Dennis M's Chess Site

This is a blog for chess fans by a chess fan. I enjoy winning as much as anyone else, and I've had a reasonable amount of success as a competitor, but what keeps me coming back to the game is its beauty. And that, primarily, is what this site will be about! All material copyrighted.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

A Game and a Puzzle, Revisited

Just over two weeks ago, I presented an attractive little game by the late 19th/early 20th century British great Joseph Henry Blackburne, expressing not just my appreciation for the game but my perplexity that the move 10.Qd8! (instead of 10.c3? as in the game) leaves Black needing to scrap a bit just to save a draw.

(Position 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 Nf6 10.Qd8)

Rick Kennedy has offered a very useful comment, helpfully providing notes from several other sources. In reply, I'd first like to express my gratitude to Mr. Kennedy for taking the time to write, and I look forward to investigating the links he has included.

As for the analysis, most of it repeats what I presented, but three lines are worth mentioning.

(1) 7...Qe7! I hadn't explicitly said it, but I certainly implied that Blackburne's 6...g6 was objectively a mistake, played for the sake of "coffeehousing" his opponent when the simple 6...Kf8 7.Qxe5 d6 leaves White without any real compensation for the material. I still think 6...Kf8 is a good move, but I didn't even consider 7...Qe7 (after 6...g6 7.Qxe5). If White doesn't take the rook, then the situation is essentially the same as it is after 6...Kf8, while if White does take the rook, it's pretty easy to prove that Black wins.

(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?


  • At 5:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dennis - I appreciate your reply to my comments, and must immediately acknowledge that your note (3) is completely correct. My apologies to you, readers and Chandler & Dimitrov, for having written "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" - which seems rather daft, upon inspection. (Act in haste, repent at leisure.) C&D in their analysis had the line, after 14.e5, favoring Black, not White - however, as you note, this is incorrect, as White holds the draw with 14.Qb7+ Kf8 15.Qa8+ etc.

    Of course 6...Kf8 is a good move - one of the many refutations of the Jerome Gambit. It was first suggested by Jerome himself, although his assessment of the resulting position was a bit too "optimistic" for White (the final comment is by the DCJ editor, O.A. Brownson):

    Dubuque Chess Journal
    July 1874 Vol. VII, No. 53
    Jerome's Double Opening
    Third Variation (see Journal No.50, p358) 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ [The following is a possibility of the game 6.d4 Bb6 7.Qh5+ Ke6 8.Qf5+ Kd6 9.Qxe5+ Kc6 10.Qd5#] 6...Kf8 [6...g6 7.Qxe5] 7.Qxe5 d6 8.Qf4+ Nf6 9.c3 Kf7 10.d4 Bb6 11.e5 dxe5 12.dxe5 Re8 13.0-0 Kg8 14.exf6 Qxf6 15.Qxf6 gxf6 16.Bh6 and White has a pawn ahead
    Note: It should be understood that Mr. Jerome claims in this New Opening "only a pleasant variation of the Giuoco Piano, which may win or lose according to the skill of the players, but which is capable of affording many new positions and opportunities for heavy blows unexpectedly."

    Curiously enough, the move 5...Kf8, first played, I believe, by Brownson against Jerome in 1875 (1/2-1/2, 29), was the move championed by Lt. Sorensen in his "Skaktheori for Segyndere" (Chess Theory for Beginners) column in Nordisk Skaktidende, May 1877. The article was translated to (at least) English, Spanish, Italian and French and was reprinted widely, giving the Jerome Gambit its first taste of international recognition...


  • At 3:10 PM, Blogger Dennis Monokroussos said…

    Rick, I'm impressed that you have access to so many old sources on even these obscure lines! Unfortunately, your diligence was not matched by the author of the Third Variation. Here are some improvements:

    (A) After 6.d4, both the direct 6...Bxd4 and the more subtle 6...Qh4 leave Black well on top, and White's attack is stillborn.
    (B) After 6.d4 Bb6, 7.dxe5 is much better, because after 7.Qh5+,
    (C) Black should not play the horrifyingly bad 7...Ke6?? but 7...Ng6, after which White's position is resignable. Not as good, but still more than good enough is 7...g6 8.Qxe5 Nf6 followed by 9...Re8.
    (D) Continuing after 7...Ke6?? 9.Qf5+, Kd6?? is a final travesty - 9...Ke7 10.Bg5+ Nf6 11.dxe5 leaves White on top, but no more on top than Black was prior to 7...Ke6.
    (E) Back to the main line with 6.Qh5+ Kf8 7.Qxe5 d6 8.Qf4+, why not 8...Qf6 instead of walking into the pin with 8...Nf6?
    (F) 10...Re8 looks more natural than 10...Bb6, although if White were to play correctly both after this move and the text the two moves are roughly equivalent.
    (G) 11.O-O, avoiding all the e-file and king safety worries first, is a more promising approach than 11.e5.
    (H) 12...Qd3 (rather than 12...O-O) is very strong. It looks like White has to scramble to trade the queens: 13.Na3 Re8 14.Qc4+ Qxc4 15.Nxc4, but after 15...Ng4 16.f4 Bc5 (17.b4 Be6!) Black has a huge positional advantage to complement the extra material.

    The famous physicist Richard Feynman once wrote that the "first principle [of science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool." Advice Jerome should have, but clearly didn't, take to heart.

  • At 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Alonzo Wheeler Jerome: Civil War veteran (26th Infantry, U.S.C.T.), hemp farmer, pawnpusher. Sometimes he seemed to realize, as Brownson quoted him, that he hadn't found something all that special, just some fun over the board...

    However, sometimes the modesty deserted him. Jerome debated for months (1876-1877) with A.S. Hallock, who produced the American Chess Journal in the years following the demise of the Dubuque Chess Journal. While testing his invention in over-the-board and correspondence play, Jerome claimed

    …that the opening has a “reasonable chance of winning,” which is sufficient to constitute a “sound opening.” It is not required that an Opening shall be sure to win. There is no such opening contained in chess; at least none that I know of.

    In the exchanges of games and analysis that appeared in the pages of the ACJ, Hallock, in turn, progressed from referring to “Jerome’s Double Opening” to “Jerome’s Gambit” to “Jerome’s Absurdity.”

    While Hallock was quick to jump on the bandwagon (although perhaps tongue-in-cheek) when the Jerome Gambit went international (see first quote below) his earlier assessment was more to the point (see second quote) -

    American Chess Journal
    September & October 1877
    new series V. II, No. 4
    page 56

    We are plaesed to note that the daring and brilliant debut invented by our friend Jerome, of Paxton, Ill, is receiving recognition abroad, both among players ande analysts. Sr. Vazques, the Mexican Champion, plays it with fine success when yielding the odds of a Knight, while Mr. Charlick, a strong Australian player, has been giving us some fine specimines of his chess skill in the new opening; some time since the Italian Chess Magazine published a game at this opening with favorable comments on the "new departure" and in the May number of the Nordisk Skaktidende, S.A. Sorensen gives us a sparkling analysis of the "Americanism", a translation of which we herewith present. The MSS was submitted to Mr. Jerome, who expresses himself highly pleased wit the thoroughness and ability with which our Danish contemporary has presented the subject.

    American Chess Journal
    November 1876

    We are not at all disposed to turn up the nose at Mr. Jerome's pet, as he seems to infer; on the contrary we regard it with favor, and therefore have frequently given games at this opening an airing in the Journal, thus introducing it to the chess public, and subjecting it to that criticism and analysis which will speedily determine its claim to a place in chess literature. We consider it stronger than the Harvey-Evans and not much inferior to the Cochrane attack, but like most openings where a piece is sacrificed to obtain a violent attack, the first player will generally find himself the loser when met by a careful and steady defence. For this reason it will never find favor among match players or the professional representatives of the game. But among the lighter lances - those who cultivate chess an an amusement and not as a means of obtaining bread and butter - it will, no doubt, become quite popular, as it affords a sparkling variation to the tiresome Piano game.


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