Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gloom and Doom

Although I have occasionally been accused of having the demeanor of Mr. Rogers on muscle relaxants, I do have times when I am serious, or even downright gloomy take the "Update: 8...Qf6" post, for example.

Here is another cautionary tale.

Teterow - geneve
lightning, FICS, 2011

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

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

This move, rather than 6.Qh5+, was originally Alonzo Wheeler Jerome's preference.


This is an odd move, but it reflects an inconvenient fact, that Black has many ways of dealing with the Jerome Gambit, including choosing which piece(s) he wants to return – and in what way.

The move deserves a look, if only because it has been played by dismissive humans ("sure, why not?") and calculating computers.

7.c3 Qh4

How's that for a kick in the head? Just when you were saying to yourself, "Well, at least he didn't play 6...Qh4!?"

By the way, as long as I am mentioning 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf6+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Qh4, it is necessary to correct and update some of what I wrote in "A Pie-in-the-Face Variation" about a year and a half ago.

Today The Database contains 167 games with the 6.d4 Qh4 line. That's 26 games less than I thought that I had in November 2009, but perhaps that is a result of subsequently cleaning up my databases.

Also, 50 of the current games – about 30% of the 6.d4 Qh4 line – are now human-vs-human encounters, as opposed to only 8 (4%) in the original post. White's scoring has dropped from 50% to 29% amongst humans, which is in the right direction, but it is the ridiculously high 74% for all of the games in The Database. (Again, that is the impact of computer-vs-computer games largely selected by the source for White wins.)


The dynamics of the current position are very similar to that of the position without 6...Bb4+ 7.c3. What that means is that White's best move here after 7...Qh4 has to be 8.0-0. Rybka 3, given 5 minutes per move in "blunder check" mode, further suggested 8...Nc6 9.cxb4 Qxe4 10.b5 Nce7 11.Re1 Qf5 12.Re3 Qxb5 13.Nc3 Qb6 14.Qh5+ Qg6 15.Qc5 b6 16.Qxc7 Qc6 17.Qe5 d6 18.Qg5 h6 when Black has an edge (about 3/4 of a pawn).

analysis diagram

I am not convinced that this is the best path for Black to take, however.

If I were playing the defense, after 6...Bb4+ 7.c3 Qh4 8.0-0. I would prefer the as-yet-unplayed 8...Ng4, answering 9.h3 with 9...Be7. Perhaps Rybka downgrades this line a bit because White can exchange Queens with 10.Qxg4.

Anyhow, the text move is very dangerous and Black takes charge.

8...Qxe4+ 9.Qe2

A bit better is 9.Kf1, covering the g2 pawn, but after 9...Qd3+ 10.Qe2 Qxe2+ 11.Kxe2 Nc6 Black is clearly better in an uncomplicated game. As it it, the game transposes into this line.

9...Qxe2+ 10.Kxe2 Nc6

11.Rd1 Nxb4 12.Na3 Nf6 13.Re1 Re8+ 14.Kf1 Rxe1+ 15.Kxe1 d5

16.Be3 Bf5 17.Nb5 c6 18.Nc3

A final slip. 

18...Nc2+ 19.Ke2 Nxa1 Black resigned

Looks like there is more work to be done on the 6...Bb4+ variation. With wins in The Database by Jerome Gambit Gemeinde members Darrenshome, HauntedKnight, jfhumphrey, stretto, Teterow, yorgos and, of course, Bill Wall – there is plenty of hope.

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