Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Good Moves Are Not Enough

The following game presents a life lesson well worth learning - in fact, it is probably one of the reasons that some chess players stick with the Jerome Gambit. It is simply this: things don't often go the way they "should" go, and being able to deal with that is incredibly important.

Black, below, receives the "gift" of the Jerome Gambit - a "won" game in 4 moves. He follows this up by playing an unpopular, but strong - by objective analysis, by practical experience - move that solidifies his advantage.

He winds up resigning 20 moves later.   

Wall, Bill - Guest649850
PlayChess.com, 2017

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

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Nc6

A simple, but strong, move, saving one of the two attacked pieces.

Surprisingly enough, there are fewer than 10 examples in The Database, and White scores only 22%.

Somewhat relevant, however, is that both wins are by Bill Wall.

7.Qh5+ Kf8

Or 7...g6 8.Qxc5 d6 9.Qc4+ Kf8 10.O-O Qe7 11.Nc3 Be6 12.d5 Ne5 13.Qd4 Bd7 14.f4 Nf7 15.Be3 Ke8 16.e5 dxe5 17.fxe5 Qxe5 18.Qd2 Kd8 19.Rxf7 Nf6 20.Rxf6 Qxf6 21.Bg5 Black resigned, Wall,B - Lamjung, lichess.org, 2017.

8.Qxc5+ d6 9.Qc4 Nf6 10.Nc3 Qe7 11.O-O 

Long ago we talked on this blog about the negative "halo effect"
When people notice a good trait in a person, they often assume other positives. With the Jerome Gambit  often a negative "halo effect" occurs – if the early moves are bad, many of the other ones must be bad, too.
So here Black suspects that his opponent has continued to play bad chess, and decides to grab a "free" pawn.

11...Nxe4 12.Re1 Bf5 13.Nxe4 Bxe4 14.f3 

Okay, so the pawn wasn't exactly free, but Black still has a tactical shot that keeps the game even.


Black had the tricky 14...Bd5!?, unpinning his Bishop and attacking the enemy Queen while threatening a back rank checkmate. Very nice! after 15.Rxe7 Bxc4 16.Rxc7 d5 17.Bf4 White probably has enough compensation for his sacrificed piece.

By the way, the cute 14...Bd3 doesn't accomplish the same thing, as White has 15.Qc3, and after 15...Qh4 16.cxd3 Qxd4+ 17.Qxd4 Nxd4 18.Re4 White might even have a slim edge.

15.Qc3 Qb4 16.fxe4 Qxc3 

Black could have grabbed a pawn with 16...Qxd4+ 17.Qxd4 Nxd4, but he seems to have learned his lesson, as 18.Bd2 Nxc2 19.Rf1+ Kg8 20.Rac1 is more than sufficient to keep White's advantage.


17...dxe4 18.Rxe4 Re8 

Often in the Jerome Gambit Black's downfall comes because of an undeveloped Queenside. Here, it looks like the Rook on h8 is the major problem for him.

White has no intention of easing his defensive load by exchanging Rooks.


19...Kf7 20.Rf1+ Kg6 

This looks dangerous, but of course if 20...Kg8 then 21.Rxe8 checkmate.

21.Rg4+ Kh5 22.Rxg7 

Not just the win of a pawn, and a threat to win another, as White still has checkmate on his mind.

22...Re2 23.Bc1 h6 24.Rf5+ Kh4 25.g3+ Kh3 26.Rh5 checkmate

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