Sunday, June 19, 2016

Fun With the Jerome Gambit

When recently discussing the "Macbeth Attack" I mentioned the early game Wright - Hunn, Arkansas, 1874, which appeared in the November issue of the Dubuque Chess Journal for that year. The game began 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d4, garnering the comment  "Brilliant but not sound" from the editor. (I suspect Jude Acers and George Laven, authors of "The Italian Gambit and A Guiding Repertoire for White" might challenge that "not sound" assessment.)

After 4...exd4 ("The German Handbuch gives as best variation 4...Bxd4 5.c3 Bb6 6.Ng5 Nh6 7.Qh5 O-O 8.f4 exf4 9.Bxf4 d6 10.Rf1 Qe7 and Black should win."), 5.Bxf7+ the editor commented "An unsound variation of Jerome's double opening." Still, he was able to join in the fun. After 5...Kxf7 6.Ng5+ he suggested that Ne5 "a la Jerome" is better than Ng5. That may not be "objectively" true, but capturing the imaginary pawn on e5 certainly is in line with the outlandish play of Alonzo Wheeler Jerome's creation.

I was surprised to find 40 games in The Database that, wittingly or unwittingly, followed the DCJ's suggestion. The following blitz game shows some of the fun behind the lighthearted suggestion.

SupremacyPawn - northug
blitz, FICS, 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.d4 exd4 6.Ne5+ 

6...Nxe5 7.Qh5+ Ke6 8.f4 Nf6 

Black is having so much fun "punishing" White for his audacity of early Queen moves - well, you know how those things sometimes go...

9.Qxe5+ Kf7 10.Qxc5 

Black has quickly returned two pieces. He would do best to calm himself, rationally look at his new position, and plot a new strategy. Something like 10...d5 comes to mind, with either 11.Qxd4 Ne4 or 11.e5 Ne4 to follow, and despite his previous misfortunes, Black would not be worse.

Alas for the defender, he is sure that White has erred (a clear assessment that is out of date, however) and still can and should be punished for his transgressions.

10...Nxe4 11.Qd5+ Kg6 12.Qxe4+ Kf7 13.O-O 
Black resigned

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