Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Verdun Gambit (Part 2)

From the chess column of the Western Mail  of Perth, Australia,  Friday, November 9, 1917 (page 26) titled "THE JEROME GAMBIT" we continue the tale of "The Verdun Gambit" started last post.

As before, I have added diagrams and changed the notation from descriptive to algebraic - Rick.

Our readers will recollect that some months ago we published an account of how the Veteran played the "Verdun" Gambit against the Exile and got badly beaten.

The opening moves of this gambit are as follow

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+

This is really the Jerome Gambit, and it was only the Veteran's facetiousness that dubbed it the "Verdun."

Memories of this great conflit have been recalled by the receipt of the following remarks from a valued correspondent, who modestly hides his identity under the nom-de-plume of "Subscriber." He says:  "In connection with one of the games you published which was played at Boans, I wish to ask you if, in your opinion, that opening is not good enough? White has a piece and two pawns in
exchange for two pieces, and the two pawns he has are most important ones, and Black's position is, I think, unpleasantly broken up. Your opinion will much oblige." 

Although the Jerome Gambit is well worth playing occasionally in
offhand games, there is no recorded instance of its having been tried in any important tourney.The reason for this is obvious; White gives up a piece for two pawns but he does not gain, a compensating attack and must lose with anything like accurate play on the part of Black.

The chief book line of play is as follows:

6...Ke6 7.Qf5+ Kd6 8.d4 Bxd4 9.Na3 c6 10.c3 Qf6 11.cxd4 Qxf5
12.exf5 Nf7 13.Bf4+ Ke7

And Black, with a piece for a pawn, has the best of the deal.

In our opinion Black's simplest and best defense is 


when the play might proceed 

7.Qd5+ Ke8 8.Qxc5 d6 9.Qc3 Nf6 10.d3

"Cook's Synopsis" says that White has now some attack for his lost
pieces. He has a fine unbroken array of pawns, but he can hardly hope to win.

[I am not sure how "important" a tournament would have to be to satisfy the columnist, but if the Australian Open is important enough, then about 100 years after the above column was printed in Western Mail, "Cliff Hardy" played the Jerome Gambit and won there with it. - Rick]

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Verdun Gambit (Part I)

The Jerome Gambit is not always called the Jerome Gambit. For example, many years ago George Koltanowski saw an example of it in action, and named it "the Ashcan Opening".

So I was not too surprised to find the following chess column in the Friday, July 13, 1917 issue of Western Mail (page 33) of Perth, Australia, entitled "THE VERDUN GAMBIT".

I have added diagrams and changed the notation from descriptive to algebraic - Rick (By the way, Boans was the name of a department store established by Harry and Benjamin Boans.)

All sorts and conditions of men foregather in the cosy corner so kindly provided by Messrs. Boans Bros. for players of chess and draughts.  Some ponder long over their moves, with much wrinkling of brows, whilst others shift the wood with such rapidity that their arms must ache, rather than their heads. There are two incorrigible skittlers - one a grizzled veteran, who keeps up a running fire of irrelevant remarks, whilst the other is popularly regarded as a youthful master who fled from his native land to avoid arrest as a political prisoner.  Writer watched them one day, and this is what he saw -

The Old Hand - The Exile
Boans, 1917

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ 

At this point the Exile looked up, slightly dazed, and asked -"What do you call this opening?"

"Oh, this is the Verdun Gambit" replied the Old 'Un,"so called because its very hot whilst it lasts, but the defence must win in the end, if no mistakes are made."

The pair played several games beginning with the Verdun attack,
and oftener than not, the attack won.

But now for the sequel, M. Russki looked over the books, and found that the opening was really known as the Jerome Gambit.  More than this, he came across an instance in which a certain rash amateur had the temerity to play the opening against Blackburne.

It chanced that I was present when the pair again met, and they opened in the usual fashion, as given above. Now, mark what happened!

6...g6 7.Qxe5 d6 8.Qxh8 Qh4 9.O-O Nf6 10.c3 Ng4

At this stage the Veteran began to wear a worried look.

11.h3 Bxf2+ 12.Kh1 Bf5 13.Qxa8 Qxh3+ 14.gxh3 Bxe4 checkmate

Amidst the breathless suspense of the onlookers, the Veteran growled: "Absurd, let's try that again.

"By all means," chirped his opponent. And they tried it again, not once, but two or three times, and on each occasion the Exile came through with flying colours, to the undisguised disgust of the Veteran.

I met the latter in the street a day or two later, and asked innocently "Have you discovered the answer yet to Blackburne's counter-attack?"

"Answer," he snorted, "Why any kid of six could see that all White has to do is to play d4, at move 10. Wait till I meet Russki tomorrow."

I heard afterwards that when the pair met on the following day the Exile opened every game with the Queen's Gambit, and that the Veteran was in serious danger of having an apoplectic stroke. This I believe to be a piece of baseless calumny. The Veteran told me in confidence the other day that he'd got one or two new moves up his  sleeve which would astonish young Russki considerably at their next meeting. I am still wondering if anything happened.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Another Charlick Gambit

Henry Charlick was known for his gambit 1.d4 e5!?, (also known as the Englund Gambit). That was not his only sacrificial creation, however. One is reminiscent of a reversed Jerome Gambit.

From the Adelaide Observer, Saturday, June 14, 1884 (page 44) column CHESS, "Chess in Adelaide". Notes are from the column, changed from descriptive notation to algebraic notation. Diagrams have been added.

Appended are two [see previous post for Charlick - Cooke, Adelaide Chess Club, 1884, a Jerome Gambit - Rick] of a series of even games now being contested between Messrs. H. Charlick and W. Cooke, of the Adelaide Chess Club. The notes are by Mr. E. Govett, of the Semaphore Chess club.

Cooke, W. - Charlick, H.
Adelaide Chess Club, 1884

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Bc5!

The Charlick Gambit. This move will probably not more surprise our readers than it did Mr. Cooke. No walnut shells are needed. Mr. Cooke humourously dabbed this "alarming sacrifice" the " Charlick Gambit."

[The line is also known by the modern name the Busch-Gass Gambit, although Salvio's analysis of the line, from Il Puttino, altramente detto, il Cavaliero Errante, del Salvio, sopra el gioco de Scacchi, dates back to 1604. After a further 3.Nxe5 Nc6 it is known as Chiodini's Gambit. The similarity to a reversed Jerome Gambit is noted. - Rick] 

3.Nxe5 Bxf2+!!

"Let shining charity adorn your soul."

4.Kxf2 Qh4+ 5.g3 Qxe4 6.Nf3 Nf6 

7.Qe2 d5 8.Qxe4+

This must have placed Black in the same uncomfortable position as the woman who - 
Before her face her handkerchief she spread  
To hide the flood of tears - she did not shed.

8...dxe4 9.Nd4 O-O


He should stop the range of the N. 

10...Ng4+ 11.Ke2 f5 12.h3

Somewhat weakening. He should develop his pieces quickly.

12...Ne5 13.d3 c5 14.Nb5 Nbc6 15.dxe4

The Black pawns have a sinister look, but there is nothing immediately dangerous about them if White's position is assisted by Be3, Nd2, and so on. Taking the P only opens out Black's game. 

15...a6 16.Nc7 Nd4+ 17. Kd2 Ra7 18.Na3 b5 19.c3 Ndc6 

20.Nd5 fxe4 21.Ke3 b4 22.Nc2 Nc4+ 23.Kxe4 Rb7!!


Out of the frying-pan (...Bf5+) into the fire (an exquisite little mate in two). 24.Bf4 would have enabled him to hold out a little longer.

And Black mates in two moves. Time, 80 minutes.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Overlooking Something in the Notes

When presenting a chess game, it is easy to overlook something in a suggested line. Modern annotators have the help of computer chess engines, but 130 years ago, they were, of course, not available.

From the Adelaide Observer, Saturday, June 14, 1884 (page 44) column CHESS, "Chess in Adelaide". Notes from the column, by Mr. E. Govett, of the Semaphore Chess club, have been changed from descriptive notation to algebraic notation. Diagrams have been added.- Rick

Charlick, H. - Cooke, W.
Adelaide Chess Club, 1884


This is a sacrifice of the same kind as that in the previous game
[Cooke - Charlick, Adelaide, 1884, a Charlick Gambit, see next blog post - Rick]. It is a sacrifice of sound chess to benevolence.

1...e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+

This is good after the fourth more. White obtains two Pawns for his piece, and has withal a fairly open position. 

5...Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6 7.Qd5+ Ke8 8.Qxc5 b6 9.Qe3 Bb7 

10.d4 Nf6 11.Nc3 Qe7! 12.O-O 

We prefer 12.f3, as by the text White lays himself open to the loss of a Pawn or two with no compensating advantage. 


But Black does not avail himself of it. He should play 12...Nxe4 when one of the two following continuations would probably follow 13.Nxe4 (13.Nb5 0-0 [the columnist forgets that Black can no longer castle - Rick] 14.Nxc7 Rac8 15.Nb5 Rxf2 with a fine game [I have corrected move numbers - Rick. The Saturday June 21, 18814 CHESS column in the Adelaide Observer - the next week - noted "In the Jerome Gambit, published last week, the note to Black's 12th move should have had the moves numbered 12, 13, 14, &c., instead of 16, 17, 18, &c." There was no correction, however, about the suggestions to castle - Rick] 13... Bxe4 14.c4 0-0 and he should win [But Black is still unable to castle - Rick]. 

13.Qg3 Nf6 14.Bg5 d6 

Disastrous. He should play 14...Qf7

15.e5 dxe5 16.dxe5 Nxe5 17.Rfe1 Qf7 18.Rxe5+ 

And finishes off with no difficulty. 

18...Kf8 19.Rae1 Qg6 20.Nb5 Rd8 21.Nxc7 Kf7 

22.Qb3+ Nd5 23.Nxd5 Bxd5 24.Rxd5 Rxd5 25.Qxd5+ Kf8 

White mates in two moves.