Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Jerome Gambit: Chaos in a Two Knights (Part 3)

[continued from previous post]

Dr. Finlay - Elliott, H. E
Dungog, NSW, Australia, 1899

21.c4 Qe8 22.Qh4

Black and White struggle to make something out of the closed position. With Black's King strongly blockading White's advanced e-pawn, an endgame would strongly favor the second player.

22...Qa4 23.a3 Qc2 24.Rf2 Qg6 

25.Rf3 Qg5 26.Qh3

The problem with this move is that Black can now try 26...Ng4, adding pressure to the Kingside while threatening to exchange Rooks - when the heavy pieces come off the board, this is better for Black.

26...h5 27.Rg3 Ng4 28.Rd3 Rf6 29.Qg3 Raf8 

It appears that Black has overlooked the pin on his Knight. Much stronger was 30...h4, booting the enemy Queen.

30.h3 Qe5

The Daily Telegraph gives Black's last move a "!" but it is not clear why. Better was to accept the loss of the Knight with 30...Rf4 and after 31.hxg4 Rxg4 continue to apply pressure.


There was nothing wrong with 31.hxg4, leading to an edge for White.


The Daily Telegraph notes "Black has conducted an uphill defence with considerable skill, and now scores a well-deserved victory."

Monday, August 13, 2018

Jerome Gambit: Chaos in a Two Knights (Part 2)

[continued from previous post]

Dr. Finlay - Elliott, H. E
Dungog, NSW, Australia, 1899

The position is complicated, and the players take turns missing their chances.


Loosening Black's grip on f6 - but missing 13.f6!? Nxf6 14.Nxf6 Bxf6 15.Bg5!? which was the right idea, e.g. 15...Be6 16.Rxf6+!? gxf6 17.Qh6+ Ke8 18.Bxf6 Qd7 19.Bxh8 and White would be a bit better, although Black would have good drawing chances.


Black obliges his opponent, but misses his chance to shore up the Kingside, as with 13...Nf6! he could make sure that the exchanges at f6 would not require his g-pawn to capture, weakening the protection of his King, e.g. 14.Bxf6 Bxf6 and 15.Nxf6 would be answered by 15...Qxf6.


Here we have a theme familiar to Jerome Gambiteers: Black's Knight blocks his Bishop on its home square, which in turn entombs the Rook. White's advantage in development shows he is better.

14...Qe7 15.Rae1 Nf6


White repositions his Queen, with a plan in mind on how to open the f-file for her. Instead, he could have won back a piece with the combination 16.Rxe7 Nxh5 17.Rfe1 (threatening mate) Bxf5 18.Rf7+ Kg8 19.Rxf5 when his initiative and lead in development would still make him better.

16...Qd8 17.Ne6+ 

The Daily Telegraph questions this move: "This N is too useful to be lightly exchanged. Re6, followed by the doubling of the rooks, with a view of Re7 or R takes N, was a more promising continuation." The columnist, however, overlooks the fact that 17.Re6 h6!? disrupts this plan and allows Black to win the exchange with little risk.

17...Bxe6 18.fxe6 Ke7

White's plans for using the f-file for an attack by the Queen have gone up in smoke. Black's blockading King and Knight on f6 have shut things down.


White decides to protect his one asset - the advanced e-pawn - and hold on. He might have done better by playing 19.c4 first, as, with the text, Black can immediately reply with 19...c6!?


I suspect that neither player was thinking about a draw at this point, but it is hard not to point out that here White can play 20.Qg3, and after 20...Rg8, then 21.Qd3!? when White's threat of Rxf6 forces 21...Rf8, and 22.Qg3 will lead to a repetition of position and an eventual draw. 

20.Qh3 h6 

The position has not fundamentally changed. White can play protect his d-pawn with 21.c4, and then return to Qg3, threatening the pawn at g7; and Black can guard the pawn with ...Rg8, only to see White move his Queen to d3 - and eventually back to g3.

How to get out of this "inescapable" draw?

[to be continued]

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Jerome Gambit: Chaos in a Two Knights (Part 1)

The May, 20, 1899 issue of The Daily Telegraph, of Sydney, New South Wales, carried what it called "lively game from the recent tourney".

Presenting the contest gives me an opportunity to share some of the delights of doing Jerome Gambit research. It also gives Readers a number of opportunities to try their analytical skills - playing the Jerome, after all, is very much about taking advantage of opportunities as they arise.

(I have changed the newspaper's descriptive notation to algebraic.) 

Dr. Finlay - Elliott, H. E
Dungog, NSW, Australia, 1899

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 

If Dr. Finlay had been looking to play the Jerome Gambit, he got derailed (at least temporarily) by the Two Knights Defense.

This is enough of an issue that it has been discussed a number of times on this blog. For ideas, you could try "Jerome Gambit vs Two Knights Defense" Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4Follow that up with "Further Explorations" (Parts 1234 and 5).


Opening books recommend against this move, as Black has a reasonable response in 4...Nxe4 (temporary piece sacrifice) 5.Nxe4 d5 (recovering the piece), what Hans Kmoch called the "fork trick" in his Pawn Power in Chess (1949). 

4...Nxe4 5.Bxf7+ 

This is may not have been what Black expected.

The Bishop sacrifice goes by different names.

It has been referred to as the Noa Gambit. Charles Thomsas Blanshard, in his Examples of Chess Master-Play (1894) said of 5.Bxf7+ "The text move, a hobby of Dr. Noa, develops Black's game." See Noa,J - Makovetz,G, DSB-07 Kongress, Dresden, 1892 (0-1, 27).

It has also been called the Monck Gambit. In Pollock Memories: A Collection of Chess Games, Problems, &c., &c., Including His Matches with Eugene Delmar, Jackson Showalter, and G.H.D. Gossip (1899)William Henry Krause Pollock gave a crushing 19-move miniature ending in checkmate as "[A] very fine example, known in Dublin years ago as the 'Monck Gambit' ." 

More recently, Rev. Tim Sawyer, of Blackmar Diemer Gambit fame, applied the very apt name "Open Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit".

It is worth mentioning some early games by players whose names have not been attached to the line -

Zoltowski, E. - Zukertort, Johannes, Berlin, 1869: 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Nxe4 Be7 7.Nfg5+ Bxg5 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxg5 d5 10.Qxd8 Rxd8 11.Ng5+ Kg7 12.d3 Nd4 13.O-O Nxc2 14.Rb1 Re8 15.b3 Bf5 16.Rd1 Nb4 17.Ba3 Nxd3 18.g4 Nxf2 19.Rxd5 Nxg4 20.Rbd1 Ne3 21.Rd7+ Bxd7 22.Rxd7+ Kh6 23.Nf7+ Kh5 24.Bc1 Nf5 25.Ng5 h6 26.Rh7 Rad8 White resigned;

Bird, H.E. - Mills, simultaneous exhibition, British Chess Club, London, 1887: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Nxe4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Nxe4 d5 7.Neg5+ Kg8 8.d3 h6 9.Nh3 Bg4 10.c3 Bc5 11.Be3 d4 12.Bc1 Qd7 13.Nhg1 Kh7 14.h3 Be6 15.Ne2 Rhf8 16.b4 Bd6 17.b5 Ne7 18.c4 a6 19.bxa6 Rxa6 20.Ng3 Ng6 21.Ne4 Be7 22.h4 Bf5 23.h5 Bxe4 24.dxe4 Nf4 25.Nxe5 Bb4+ 26.Kf1 Qe8 27.Bxf4 Rxf4 28.Ng6 Rxe4 29.g3 Re1+ 30.Qxe1 Bxe1 31.Rxe1 Qc6 32.Rh4 Qxc4+ 33.Kg1 Qxa2 34.Re8 Rxg6 35.hxg6+ Kxg6 36.Rf4 c5 Black queened in a few moves and White resigned;

Marshall, Frank James - Pollock, simultaneous exhibition (22 boards) Montreal Chess Club, Montreal 1894: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Nxe4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Nxe4 d5 7.Neg5+ Kg8 8.d3 h6 9.Nh3 Bxh3 10.gxh3 Qd7 11.Qe2 Qxh3 12.Bd2 Bd6 13.Rg1 Kh7 14.Rg3 Qf5 15.O-O-O Rhf8 16.Bxh6 gxh6 17.Ng5+ Kh8 18.Rdg1 e4 19.Qh5 Bxg3 20.Qxh6+ Kg8 21.Rxg3 Rf6 22.Nxe4+ Kf7 23.Rg7+ Ke6 24.Nxf6 Rh8 25.Nh7+ Ke5 26.Rg5 Nd4 27.Qf6+ Kf4 28.Qxd4+ Qe4 and White mates in two moves, Black resigned

5...Kxf7 6.Nxe5+


"Making a sort of Jerome Gambit; interesting, but of course quite unsound" wrote the chess columnist of The Daily Telegraph, properly focused on the Knight capture/sacrifice as well as the subsequent Queen sally.

The Database has only 11 game examples of this move - usually played is 6.Nxe4 - with White scoring 28%. Don't let that discourage you - the current game quickly develops chaotic elements like the traditional Jerome Gambit.  

6...Nxe5 7.Qh5+ Ng6 8.Nxe4

White wants to get his Knight into play. Instead, 8.Qd5+ Ke8 9.Qxe4 might have been a bit stronger, but White might also have wanted to avoid the exchange of Queens that would have followed 9...Qe7


The Daily Telegraph suggested that 8...Be7 followed by 9...d5 was preferrable, but Black could probably have played 8...d5 directly, or even on the next move.

9.O-O Be7 10.f4 Kf8 

Suddenly, the game is equal.

How can that be? The Jerome Gambit themes are strong: Black's King is on the same file as White's Rook, and the dangerous "Jerome pawn" at f4 is about to advance.

11.f5 Ne5 12.d4 

White could have played 12.f6!? directly, ultimately transposing to the line played.


Black has protected the f6 square (four times) from an advance of the White pawn - but it is not enough. He would have done best to retreat the Knight to the f-file, where it would provide some shelter from the enemy Rook: 12...Nf7 13.f6 Bxf6 14.Nxf6 gxf6 15.Bh6+ Nxh6 16.Qxh6+ Kf7 17.Rf3!? and the pressure will force Black to give back a piece, e.g. 17...Bg4 18.Rg3 Qg8 19.h3 Qg5 20.Qxg5 fxg5 21.hxg4 Rae8 with an even game.

[to be continued]

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Latest UON - With Jerome Gambit

I recently heard from Gary K. Gifford, editor, that the latest issue of the Unorthodox Openings Newsletter - #35, September, 2018 - is now available for download, online at Yahoo! Groups (

I have mentioned UON on this blog a number of times, for its coverage of a large number of unorthodox openings - including, of course, the Jerome Gambit.

It's like welcoming back and old friend who hasn't been by in a while.

Here's a peek at Issue #35

1. 2 King’s Gambits and a Latvian, by Gary K. Gifford
2. Jerome Gambit Game #1, Rick Kennedy
3. Jerome Gambit Game # 2, Bill Wall
4. Combats homériques à partir des gambits, Dany Sénéchaud
(Homeric* Fights from the Gambits)
5. Diemer-Duhm Gambit, Bob Jansen

Check it out.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Jerome Gambit: A Knight's Revenge

Image result for free clip art surprise

While looking for some Jerome Gambit "secrets", I ran into a couple of lines that were bad enough that I figured they should remain secret - see "Jerome Gambit: Move That Knight!"

One of the variations went 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Ng1?

If you were quick and saw my post that day, you noticed that I finished up by suggesting that it was likely that by the end of the year we would see Bill Wall - openings explorer and Jerome Gambit expert - play 5.Ng1, anyhow.

Bill responded with an email pointing out how self-injurious that kind of play would be: 5...Qh4!? 6.Qe2 Nd4 7.Nf3!? Nxe2 8.Nxh4 Nxc1 would be a nightmare for White.

Chastened, I surreptitiously removed the prediction.

Bill just sent me a file of his Jerome Gambit games for July, 2018.

Of course, there was a game with 5.Ng1.

And, of course, he won, in 18 moves.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Jerome Gambit: Speeding It Up Again

Image result for free clip art fast superhero
After a close look at a couple of "slow" over-the-board tournament games - where there is time for assessment and planning - it is time to switch to checking out another lightning game, where confidence, intuition and blink-fast decision-making are key.

Welcome back, Cliff Hardy.

Notes are primarily by Hardy [I have added a few comments in blue - Rick

Cliff Hardy (2176) - NN (1842), 
1 0, Lichess, 2018

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

4...Kxf7 5. Nxe5+ Nxe5 6. Qh5+ Kf8 

[The Jerome Variation of the Jerome Gambit, played by Alonzo Wheeler Jerome against David Jaeger in correspondence, 1880. - Rick]

7.Qxe5 d6 8.Qg3 Nf6 9.Nc3 Be6 10.0-0 Ke7?

[The King does not belong on the e-file, and White needs to find a way to demonstrate this. In a slow game, that would be not much of a challenge. When you have 1 or 2 seconds per move - now that's a challenge - Rick]

Stockfish found that White could take the g-pawn here with the very strong 11.d4!! Bxd4 12.Qxg7+ Bf7 13.Bg5 c6 (or 13...Rg8 14.Bxf6+ Bxf6 15.Nd5+! Ke6 16.Qxh7 ++-, when Black's king would be perilously placed on e6) 14.e5!! Bxe5 15.Rae1 ++-, when White would be threatening to take the knight for free on f6 or to attack the pinned bishop with 16.f4, but I would never have been able to find this line in 1 0 chess (nor in a full-length game 😉).

11.d3? Rf8?! 12.Be3?

Rather than go for Morin's c3, d4 approach [see Morin - Guipi Bopala, Quebec Open, 2018 - Rick] to blunting Black's dark-squared bishop, I chose to blunt it with my own bishop, in an attempt to advance my pinned f-pawn. But since Black has still left his g-pawn vulnerable, Stockfish prefers 12.Na4 Bb6 13.Nxb6 axb6 14.Qxg7+, though Black would then have had a slight advantage after 14...Rf7.


12...Bxe3 would not have lost time in retreating and would have yielded Black a winning advantage here.


By now the time for White to capture the g-pawn had well and truly past, since from here on it would just lose time with the queen for White and open the g-file for Black to use in attacking the white king.

13...Qe8 14.f4 Qh5 15.f5 Bc4 16.Rf4 Rae8 17.b3 Ba6 


Getting the Jerome pawns mobilised immediately with 18.Rh4 Qf7 19.e5 ++-, while Black's king is still sitting on e7, would have been much better.

18...Kd7 19.Bf2 Qf7 20.e5 dxe5 21.dxe5 Nd5?? 

The final losing move. 21...Nh5 would actually have been winning for Black, since then 22. e6+ Kc8 23. exf7?? would have been met with 23...Rxe1 mate!

22.e6+ Rxe6 23.fxe6+ and white won on time, though Black is lost in any case.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Jerome Gambit: Time For A Sobering Cup of Coffee

I hope readers enjoyed the two games by Louis Morin that I recently posted on this blog. It was exciting to see the Jerome Gambit played as a surprise weapon in an over-the-board tournament. One win and one loss is a decent outcome for a many times "refuted" opening. (It probably would have been two wins, had not the first opponent been a wunderkind whose rating did not reflect his rocketing chess progress.)

However, despite my claim that the Jerome Gambit is "playable" - and I believe it is, in the proper situation, under the proper circumstances - I feel it is only fair to post a recent email I received from Louis. It is a challenge to all those who play the Jerome. Can we meet it?

Hello Rick, 
Thanks for posting my games, though I am not so sure that the Jerome is really playable if Black finds 6...Ke6!. 7.Qf5+ Ke6 8.f4 Qh4+ 9.g3 Nf3+ followed by 10...Ne7. This seems completely crushing for Black. 7.f4 looks like the only chance, but after 7...d6! I also believe White is dead lost. One line goes 8.fxe5 dxe5 9.Qh3+ Ke7 10.Qg3 Kf7 11.Qxe5. At least White managed to win a second pawn, but he his completely underdeveloped. I just did not find any way for him to complete his development while keeping his 2 pawns. Black has a number of crushing alternatives here, but even the quiet one is deadly: 11...Qh4+ 12.g3 Qe7 13.Qxe7+ Nxe7 14.c3 Bh3 (the point of 11...Qh4+) 15.d4 Bb6. As I said, I found no way for White not to lose material from here. The threat is 16...Bg2. After 17.Nd2, Black can reply 17...c5, attacking immediately White’s pawn center, and everything seems to crumble soon. Any suggestions? I would be happy to hear about any serious ideas from anyone in this critical line. All the best Louis Morin (MrJoker)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Really, The Jerome Gambit Is Playable (Part 2)

Image result for free clip art einstein

[continued from previous post]

Morin, Louis - Weston, Paul
Quebec Open, 2018
40 moves / 90 minutes, then 30 minutes


White cannot easily play the wished-for e4-e5, opening up lines against the enemy King, and so he reinforces his center.


Black could also consider the prophylactic 23...Ng6, as the brusque 24.Bf4 Nxf4 25.gxf4 would not bring White any closer to a center break - at the cost of the shape of his Kingside.


I sense the approach of time trouble. White reinforces some more, and lets Black play decisively.


And Black does, cutting his Queen off from b6 and the defense of the d6 pawn.

25.Bf4 b4 26.axb4 Qxb4 27.Qxa6 Kf7 28.Bxd6 Qc4 29.Qxc4 Rxc4 

White now has 4 pawns for his sacrificed piece, and is clearly - if not easily - better.

30.e5 Nfxd5

Giving back the piece.


A tactical slip - see the note to move 24. Instead, 31.Bxe7 first, followed by 31...Bc6 32.Nxd5 is the key, i.e. 32...Rc1+ 33.Rf1 Rxf1+ 34.Kxf1 Bxd5 35.Rxd5 Kxe7 clears the air, and White is too many pawns up (from Black's point of view) in a Rook and pawns endgame.


Black returns the favor. After 31...Nxd5 32.Rxd5 Rc1+ 33.Rf1 Rc2 both sides should be looking for the kind of draws that come from Bishops-of-opposite-colors endgames. Or they could simply split the point with 34.Rf2 Rc1+ 35.Rf1 Rc2, etc.

32.Rf1 Rxf1+ 33.Kxf1 Nxd5 34.Rxd5 Rc8 

Black is one tempo shy. White can defend against the leveling checks, and his material advantage will win.

35.Rc5 Ra8 36.Rc1 Ra5 37.Rd1 Ba4 38.b4 Bb5+ 39.Ke1 Ra2 40.Rd2 Ra1+ 41.Kf2 Rf1+ 

Black is not ready to give up, but White seems to have it all under control. I don't see how the defender can set up the necessary pawn blockades - although the play continues to be complex.

42.Ke3 g5 43.Bc5 Re1+ 44.Kd4 Ke6 45.f4 gxf4 46.gxf4 Rf1

He could have tried 46...Bc6 and hoped that the clock would take White out. A long shot.

47.Ke3 Kf5 48.Rf2 Rd1 49.Rd2 Rf1 50.Rd6 

50...Re1+ 51.Kf3 Rf1+ 52.Bf2

Threatening checkmate.

52...Rxf2+ 53.Kxf2 Kxf4 54.Rd5 Black resigned

White is not just the exchange and a couple of pawns ahead. After 54...Bc6 (best) he has 55.Rc5, and it is clear that one of his passed pawns will promote.