Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Is Weirdness the 35th Piece or the 65th Square?

In a humorous vein I have referred to the chess clock as the "33rd piece" and the computer mouse (for online games) as the "34th piece", as each can have a profound effect on the outcome of a chess game - especially a game featuring the unorthodox Jerome Gambit.

In the following battle Black takes the sacrificed material, exchanges pieces, enters a winning endgame and... and... and...
and apparently runs out of time (or ideas?) and forces a draw through the repetition of moves.


Which is kind of normal for the Jerome Gambit.

Wall, Bill - Kar, Bob
lichess.org, 2017

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

4...Kxf7 5.O-O h6

Interesting. Bill opts for a "modern" (non 5.Nxe5+) Jerome Gambit variation by castling. In return, his opponent transposes the game to a Semi-Italian Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6 4.0-0 Bc5 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7).

It is funny to note that now Stockfish 8 recommends Bill's following, "classical" Jerome Gambit move.

6.Nxe5+ Nxe5 7.d4

Bill has also played the equally-strong 7.Qh5+:  7...Ke6 (7...Ng6 8.Qd5+ Ke8 9.Qxc5 d6 10.Qc4 Ne5 11.Qb3 Qe7 12.d4 Nc6 13.d5 Nd4 14.Qa4+ Bd7 15.Qxd4 Qe5 16.Qxe5+ dxe5 17.f4 exf4 18.Bxf4 c6 19.c4 Nf6 20.e5 Nh5 21.e6 Nxf4 22.exd7+ Kxd7 23.Rxf4 Black resigned, Wall,B - Castro,S, Chess.com, 2010) 8.Qf5+ Kd6 9.d4 Bxd4 10.Rd1 Ke7 11.Rxd4 d6 12.Qf4 Nf6 13.Nc3 Qf8 14.b3 Be6 15.Nb5 Kd7 16.Qxe5 Ng4 17.Qg3 Qf6 18.Bb2 Rhf8 19.Rxd6+ cxd6 20.Bxf6 Rxf6 21.Qxd6+ Black resigned, Wall,B - Guest473534, PlayChess.com 2011


This direct move makes the most sense, especially in light of Black having spent time on ...h6. Still, Bill has seen other moves:

7...Bd6 8.dxe5 Bxe5 9.Qh5+ Ke6 10.Qf5+ Kd6 11.Rd1+ Kc6 12.Qxe5 Qe7 13.Qd5+ Kb6 14.Be3+ c5 15.Nc3 d6 16.Qxd6+ Qxd6 17.Rxd6+ Kc7 18.Nb5+ Kb8 19.Bf4 Black resigned, Wall,B - Guest7561588, PlayChess.com, 2016; and

7...Bb6 8.dxe5 Ne7 9.Nc3 c6 10.Qh5+ Ng6 11.Qf5+ Kg8 12.Qxg6 Qf8 13.Ne2 Qf7 14.Qg3 Kh7 15.b3 Rf8 16.Bb2 Qg6 17.Qd3 a5 18.Ng3 a4 19.Nf5 axb3 20.axb3 Rxa1 21.Bxa1 Rd8 22.Nd6 Bc5 23.Rd1 Rf8 24.Nf5 Qe6 25.h3 g6 26.Nd6 Bxf2+ 27.Kh2 Bc5 28.Nxc8 Rxc8 29.Qxd7+ Qxd7 30.Rxd7+ Kg8 31.Rxb7 Re8 32.Rc7 Re6 33.g4 Be3 34.Kg3 Black resigned, Wall,B - Dad88, Miami, 2014.

8.Qxd4 Qf6

Putting the Queen on an often-useful square, and threatening the very blunt 9...Nf6+. Once again, Bill has faced other continuations:

8...Nc6 9.Qd5+ Kf8 10.Nc3 Nf6 11.Qb3 d6 12.Be3 Qe7 13.f3 Na5 14.Qb5 b6 15.Rfe1 Bd7 16.Qf1 Kf7 17.Nd5 Qd8 18.Rad1 Re8 19.Bf2 c6 20.Nxf6 Qxf6 21.b4 Nb7 22.Qa6 Bc8 23.Bd4 Qe6 24.Bxb6 Nc5 25.Qa3 Nd7 26.Bc7 Qc4 27.Bxd6 Nb6 28.Bc5 Be6 29.f4 Bg4 30.Rd4 Qxc2 31.f5 Nc4 32.Qg3 Ne5 33.Bd6 Bh5 34.Bxe5 Be2 35.Qxg7 checkmate, Wall,B - Anonymous, lichess.org, 2016;

8...d6 9.f4 Nc6 10.Qd5+ Be6 11.Qd3 Ke7 12.Bd2 Nf6 13.Nc3 Nb4 14.Qg3 Rg8 15.e5 dxe5 16.Rad1 exf4 17.Bxf4 Qc8 18.Bxc7 Nfd5 19.Bd6+ Kd7 20.Bxb4 Qc6 21.Nxd5 Bxd5 22.Rf7+ Kc8 23.Rxd5 Qxd5 24.Qc7 checkmate, Wall,B - Guest2474397, PlayChess.com, 2014;

8...Ng6 9.Qc4+ Kf8 10.Nc3 c6 11.Be3 b5 12.Qb4+ N8e7 13.f4 a5 14.Qd6 Kf7 15.f5 Nf8 16.f6 Ne6 17.fxe7+ Black resigned, Wall,B - Merdiyev,F, Chess.com, 2010; and

8...Qe7 9.f4 Nc6 10.Qd5+ Qe6 11.Qh5+ g6 12.Qf3 d6 13.f5 gxf5 14.exf5 Qf6 15.Nc3 Ne5 16.Qh5+ Kg7 17.Nd5 Qf7 18.Qxf7+ Kxf7 19.Nxc7 Rb8 20.Nb5 Ne7 21.Nxd6+ Kf6 22.Bf4 Bxf5 23.Rae1 N5g6 24.Nxf5 Nxf4 25.Nxe7 Kg5 26.Re5+ Kf6 27.Re4 Rhe8 28.Rfxf4+ Black resigned, Wall,B - Ratebabb, Chess.com, 2010.


Another way to deal with the threat was 9.Be3 d6 (9...Ne7 10.Nc3 Rf8 11.Nb5 c6 12.Nc7 Rb8 13.f4 Nf3+ 14.Rxf3 Qxd4 15.Bxd4 Kg8 16.Bxa7 Black resigned, Wall,B - Foman, Chess.com 2010) 10.Nc3 c5 11.Qd1 g5 12.f4 gxf4 13.Rxf4 Black resigned, Wall,B - NN, lichess.org, 2016.



Letting Black take the first step, but this allows the annoying 10...Bxh3!? 11.Qc3 Bxg2!? 12.Kxg2 Qg6+ 13.Kf1 Qxe4 when Black has returned the sacrificed piece for three pawns, while destroying the pawn cover of the White King.

10...Ne7 11.Nd2 c5 12.Qc3 Rf8 13.Qb3+ Qe6 14.Qxe6+ Bxe6 

With an extra piece (for only a pawn) and better development, Black is clearly on top in this game. However, he still needs to show what he can do with his advantage, and that proves to be a challenge.

15.f4 N5c6 16.f5 Bd7 17.g4

Nothing like a Kingside pawn storm to get the blood pumping. Black decides to castle-by-hand right into it.

17...Kg8 18.h4

18...Rad8 19.Nf3 Bc8 20.c4 Ne5 21.Nxe5 dxe5 22.Rxd8 Rxd8

Exchanging pieces has helped Black by reducing the size of the possible attacking force. The Queenless middle game is looking a lot like an ending, where the extra piece will be of help.

23.Be3 b6 24.a3 Rd3 25.Bf2 Nc6 26.b4 Nd4 27.bxc5 bxc5 28.Rb1 Rb3 29.Rxb3 Nxb3 30.Kg2 Ba6 31.Bg3 Bxc4 32.Bxe5 Bd3

Things are beginning to look scary for White. On the other hand, they have looked scary since the opening, so everything is relative. The Jerome Gambit is not for the nervous; it is for those who can stay continuously aware of opportunities as they present themselves. Nobody ever won a game by resigning, either.

33.Bb8 a5 34.Kf3 c4 35.Ke3 a4 36.Bd6 Kf7 37.g5 hxg5 38.hxg5 g6 

In theory, exchanging pawns should help White. A passed pawn or two wouldn't hurt, either. Any weapon to fight back with.

39.f6 Na1 40.Bc5 Nc2+ 41.Kd2 Na1

This looks like a clock issue.

42.Ke3 Nc2+ 43.Kd2 Na1 Drawn by repetition

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