Recently I received a request for The Database from Rodolfo Pardi (librarian, Italian Chess Federation chess instructor and tournament director), the author of a good number of chess books, including A dreadful Chess Trap: Blackburne Shilling. He said he had been frequently meeting the Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 4.Bxf7+), and wanted to know more about it.Of course, I sent the (compressed) PGN file right away!In a recent email he said he had updated his book about the Blackburne Shilling Gambit, adding a section for the Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit and noting
As my book is aimed to the player with Black, I put a link to the following file, containing 600 games from your database [The Database] where Black plays Ke6 and ends winning. http://scacchi.vecchilibri.eu/partite/jeromeke6.htmlWow.
Rodolfo was referring to the line 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke6 and I thought I would take a closer look at it. The following game holds a lot of analysis and ideas - and also shows the practical side of the Blackburne Shilling Gambit, as complications bring the clock into play.
hanslenz - raidrunner
blitz, FICS, 2012
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 4.Bxf7+
The Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit. The Database has 5,337 game examples. White scores 56%. (Only 2% of the games are draws.)
4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke6
Black's most enterprising response. Here The Database has 1,434 games, with White scoring 53%.
6.c3 Kxe5 7.cxd4+ Ke6
Wise. Black avoids a whole lot of trouble by declining the d-pawn and the e-pawn. Trust me. Or check out the wild analysis, below.
After 7...Kxd4?! 8.Qb3 we enter a line that shows up in exactly 0 games in The Database, and which has complications galore.
Stockfish 8 recommends 8...d5 (instead, grabbing the second pawn makes matters dangeously worse for Black: 8...Kxe4?! 9.d4! Bb4+!? 10.Nc3+!? Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 Qe7 12.g4!? Qe6 [12...Kf3+ 13.Be3 Kxg4 14.Rg1+ and mates] 13.c4 Qxg4 [13...Kxd4+ 14.Be3+ and mates] 14.Qc2+ Kxd4 15.Qb2+ Kd3 [15...Ke4 16.f3+!? Qxf3 17.Rf1 Qxf1+ 18.Kxf1 and wins] 16.Be3 Ke4 17.h3 Qg6 18.0–0–0 Qf6 19.Bd4 Qf4+ 20.Kb1 Kf5 21.Bxg7 d6 22.Bxh8 Ke6 23.Rhg1 and White is winning) 9.Nc3 Ne7 10.Nb5+!? (Or 10.exd5 Ke5 11.0–0 Kf6 12.d6 Kg6 [12...Nc6 13.Ne4+ Kg6 14.Qg3+ Kf7 15.Ng5+ Kf6 16.b4 Bxd6 17.Bb2+ Be5 18.Bxe5+ Nxe5 19.Ne4+ Kf7 20.Qf4+ Kg6 21.Qxe5] 13.dxe7 Bxe7 14.Re1 Re8 15.d4 Bd6 16.Bd2 h6 17.Nd5 c6 18.Nf4+ Bxf4 19.Bxf4 Rxe1+ 20.Rxe1 Qd5 21.Qxd5 cxd5 22.Re7 Kf6 23.Rc7 g5 1.52/27 ) 10...Ke5 11.Nxc7!? Rb8 (11...Qxc7? 12.Qg3+ Kf6 13.Qxc7) 12.d4+ Kf6 [only move] 13.Bf4 dxe4 14.0–0 h6 15.Rae1 b5 16.Be5+ Kg6 17.Ne6 Bxe6 18.Qxe6+ Kh7 19.Bxb8 Qxb8 20.Rxe4 Qc8 21.g3 Qxe6 22.Rxe6 Nf5 with the advantage to White of R+2P vs N+B.
If Black tries 7...Kxe4?! instead, White has 8.Qf3!? Kxd4 9.Nc3 (there are no games with this move in The Database) and Black will lose material trying to undo the mating web. For example, 9...c6 10.Qe3+ Kc4 11.a4!? Qe7 - trying to keep the White Queen out of the action by pinning it to the King - 12.b3!? and Black will lose his Queen after 12...Kb4 13.Ba3+ or be checkmated after 12...Kxb3 13.Ne4+ Kc4 14.Ba3!? Also a reasonable defensive try is 9...Qe7+, but after the logical 10.Kd1 White's King is far less uncomfortable, for example 10...Nf6 11.Qf4+ Kc5 12.Qxc7+ Kd4 13.Re1, winning the Queen. (See also "Regicide".)
Keeping his options open.
8.Nc3 Kf7 (8...Bb4, instead, is "A casual move that brings much misfortune"; see Clydeco - chaparov, standard, FICS, 2012) 9.Qb3+ (9.Qh5+ g6 10.Qf3+ Qf6 11.Qd3 Bg7 12.e5 Qa6 13.Qf3+ Ke8 14.d3 Ne7 15.O-O Rf8 16.Qh3 h5 17.Qg3 d6 18.Bg5 dxe5 19.Bxe7 Kxe7 20.Nd5+ Kd8 21.dxe5 Bf5 22.e6 Qd6 23.e7+ Ke8 24.exf8=Q+ Bxf8 25.Nxc7+ Kd7 26.Nxa8 Qxg3 27.fxg3 Bc5+ 28.d4 Bxd4+ 29.Kh1 Bxb2 30.Rab1 Bxb1 31.Rxb1 Ba3 32.Rxb7+ Kc6 33.Rxa7 Bc5 34.Rg7 Kb5 35.Rxg6 h4 36.gxh4 Kc4 37.Rg5 Be3 38.Rg3 Bf4 39.Rg4 Kd5 40.Rxf4 Kc6 41.h5 Kd6 42.h6 Ke6 43.h7 Ke5 44.Rf7 Ke6 45.h8=Q Kxf7 46.g4 Ke6 47.g5 Kf7 White ran out of time, Black has no material to mate, do drawn, Randompl - Steftcho, FICS, 2012) 9...Ke8 10.O-O (10.d3 c6 11.O-O d6 12.Bf4 Qf6 13.Ne2 Qe6 14.d5 cxd5 15.Nd4 Qf6 16.Qb5+ Kf7 17.Qxd5+ Kg6 18.e5 Qxf4 19.Ne6 Bxe6 20.Qxe6+ Kh5 21.Rae1 Black forfeited on time, papernoose - nuumm, FICS, 2004) 10...Be7 11.f4 Nf6 12.e5 Ng8 13.Ne4 d6 14.exd6 Bxd6 15.Re1 Kf8 16.Ng5 Qf6 17.Ne6+ Bxe6 18.Rxe6 Qxd4+ 19.Kh1 Bc5 20.Re3 b6 21.d3 Nf6 22.Bd2 Ng4 23.Re4 Nf2+ White resigned, bestcoast - Banjar, FICS, 2013; and
8.d5+ Ke7 9.d4 d6 10.Bg5+ Nf6 11.e5 h6 12.exf6+ gxf6 13.Bh4 Bg7 14.Qe2+ Kf8 15.O-O Bf5 16.Nc3 a6 17.Qf3 Bg6 18.Ne4 Kf7 19.Rae1 Re8 20.Ng3 Qd7 21.Rxe8 Rxe8 22.Ne2 Be4 23.Qh5+ Bg6 24.Qf3 Be4 25.Qh5+ Bg6 26.Qf3 Be4 27.Qb3 Bxg2 28.Re1 Bf3 29.Qxf3 Kg8 30.Kh1 f5 31.Rg1 Re4 32.Nf4 Qf7 33.Ne6 Rg4 34.Rxg4 fxg4 35.Qxg4 Kh7 36.f3 Bxd4 37.Qe4+ Kg8 38.Qxd4 Qxf3+ 39.Kg1 Black resigned, marciprevi - nchak, FICS, 2016
9...Kf7 was seen in topsoul - moisesserraramos, lichess.org, 2016
10.f5 h6 11.e5
Understandable, but a bit premature, although it is tempting to hurry things up in a blitz game. Better was 11.Nc3.
11...dxe5 12.dxe5 Qd5
If Black wants to win the e-pawn he probably should start out with 12...Qd4+ 13.Kh1 Kd8 when there will be no danger of the Queen being pinned to her King.
13.Nc3 Qd4+ 14.Kh1 Ke8
Missing the advice of the previous note.
White has two pawns for his sacrificed piece, and a much safer King. He is better.
16.b3 a6 17.Bb2 Kd8 18.Rab1
It is clear that White want's to unmask his fianchettoed Bishop, but 18.Nd1!? might have been a better way to to that. Or he could patiently play 18.Rc1 instead.
18...Qh4 19.d4 Kc8 20.d5 b6 21.a4 Bc5 22.e6 Be8 23.Ne4
White has clearly taken control of the game.
White prefers to hold onto his powerful Bishop, but he could have considered exchanging it, as after 24.Bxf6!? gxf6 25.g3!? Black's Queen will be nudged away from protecting the pawn at f6, e.g. 25...Qh5 26.Qc4 and the pawn will fall.
24...gxf6 25.Qf3 Bh5
Suddenly Black seems to be in charge.
White had the alternative 26.Bxf6!? Bxf3 27.Bxh4 Bxd5 28.b4 Bd6 29.Rbd1 c6, but his "Jerome pawns" appear stalled.
26...Bd6 27.g3 Qg4
The clock seems to be affecting moves at this point.
Missing the fact that after the exchange of Queens and then the "exhange" of Rooks, he would drop a piece, i.e. 29.Qxe2 Bxe2 30.Bxh8 Bxf1 31.Rxf1.
Yikes! Tick, tick, tick... Black now has 29...Qe4+ 30.Kg1 Bc5+ winning White's Queen.
Now Black drops a piece, and the "Jerome pawns" advance menacingly.
30.Rxf3 Rg8 31. Bh4 Qe4 32. Rbf1 Qxd5 33. e7 Re8 34. f6 Bxe7 35.fxe7 Kb7
Cruel, cruel clock.
36.Kg1 Qc5+ 37.Qxc5 bxc5 38.Rf8 Kb6 39.Rxe8 Rxe8 40.Rf8 Rxe7 41.Bxe7
Here Black forfeited on time.