After my discouraging loss with the Jerome Gambit in my previous Chess.com Italian Game tournament (perrypawnpusher - Buddy_Thompson), I knew that I had to cook up something new, or risk facing a future opponent who just "looked the refutation up" (and not even on this blog, mind you, but in my recent games on Chess.com).
I was happy that I did do the research, too, because in my third Jerome Gambit in my current tourney, my opponent went straight for the same line (leaving out the superfluous Queen check).
As often happens, the white "Jerome pawns" held a starring, if comic, role in the game, supporting me while mistreating the Black King horribly.
Chess.com Italian game tournament, 2014
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+
4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.Qf5+ Kd6 8.f4 Qf6 9.fxe5+ Qxe5
This was my idea, to "surrender" to Black's plan. Exchanging Queens isn't much worse than leaving them on. I found only 30 examples of this line in The Database, including a few played by "Blackburne", Louis Morin and UNPREDICTABLE.
If we go back to the perrypawnpusher - Buddy_Thompson, Chess.com, 2014 game, however, with 8...Qh4+ 9.g3 Qf6 thrown into the move order, there are two relevant precendents: NN - Kapil Gain, Internet, 2004 (1-0, 56) and perrypawnpusher - Kevin the Fruitbat, Jerome Gambit Thematic, ChessWorld.net, 2008.(1-0, 38). Both are discussed at "Jerome Gambit Tournament: Chapter XIII".
Likewise, if we use the opening approach 7.f4 (instead of 7.Qf5+) Qf6 8.Qxe5+ Qxe5 9.fxe5 Kxe5 we reach the same position as in the game, only a move earlier. There are 13 examples of this in The Database, but only one follows our main line (see below).
This is the reason I went into the line - it looks hokey, and the next few moves by White don't suggest that I know what I am doing, either. (It's only showed up twice - three times if we count transpositions - before in The Database.)
I was pretty sure that I had discussed the line in an email with Stefan Bücker, editor of Kaissiber, years ago; but I have not been able to find our correspondence on the topic.
The alternative, 11...Bd4, was seen in two games:
Spike1.2 - Fritz 6.0, USA 2006: 12.c3 Bb6 13.d4+ Kxe4 14.Nd2+ Kf5 15.0-0+ Ke6 16.a4 a5 17.b5 Nf6 18.Ba3 Re8 19.Rae1+ Kf7 20.Rxe8 Kxe8 21.Re1+ Kf7 22.Nc4 Nd5 23.Rf1+ Ke6 24.Re1+ Kf6 25.Rf1+ Kg5 26.Bc1+ Kh4 27.Rf5 Nxc3 28.Be3 Bxd4 29.Bxd4 Ne2+ 30.Kf2 Nxd4 31.Rf4+ Kg5 32.Rxd4 b6 33.Ne3 Ra7 34.Rc4 Kf6 35.Nd5+ Ke5 36.Nxb6 cxb6 37.Rxc8 d5 38.Rh8 h6 39.Rb8 Rf7+ 40.Ke3 Rf6 41.h3 h5 42.Rh8 Rh6 43.Re8+ Re6 44.Rc8 Kd6+ 45.Kd3 h4 46.Rc2 Re4 47.Rc6+ Ke5 48.Rxb6 Rxa4 49.Ra6 Ra2 50.b6 Rxg2 51.Rxa5 Rb2 52.Ra6 g5 53.Kc3 Rb5 54.Kc2 g4 55.hxg4 Kf4 56.Ra4+ Kg5 57.Rd4 h3 58.Rd2 Rxb6 59.Rxd5+ Kh4 60.Rd2 Rf6 61.g5 Kxg5 62.Rd5+ Kg4 63.Rd1 h2 64.Kb3 Rf4 65.Ka2 Rf3 66.Rc1 Kh3 67.Rc8 Kg2 68.Rg8+ Rg3 69.Rh8 h1Q 70.Rxh1 Kxh1 71.Kb2 Kg2 72.Kc2 Kf1 73.Kd2 Rh3 74.Kc1 Ke2 75.Kc2 Rd3 White resigned;
Matacz CCT7 - Imp 0.74b, 2005: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.f4 Qf6 8.Qxe5+ Qxe5 9.fxe5 Kxe5 10.b4 Bd4 11.c3 Bb6 12.d3 d5 13.Rf1 dxe4 14.Bf4+ Ke6 15.dxe4 Nf6 16.Nd2 Bd7 17.a4 a5 18.b5 Rhf8 19.0-0-0 Rac8 20.h4 Bc5 21.Nb3 Bb6 22.c4 Nh5 23.g3 Nxf4 24.Rxf4 Ke7 25.Rxf8 Rxf8 26.Rd3 c5 27.e5 Rf1+ 28.Kb2 Re1 29.Rd6 Bc7 30.Nxc5 Bc8 31.Rd5 Rxe5 32.h5 b6 33.Na6 Rxd5 34.Nxc7 Rxh5 35.Nd5+ Kd6 36.Nxb6 Be6 37.Kc3 Kc5 38.Na8 Rh3 39.Nc7 Rxg3+ 40.Kd2 Bxc4 41.Na6+ Kd6 42.Nb8 Ra3 43.Nc6 Rxa4 44.Nd4 Kc5 45.Nf3 Kd5 46.b6 Ra3 47.Nh4 Ke4 48.b7 Rb3 49.Ng2 Rxb7 50.Ne3 Bd3 51.Nd1 Kd4 52.Ke1 a4 53.Kf2 a3 54.Kg3 Be2 White resigned
The "idea" behind the line appeared in axykk - bromby, FICS, 2011: 12...Kxe4 13.Bxg7 Black resigned.
13.c3 Bb6 14.d4+
I wouldn't be surprised to find that taking the pawn isn't the strongest move (see Spike1.2 - Fritz 6.0, USA, 2006, above). It reminds me of the Blackburne Shilling Jerome Gambit line, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Ke6 6.c3 Kxe5 7.cxd4+ where Black has to think "homeward bound" for his King, or risk dangerous play. More prudent in our game seems 14...Ke6.
I suspect that my opponent saw the position as an endgame, in which case his King should be safe; while I saw it as a Queenless middlegame, where I still had tactical intentions.
15.0-0 Nf6 16.Nd2+ Kd3 17.Nf3 d6 18.Rad1+ Kc4 19.Nd2+
I was hoping for 19...Kd3, when I was going to plan 20.Nf3+ and offer a draw. I know that's a bold thing to do, down a piece, but I thought Black's King might be feeling homesick.
Again, a surprise. I thought that after 19...Kd5 I could play 20.c4+ and 21.c5 and win the piece back - hoping that my lead in development would compensate for my lack of pawns.
Played automatically, remembering a comment that Bill Wall once made to me, that certain moves just have to be played, not even thought over. Here, it either works, or White is doomed, anyway - I'm a piece down, and if Black's King escapes, I got nothin'...
To my chagrin, when this game was over and I shared it will Bill, he suggested 20.c4+ instead.
The "Jerome pawns" do special duty, hemming in the King.
This move, however, leads to a pie in the face. After the game, both Bill and Houdini suggested 21...d5.
22.Rf3 Black resigned
The King cannot escape checkmate.