Saturday, February 24, 2018

Back in the Battle Again

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I have signed up for the 24-player "Italian Battleground" tournament at with hopes that after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 at least a few of my opponents (we are in groups of 6 and play 5 games simultaneously) will play 3...Bc5, allowing me to unleash the Jerome Gambit.

Curiously, I have Black in all 5 of my games to start. Perhaps that will allow me to keep my Jerome Gambit plans under cover for a while.

(So far I have won one of my games, but my opponent played 3...Nf6 in our second game. No Jerome Gambit, here.)

Of course, I will share my Jeromes as they are completed.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Jerome Gambit Discovery: Success? Not Really

I was wandering the internet the other day, looking for some Jerome Gambit references that were new to me, when I decided to visit the ChessBase Live Database.

There I found the game Fejfar, Vlastimil - Chvojka, Jaroslav, CZE-Cup32 final email ICCF, 2015 which did not appear in The Database.


Not really, as you will see.

Of course, Vlastimil Fejfar is familiar to readers of this blog - see "Correspondence Play Parts 1, 2, and 3", "Climbing Sněžka" and "A Fierce Jerome Gambit Battle" for starters.

But I think there is something mixed up in the ChessBase Live Database...

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Ke7 

The first clue that something might be amiss. The Database has 44 games with this position, out of 13,090 games starting 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+. That turns out to be about 1/3 of 1% - a very rare move, indeed!

Of course, Black might be "experimenting", too, but it seems unlikely that he would turn his "won" game after White's move to a slightly worse game after his own move. 


Suspicious. White would have a comfortable "pull" after either 5.Bxg8 or 5.Bb3. I could see this move in a lightning game... maybe. In a serious correspondence game? No.

5...Nxe5 6.Qh5 

Again, raising eyebrows. Why not the straight-forward 6.Bxg8 Qxg8 7.d4 when 7...Qc4 8.dxc5 Qxe4+ 9.Qe2 Qxe2+ 10.Kxe2 is clearly good.

Feeling adventurous? Then 6.Bb3 was the move, and after 6...Nc6 or 6...Bd4 or 6...Bb6 White could test Stockfish 9's contention that the first player has an edge.


Strangeness from the other side of the board. Black is rated at 2295, and should have seen 6...Bxf2+ 7.Kxf2 Nxf7, with a better game, easily. 


No, I don't think so.


Missing something.

More likely, the "game" is bogus.


No. Not even blindfolded.


Consistent, but absurd.

9.Qxe7+ Nxe7

And Black went on to win - in whatever alternate universe the battle was fought.

10.h3 Be6 11.d3 Rhf8 12.Ke2 Kg8 13.Be3 Nc4 14.d4 Rae8 15.e5 b5 16.dxc5 b4 17.Kd3 Rb8 

Very strange, indeed.

I went to ICCF website, looked up the event, and studied the crosstable: Fejfar came in 2nd to Chvojka, with 20.5 points to his opponent's 21.5. When I downloaded the PGN file of what appeared to be the game, however, it had only the outcome, not the moves.

I checked my copy of ChessBase's Big Database and could not find the game.

Another blow to the argument "But I saw it on the internet!"

(Years ago, when chess game databases began to proliferate, publishers were known to "seed" their databases with imaginary games, the better to use them as markers to show if others - publishers, players - later copied their work. I suppose that is one possibility, here.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Meeting A Surprise With A Surprise

The following game shows Black unveiling a surprise line, only to be met by White's surprise. The defender continues with another surprise on move 6, but cool play makes the difference in the face of complications.

Wall, Bill - Emankcin, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 

The Blackburne Shilling Gambit. White has several ways of effectively meeting the idea, including 4.0-0, 4.d3, 4.c3 and 4.Nxd4. Black's main idea is revealed with 4.Nxe5 Qg5!?.

Of course, Jerome Gambit fans also like to give the game their own twist.


The Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit.

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke8 6.c3 Qg5 

Black plays his thematic move. It might not be as strong as 6...Nc6, leading to an even game, but it certainly gives White something to think about. The Database contains 125 games with this position; White scores 57%.

For coverage on the line in this blog, see "Surprise!", "Too Fast, Too Furious" and "A Head Scratcher".

7.cxd4 Qxg2 8.Qf3 

Calmly meeting Black's play.

8...Qxf3 9.Nxf3 d6 

White has an extra pawn, and although it is doubled, it is a center pawn. Black has the two Bishops. The position would seem to slightly favor the first player - but it mostly favors the player who can come up with an effective plan.

Two other lines of play:

9...Bb4 10.Nc3 d6 11.Nd5 Ba5 12.b4 Bb6 13.Rg1 g6 14.Bb2 Ne7 15.Nf6+ Kd8 16.Ng5 Rf8 17.Ngxh7 Rf7 18.d5 c6 19.Ng5
cxd5 20.Nxf7+ Kc7 21.Rc1+ Black resigned, Wall,B - Guest1016975, 2017 and

9...Nf6 10.d3 Bb4+ 11.Bd2 a5 12.a3 Bxd2+ 13.Nbxd2 b6 14.h3 Ba6 15.Ke2 Rf8 16.Ke3 Ke7 17.Rac1 c6 18.Nh4 g6 19.f4 Nh5 20.Rhf1 Rae8 21.f5 g5 22.Nhf3 h6 23.Ne5 Bb5 24.Ng6+ Kf6 25.Nxf8 Rxf8 26.e5+ Ke7 27.Ne4 d5 28.exd6+ Kd7 29.b3 a4 30.bxa4 Bxa4 31.Rb1 Bb5 32.a4 Bxa4 33.Rxb6 Bb5 34.Rb7+ Kc8 35.Rh7 Nf4 36.d7+ Kd8 37.Ra1 Nd5+ 38.Kd2 Nb6 39.f6 Nxd7 40.Ra8+ Kc7 41.Rxf8 Black resigned, ZahariSokolov - bemxyrus, FICS, 2012

10.Nc3 Bg4 


10...Nf6 11.d3 Bg4 12.Nd2 Kd7 13.f3 Be6 14.d5 Bf7 15.O-O h5 16.Nc4 a6 17.d4 Re8 18.Bg5 Nh7 19.Bf4 g5 20.Bg3 c6 21.dxc6+ bxc6 22.d5 cxd5 23.Nxd5 Bxd5 24.exd5 Nf6 25.Rfe1 Be7 26.Rad1 h4 27.Rxe7+ Rxe7 28.Bxd6 Re2 29.Be5 Rf8 30.Nb6+ Kd8 31.Nc4 Nh5 32.Rd2 Re1+ 33.Kf2 Rc1 34.b3 Nf4 35.Bd4 Nh3+ 36.Kg2 Nf4+ 37.Kf2 g4 38.Bb6+ Kd7 39.Ne5+ Ke8 40.Nxg4 Ng6 41.d6 Rf7 42.d7+ Rxd7 43.Nf6+ Ke7 44.Nxd7 Black resigned, ingGra - dauerschach, FICS, 2007 and

10...a6 11.Nd5 Kd7 12.Ng5 h6?! (12...Nf6 13.Nxf6+ gxf6 14.Nh3) 13.Nf7 Rh7 14.d3 g6 15.Nxh6? Nxh6 (15...Bxh6) 16.Nf6+ Ke6 17.Nxh7 Bd7 18.Nxf8+ Rxf8 19.Bxh6 Rf3 20.Be3 Bb5 21.O-O-O Kf6 22.h4 Be8 23.Rdf1 Kg7 24.e5 d5 25.Kd2 Kf8 26.Rc1 c6 27.Rcg1 Ke7 28.Rg3 Rf5 29.Rg5 Rf3 30.Rhg1 Rh3 31.R5g4 Ke6 32.Ke2 b5 33.b4 Kd7 34.Rf4 Ke7 35.Kf1 Rh2 36.Rfg4 Kd7 37.Bf4 Rh3 38.Bg3 g5 39.Rxg5 Black resigned, PawnEater - jackb, FICS, 2000


Signalling that White wants his King to be active.

The one other game in The Database with this line is also complicated: 11.Nh4 Be7 12.Ng2 Bf3 13.Rg1 g6 14.d3 Kd7 15.Bf4 Nf6 16.Kd2 a6 17.Rae1 b5 18.Ne3 b4 19.Ncd5 Nxd5 20.Nxd5 a5 21.e5 dxe5 22.Nxe7 exf4 23.Rg5 Rhe8 24.Rge5 Ra6 25.d5 Rd6 26.Nc6 Rxe5 27.Nxe5+ Kd8 28.Nxf3 Rxd5 29.Re5 Rxe5 30.Nxe5 Ke8 31.h4 Kf8 32.Ke2 Kg7 33.Kf3 Kf8 34.Kxf4 Black resigned, Papaflesas - Tseatsy, FICS, 2015

11...Nf6 12.d3 Kd7 13.h3 Bh5 14.Bf4 Re8 15.Ke3 d5 

Black's strike at the center makes sense, especially with his Rook on the e-file, facing White's King; but it has the shortcoming of opening e5 for White's pieces.

16.Ne5+ Kc8 17.f3 

White is in no hurry. He reinforces his center and lets his opponent come up with the next new idea.

17...dxe4 18.dxe4 c5 


Developing another piece. An alternative was 19.d5, creating a second connected passed pawn that would eventually help decide the game..  


Perhaps a time slip: Black's King walks right into a discovered check.

Instead, Black could win the exchange with 19...cxd4+ 20.Rxd4 Bc5. Stockfish 8 is not particularly concerned about this, however, 
still seeing White as better after 21.Nb5 Bxd4+ 22.Nxd4. White has the open c-file for his Rook, and a pawn or two on the Queenside should prove vulnerable.

20.Nf7+ Black resigned

Play likely would continue 20...Kc6 21.Nxh8 cxd4 22.Rxd4 Bc5 23.Rc1 Bxd4+ 24.Kxd4 Kd7 when 25.Nb5!? gives Black too much to think about, e.g. 25...Rxh8 26.Rc7+ or 25...Bxf3 26.Rc7+

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Jerome Gambit: What to Do Next?

Defending against the Jerome Gambit is more than finding the right move or the right line, it is also finding the right path out of a maze of complications. It is a given that Black has a "won" game after 4 moves, but, as always, he has to go on and win that game.

In the following game the defender quickly overestimates his chances and embarks on Quixotic attack that only looks scary.

Wall, Bill - Guest842895, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6 

The Semi-Italian opening. Black wants to play it safe by keeping White's Knight off of g5.

4.Nc3 Bc5 5.Bxf7+ 

The Semi-Italian Jerome Gambit, leading to 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nc3 h6, etc.

I was a bit surprised to see Stockfish 8 recommend 5.Na4, leading to an equal game.


Bypassing the piece leads nowhere: 5...Kf8 6.Bb3 Nf6 7.Nxe5 Nxe5 8.d4 Bb4 9.dxe5 Nxe4 10.Qd5 Black resigned, Wall,B - Guest2310139,, 2014

6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 

It is always possible for Black to go weird in the line, but not necessarily successfully: 6...Ke6?! 7.Ng6 Rh7 8.d4 Nxd4 9.Nf4+ Kf7 10.Qh5+ Kf8 11.Ng6+ Kf7 12.Ne5+ Ke6 13.Qf7+ Kd6 14.Nc4+ Kc6 15.Qd5 checkmate, Wall,B - Guest638374,, 2017

7.Qh5+ Kf8 

An improvement over 7...Ke6 8.Qf5+ Kd6 9.b4 Bd4 10.Nb5+ Kc6 11.Nxd4+ Kd6 12.Nb5+ Kc6 13.Qxe5 d6 14.Nd4+ Kd7 15.Qe6 checkmate, Wall,B - My10,, 2017 and

7...Ng6 8.Qd5+ Ke8 9.Qxc5 Qe7 (9...d6 10.Qa3 N8e7 11.O-O Nh4 12.d4 Neg6 13.f4 Rf8 14.Be3 Bg4 15.Qb3 Rb8 16.f5 Ne7 17.Bf2 Nexf5 18.exf5 Nxf5 19.Rae1+ Kd7 20.Qe6+ Kc6 21.d5 checkmate, Wall,Bill - Mbgmx,, 2010) 10.Qxc7 Nf6 11.O-O Kf7 12.Qc4+ Qe6 13.Qd4 Re8 14.f4 Qb6 15.Qxb6 axb6 16.e5 Nh5 17.g4 Nhxf4 18.d4 d6 19.exd6 Bxg4 20.Bxf4 Kg8 21.Bg3 Bh3 22.Rfe1 Rf8 23.Nd5 Rad8 24.Ne7+ Kh7 25.Nxg6 Kxg6 26.Re3 Rf6 27.Be5 Rfxd6 28.Bxd6 Rxd6 29.Rxh3 Rxd4 30.Rb3 Black resigned, Wall,B - Guest6602130, PlayChess, 2014

8.Qxe5 Qe7 

Putting Black's Queen on e7 or f6 is a standard defensive setup. The question is always: what to do next?

9.Qxc7 Nf6 10.d3 Ng4 

Attack! More reasonable, if less exciting, was 10...d6 11.Qxe7+ Kxe7 when the second player might have an edge. But, who wants an "edge" against a refuted opening? I mean, White has to be busted, right?

11.Nd5 Bxf2+ 

According to plan, even though Black should bail with 11...Bd6 12.Nxe7 Bxc7 13.Ng6+ Kg8 14.Nxh8 Kxh8 when White would have the advantage of a Rook and 3 pawns against a Bishop and Knight.

Things begin to look scary for White's King, but he will find his way to safety.

12.Kd2 Qg5+ 

13.Kc3 Qe5+ 

I don't know if Black overlooked the fact that this allowed the exchange of Queens, but he had a better move in 13...Qg6, even if it still left him worse off. 

14.Qxe5 Nxe5 15.Rf1 Ng4 

 16.h3 Black resigned

Black will lose a piece after all.