Monday, August 10, 2015

Winning With the Jerome Gambit: A Game Full of Lessons

Winning with the Jerome Gambit, as many posts here have shown, can be explosive and fun. It can, as we have also seen, be slow, difficult and demanding.

In the following game Bill Wall faces a prudent opponent who is in no hurry to self-destruct. This reticence works against the defender, however, when his best line requires boldly sacrificing material to initiate an attack. The moment passes - and Bill fights his way to victory.

Playing through this game and enjoy its lessons.

Wall,B - Albulus, 2015

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 Bc5 5.Bxf7+ 

White enters the Jerome Gambit via the Two Knights Game or a closed variation of the Giuoco Piano. In doing so, he transposes into a "modern" Jerome - one without 5.Nxe5.

5...Kxf7 6.0-0

If Black had tricked White, a proponent of the "classic" Jerome lines (with 5.Nxe5), into an unfamiliar area of chess theory, that might have been a plus. Ah, but Bill has been here, and near here, before. Alternatives include

6.Nc3 Ng4 7.Ng5+ Kg8 8.Qxg4 d6 9.Qf3 Nb4 10.Qf7 checkmate, Wall,B - Richard123,, 2010; and

6.Be3 Bxe3 (6...Bb4+ see Wall,B - Westender,, 2010 [1-0, 19] ) 7.fxe3 Rf8 8.0-0 Kg8 9.c4 d6 10.Nc3 Ng4 11.Qe2 Qe8 12.Nd5 Qd7 13.Nh4 Nf6 14.Rf2 Nxd5 15.Rxf8+ Kxf8 16.exd5 Ne7 17.Rf1+ Kg8 18.Qh5 b6 19.Qf7+ Kh8 20.Ng6+ hxg6 21.Qf8+ Kh7 22.Rf7 Bb7 23.Qxg7 checkmate, Wall,B - Hovo,D,, 2010.


Alternatives Bill has faced include

6...h6 7.Nxe5+ (7.Be3 see Wall,B - Mukak,, 2010 [1-0, 24] or 7.Nc3  Wall,B - Guest2622844,, 2013 [1-0, 39]) 7...Nxe5 as in Wall,B - Lee,S,, 2015, (1-0, 22);

6...Kg8 7.c4 as in Wall,B - KRM,, 2010 (1-0, 25); and

6...Rf8 7.c3 Kg8 (7...d5 8.b4 Bb6 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.b5 Nce7 11.c4 Nf4 12.Bxf4 exf4 13.Nc3 Kg8 14.Qb3 Be6 15.Ne4 h6 16.Rae1 Bf7 17.Ne5 Ng6 18.Nxg6 Bxg6 19.c5+ Bf7 20.Qc3 Rc8 21.cxb6 cxb6 22.Qd2 Qd5 23.Qxf4 Qxa2 24.Nd6 Bb3 25.Qe4 Rcd8 26.Nf5 Bf7 27.Qe5 Qe6 28.Qxg7 checkmate, Wall,B - Mokdad,M,, 2010) 8.b4 Bb6 9.a4 a6 10.Be3 d6 11.Qb3+ Kh8 12.Bxb6 cxb6 13.Nbd2 Ng4 14.h3 Nh6 15.d4 exd4 16.cxd4 Qf6 17.Qc3 Ne7 18.Qc7 a5 19.Qxb6 axb4 20.Qxb4 Nc6 21.Qc3 Bd7 22.Rfc1 Na5 23.Qc7 Bc8 24.d5 Rf7 25.Qb6 Qg6 26.Qd8+ Ng8 27.Rxc8 Rxc8 28.Qxc8 Black resigned, Wall,B - Bandera,M,, 2010. 

7.Nc3 Nd4 

There is nothing wrong with the ordinary 7...d6.

8.Na4 Nxf3+ 9.Qxf3 Be7 

Black continues to play ultra-safely. It is interesting to see how White proceeds against this.

10.d4 d6

Black can give a piece back with 10...exd4 11.e5 d6 12.exf6 Bxf6, but he prefers to make White do the work.

11.dxe5 dxe5 12.Rd1

Pressure along the d-file.

12...Bd6 13.h3

Bill points out the dangers of going after the b-pawn: 13.Qb3+ Be6 14.Qxb7 Rb8 15.Qxa7 (15.Qa6 Nxe4 16.Be3 Qh4) 15...Ra8 16.Qb7 Rxa4. White needs to be patient. He starts by keeping enemy pieces out of g4. Perhaps he will be able to launch his kingside pawns later.

13...Kg8 14.Bg5 Rf8

Lining the Rook up on the same file as the enemy Queen. Apparently Black did not want to "create a weakness" on his Kingside, as he had available 14...h6 15.Bxf6 (15.Bh4 g5 16.Bg3 Qe7) 15...Qxf6 16.Qxf6 gxf6, as pointed out by Bill; which looks okay for the second player.

15.Qb3+ Kh8 16.Nc3 c6 

Bill's comment in an email about this game is enlightening: I was losing for a long time in the opening and middlegame... 

"Objectively", White does have a "lost" game after 4.Bxf7+, despite the complications. He has to play on, however, hopefully - often towards success.

Qe7 18.f5

The f-pawn may become the spearhead of a pawn advance. Currently, it limits the movement of Black's light-squared Bishop (which, in turn, limits the movement of Black's Rook), which is another small benefit.

18...h6 19.Be3 b5

Black's solution to the pressure on the b7 pawn (and the Queenside) is a pawn advance. This allows him to feel comfortable "doing something", and leads to the win of a pawn - which turns out to be poisoned, alas.

a5 21.Ne2

The alternatives Bill gives do not look attractive: 21.a3 a4 22.Qa2 Bc5 23.Bxc5 Qxc5+ 24.Kg2 Nxe4 25.Nxe4 Qxc2+ 26.Nd2 Rd8; or 21.a4 Bc5 22.Bxc5 (22.Re1 Bxe3+ 23.Rxe3 Qc5 24.Nd1 b4) 22...Qxc5+ 23.Kh1 b4 24.Ne2 Nxe4.

The game move leads to a very complicated position.

21...Nxe4 22.Qd3 

Black has grabbed the e-pawn, but now faces the possible loss of either his Knight or his dark-squared Bishop. He decides to continue building up his attack.


The fact is that even after this move Stockfish 6 sees Black as better. However, the fact that the second player has to meekly give back a piece cannot feel good to the human competitor.

Did he have a better move? He did, as Bill pointed out: 22...Bxf5! 23.gxf5 Qh4 24.Kg2 (24.Kh2 Rxf5 25.Rf1 Raf8 26.Rxf5 Rxf5 27.Bg1 Rf6 28.Rd1 Nf2) 24...Rxf5 25.Rf1 Raf8 26.Rxf5 Rxf5 with an attack on the enemy King.

The sacrifice was hard to see. Worrying about losing Piece A or Piece B, Black misses the fact that he should give up the cramped and limited (until now!) Piece C...

23.Qxe4 c5 24.Qd3 Rfd8 25.Nc3

It certainly was not time for 25.Qxb5? Ba6 26.Qb3 Bxe2 as Bill points out. 

25...c4 26.Qf1 

26...b4 27.Nd5 Bxd5 28.Rxd5 Bc7

Black suddenly goes in for exchanges. Does he believe in his passed pawn that much?

29.Qxc4 Rxd5 30.Qxd5 Rd8 31.Qe4 Qh4 32.Kg2 Qe7

33.Rf1 Rd6 34.Bc5 Rd2+ 35.Rf2 Rxf2+ 36.Bxf2 Qd6

It is a good thing that White is not emotionally exhausted from his struggle from a "losing" position back to a "better" one. Converting his extra pawn will take a good bit of work, as long as the Queens and Bishops remain on the board. White decides to stir things up.

37.Qa8+ Kh7 38.Qb7 e4

Bill points out a couple of alternatives: 38...g6 39.fxg6+ Kxg6 40.Qe4+ Kf7 41.Qh7+ Ke8 42.Qg8+ Kd7 43.Qf7+ Kc6 44.Be3; or 
38...Bd8 39.Qe4 Kh8 40.Qf3.

Black has miscalculated: unfortunately, he does not have a mating attack.

39.Qxe4 Qh2+ 40.Kf1 Qxh3+ 41.Ke2 Kh8

This is not Black's best defense, but it is now only a matter of choosing which way to lose.

42.Qe8+ Kh7 43.Qg6+ Kh8 44.f6 Black resigned

A "Jerome pawn" assists in the mating attack.

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