Friday, November 24, 2017

Jerome Gambit Declined: Long But Not Winding Road

The following is one of two recent Jerome Gambit Declined games played between Petasluk (408 games in The Database, scoring 65%) and ROYBY. The other was a win on time by ROYBY, after the game had reached a drawn Bishops-of-opposite-colors endgame.

The JGD can lead to quiter play than the main lines, but White is in less of a hurry, as he has the advantage in material. 

Petasluk - ROYBY
5 0 blitz, FICS, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 


The Jerome Gambit Declined. Even though White has scored only 55% against it in the games in The Database, I cannot recommend it for Black. The defender gives up the opportunity of being two pieces up (with an insecure King) to be one pawn down (with an insecure King).


Of course, White could also have withdrawn the Bishop.

5...Kxg8 6.c3 h6 7.d4 exd4 8.cxd4 Bb6 

A pleasant, if somewhat unsual position for the Jerome Gambit player - better pawn center, safer King, and ahead in material.

9.O-O Qe7 10.Re1 d6 11.Qb3+ Qf7 12.d5 Na5 

Removing the Knight from danger and attacking the enemy Queen - all in one move. But, seriously, folks, the stronger idea was 12...Ne5.

13.Qd3 Bd7 

Intentionally or not, Black abandons his Knight. He could have tried 13...c5, after which 14.dxc6 Nxc6 15.Qxd6 would net a pawn for White.

Interestingly enough, Stockfish 8 would prefer to ignore the offside Knight, and answer 13...c5 with 14.Nbd2!? Bc7 15.b3 Qg6 16.Bb2 Bd8 17.Qc3 b5 18.e5 b4 19.Qc1 Bh3 20.g3 Be7 21.exd6 Bxd6 22.Ne4 Qf7 23.Qe3 Nb7 24.Rad1 Rc8 25.Nxd6 Nxd6 when White has better development and Black's semi-castled King blocks one of his Rooks. Quite an improvement over the days when computers were pawn grabbers! 

14.b4 a6 15.bxa5 Bxa5 16.Bd2 Bb5 17.Qe3 Bb6 18.Qc3 Kh7 19.a4 Bd7 20.Be3 c5 

Black's c-pawn comes to the rescue of his Bishop, but probably simpler - if annoying, as it is not always the first choice to exchange pieces when you are behind in material - was 20...Bxe3.

21.dxc6 Rac8 22.Bxb6 Rxc6 23.Qb2 Bg4 24.Nbd2 Rf8 

Black has all of his pieces developed, but there are not enough of them.

25.Rac1 Bd7 26.Rxc6 Bxc6 27.Qc2 Kh8 28.Qd3 Qe7 29.Nd4 Bxa4 30.Nf5 

A slip that neither player notices: the Knight is not protected. White's e-pawn is effectively pinned, as 30...Rxf5 31.exf5? Qxe1 would be checkmate. If White didn't panic, he could still be better after 30...Rxf5 31.Nc4.

30...Qe5 31.Nxd6 

Clearly good enough to win. The ever-watchful Stockfish 8 suggests the very aggressive alternative, 31.Bd4!?, which both attacks the Black Queen and, through it, Black's Kingside. One possible outcome is 31...Bb5 32.Qa3 and White has too many threats.

31...Bc6 32.Nf3 Rf4 

A final slip, perhaps due to the clock. 

33.Nxe5 Black resigned

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