Friday, December 8, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Playing Over Games

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Often the best way to learn an opening is to play over the games of an experienced practitioner - that is what this blog is all about - and pay attention to what is going on - especially when play varies from past experience and analysis.

The following Jerome Gambit game is a good example of what to look at.

Wall, Bill - Guest129367, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Kf8

Checking Bill's Jerome Gambit nomenclature, I am reminded that this is the Sorensen Variation, where Black declines the second sacrifice and moves his King closer to safety.

Lieutenant S. A. Sorensen wrote an early analysis of the Jerome Gambit in his "Chess for Beginners" column in the May 1877 issue of Nordisk Skaktidende. It was widely translated and republished.

He was anticipated in his discussion by Alonzo Wheeler Jerome, who first looked at the line in 1874. The earliest game example that I have in The Database is Jerome - Brownson, Iowa, USA, 1875 (1/2-1/2, 29). For history of the line, see "Critical Line: 5...Kf8 (1, 2 and 3)".


I was a bit surprised to find that, according to The Database, this move is a novelty, although the game will transpose to an earlier Bill Wall game in a few moves.

White simply develops a piece, and waits to see what Black can make of the position. Similar would be 6.0-0, which Bill is 7-0 with. He also suggests 6.d4!?, which brought him a win the one time he tried it.

Seen more often, and recommended by both Jerome and Sorensen, is 6.Nxc6.


The Black Queen sometimes goes to f6 to help defend; here it is also attacking.

Of course Black had the option of capturing the Knight with 6...Nxe5, and after 7.d4 Bxd4 8.Qxd4 d6 the game would have transposed into more mainstream play. There is a practical argument for 6...Nxe5 as well: Bill is "only" 8-2 against it. 

Stockfish 8 (30 ply) shows a tiny preference for 6...Nxe5, but also suggests the wild 6...Qg5!?, which it recommends that White meet with 7.Qf3+, looking to exchange Queens. Not surprisingly, The Database has no examples of 6...Qg5.


White can no longer exchange off his Knight because of 7.Nxc6?? Qxf2 checkmate.

7...Bb6 8.O-O d6 

The game has transposed to Wall, Bill - Tim93612,, 2010 (1-0, ), which began 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Kf8 6.Nd3 Bb6 7.0-0 Qf6 8.Nc3, but then continued with 8...Nge7 (1-0, 36).

With a piece for two pawns, Black can be said to have a small advantage, especially in light of White's blocked development. Black has to be aware, however, that his King and Queen are on the same file, which could prove risky if White can exchange off pawns to expose his Rook at f1.


White wastes no time unpinning his f-pawn, so he can advance it.


Black would love to exchange Knights at d3 and bury White's Bishop. Bill recommends, instead, 9...Qf7


The attack on Black's Queen gives White time to exchange off Black's troublesome Bishop and double a couple of pawns - if nothing better comes up.

Why didn't White play the Knight jump the previous move, instead of "wasting time" with 9.Kh1 ? Probably because Black could have answered the move with 9...Qd4, and the Queen would have recaptured, keeping his pawns intact.


Bill suggests, instead, 10...Qe6 11.N3f4 Qf7. Why is this different from moving the Queen to f7 immediately?

11.Nxe5 dxe5 12.f4 

Suddenly the "Jerome pawns" take on a menacing potential.

Stockfish 8 suggests that Black continue with reasonable defense, 12...Ke8 13.fxe5 Qg6 14.d4 Ne7 15.Nxe7 Kxe7 16.Qd3 and with 3 pawns for the piece - despite facing the two Bishops - White appears to have somewhat better chances.


Black's first real slip. Development is good, and shielding the Queen and King is noble - but the enemy Rook on the f-file is still a danger.

13.fxe5 c6 14.exf6 g6 15.Ne7 

Not only is White up 3 pawns, his advanced Knight and pawn are full of trouble - especially with Black's pawn on g6. (Perhaps Black's Queen should have gone there, instead, with 14...Qg6, but after 15.Nxb6 axb6 White could have continued with 16.b3, intending 17.Bb2 with further pressure on Black's kingside.)

15...Be6 16.d4 Rd8 

Overlooking White's main threat, which could have been met with 16...h5. At that point White would not have an immediate shot, but could continue to build his attack with 17.b3 and 18.Ba3, or work for a breakthrough with 17.d5.

17.Bh6+ Ke8 

Now there is already the win of the exchange after 18.Bg7, but White wants to go after the enemy King.

18.d5 cxd5 

It is difficult to find a safe retreat for Black's light squared Bishop, so Black decides to return it for a couple of pawns. This leaves him down a Rook (and a couple of pawns)

19.exd5 Bxd5 20.Nxd5 Rxd5 


Please excuse Bill for overlooking the checkmate in 20 moves that starts with 21.Qg4 (silly computer) - the text is strong enough (and would checkmate almost as fast, if Black didn't resign sooner).

21...Kd7 22.Qg4+ Kc7 23.Re7+ Black resigned

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Building Anxiety

Here is another interesting and educational Jerome Gambit game from Vlasta Fejfar.

The game might as well be titled "What shall we worry about today?" as the little things seem to build up for Black, and he suddenly turns over the game.

vlastous - Makaviel , Sandro
Internet, 2017 

 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6 


The "nudge". I am not sure that it is necessary, or leads to anything more than the direct capture 7.Qxc5 does, but, in my experience it can get Black to take some time worrying "What is he doing?"

7...Ke8 8.Qxc5 N8e7 

So - what is going on here?

White has sacrificed a piece for two pawns, and has already moved his Queen three times. He needs development while taking advantage of Her Majesty's options.

Black is ahead in material and development, but his King is stuck in the middle of the board, at least for now. He needs to design a route to safety, when he can then use his advantages.

9.O-O b6 

This is a reasonable move, opening up the a8-h1 diagonal for his Bishop - or, as in the game, the a6-f1 diagonal. 

Also possible are 9...d6 and 9...Rf8. There are game examples in The Database.


A small improvement over the retreat 10.Qe3, which I have used in a couple of wins: perrypawnpusher - Lark, blitz, FICS, 2009 (1-0, 59) and perrypawnpusher - jdvatty, blitz, FICS, 2010 (1-0. 28).

From c3 the Queen threatens Black's g-pawn, which is probably enough to cause the defender some anxiety, although in the long run it is probably risky for White to play Qxg7 as long as Black is able to play ...Rg8, with dangerous pressure on the file against White's King.


Black chooses a different development, attacking White's Rook at f1. Is he worried about the partially open f-file his King will have to cross in order to castle-by-hand? Possibly.

11.d3 Kf7 

Guarding the attacked g-pawn and seeking safety. 
12.f4 Rf8 

Black's move is all part of his plan, but he would have been more prudent to play 12...d6, as will immediately be seen.


Awkward. Where is Black's Knight to go? It turns out that White's Queen was also attacking the e5 square.


Uncomfortable. Unsafe.

Instead, Black could try 13...Nh8, but 14.f6!? would be a troubling answer, winning the Knight on e7.

Stockfish 8 suggests the pragmatic return of the piece with 13...Kg8 14.fxg6 Rxf1+ 15.Kxf1 Nxg6 which Black probably saw, but which he hoped to avoid.

14.Bg5 c5 

I don't understand this move. Perhaps it is played to prevent a possible d3-d4 by White? Possibly better was getting a pawn for the piece with 14...Nxg2.

15.Bxh4 Kg8

Well, it looks like Black's King has finally found sactuary.

Not so! says White.


This breakthrough works, even with White not fully developed.

16...gxf6 17.Bxf6 Rf7 

18.Nd2 Qf8 19.Rf3 Nc6 

Black's two developed minor pieces on the Queenside are out of the action and largely irrelevant.

White now has a brutal attack on the g-file. 

20.Rg3+ Rg7 21.Rxg7+ Black resigned

Black will have to give up his Queen (and eventually his Rook, too) in order to avoid checkmate. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Never Knew What Hit Him, Either

I have been sharing some recently uncovered games by Ukranian player Vladymyr Yurev, online at It is clear that he and his opponents are playing for fun, as evidenced by the nasty, brutish and short wins by White.

Here is a game where Vladymyr took it seriously on the chin. I suspect he chuckled and set the pieces up again.

Vladymyr  Yurev - GN ITA
15 0, InstantChess, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6 

The Semi-Italian opening, generally played as a safety first line. Not so, if White wants to get all Jerome-ish.

4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.d4 exd4 6.Nxd4 Qf6 7.Nf5 d6

Uh, oh.. Things don't seem to be going smoothly for White.

8.Qd5+ Be6 9.Nxd6+ 

The start of an irrational streak, the kind of thing that you see when your opponent's clock is almost expired, and you are willing to try anything to get him to use up those last precious seconds thinking...

9...Bxd6 10.Qxe6+ Qxe6 11.e5 

Okay, so White is going to blow everything up and start all over, next game.

11...Qxe5+ 12.Kd2 Qd4+ 13.Ke2 Re8+ 14.Kf3 Ne5+ 

Or 14...Qe4#.

15.Kg3 Nd3+ 

Or 15...Qg4#.

16.Kh3 Nxf2 checkmate

Oh, well, as the song goes, "Two out of three ain't bad."