Monday, January 29, 2018

Tidying Up - Or Messing Up?

Recently I was looking through long-time friend of this blog IM Gary Lane's 2012 "Trash or Treasure?" column, part of his at "Opening Lanes" efforts at Chess Cafe.

(Actually, I was looking at an old pdf file, stored on my phone - a phrase that would probably have been nearly meaningless when I first started this blog.)

I spotted some apparent confusion related to a Jerome Gambit game, and as I may have had a hand in causing it, I thought I'd try to do some unraveling.

From "Trash or Treasure?" 
...Finally, Mr. Kennedy pointed out a fairly recent game played by Scottish player Geoff Chandler. I have never met him, but I do know that Mr. Chandler has an excellent sense of humour and his old chess blog at Chandler Cornered was zany, thought provoking, and usually very funny. Therefore, the following game looks like a fabrication, but I am happy to be corrected in the future. Here is another Jerome Gambit game that is spectacular as always!
Chandler, Geoff - Dimitrov Todor
Blitz, Edinburgh, 2004
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+
This opening is ideally suited to blitz where you don't care whether you win or lose, but want to play something memorable.  
6...g6 7.Qxe5 d6 8.Qxh8 Qh4 9.O-O Nf6 10.Qd8!

Geoff is a decent club player and could have found this himself if the game was really played.* I still think it was more likely he was following the advice given in the previous Blackburne game, which has been copied up to this point. However, I did look up his old blog and found this comment "I recall about a year ago Todor and me had a dozen or so games playing 4.Bxf7+ at 5 minute chess in Bells." If you think he played a game inside an actual bell, then think again. He is referring to his chess club hosted at a local bar.  
10...Bh3 11.Qxc7+ Kg8
Here IM Lane gives 12.gxh3 and says
Instead 12.Qxb7 is winning, because12...Qg4 can be met by 13.Qb3+! (13.Qxa8+ Kf7 14.Qb7+ Kf8 15.e5? White should keep on checking, but this winning attempt backfires spectacularly upon 15...d5 and it turns out that Black wins.) 13...Kg7 Qxh3 and it is time for Black to put the pieces back into the box.  
Then 12...Qxh3 13.Qxb7 Qg4+ A draw by repetition beckons, but Mr. Kennedy assures me that Geoff went on to win.

 Actually, the game continued 12.Qxb7 Qg4 13.Qb3+ Kg7 14.Qxh3 and according to Chandler, White won.

How did the mixup in the moves of the game occur? I could have jumbled them when I emailed the game to IM Lane - if I actually sent it, as I can't find any record of that amongst our correspondence. (Gary might have made the slip, but is that likely? He's the professional, I'm the amateur.)

Anyhow, the Chandler - Dimitrov game and analysis can get pretty messy, so perhaps that was part of it.    

In support of that possibility, and a possible clue, it is worth looking at "Updating the Blackburne Defense (Part 2)" where I reference, among a number of things, Dennis Monokroussos's thoughts from about 7 years earlier about Amateur - Blackburne, London, 1884, after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ g6 7.Qxe5 d6 8.Qxh8 Qh4 9.O-O 

Dennis M's Chess Site
February 2, 2005
...But now, here's the puzzle. After 9...Nf6, Black has a substantial lead in development and several well-placed pieces ready to commence a feeding frenzy on the White kingside, yet had White found 10.Qd8, pinning the Black Nf6 to the queen on h4, it would have been Black needing to fight for his life! The following might be best play for both sides: 10.Qd8! Bh3 11.Qxc7+ (11.Qxa8? Qg4 12.g3 Qf3 forces mate) Kf8! (11...Kg8? 12.Qxb7 Qg4 13.Qb3+ and 14.Qxh3) 12.Qxb7 Qg4 13.Qxa8+ Kf7 14.Qb7+ Kf8 14.Qa8+ with a draw by perpetual check.  
When I first saw this game and was told about 10.Qd8, it seemed to me that Black just had to have something, but neither I nor my silicon friends have succeeded in proving a win or even an advantage for Black. Can any of my readers find something better for Black?

I can sympathize with Dennis - how can Black not win against the Jerome Gambit?? In a responding comment on his blog I shared
The line gets some analysis by Geoff Chandler and Todor Dimitrov on the former's hilarious website, Chandler Cornered
It goes like this. (Notes by Chandler.)

10.Qd8 Bh3 Threatening simply Qg4 and Qg2 mate. 11.Qxc7+ Kf8 This is best. [In my Game v Todd he played the natural 11...Kg8 which allows a check on b3 12.Qxb7 Qg4 13.Qb3+ Kg7 14.Qxh3] 12.gxh3 forced [If 12.Qxb7 Qg4 13.Qxa8+ Kf7 (13...Kg7 14.e5 d5 15.exf6+ Kxf6 16.Qxd5) 14.e5 d5 15.e6+ (15.Qb7+ Be7 16.e6+ Kg7 17.Qxe7+ Kh6 18.d4+ Kh5) 15...Kg7 16.Qb7+ Kh6 17.d4+ Kh5 and Black mates on g2] 12...Qxh3 This appears to be the best. It keeps the attack rolling and keeps the draw in hand. Remember we are seeing if 10.Qd8 beats the Blackburne line. 13.Qxb7 Ng4 [Or 13...Qg4+ and ...Qf3+ drawing.] 14.Qxa8+ Kg7 15.Qb7+ Kg8 16.Qc8+ Kg7 17.Qd7+ Kg8 18.Qe8+ Kg7 19.Qe7+ Kg8 Black has to allow the draw else 18.Qe8+ Kg7 19.Qf7+ kh6 10.d4+ wins. So it appears 10.Qd8 draws.
Note in the above that the conclusion is that the game is drawn -- the same conclusion as you came to, although the particular line you give (12.Qxb7 instead of Chandler and Dimitrov's 12.gxh3) seems to tilt toward White.

In a later post Monokroussos added
(2) In my main line, Kennedy, citing analysis by Geoff Chandler and Todor Dimitrov, varies from my 12.Qxb7 with 12.gxh3, showing that it likewise draws after 12...Qxh3 13.Qxb7 Qg4+ 14.Kh1 Qf3+ etc. or 13...Ng4 14.Qxa8+ etc. (Note that Black can't escape the checks with 14...Ke7 15.Qb7+! Kf6?? [15...Kd8/e8/f8=] because of 16.e5+ followed by 17.Qg2.) 
(3) Chandler & Dimitrov also mention 12.Qxb7 and suggest it loses, but the culprit is not 12.Qxb7 but their 14.e5?, after which Black has a forced mate. 
Very interesting and I'm grateful to Kennedy for his comment...but my dream remains unfulfilled - can't Black win after 10.Qd8, somehow?

Readers, is this confusing enough for you? Above, I quote Monokroussos quoting me quoting Chandler...

I have put the moves to Chandler - Dimitrov, cited by Chandler, above, in italics. The move 12.gxh3, which IM Lane gives as part of the game, is actually part of Chandler's analysis after 11...Kf8, not 11...Kg8, as played in the game - although Chandler says in his note that the move 12.gxh3 is "forced" which may have made it look like it was played.

I muddied things even more by referring, in my comment to Monokroussos, to "Chandler and Dimitrov's 12.gxh3" - the move was from their analysis, as presented by Chandler, above, not their game; andy by referring to 12.Qxb7, the actual move in the game, as "the particular line you give". Monokroussos seems to catch this, as indicated in his (2) note in the later post.

By the way, Monokroussos is right in note (3) in correcting Chandler's analysis (which I had provided) that after 10.Qd8 Bh3 11.Qxc7+ Kf8 12.Qxb7 White does not lose - after 12...Qg4 13.Qxa8+ Kf7 the move 14.e5 is "the culprit... after which Black has a forced mate". Instead, 14.Qb7+ Kf8 15.Qa8+ draws by repetition - as Monokroussos mentioned in his first post, after "...Now here's the puzzle." 

Still, Monokroussos doesn't escape completely. The later post, note (2), above, gives the sideline 12.gxh3 Qxh3 13.Qxb7 Ng4 [instead of 13...Qg4+, drawing] for Black, suggesting that after 14.Qxa8+ etc. the game is drawn as well - but White has, instead of grabbing the Rook, the forced Queen exchange after 14.Qb3+ (how un-Jerome-ish) 14...Qxb3 15.axb3 which leaves him a Rook and 3 pawns better.

Ah, yes, now everything now is as clear as... trash. 

(*- Chandler commented in Chandler Cornered about 10.Qd8 "This is my over the board improvement that I have since learnt was first suggested in 1951." I had told Chandler that P. Wenman mentioned the move in his Master Chess Play (1951). I later learned that the move had been played in Harris, S - Quayle, E., correspondence, 1944, although, of course, the move had been first suggested in the August 1885 issue of the Brooklyn Chess Chronicle.)

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