kd2 Bd7 18.g4 h6 19.h4 d5 20.g5 hxg5 21.hxg5 Ng8 

White is ready for some action on the Kingside, starting with a surprise.

22.g6+ Kxg6

Immediately, Black slips. He would have done better side-stepping the pawn with 22...Ke6, but he misses White's plan (perhaps because White has been so "quiet" with his play. The capture allows White a useful gain of tempo in response.

23.Rag1+ Kf7 24.Rh7 Ke7 

You can see the rest of the game from here. Whites Rooks spring to life.

25.Rgxg7+ Kd6 26.Rxd7+ Kc6 27.Rxc7+ Kb5 28.exd5 Nf6 

Black is suddenly 4 pawns down, 3 of them passed, but he hopes to use this Knight fork to win one back. Alas he slips.

29.Rh6 Nxd5 30.c4+ Black resigned

Monday, November 6, 2017

Jerome Gambit: How Do You Know When The Game Is Over?

I am not a painter. I have always wondered: How do you know when a painting is finished? How do you know when you have made your last stroke, and it is time to put the brush down? When does a painting have exactly enough, and needs no more?

These thoughts came to me as I considered the final position in the following game, where Black resigned. How did he know that it was time?

Wall, Bill - Guest816337, 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 Nf6

An ordinary position for this line. I was going to say that Bill has reached it a gazillion times, but it turns out that the number is only 17. The position goes back to Jerome - Shinkman, Iowa, 1876 (1/2-1/2, 42).


This is a bit unusual, however. The Bishop usually goes to g5 or b2. There are only 4 games in The Database with this move - two of them by guess who?


Also 9...Be6 10.Nc3 Re8 11.Rad1 Nc6 12.Qd2 Bg4 13.f3 Bh5 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.Qxd5+ Kf8 16.Qxh5 Kg8 17.Qd5+ Kh8 18.c4 Nb4 19.Qb5 a5 20.a3 Nc2 21.Rf2 Qf6 22.Bg5 Nd4 23.Qxe8+ Rxe8 24.Bxf6 Nxf3+ 25.Rxf3 gxf6 26.Rxf6 Rxe4 27.c5 Re2 28.Rf7 Rxb2 29.cxd6 Kg8 30.Rxc7 Kf8 31.d7 Black resigned, Wall,B - Guest3687203,,  2015.

10.Nc3 Nc6 11.Qd2

If you play the Jerome Gambit, you need to be a bit of a psychologist. You need to have an insight into what your opponent is trying to do (here: pressure and capture the e-pawn) as well as ideas on how to thwart his plans - or, on occasion, help them along. 

Ordinary play would be 11.Qd3, doubly protecting the twice-attacked pawn, when Black would continue to castle-by-hand andbe better.


Of course, reasons Black, anyone foolish enough to throw away pieces can hardly be expected to keep track of his pawns, too...
And so the defender falls for a small trick that, had he seen it in a book of chess puzzles, he would have identified immediately.


Oh, yeah, right.


A bit better - because it focuses on development - is 12...Be6 13.Qxe4 Qf6 14.Bg3 Kg8  when White has regained his piece and the game is about even.



Black gets out of the pin on his Rook, and avoids the Knight fork of the Rook and his King (Ng5+). However, the situation required 13...h6 when White would only be a little bit better.


White could play the Knight move, but prefers to develop a piece and build up pressure against the enemy King. 


Defense is already a serious problem. Black decides to evict the enemy Queen. He could have reinforced his troops on the e-file with 14...Qe7, but White could have continued 15.Bxd6 cxd6 16.Nxd6+ Kf8 17.Nxc8 removing the Rook's other defender and forcing 17...Rxe1 18.Nxe7 Rxe7, when White would have a Queen and two pawns to Black's Rook and Knight.

15.Qh5+ Ng6 16.Ng5 Rxe1 17.Rxe1+ Kd7 18.Ne6 Black resigned

At first glance it it clear why Black is worse - while equal in material, he lags in development and his unsafe King blocks his Bishop, which in turn blocks his Rook - a typical Jerome Gambit ailment. But, is it time to resign?

The first thing to look at is that Black's Queen is attacked - where will she go? It is clear that 18...Qe8 or 18...Qe7 can be answered by 19.Nc5+ uncovering an attack on Her Majesty. On the other hand, the "safe" 18...Qh8 leads to checkmate after 19.Qd5 (intensifying the impact of the next move) Ne7 20.Nc5+ Ke8 21.Bg5, etc.

That leaves one last back rank move, 18...Qg8, which can masterfully be met by 19.Qb5+ c6 20.Qb3 when White again threatens Nc5+, winning the Black Queen a different way.

Perhaps Black's Queen doesn't need to cower? She could try 18...Qf6. White, however, would have 19.Qd5, again, with brutal pressure on the d-file, for example 19...Nxf4 20.Nc5+ Kd8 21.Qg8+ Qf8 22.Qxf8#. Black's best response to 19.Qd5 is 19...Ne7, when 20.Qc4 c6 21.Bg5 is simply too much pressure on his position, e.g. 21...Qf7 22.Nc7 winning the Rook.

That leaves only the Queen escape 18...Qh4, which falls, as well, to 19.Qd5, as Black will have to give up his Queen with 19...Qxf4 in order to prevent checkmate.

Wow. I can see Bill figuring all of this out, as he is a chess expert. But, his opponent - if he was smart enough to see enough to resign, how did he get into that mess in the first place? Ah, the mysteries of the Jerome Gambit!