Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Jerome Gambit: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Image result

I borrowed part of the title of this blog post from Tim Burton's animated film, but it seemed to be about right in describing the following game.

Those who play the Jerome Gambit need to constantly remind themselves that it is, technically, a refuted opening, and that there are a number of winning defenses that Black can play.

True, there are many circumstances which lead to the defender not making use of his advantages, and White wins - sometimes quite impressively. Learning to take advantage of any slip or error is critical.

However, sometimes there are games like the following. SeinfeldFan91 won the RedHotPawn.com Jerome Gambit tournament by succeeding in all of his games - and that means wins with Black, as well as wins with White.

kristjan - SeinfeldFan91
Jerome Gambit Tournament, RedHotPawn.com, 2016

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4

At first Alonzo Wheeler Jerome favored this move over 6.Qh5+, and it has much going for it - including winning back one of White's two sacrificed pieces.

A quick look at The Database (which is a good measure of club player success, not necessarily "theoretical" or computer success) shows 1,499 games with 6.d4, with White scoring 52%. This can be compared with 3,793 games with 6.Qh5+, with White scoring 55%.


This is the strongest theoretical response to 6.d4, and it appears in 230 games in The Database. However, as a measure of how chaotic the game becomes in this double-edged variation - White scores 67%!

This is another indication that familiarity and understanding of the Jerome Gambit is very important: Play what you know, and know what you play.


Here the Database statistics line up with the recommendations of the computers. The text move appears in 67 games with White scoring 28% - not bad when considering that the line is "lost" for the attacker, but not best. There are 154 Database games with the also "lost" (but better) move 7.0-0, and White scores 87% - it is always good to understand your practical chances in a wild line! 

7...Qxe4+ 8.Kf1 Nf6 9.Nc3 Qb4 

Some alternatives:

9...Qh4 10.Be3 b6 11.Ne2 bxc5 12.Ng3 d6 13.c3 Ba6+ 14.Kg1 Rhe8 15.Qb3+ c4 16.Qd1 g6 17.Kf1 Neg4 18.Bd4 Nxh2+ 19.Kg1 Nfg4 20.Qd2 Bb7 21.Qf4+ Kg8 22.Rxh2 Qxh2+ White resigned, HauntedKnight - blocbloc, FICS, 2016;

9...Qc4+ 10.Kg1 Qxc5 11.Be3 Qe7 12.g3 d6 13.Kg2 Bg4 14.Qd2 Bf3+ 15.Kg1 Bc6 16.f4 Nf3+ White resigned, HauntedKnight - truuf, FICS, 2014; and

9...Qc6 10.Bg5 Re8 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.Nd5 Qf5 13.Nxc7 Ng4 14.Qd5+ Qxd5 15.Nxd5 Re5 16.c4 b6 17.cxb6 Ba6 18.b3 axb6 19.Nxb6 d5 20.Nxa8 dxc4 21.Nc7 Rf5 22.Nxa6 Nxf2 23.Kg1 c3 24.Rc1 Ne4 25.Nb4 Rf2 26.Rxc3 Rb2 27.Rf3+ Ke6 28.h3 g5 29.Kh2 h5 30.Re1 Ke5 31.Nd3+ Black resigned, PasChat - plamb, FICS, 2014


At this point something like 10.Be3 to focuse on development was probably better. Still, the situation is grim.

10...d5 11.Kg2 Bg4 12.Qe1 Rhe8 White resigned

Playing on a piece down, with the loss of more material imminent, was not appealing.

No comments: