Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Jerome Gambit: Update The Database, Keep the Themes

I am updating The Database to include FICS games through the end of 2016. In the process, I ran across the following game which illustrates the ups and downs of playing the Jerome Gambit in blitz. White has over 200 games in The Database, and his play shows many Jerome themes - including a "sudden" mating attack to close the game.

snthor - AntonZ
blitz, FICS, 2016

1.Nf3 Nc6 2.e4 e5 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.O-O 

The "modern" Jerome Gambit, which skips the "classical" 5.Nxe5+ and is much more free form than forcing; the idea being that, given the freedom of choosing a line of play, instead of being forced into it, Black does not do his best.

5...d6 6.c3 h6 7.d4 exd4 8.cxd4 Bb6 

White has the better center pawn structure, and hopes to make progress against Black's slightly weakened King, whose careful ...h7-h6 often proves to have some weaknesses.

9.Qb3+ Kf8 10.Be3 Nf6 11.Nc3 Bg4 12.e5 dxe5 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.dxe5 Nd7 

Here we see a situation typical of a blitz game. If he had more time, Black would probably have avoided the exchanges that brought White's pawn to e5, which threatens Black's Knight, which loosens Black's Bishop... 


White builds his attack, and in the process misses the fork 15.Qb4+. Remember, this is a blitz game.

15...Qe7 16.f3 

I am trying out Stockfish 8, and here it recommends a breathless line of play that would probably appear in a slower time limit game: 16.Nd5 Qe6 17.Bxb6 axb6 18.Qb4+ c5 19.Qf4+ Qf5 20.Re4 Qxf4 21.Rxf4+ Kg8 22.Rxg4 Nxe5 23.Re4 Nc6 24.a3 Rd8 and White is a bit better.

16...Be6 17.Qc2 Re8 18.Bxb6 Nxb6 19.f4 

The "Jerome pawns", backed by Rooks, begin to look threatening. If he is careful, Black can handle them, but White knows they have power.

19...Qc5+ 20.Kh1 Nd5 21.f5 Bc8 22.Rc1 

Distracted by Black's Knight, for a moment White overlooks the thematic 22.f6!?

22...Nxc3 23.bxc3 Qxe5 24.f6 


Fascinating. As if Black realizes that White wants to open up lines, so he refuses to (or so he believes). As if the pawn on h6 has been searching for justification for almost 20 moves, and now "explains" itself.

This is a blitz game, the perfect time for the Jerome Gambit, and here is what we see regularly: Black offers White a chance to get back into the game; in fact, White is now winning.

25.Qg6 Rg8 26.Qxh6+ Kf7 27.Qh7+ Ke6 28.Rce1 

Even more crushing is 28.f7, but White does fine without it, winning Black's Queen. Then comes the King hunt and the checkmate.

28...Qxe1 29.Rxe1+ Kd6 30.Qd3+ Kc6 31.Qc4+ Kb6 32.Rb1+ Ka5 33.Qb4+ Ka6 34.Qb5 checkmate


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