Sunday, November 26, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Reverse Psychology

I always enjoy the advance of the "Jerome pawns" in different attacking Jerome Gambit games.

There is a sub-group of games, however, where White's psychological ploy is to use his extra pawns to build a fortress, and then challenge Black - with more material, hence, the advantage - to do his worst.

The following game is an extreme version of the latter idea. 

Petasluk - Caarreeyy
5 0 blitz, FICS, 2017

1 e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ng6 7.Qxc5 d6 8.Qe3 Nf6 

9.d3 Re8 10.f3

Petasluk has arrived at this position 17 times before.

Black has got to be thinking: How hard can this be?

10...Kg8 11.O-O Kh8

The Database sees this "Hmmm, let me think about it" move as a novelty.

12.b3 Nd5 13.Qf2 Qf6 14.c3 Ndf4 15.Qc2 b6 16.Bb2 

Right now Black seems closer to mounting an attack.

16...Ba6 17.c4 Qg5 

Aggressive looking, but Stockfish 8, instead, suggests winning a couple of pawns with the flurry 17...Ne5 18.Nc3 Nexd3 19.g3 Nxb2 20.gxf4 Nxc4 21.bxc4 Bxc4 22.Ne2 Bxe2 23.Qxe2 Qxf4 when Black's advantage is clear, if not exciting.

18.Nc3 Nh4 

Things are beginning to look scary for White, but his pawns help out.

19.g3 Nh3+ 20. Kh1 Ng6 21. Rae1 Rf8 

Sometimes I recommend the Jerome Gambit as a way to help the second player work on defensive skills. Here, you see White working as well.

22.Qg2 Qh5 23.Nd5 Rac8 24.Ne3 Bb7 

This is a strange kind of position to arise out of a gambit. Even stranger, Stockfish 8 gives White a slight edge.

Black decides he can invest an exchange and a pawn in his attack.

25.Nf5 Rxf5 26.exf5 Ne5 27.Bxe5 dxe5 28.Rxe5 Ng5 

Black's pressure along the a8-h1 diagonal, especially with the targets - the pawn at f3, the Queen at g2, the King at h1 - seem to give him hope. Yet, the fact that White has a Rook and 3 pawns for a couple of pieces also reassures the first player.


A loss of patience. White would do better to consolidate with 29.g4 Qh4 30.d4 followed by d5, stifling the enemy Bishop's pressure. 

29... gxf6 30.g4 Qg6 31.Re3 Re8 32.Rxe8+ Qxe8 


Understandably wanting to get the Queen off of the deadly diagonal, but it was time to return to defense - and allow a draw by repetition, i.e. 33.d4 Nxf3 34.d5 Ne1 35.Qg3 Qe4+ 36.Kg1 Qd4+ 37.Kh1 Qe4+ etc. 


There was also nothing wrong with 33...Nxf3 34.Rxf3 Qe2.

White is in serious trouble.

34.h4 Nxf3 35.Qxc7 

The game has reached a very curious, and critical point.

Black seems to have a win - but only one move will bring it about.

It will not simply be enough to exchange Queens, as after 35...Qe5 36.Qxe5 fxe5 37.Rf7 White can probably hold the R vs 2 pieces draw. 

He can, for example, win the exchange with the cute 35...Nh2+ 36.Qxb7 Nxf1, but after 37.Qf7 his exposed King will lead to a draw.

No, Black needs to win the exchange the other way: 35...Nd2+! 36.Qxb7 Qh3+! 37.Kg1 Qxf1+ when he can pose greater threats to White's King after 38.Kh2 Nf3+ 39.Kg3 Qg1+ 40.Kf4 Nxh4 41.Qa8+ Kg7 42.Qxa7+ Kh6

Black's King is safer

analysis diagram


Black still looks like he has great pressure - but, actually, two pieces are hanging. The cool and rational Stockfish 8 adds that  White now has a checkmate in 28.


36.Qb8+ Kg7 37.Qxb7+ Kh6 38.Qxf3 Black resigned

Well, that changed quickly...

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