Friday, October 22, 2021

Jerome Gambit: Surprising Chances (Part 1)

I have become accustomed to seeing Jerome Gambit wins. They can be difficult to come by when the defender is a computer, but for a refuted chess opening the Jerome offers surprising chances for the enterprising attacker who chooses a human as his opponent.

This all came to mind when I played over the following game between online club players. White repeatedly misses the "best" moves - in the main game and in the games in the notes - and still wins. 

How to explain it? It's the Jerome Gambit.

It's also a 3-minute game, and you can only dig so far into the analysis of any move.

farhadba - MeiND

3 0 blitz,, 2021

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

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke6 

This is an odd defense. I have written about it a number of times, most recently in "Jerome Gambit: More Concrete" and "Jerome Gambit: Over the Rainbow (Part 1)"

The earliest example I have in The Database is an internet game from 2002. This can hardly be the first time that 5...Ke6 was played, however, given that The Cheltenham Examiner's chess column of  Wednesday February 21, 1906, suggested the move with the dubious comment that it "should win".

Suggesting otherwise, The Database has 48 games with 5...Ke6, with White scoring 71%.

Black's strategy seems to be one of opposition: If White wants me to take the Knight, I won't; if White wants my King to retreat, it won't.

White has met this line in a number of ways.


This move makes sense: White no longer offers the piece for capture, he exchanges it.

Still, Stockfish 14, at 30 ply, rates it as only the 5th best move available. 

Slightly better is 6.Nf3, which also rescinds the offer. There are no examples in The Database.

Third best is 6.0-0, which leaves the Knight en prise, playing a move that is routine in the Jerome Gambit. There are no examples in The Database.

Second best is 6.d4, leading to an even game after 6...Nxe5 7.dxc5. There are four examples in The Database, three played by stretto. White scores 50%.

Best is the forcing 6.Qg4+, which has scored 81% in 8 games. The line is discussed in Wall, Bill - Skandervitch, Internet, 2021 (1-0, 11); Wall, Bill - Guest4105968,, 2018 (1/2 - 1/2, 50); and Wall, Bill - Guest13762608,, 2019 (1-0 8).

Recently, Astral1119 has won a couple of short games at with 6.f4, but he had some cooperation after 6...Nxe5 (best), as both the terrible 7.fxe5 and the creative 7.d4 (best) are strongly met by 7...Qh4+.

White could also try 6.Qh5, since after 6...Nxe5 he will have transposed into regular Jerome gambit lines, and that might have some psychological impact on Black, if he has specially prepared 5...Ke6.


Black follows the rule of thumb - capture toward the center - and surrenders his advantage.

Instead, 6...dxc6 would open the d-file so that the dark square Black Bishop and Queen could prevent d2-d4. Even more useful would be having the diagonal of his light square Bishop opened up as well. 

Also, 6...Qh4 looks quirky enough to be playable in this position, but it is well met by 7.Qe2 when the strangeness continues (according to Stockfish 14) with 7...Bxf2+ 8.Kf1 bxc6 9.Qxf2 Qxe4 10.d3 with White as better.


I know, I know, I just suggested that Black should have prevented this move on his last turn, but there is a far better move available to White now.

[to be continued]

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Jerome Gambit: Shhhh! It's A Secret


About 3 years ago I started a series of occasional posts presenting "Jerome Gambit Secrets" - moves or lines of play that were good, but were overlooked or rarely played.

To date, I have presented 15 of them. 

Dan Middlemiss - who continues to gift me with Jerome Gambit games - recently was amused that one of the secrets remains secret, even to this day.

I did a quick check of some of the earlier secrets.

"Jerome Gambit Secrets #1" remains unplayed.

"Jerome Gambit Secrets #2" remains unplayed

"Jerome Gambit Secrets #3" remains unplayed. (This is the one that has eluded both me and Dan.)

"Jerome Gambit Secrets #4" - "One of my favorite Jerome Gambit "secrets" has actually been solved, but the story is always a good one to tell. And tell again."

"Jerome Gambit Secrets #5" showed up earlier this year in  Littleplayerparis - Alfilpeligroso, 5 0 blitz,, 2021. (No doubt, a game that Dan sent me. I guess I should post it.)

"Jerome Gambit Secrets #6" - "It is not often that an International Master makes a recommendation in the Jerome Gambit..." The move has been played, but rarely.

"Jerome Gambit Secrets #7" This has appeared in one of HauntedKnight's 476 Jerome Gambit games at FICS (according to The Database), but it remains mostly a secret.

You get the idea. I think I will stop the update here, but I will encourage interested Readers to use the "Search This Blog" function for Secrets #8 through #15.

Or, you could read this entire blog, from the start, all 3,465 posts, so you don't miss anything. Of course, at about 2 minutes per read, it would take you almost 3 full work weeks to accomplish that.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Jerome Gambit: A Quick Example

Blitz games do not always allow for deep analysis of a position. Sometimes you have to grab ahold of an idea and go with it.

This can benefit the prepared Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+) player who is ready to immediately punish a move that only looks good on the surface.

The following game is a quick example.

thunder_84 - wightnight

3 0 blitz,, 2021

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 


As I have written before

I sometimes wonder when Black plays this move, if he is remembering the Fork Trick, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bc4 Nxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Bd3 dxe4 7.Bxe4.

Still, there is a problem applying the logic of that opening line to the Jerome Gambit. The straight-forward 6...Bxd4 was simpler and stronger.

7.dxe5 Bxe5 

Instead, 7...Be7 8.Qd5+ Kf8 9.0–0 c6 10.Qd3 d5 11.exd6 Qxd6 12.Qf3+ Qf6 13.Qe2 Be6 14.Nc3 Nh6 15.Be3 Kf7 16.f4 Bd7 17.f5 Rhd8 18.Qh5+ Kf8 19.Rad1 Be8 20.Qf3 Bf7 21.e5 Qh4 22.f6 gxf6 23.exf6 Bd6 24.g3 Bxg3 25.hxg3 Qh3 26.Ne4 Ng4 27.Rxd8+ Rxd8 28.Rf2 Bd5 29.f7 Nxf2 30.Bc5+ Kg7 31.f8Q+ Rxf8 32.Qxf8+ Kg6 33.Qf6+ Kh5 34.Qf3+ Ng4 35.Qf5+  White won on time in thunder_84 - Mikhail_50, blitz,, 2021


This is the alternative Queen check mentioned in "Jerome Gambit: Occasionally, Think Like A Computer".


Or 8...Ke8 9.Qxe5+ Qe7 10.Qd4 Nf6 11.Nc3 c5 12.Qe3 d5 13.Nxd5 Nxd5 14.exd5 Qxe3+ 15.Bxe3 Kd7 16.Bxc5 b6 17.Be3 Ba6 18.b3 Kd6 19.0–0–0 Rhe8 20.Rhe1 Re5 21.Bf4  Black resigned, thunder_84 - AliAliev, blitz,, 2021.

9.f4 Bd6 

Or 9...Bxf4 10.Bxf4 Ne7 11.Qg5+ Kf7 12.0–0 Kg8 13.Nc3 h6 14.Qg3 d6 15.Rad1 Qe8 16.e5 Nf5 17.Qf2 dxe5 18.Rfe1 Qf7 19.Bxe5 Kh7 20.Nd5 c6 21.Nc7 Rb8 22.Rf1 Rf8 23.Qd2 Black resigned, thunder_84 - dndn0215, blitz,, 2021

10.Qg5+ Black resigned

The lesson here is if you try to "Out-Think A Thinker (Not)", it is best to understand that "Defending Requires Attention" and that "Not Taking It Seriously Has Consequences".

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Jerome Gambit: Not Too Boring

Talk about "psychology" in the Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+) usually focuses upon White's play, but the following game shows Black willing to go down a pawn in order to eliminate White's usual smash and crash attack.

Instead of losing interest in the game, White summons up his next line of attack - the "Jerome pawns" - and crashes through.

Wall, Bill - Guest380145, 2021

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 


Yesterday's post looked at 6...Bd6, and also noted

The simplest response is to give back a piece immediately with 6...Bxd4. A complicated, but promising response, is 6...Qh4!?

7.c3 Nc6 

Black has a plan: he has to give up a piece, so chooses the Bishop. White's capture with a pawn is away from the center, lessening its support. Also, the capturing pawn becomes a target.

8.cxb4 Nxb4 

This move, consistent with Black's plan, overlooks something. That kind of thing can happen when the defender is unimpressed with the Jerome Gambit, and decides that White's further play is also unrelaible - hence, pruducing an insufficiently deep assessment.

9.Qb3+ Ke8 

White's move comes as a surprise, Black responds reflexively. The defense would have been helped by 9...d5, instead.

10.Qxb4 Qe7 11.Qxe7+ Nxe7 

This position fits into the class of defensive strategies (such as the Counter-Jerome Gambit) where Black gives up a pawn to be able to exchange Queens and disrupt White's planned attack.

While it is true that Black is temporarily ahead in development, this is offset by White's pawn center and his ability to castle and protect his King, While Black's King remains at risk. It is worth giving the position a closer look: Stockfish 14 rates White as more than a piece better.

It is worth giving the position even a deeper look, as the possibility of reaching a Bishops-of-opposite-colors endgame gives Black hopes of a draw.

12.Nc3 c6 13.O-O h6

Stockfish 14 prefers 13...d5 14.exd5 Nxd5 15.Nxd5 cxd5 16.Bf4 which - at least for human club players - takes another step closer to a draw.

White's next move shows that he wants to use his pawns to get more than a draw.

14.f4 Rf8 15.Bd2 d6 

White may no longer have his rampaging Queen, but his "Jerome pawns" are ready to make a difference.

16.f5 b5 17.g4 Bb7

The attack from the wings on the enemy pawn center will not be enough.

18.e5 dxe5 19.dxe5 Rd8

Black mobilizes his last defender, but it is not enough. His King is too exposed.

20.Ne4 Nc8 21.f6 g5 22.Bc3 Rf7 23.Rad1 Rd5 24.e6 

24...Rxd1 25.exf7+ Kxf7 26.Rxd1 Black resigned

Monday, October 18, 2021

Jerome Gambit: Occasionally, Think Like A Computer

White plays a solid game in the following Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+). I have shared some notes from some chess engines, but it doesn't always seem to help much to be able to think like a computer.

Bohan_G - improvementishard

10 0 blitz,, 2021

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4

This line is not as forcing as 6.Qh5+, but it allows Black, unguided, to wander further into difficulties.


The simplest response is to give back a piece immediately with 6...Bxd4. A complicated, but promising response, is 6...Qh4!?

The text leads to an even game. That has to be a concession, given that Black was up a couple of pieces not too long ago.

7.dxe5 Bxe5 

Stockfish 14 suggests 7...Bb4+ 8.Bd2 Bxd2+. Komodo 12 recommends the novelty (according to The Database) 7...Bf8.

Of course the computer chess programs come up with their suggestions in a matter of minutes. Good for them. Humans take a bit more time - but this is a blitz game, so time is at a premium.


White forks the enemy King and Bishop and wins the piece. He could also have tried the other check, 8.Qd5+ Kf6 9.f4 with a similar result.

8...Kf8 9.Qxe5 d6 

White is up a pawn and has the safer king. He should castle, develop his pieces, and see how the game goes.

10.Qg3 Nf6 11.Nc3 Be6 12.O-O Kf7 13.Be3 Rf8 14.Rfd1 Kg8

Black has castled-by-hand, although he lags in development.

It is hard to believe that the computer sees him as a piece behind, but Stockfish 14 gives the following quiet line 15.b3 Qe7 16.Rd3 Rae8 17.Re1 Qf7 18.Qf4 Qe7 19.Qh4 Qf7 20.f3 b6 21.Qf4 h6 22.Bd4 Qg6 23.Qg3 Qf7 24.Qf2 Kh7 25.Bxf6 Qxf6 26.Rf1 a5 27.f4 Bc8 28.Nd5 Qf7 and assesses White as over 3 pawns ahead.

I don't get it.


This is the expected followup to White's 14.Rfd1, taking advantage of the fact that Black's d-pawn is pinned. However, if you think like a computer, you can find a flaw.


Attacking the e-pawn, but the right Knight jump was 15...Nh5, which leads to a long, forced series of moves: 16.Bg5 Nxg3 17.Bxd8 Raxd8 18.hxg3 dxe5 19.Rxd8 Rxd8 20.Re1 Bf5 21.Rxe5 Bxc2 22.Re7 Rc8 23.Nd5 Bg6 24.Nxc7 Kf8 25.Rd7 Bf5 26.Rd5 g6 27.Rc5 b6 28.Rc3 Rd8 29.f3 Rd1+ 30.Kh2 Rd2 31.Ra3 a5 32.Rb3 Rc2 33.Na6 Rc6 34.Nb8 Rd6 35.Rc3 h5.

That is a very long series of moves, but it illustrates how much work can go into a line, and still not get anywhere.

16.exd6 cxd6 17.Rxd6 Qc8 18.Rad1 Nxe3 19.Qxe3 Bf7 

20.Nd5 Re8 

Black sees the threatened fork of his King and Queen, and rushes his Rook over to the e-file to deal with it - he thinks.


This wins the exchange and threatens a whole lot more.

21...Rxe7 22.Qxe7 h6 23.Rd8+ Qxd8 24.Rxd8+ Rxd8 25.Qxd8+ Black resigned

Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Spectre of the Jerome Gambit (Part 2)


[continued from the previous post]

EdnaDrown - n3wes

10 0 blitz,, 2021

At this point, an "objective" evaluation of the position is dire for White: Stockfish 14 sees Black as being only a pawn shy of being a Queen ahead. It is not at all helpful that the computer's suggestion now is 16.Nxd6.

White still sees the enemy King as vulnerable, however, and so he continues his attack.

16.Rhd1 a6 17.d5+ Kc5 18.b4+ 


It is almost funny that Stockfish 14 recommends instead 18...Kb6 19.Nxd6 cxd6 - look how Black's doubled, isolated d-pawns block in his Bishop, while his own King blocks the b-pawn that also imprisons the prelate (which interns the Rook). Given time, though, Black would untangle himself.

The text move, however, is a bit like the choices made by the main characters in a slasher movie: let's move toward danger.


Going for the kill.

However, the best that the position holds for White - without a little cooperation - is 19.Rd4+ Kb3 20.Rb1+ Kxa4 21.Nxd6 cxd6 22.b5+ Ka5 23.b6 when Black is faced with the threat of Rdb4 and Ra1 checkmate. 

analysis diagram

Still, Black escapes by returning a Rook with 23...Re8+ 24.Kf3 Re1 25.Rxe1 Kxb6 when the computer's suggestion seems to lead to an even game after 26.g4 h6 27.h4 Kc5 28.g5 hxg5 29.hxg5 b5 30.gxf6 gxf6 31.Ra1. Wow. 

19...Kb3 20.Ra1 


Bringing the Rook into the game with check is a good idea, but first Black needed to allow his King to tear a hole in the mating net that White was constructing, with 20...Kxc3. Then, something like 21.Rab1 Re8+ 22.Kf1 Bf4!? 23.g3 Bd2 would give Black's King enough protection to survive. 


White sees that an exposed King - his opponent's - means danger, and so shuffles his own out of the way.

However, if you read the previous note, you know that what was necessary was  21.Kd3, when the mating net would be fully functional. 

analysis diagram

Again, Black has a way out with 22...Nxd5 22.Rdb1+ Kxa4 23.Kc4 Nb6+ 24.Kd3 Nd5, and both sides should be happy with the draw by repetion. 


Black's King finds another way out of the net, but White is not ready to give up.

22.Rdb1 Nxd5 23.c4 

Now White does not have a good answer for 23...Be5, when 24.cxd5 Bxa1 25.Rxa1 Kxb4 would leave Black with a safe King and an extra Rook and pawn.

Instead, Black finds a move that seems to solve a number of problems, including moving the Bishop that blocks the pawn that blocks the Bishop that blocks the Rook... I am sure he intended to end the game quickly, but perhaps not in the way that transpired.

23...Bxb4 24.Nc2+ Ba3 25.Rxa3 checkmate

White gets his hard-fought-for checkmate.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

The Spectre of the Jerome Gambit (Part 1)

The following Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+) game might just as well be titled "How do we make this checkmate work?" 

White persists in his efforts and eventually reaches his goal of checkmating the enemy King. (I add some of my own efforts in the notes.)

There is something else going on, however, besides the observable attack.

For most club players, it is easier to attack than defend; and that works in the Jerome Gambit's favor, as its whole idea is attack.

The essence of a gambit is that White (in this case) gives up material for something. We refer to the Jerome Gambit, not the Jerome Blunder (although some might prefer that name, and the editor of the American Chess Journal referred to it in 1877 as Jerome's Absurdity). The defender struggles to make sense out of an opening that isn't familiar - but White wouldn't sacrifice pieces for nothing, would he?

Also, most club players have been exposed to "Checkmate in X moves" problems, but they have rarely faced "Black to move and escape the mating net" challenges. They learn how to attack, but they also learn that a King out in the open is one that will perish.

So, being attacked can be unsettling, and for a club player it may very well lead to a distracted or diminished mental state.

All of which addresses the point that sometimes the Jerome Gambit wins when it "objectively" shouldn't

EdnaDrown - n3wes

10 0 blitz,, 2021

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

How does Black react, Yikes or Yay ?

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 

Is Black knowingly playing one of the strong defenses against the Jerome Gambit, or is he foolishly trying to hang onto all of his gained material?

7.Qf5+ Kd6 8.Nc3 

This move is not as forcing as 8.f4, but it indicates that White is going to go after the enemy King in a different way.

8...Qf6 9.Nb5+ 

Okay, you might know that this move has scored only 11% in 28 games (The Database knows), but I am not so sure that n3wes knows. He sees bad news coming, and prudently takes appropriate steps.

9...Kc6 10.a4 Qxf5 11.exf5 Nf6 

So far, Black had made progress with his defense, notably exchanging Queens and developing his pieces. His King is still exposed, and he will have to do something about that.

12.d4 Bb4+ 13.c3 Nd3+ 14.Ke2 Nxc1+ 15.Raxc1 Bd6 

Materially, Black has the two Bishops for a couple of pawns. His problems are not over, however.

His position has the ominous chain: a Bishop that blocks a pawn that blocks a Bishop that hems in a Rook; a typical danger when facing the Jerome Gambit.

Also, his King remains exposed.

There is still a lot of action to come (although some of it will be in the notes).

[to be continued]