Thursday, February 25, 2021

Jerome Gambit: Do Not Hold Your Breath Waiting For It To Make Sense (Part 1)

After our first game (see "Jerome Gambit: Beware Free Hugs") where I successfully defended against the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+) with Whistler's Defense, it was time to swap colors.

I played the Jerome, and guess what defense my opponent chose?

There is a lot more to Whistler's Defense than the advice Don't take the Rook, and it took a while for me to develop an advantage in the game - ironically, by taking the Rook.

Do not hold your breath waiting for the Jerome Gambit to make sense.

perrypawnpusher - NN, 2021

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ g6 7.Qxe5 Qe7 

The American Chess Journal of December 1876 carried a correspondence game (one of several, but the only game score I have) between A.W. Jerome and Lt. G.N. Whistler, Secretary of the Lexington Kentucky Chess Club. Of the text move, it said

This is the key move to Lt. Whistler's defence, adopted in all his games with Mr. Jerome.

Before this game, I had a couple of wins and a couple of draws against the defense.


Do not take the Rook.

I know, I know, Jerome Gambit fans like angelcamina, chessmanjeff, petasluk, shugart, UNPREDICTABLE, Wall and ZahariSokolov, among others, have done so and made their way through the complications to tell of it, but that is what I call Borrowing Trouble.


This move is for choice

The text is a better way to block White's Queen check than 8...Nf6, showing that Black has to have some idea about how to play the Whistler Defense if he wants to keep his advantage. After 9.e5 Re8 10.d4 Bxd4 11.Qxd4 Qxe5+ 12.Qxe5 Rxe5+ 13.Be3, Black outplayed White with 13...Ng4 in Jerome - Jaeger, correspondence, 1879 (0-1, 45) while Black was outplayed by White after 13...Nd5, in abhailey - cruciverbalist,, 2008 (1-0, 51). The problem with 8...Nf6 is that it leads to a rather small edge for Black, nothing more.

I have also faced 8...Kg7, in perrypawnpusher - tmarkst, blitz, FICS, 2009 (1-0, 43).

9.Qg3 Qe6 

Or 9...Ne7, perrypawnpusher - Yaku, blitz, FICS, 2011 (1/2 - 1/2, 26);

Or 9...d6perrypawnpusher - alvarzr, blitz, FICS, 2014 (1-0, 49);

Or 9...Kg7perrypawnpusher -Tacotopia,, 2020 (1/2-1/2, 61).

10.Nc3 Bd6 

Harassing my Queen. As the Bishop blocked the d-pawn which blocked the light-square Bishop, which hemmed in the Rook (classic Jerome Gambit defender error), I was okay with this.

11.f4 Bb4 

My opponent and I had figured out the next few moves. It turns out we both were wrong, starting with this move. Black wants to play ...Nf6 without having to worry about e4-e5, forking his two minor pieces. A more straight-forward plan was 11...Nf6 12.d3 Be7 13.0-0 d5 and Black would be doing well.

12.O-O Bxc3 

Better was 12...Ne7, but Black was setting a trap.


After the game Stockfish 12 suggested that 13.dxc3 was stronger, with advantage to White. I hadn't even considered a pawn capture, as I was intent on falling into Black's trap.


Better was 13...Qf6 with about an equal game once White grabs the pawn at c7. 


Yippee, I thought, I am up the exchange and a pawn.


Yippee, my opponent thought, the Queen is trapped.

[To be continued]

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Jerome Gambit: Practical Underpromotion


Visiting Tim KrabbĂ©'s "Open Chess Diary" website, I was intrigued by his "Practical Underpromotion" post 

In 1912, in The Theory of Pawn Promotion, Alain White wrote that he had 'never heard of a game where victory was won by a promotion to Rook or Bishop'. In 1936 the great endgame connoisseur Harold Lommer wrote something to that effect too. In my own Chess Curiosities (1985) I mentioned the 'extreme rareness of such promotions', and quoted 12 examples from all of chess history, including trivial ones. Ten years later Harold van der Heijden, in his Pawn Promotion, extended the list to 27. We had entered the database era - he had used a 400,000 game one. Over the following two years, in the magazine EBUR, he showed some 15 new cases. My turn again - in the meantime the databases have grown to almost 2,000,000 games, and if I used the same criteria as in 1985, I could show over 60 examples now.

And what of the world of the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+) ?

Checking with The Database, which contains over 63,500 games, I discovered 60 games that ended with either White or Black promoting a pawn to a Queen, giving checkmate.

I discovered 7 games that ended with the promotion of a pawn to a Rook, giving checkmate - although in each case promotion to a Queen would have been equally effective.

While I did not find a game that ended with a pawn promotion to a Bishop, I did find the following Jerome Gambit game

Mafiyah - AnderssenA, blitz, FICS, 2018 

White is not having a good day, down a couple of pieces, and things are about to turn even worse

22...Ng3+ 23.Kh2 Nxf1+ 24.Kh1 Ng3+ 25.Kh2 f1/N checkmate

A small gift to the spirit of Alain White, whose White Collection in the Cleveland Public Library is one of the largest publicly-accessible chess collections in the world.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Jerome Gambit: Inspiration Is All Around

I was wandering through my databases the other day when I ran across the following game:

Solovjov, Sergey (2436) - Kuerschner, Matthias

EU-ch Internet qual,, 2003

1.e4 Nc6 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe4 e5

Black is better, according to Hugh Myers in his The Nimzovich Defense (1973).

6.Qf3+ Kg8 7.Ng5 Qxg5 8.Qd5 checkmate

This reminded me of one of the many "impatient Jerome Gambit" games that I have posted on this blog. The following example arises from the Two Knights Defense.

ChessBrah - kevvvvvvv
5 0 blitz,, 2020

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nc6 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Nc6 7.e5 Nd5 8.Qf3+ Kg8 9.Qxd5 checkmate

Even moreso, it reminds me of the historical Vienna Game

Kutjanin - Jakobjuk
Moscow, 1940

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe4 Nc6 6.Qf3+ Kg8 7.Ng5 Black resigned

And then we have a 120+ year old Bishop's Opening game, which brings us back around to where we started

Imbusch - Goring
Munchen, Germany, 1899

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nxe4 4.Bxf7+

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe4 Nc6 6.Qf3+ Kg8 7.Ng5 Qxg5 8.Qd5 checkmate

I have spent a lot of time over the last 2 decades looking for the opening variation or game that caused Alonzo Wheeler Jerome to create his Gambit. These games suggest that the ideas were "in the air" all around him, and as other players were inspired, so was Jerome.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Jerome Gambit: Another Story of the Pawns and the Pieces

In the Jerome Gambit, pawns advance against the enemy. Sometimes, that is almost enough for the win itself, if you throw in a tactic or two. The following 1-minute game has some interesting ideas.

angelcamina - omkarsubham
1 0 bullet,, 2021

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3 h6 5.O-O Bc5 6.Bxf7+ 

The Semi-Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit.

Up until move 6, I think Black felt relatively safe.

6...Kxf7 7.Nxe5+ Nxe5 8.d4 Bb4 

This move is reasonable (Black has a plan) but strongest and simplest was 8...Bxd4, returning a piece.

9.dxe5 Bxc3 10.bxc3 Nxe4 

This is the idea, but White has seen further.

Black needed to pull his Knight back with 10...Ne8 Stockfish 12 then suggests 11.Qd5+ Kg6 12.f4 Kh7 - inventive castling-by-hand!- 13.f5 Rf8 14.f6 Nxf6 15.exf6 Rxf6 with an equal game. 

Analysis diagram

11.Qd5+ Kf8 12.Qxe4 d6 13.Ba3 Qg5 14.f4 Qh5 15.f5 Bxf5 16.Rxf5+ Black resigned

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Jerome Gambit: Piano Piano Update Update & More


I have finished my double round robin play in Round 1, in 10-player Group 6, in the "Piano Piano" tournament.

With 15.5 points, that is enough to take first place for my group, for this round.

The Jerome Gambit accounted for my one draw, and one of my two losses. The Black pieces were responsible for my other loss. Good fortune and more than a little luck were in large part responsible for my wins. 

There is a good chance that PasayDefence, ZlikoM and Bossferreira will each finish with 14 points. Tie break points will be important in deciding who will advance to Round 2. 

Elsewhere, having successfully defended with Whistler's Defense against the Jerome Gambit in a 2-game match, I have found myself facing the Whistler and, after 30 moves, have finally caught a break. Truth be told, I shouldn't have to struggle this hard against a player rated 1,000 points below me. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Jerome Gambit: Rendered Senseless

One reason club players enjoy the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+) so much is that it can produce attacking games that allow them to render their opponents senseless. This happens most often with a naive defender who spends a lot of time thinking Who? and What? and How? and Why? 

Soon, they will encounter others who will be less gobsmacked by the Jerome, those who have solid ideas about defending - but didn't many players start out playing and winning with the Scholar's Mate, too?

Enjoy now.


Ftmean - branimirjovanovic

10 0 blitz,, 2021

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.f4 


Quick thinking: counter a Queen with three pieces.

Slower thinking: there are too many threats for this to work.

8.Qxe5+ Kf7 9.Qxc5 Nxe4 

Keeping the damage to one pawn.

10.Qd5+ Kg6 11.Qxe4+ 

Okay, maybe not.


The computer sees White almost a Queen better.

12.O-O Qh4 13.Qf3+ Kh6 14.g3 Qh3 

15.d4 d6 16.f5+ g5 17.fxg6+ Kxg6 18.Qf6+ Kh5 19.Qg5 checkmate

White: Wait until I tell my friends!

Black: I would rather you not tell mine...

Friday, February 19, 2021

Jerome Gambit: Fishing

Ah, yes, fishing. Drop a line in the water, wait a minute or two, haul out a giant trout, take it home, have someone else clean and grill it. Delightful.

Oh, you say, it's not like that? You mean it could be hours and you have to be patient and everything? Wow.

The following game is a bit like fishing for Bill Wall. He is patient, he improves his position, he breaks down his opponent. His position reminds me of the master who pointed out that sometimes it is better to be slightly worse, but with a clear path forward, than to be slightly better, with nowhere to go.

Wall, Bill - Bie, 2020

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 d6 

An interesting way to return some material: let White decide.

7.dxc5 Nf6 8.cxd6 Qxd6 9.Qxd6 cxd6 

Bill has been here before. He can target the pawn at d6, while keeping his position safe. With a piece for two pawns, the onus is on Black to do something, lest he lose his advantage.

10.Nc3 Re8

Instead, 10... Be6 was seen in Wall,B -Guest1713462,, 2020 (1-0. 25) 


Bill strengthened his e-pawn immediately with 11.f3 in Wall,B - Guest8299674,, 2016 (0-1, 45). The text move might be a little bit better. 

11...Bd7 12.Rd1 Bc6 13.f3 Rad8 

Black is ready for any attack. It doesn't come. White continues his quiet play.

14.Bg5 h6 15.Bxf6 gxf6 

More weaknesses in Black's camp. That is enough to fuel White's patience.

16.Kf2 Ke6 17.Rd4 a6 18.Rad1 h5 19.Ne2 h4 20.a4 Ng6 21.b3 Rd7 

22.R4d2 Red8 

Four pieces now support the d6-pawn's possible advance. 


A little bit of mischief.


This is a risky place for His Majesty.

24.c4 Rc8 

25.Ke3 b6 

Black overlooks the threat. He needed to play something like 25...f5 to give his King some breathing room, but after 26.f4+ Nxf4 27.Nf3+ Ke6 28.Kxf4 Bxe4 29.Ng5+ Ke7 30.Re1 Rdd8 31.Nxe4 fxe4 32.Rxe4+ Kd7 White would clearly be better.

26.f4+ Nxf4 27.Nf3+ Ke6 28.Kxf4 Rg8 

Compounding the difficulties. 

29.Nd4+ Black resigned

The Bishop will be captured on the next move.