Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Jerome Gambit Treatment - Unbelieveable! (A Bit More)

I found a few more examples of the opening line that we have been looking at in the last two posts (see "The Jerome Gambit Treatment - Unbelieveable!" and "The Jerome Gambit Treatment - Unbelieveable! (Addendum)"), including an over-the-board game with the defender declining the gambit.

The player of the White pieces in the following game is Francis Percival Wenman, who included the game in his 175 Chess Brilliancies (Pitman, London, 1947). The Chess Scotland and Yorkshire Chess History websites have information about him.

Wenman, P. - NN

Bristol, 1941

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6 4.d4 

 White has responded to the Semi-Italian opening with a center pawn break. It is a good strategy, although it appears to rule out transposition to a Jerome Gambit, which could still be reached after 4.0-0 or 4.Nc3.

4...d6 5.dxe5 dxe5 6.Bxf7+ Ke7

Wenman applies the "Jerome solution" (although it is not known if he was aware of the Gambit) and his opponent says "No, thank you."

7.Bd5 Nf6 8.0-0 Bg4 9.c4 Nd4 10.b3 c6

Black has trapped the enemy Bishop and it looks like its demise will give the defender the advantage. White, however, has a surprise for his opponent.

11.Nxe5 Bxd1 12.Ba3+ Ke8 13.Bf7 checkmate

A "miniature" where a Queen sacrifice leads to checkmate. Brilliant!

Or is it?

What if we go back to Black's 10th move, and we go after the White King first with 10...Nxf3+!? 11.gxf3 Bh3 ? (This is not a hard idea to find.) White's Rook is attacked, and if he moves it, Black still has the chance to trap the advanced Bishop. If White offers the exchange with 12.f4!? (as an example) the play becomes sharp, but balanced, with both sides having chances in a complicated position. This would be very exciting play, but not necessarily a "brilliancy" for White.

It is also clear that on his 12th move, in order to avoid mate, Black has to return his Queen with 12...Qd6 13.Bxd6+ Kxd6, entering a tactical mess where he has chances to survive. Stockfish 6 tries to help with 14.Nf7+ Ke7 15.Rxd1 Rg8 16.Rxd4 cxd5 17.e5 Kxf7 18.exf6 Bb4 19.cxd5 Rge8 and it will be hard for White to hold onto his 3 extra pawns, e.g. 20.Rd1 Re2 21.a3 Rae8 22.Rf1 Bc5 23.Nc3 Rc2 24.b4 Rxc3 25.bxc5 Rxc5 26.fxg7 Rxd5 27.Rab1 b6 28.Rbc1 Re7 29.Rfd1 Rxd1+ 30.Rxd1 Kxg7. White will probably prevail in this Rook + 4 pawns vs Rook + 3 pawns, but the brilliancy has evaporated.

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