Thursday, December 10, 2015

Correspondence Play (Part 1)

Alonzo Wheeler Jerome developed and defended his gambit in both across-the-board and correspondence games in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He even arranged to play the Jerome Gambit against readers of the Literary Digest.

In modern times, however, the Jerome is most likely to show up in internet games, often blitz; although the occasional face-to-face contest still can be found.

Recently, I received an email from Vlastimil Fejfar, of the Czech Republic, who shared three of his Jerome Gambit correspondence games - a pleasant return to the days of AWJ.

Fejfar,V - Pressl
corr Czech Republic, 2015

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

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.f4 d6

White faces what I have called "the annoying defense", where Black calmly gives back a piece and avoids any risky misadventures, remaining up a piece for a pawn.

The idea is at least as old as D'Aumiller, A.D. - A.P., Livorno, 1878 (1-0, 19). It is the choice of many computer programs in games in The Database, including Fritz, Hiarcs, Junior, Rybka, Shredder and Spike; so I have also referred to it as "the silicon defense".

Also, 7...d6 is the move recommended by many authorities, including IM Gary Lane in his The Greatest Ever Chess Tricks and Traps.

Vlasta proceeds calmly against it.

8.fxe5 dxe5 9.Qh3+ Kd6 10.Qd3+ Ke7 11.Qg3 Ke6 12.Qb3+ Ke7 13.Qg3 Ke6 14.Qb3+ Ke7 15.Qg3 


It is not clear who came out "ahead" in this encounter, Black, who was able to split the point, or White, who was able to play a "refuted" opening and not lose.

I am sympathetic. The second round of the Italian Game Tournament has concluded for me, again (like in the first round) without being able to contest a single Jerome Gambit, which my opponents dodged. With White I scored two wins (one on time), four draws and no losses. Did more than half of my opponents "succeed" in "winning half a point" against me, or did they miss out on strolling to victory?

[This is blog post number 2,150, for those who might wonder. - Rick]

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