Saturday, September 25, 2010

Jerome Gambit vs Two Knights Defense (Part 3)

Another way for the Jerome Gambiteer to face the Two Knights Defense (see "Jerome Gambit vs Two Knights Defense Part 1" and "Part 2"), besides playing the main lines or opting for 4.Qe2 is to play for a transition to the Italian Four Knights Game, and, thus, the Italian Four Knights Jerome Gambit.

So: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3 (hoping for 4...Bc5).

The updated New Year's Database has over 900 games with this position, with White scoring 41%. (By contrast, the Database includes 21 of my games and 21 of Bill Wall's games. We each scored 90%. As they say: your mileage may vary.)

Of course, Black does not have to play 4...Bc5; in fact, the recommended move is 4...Nxe4, planning what Hans Kmoch called "the Fork Trick": 5.Nxe4 d5, winning back a piece.

By the way, after 4...Nxe4 White does not have to recapture immediately, but instead can try the Jerome-ish 4.Bxf7+, although after 5.Kxf7 Nxe4 6.d5 Neg5+ 7.Kg8 Black's King has found safety (and he has the intimidating pawns).

The problem for White here is not so much that his position is worse than in regular Jerome Gambit lines – objectively, it is far better – but that the Fork Trick is standard fare for players learning about openings, whereas the Jerome Gambit is far less known or understood. The chance of surprising Black is less. (Still, this line remains a "project" for further analysis.)

Recommended for White after 4...Nxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 is 6.Bd3 dxe4 7.Bxe4 Bd6.

It is worth examining Y. Bukayev's article on this line, as he sees White as standing slightly better after 8.Bxc6+.

None of this seems as much fun as the Jerome Gambit proper, though, does it?

Tomorrow's post takes a look at 4.0-0, and in the process shows one way to redeem 4.Nc3 as well.

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