Friday, May 25, 2018

Jerome Gambit: Clobbering Time

Here is another Cliff Hardy game, a bit of magic in a minute (with no increment).


Notes are by Cliff.

Cliff Hardy - NN
1 0,, 2018

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6

7.Qd5+ Kf8 8.Qxc5+ Qe7 9.Qe3

Another interesing juncture. I have a feeling Vlahov likes 9.Qxe7+ here (why not have 6 White checks in a row instead of just 5?) and the 2 moves are fairly close to each other in how strong they are. But I think I prefer to keep the queens on, partly as Black's pieces restrict him and can tend to get in each other's way.


Black has a slight advantage with this move but Stockfish claims that 9...d5! gives Black a winning advantage.

10.0-0 Nf6 11.Nc3 c6 12.f4 Bd7?

A bit innocuous - 12...d5! 13.d3 would have kept a slight advantage for Black.


Pushing the Jerome pawns too early can be a mistake as it can make Black's defensive task easier if he blockades them correctly. 13.d4! would have kept a comfortable advantage for White and if then 13...Re8, White ignores the attack on the e-pawn with 14.f5! Nh4 15.Qf4, when the White attack continues to roll along nicely.

13...Ne5 14.d4 Nc4?

Surprisingly a big error. After this, White was building up a big initiative but after 14...Nf7!, Black would have retained a slight advantage as he would have then been well placed to hold up the Jerome pawns from advancing.

15.Qd3 Nb6

The knight on c4 retards White from playing e5, so Black must strive to not retreat from there. After 15...b5 16.b3 though, White is still poised to blast through the centre.

16.Bg5 Re8 17.Rae1 

White is ready to start clobbering.

17...Qf7 18.e5 dxe5?!

Makes things worse but Black is losing anyway.

19.dxe5 Nfd5 20.e6 Black resigned.

Stockfish surprisingly rates this as highly as +8.4 for White and I must admit I don't really quite understand it, though White has a clear development advantage and will have a material advantage as well after he captures on d7.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Jerome Gambit: Another Cliff Hardy Blindfold Game

Strong players usually play strong chess, even when playing at fast time controls - or without sight of the board. Especially, too, when they play unusual openings, such as the Jerome Gambit.

Here is a game from Australia's Cliff Hardy, with his own, very educational, notes.


A couple of recent Jerome Gambits I thought were interesting though they were a bit one-sided and unfortunately, I wasn't playing sensible normal games again - one game I play blindfolded and the other is a lightning game.

Cliff Hardy (blindfolded) - NN
10 0,, 2018

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6

A strong but risky defence.


My preferred move but don't know how you feel about this or 7.f4.

7...Kd6 8.f4 Ne7??

Now White has a winning advantage but 8...Qf6 is one way of keeping a very strong position for Black.

9.Qxe5+ Kc6 10.Nc3??

Doesn't look like a blunder but Stockfish claims this gives Black a winning advantage. It likes 10.Qc3!, intending 11.b4 or 11.d4, with a strong attack. 10.d4? is also surprisingly a blunder, after 10...d6, with a winning position for Black.


Now White has a winning advantage again. After 10...d6 11.Qh5 b6!, Black has a winning advantage, as his king can escape by b7 if necessary.

11.d4 d6 12.Qh5 Bxd4??

Unfortunately without having created an escape square with ...b6, this move now loses rather abruptly. However, against 12...g6 White has 13.Qe2! (threatening the checkmate that happened in the game), with a winning advantage anyway.

13.Qb5 mate

Monday, May 21, 2018

Jerome Gambit: An Old Friend

The following Jerome Gambit game has an old "friend" - a defensive counter-attacking move that falls to a simple shot by the attacker. It is always good to have this idea in mind, as it can lead to instant happiness.

Wall, Bill - Guest901255, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6

The Semi-Italian opening.

4.O-O Nf6 5.Nc3 Bc5 6.Bxf7+ 

The Semi-Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit.

This is a familiar opening; The Database says Bill is 23 - 0 against it.

6...Kxf7 7.Nxe5+ Nxe5 8.d4 Bxd4 9.Qxd4 d6 

A familiar placement of pieces. White hopes to make use of the tempo granted by Black's ...h6.

10.f4 Nc6 11.Qd3 Rf8 12.Bd2 Kg8 13.Rae1 Bd7 14.Rf3 Nb4 

An old friend: Why not harass the enemy Queen? (Black would do better to continue with 14...Be6.)


Oh, yeah, that's right...

15...d5 16.Qxb4 dxe4 17.Nxe4 Nxe4 18.Qxe4 Bc6 19.Qe6+ Kh8

White has recovered his sacrificed piece and is a pawn up, with better development. The Bishops-of-opposite-colors whisper of the possibility of a drawn endgame, but they offer interesting tactical ideas in the middle game.

20.Rd3 Qf6 21.Qxf6 Rxf6 22.Re7 

It is clear that g7 is going to come under attack.


Challenging White's Rook with 22...Re8 would lead to 23.Rxe8+ Bxe8 but also 24.Rd8, but that was the right way to go. 

23.Rg3 Bd5 24.Rgxg7 Be4 25.Bc3 Black resigned

White has an attack that will lead to checkmate. The best defense, 25...Rg8, has an air of futility after 26.Bxf6.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Jerome Gambit: Crazyhouse

Dear Readers,

The latest email from Cliff Hardy is a doozie.

Can you imagine playing the Jerome Gambit in a "crazyhouse" game of chess?

Mr. Hardy did.

The following game comes with a warning - "crazyhouse" chess, is kind of "crazy"!

Hi Rick

I'm sorry, so sorry, please accept my apology.

In saying that, I don't mean to offend Brenda Lee, but it's just that I should not be sending you this game under any circumstances (especially as, for one thing, it is heading on a tangent away from what your blog is about) and I apologise profusely for any anxiety or vexation caused by it.

But I couldn't help it and, besides, you would have figured out sooner or later (if you haven't already) that I belong in the crazy house.

Anyway, speaking of crazyhouse, this is a game I played in a Lichess crazyhouse tournament (crazyhouse is the chess variant where, once you capture a piece, you are able to put that piece back on the board on any empty square at any particular time, though placing it counts as a move).

Lichess actually annotates crazyhouse games using Stockfish.

Lol, I understand if you want to reply to me with something like, "Thanks for the game but please never, ever, ever, ever, ever send me a crazyhouse game again!!" 😉

Cliff Hardy (1884) - NN (1686), Lichess Crazyhouse Tournament, 3 + 2, 2018

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Bc5

This is a common crazyhouse opening variation.

4. Bxf7+ Kxf7                [1xP          1xB]

My note on the right there in square brackets means that since White has captured one pawn (i.e 1xP), he now has that pawn "in hand" and can place it on the board when he wishes. The "1xB" in bold is saying that, likewise, as Black has captured one bishop he can place that bishop on the board when he wishes.

5. Nxe5+                       [2xP          1xB]

Stockfish doesn't like the Jerome Gambit at all and actually likes it a lot less in crazyhouse than it does it normal chess! It rates the position as around -9.7, but what's a queen advantage between friends?

5.  ...   Nxe5                  [2xP         1xB; 1xN]
6. Qh5+ N@g6?           [2xP         1xB]


Stockfish much prefers 6...Kf8, similarly to how it does when White plays the Jerome Gambit in normal chess, but nevertheless still rates this crazyhouse position as -6.6, in Black's favour.

["N@g6" means that Black places the knight that he had "in hand" on the board for his move. Naturally, that means he now only has a bishop "in hand" left (i.e. 1xB)].

7. @f5       Qf6               [1xP         1xB]

[@f5 means to place one of white's pawns that he had "in hand" on the board at f5].

8. d4?                            [1xP         1xB]   

White sacrifices a pawn to speed up development but attacking the queen with @g5 was better, with Black still holding a -4.3 pawn advantage, though with my low standard of crazyhouse play, a piece here or there is not that significant. Cashing in too early with 8. fxg6+?? is even worse than the move I played in the game, since White would then needlessly take the pressure off Black and may allow Black a big counter-attack e.g. 8...hxg6 9. Qxh8?? Qxf2+ 10. Kd1 B@e2 mate.

8.  ....       Bxd4              [1xP         1xP; 1xB]
9. @g5    Qb6                [               1xP; 1xB]
10. fxg6+  hxg6!            [1xN         2xP; 1xB]

During the game, I thought this was a mistake as it left the rook on h8 unguarded, but Stockfish likes the rook sacrifice for Black as he now has a strong attack on the vulnerable white king.


11. Qxh8   Bxf2+        [1xN; 1xR     3xP; 1xB]
12. Kd1?

Black's advantage blows out from -11.1 to -25.9 after this move. I had been afraid of playing 12. Kf1 because I thought that black could then have gotten a big attack with 12...@e2+? 13. Kxe2 B@g4? but after blocking the check with 14. @f3 (I think I forgot that
White would have had a pawn available to put on f3 as it is the pawn White took with 13. Kxe2), White would then have had a +13.7 advantage, with his and knight and rook "in hand" and safe king .

12.  ...     Qd4+?        [1xN; 1xR     3xP; 1xB]

The position is fairly even after this move but 12...B@g4+ (-25.9) was much stronger since if White then blocks the check with 13. N@f3, Black can take the knight on f3 with check when he wishes and place it on the board with check, to keep the attack going (the initiative, by way of continuous checks, is often of supreme importance in crazyhouse, in order to obtain a forced checkmate).

13. Bd2     Qxe4??     [1xN; 1xR     4xP; 1xB]

13...@d3 is much better and is a typical attacking move in crazyhouse; placing a pawn menacingly on any empty square near the opponent's king.


14. N@d8+                    [1xR     4xP; 1xB]

Very strong but the simple fork of king and queen with 14. R@f4!+ (+14.2) was even better, but I had missed that it was a possibility.

14.   ...      Ke7  
15. Nc3

I didn't notice 15. Qxg7+, which is a bit stronger and more forcing.

15. ...       @e2+         [1xR     3xP; 1xB]

Black tries in vain to wrest the initiative from White but it is hard work as the white king is actually the much safer of the two kings.

16. Nxe2     @d3       [1xP; 1xR     2xP; 1xB]
17. Qxg7+   Kd6        [2xP; 1xR     2xP; 1xB]

17...B@f7 was an alternative, though after 18. @f6+, White would still have had a huge initiative.


18. Qf8+    Kd5??          [2xP; 1xR     2xP; 1xB]

18...B@e7! would have slowed White's initiative down and made things very unclear.

19. Nc3+

Stockfish finds a mate in 4 here with 19. R@b5+ c5 20. Nc3+ Kc4 21. b3+ Kd4 22. Qxc5 mate.

19. ...     Kd4

Black is forced to bring his king even further down the board into an extremely precarious position.

20. Qxf2+               [2xP; 1xB; 1xR     2xP; 1xB]

Stockfish finds another mate in 4 here with 20. Nb5+ Kd5 21. Nxc7+ Kd4 22. c3+ Kc4 23. b3 mate.

20. ...      @e3        [2xP; 1xB; 1xR     1xP; 1xB]
21. Bxe3+ Qxe3     [3xP; 1xB; 1xR     2xP; 1xB]

Or 21...Kc4 22. R@c5+ Kb4 23. a3 mate.

22. Qxe3+ Kxe3     [3xP; 1xB; 1xR; 1xQ     2xP; 1xB; 1xQ]
23. Nd5+

There were several mates in 2 here e.g. 23. R@e4+ Kf2 24. Q@f1 mate.

23.  ...         Kd4
24. B@e3+   Kxd5          [3xP; 1xR; 1xQ     2xP; 1xB; 1xQ]

24...Ke4 25. Q@d4+ Kf5 26. Qf4 mate would not have been much better.

25. Q@d4 mate


Sorry again!


Me ☺

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Jerome Gambit: Play Chess

It may seem hard to imagine, but the Jerome Gambit has its share of "quiet" positions, and they can put an extra burden on the defender, in that there are no "forced" lines to tumble into, shining light on where to go, even when tumbling down a mine shaft. Instead, Black has to figure out what to do on his own, as it were, and sometimes "playing chess" can be difficult.

Wall, Bill - Guest273475, 2017

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.

7.Qxe5 d6 8.Qg3 Nf6

Also 8...h5 appeared in Wall,B - Thieveyen,, 2010 (1-0, 61), while 8...d5 was played in billwall - bfcace,, 2012 (1-0, 25). 

9.Nc3 Be6

Instead, 9...Nh5 led to an exchange of Queens after 10.Qf3+ Qf6 11.d3 Qxf3 12.gxf3 in Wall,B - Ahmadi,S,, 2010 (0-1, 59). A rare loss by Bill in the Jerome Gambit, so it is worth checking out.

10.O-O Kf7 11.d3 Rf8 12.Na4

It is not always smash! and crash! in the Jerome Gambit. Sometimes you just grab the "minor exchange" of Bishop for Knight.

On the other hand, there is always 12.Be3 Nh5 13.Qf3+ Kg6 14.Qe2 Nf4 as in Wall,B - Guest874250,, 2014, (0-1, 32).

12...Bb6 13.Nxb6 axb6 14.a4 Kg8 

Black has castled-by-hand and still has his piece for a couple of pawns. What is White to do? Advance the "Jerome pawns", of course.

15.f4 Qd7 16.f5 Bf7 17.b3 Rfe8 18.Bb2 Qe7 19.Rae1 Kh8 

White has stubbed his toe in this variation before, so he prefers now to put his pawns and pieces on the right squares and see what happens. (Stockfish 8 agrees with him, rating the position, at 28 ply, as "0.00" - even.) Sometimes these "small" moves put pressure on Black to play chess, not just react to threats. 

20.c4 Ra5 21.Bc3 Raa8 22.Re3 Qf8

It is interesting that the computer considers this move an error, and recommends, instead, opening the Queenside with 22...b5 23.axb5 Ra3. It then sees a way, through pawn and Queen exchanges, to an edge for Black, despite leaving White with three pawns (two of them passed) for a piece: 24.Rb1 Ra2 25.Rbe1 Nh5 26.Qg4 Rc2 27.Bd4 Nf6 28.Qd1 Ra2 29.e5 dxe5 30.Bxe5 Qd7 31.Qf3 c6 32.bxc6 Qxc6 33.Qg3 Nh5 34.Qf3 Qxf3 35.Rxf3 Nf6 36.h3 b5 37.cxb5 Bxb3 38.Rfe3. This is a subtle position, one the better player will navigate more easily.


This is the move the computer recommends, and I find it highly ironic. Not too long ago, humans used to adopt "anti-computer" strategies (with White) that included locking the position up with pawns (say, with the Stonewall opening) followed by a slow advance of Kingside pawns toward the enemy monarch. It is as if Stockfish has learned this lesson and suggests that White move his Queen and unblock his g-pawn.

It is interesting that Bill pursues a different line of play - until he is helped by what one famous computer (HAL) would call "human error". 

23...Nd7 24.Rh3 Qg8 25.Rg3 Ne5 26.d4 Nd7 27.e5 

Black was pretty sure that he had prevented this move, as the advance costs White a pawn. However, it also leads to the opening of the deadly a1-h8 diagonal for White's Bishop. (Looking at the current position, it is easy to overlook this fact, as the diagonal looks clogged with pawns, and it will soon inherit a Knight - but the piece will be unable to stay there.) Add that to the pressure along the g-file, and that spells disaster.

27...dxe5 28.dxe5 Nxe5 29.Qf4 

Aha! The Knight on e5 is attacked twice and defended once...


Hoping to block the g-file and protect the vulnerable g7 square. Best was probably 29...Nc6, when 30.Bxg7+ Qxg7 31.Rxg7 Kxg7 would lead to a very interesting position where Black would have a Rook and two minor pieces of his Queen. Would that be enough?

Probably not. After 32.f6+! White could show that there are two more features to the position - White's advanced pawn, and the unsafe position of Black's King. Therefore 32...Kh8 (forced) 33.Qg3 Rg8 34.Qxc7 follows, and what is Black to do?

The line 34...Bg6 35.Qxb7 Ne5 36.Qxb6 reminds me of the arcane expression "nibbled to death by ducks"; Black will not be able to coordinate his pieces, protect his King, and deal with White's 4 passers.

Instead, Black could try 34...Nd8, although White could continue to apply pressure to the contorted positions with 35.Rd1, e.g. 35...Rf8 36.Qxb6 Kg8 37.Rd7 Bg6 38.Qc7 Nf7 39.Qxb7 (or 39.h4). Again, White's passed pawns would be decisive.

However, the text move, returning a piece, falls tactically.

30.fxg6 Bxg6 31.Rxg6 

You saw this move, right?

31...hxg6 32.Rf3 Black resigned

Black can defend against the threat down the h-file with 32...Ra5, but that simply costs a Rook after 33.Bxa5, as he does not have time for 33...bxa5 because of 34.Rh3+, losing his Queen. Instead, he can take advantage of the diverted Bishop by giving his King some breathing space with 33...Qe6, but after 34.Bc3 (of course) he would be a piece down and vulnerable after 34...Qe7 35.Qf7 Qxf7 36.Rxf7 or 34...Kg8 35.Qxc7.