Saturday, September 16, 2017

Jerome Gambit: How Did That Happen?

Watching a good player who is skilled in playing the Jerome Gambit often inspires the question How did that happen?

Starting from a theoretically "lost" position for White at move 4, the following game moves forward until, 10 moves later, White has the attack and the advantage. Black has clearly missed some drawing lines, but still - How did that happen?

Wall, Bill - Guest2614882, 2017

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

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Bxd4 7.Qxd4 d6 8.Nc3 c5 

A typical kind of position for Bill in his preferred 6.d4 variation. Sometimes the pawn move to kick the Queen helps, sometimes not.

9.Qd5+ Ke7

It is always interesting to see, in this kind of position, if the defender will choose development over material, and elect for 9...Be6, allowing 10.Qxb7+. This is not a terribly complex issue - Black can make the offer, and White risks sidelining his Queen if he accepts - but often the cost on seeing this through is time off Black's clock.

By the way, Bill has also faced 9...Kf6, which did not turn out well:  10.f4 Be6 11.fxe5+ Ke7 12.Qxb7+ Black resigned, Wall,B - NN,, 2016.

10.Bg5+ Nf6 11.f4 Neg4 

What do we have here? Things are getting messy...

Stockfish 8 prefers 11...Nc6 and gives a line will all sorts of contortions - before ending in a draw by repetion.

For now, it's time for White to open attacking lines.

12.e5 h6 

A standard idea: counter an attack with an attack. However, here Black, possibly thinking that he is striving for advantage, misses an opportunity to keep the game level: 12...dxe5 13.fxe5 Qxd5 14.Nxd5+ Kd7 15.exf6 Re8+ 16.Kd2 Re5 17.f7!? Rxd5+ 18.Kc3 Rf5 19.Rhf1 Nf2 20.Bh4 Rxf7 21.Rxf2 Rxf2 22.Bxf2 with an even endgame.

13.exf6+ gxf6 14.Bh4 

There was no need to explore the further sacrifice 14.O-O!?, as the text is fine - although I will warn Readers not to reach this position in the future against Bill without exploring that move. 

14...Re8 15.O-O-O Kf8

Black has castled-by-hand, but his King remains at risk, especially with White's lead in development.

16.Qh5 Kg7 

The brave King defends his pawns - proving, again, how frustratingly backwards the Jerome Gambit can be sometimes for the defender. His best plan involved the alternative 16...Qd7, that is, a move that commits the classic error of blocking his light-squared Bishop, which in turn blocks his Queenside Rook...

17.Nd5 Be6 


Attacking the Bishop and un-protecting the Knight (which is protecting the Kingside).

Black is worried about the two minor pieces attacking his pawn at f6 and the subsequent possible fork of his King and Queen, so he figures it is time to eliminate the white Knight - alas, that will not work.

18...Bxd5 19.Qxg4+ Kh8 20.Qg6

Black resigned

White's Bishop will come to f6 with check, and either win the enemy Queen or force checkmate.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Jerome Gambit: The Occasional Bagatelle

Sometimes you get to play - and I get to share - a light-hearted Jerome Gambit (yes, there are other kinds) that seems to skip along from beginning to end. The following game is an example from Bill Wall.

Wall, Bill - Guest2467942, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Bxd4 7.Qxd4
d6 8.Nd2 

According to The Database (which, admittedly, needs some updating), this is a novelty.

8...Nf6 9.O-O Rf8 10.Re1 Be6 11.f4 Nc6 12.Qc3 Kg8 

Black has wisely castled-by-hand and even leads in development. The question for him, of course, is what to do next.

13.Nf3 Bg4 14.Qb3+ Kh8 15.Ng5 

Threatening a fork at f7, which would win the exchange. This can be dealt with, but the hits keep on coming.

15...Qd7 16.f5 h6 17.Ne6 Rfe8 

18.Qxb7 Na5 19.Qxc7 Nc6 20.Bf4 Ne5 21.Qxd7 Nfxd7 22.Nc7 Black resigned

After winning the exchange, White will have a Rook and three pawns for a couple of Knights. While this is not an overwhelming advantage - the position is more of a Queenless middlegame (where the pieces tend to hold sway) than an endgame (where the pawns preside) - it is certainly enough to produce a win for White over time. Likely Black shrugged his shoulders, whispered You win some, you lose some, and decided to move on. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Jerome Gambit: Always Strangeness

One guiding principle in choosing a Jerome Gambit game to share is when it contains a dash of strangeness. The game below again shows the computer's interest in draws-by-repetition - and Bill Wall's interest in wins-by-checkmate.

Wall, Bill - Guest2616286, 2017

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.d4 Bb6 

We have recently seen examples of this reasonable line.

7.dxe5 Qh4 

7...Qe7 was seen in Wall,B - NN,, 2016 (1-0, 35). 

8.Qf3+ Ke8 

Better than 8...Ke7 as seen in Wall,B - Guest2293428,, 2017 (1-0, 12) and Wall,B - Guest6766281,, 2017 (1-0, 14).


Or 9.Nc3 as in Wall,B - Itboss, 2016, (1-0, 31) 


10.Nc3 Rf8 11.Qe2 g5 

Black sees opportunity on the Kingside. The risk is that old Jerome Gambit story: Black's light-squared Bishop is at home, blocking the development of a Rook. 

12.Be3 Ng6 13.Nd5 Kd8 14.Qd2 h6 

15.Bxb6 axb6 16.Nxc7 

White shows a sense of humor. First he sacrifices a Bishop on f7, then he sacrifices a Knight on c7. Of course, in the latter case, he has a tactic to allow the recovery of the piece.

16...Kxc7 17.Qd6+ Kd8 18.Qxg6 Re8 

Before this move, Stockfish 8 was not so comfortable with White's  position, recommending as best 18...Ra6 (to provide help along the 6th rank after ...b5) 19.g3 Qh3 20.Rfd1 Re8 21.Qf6+ Kc7 22.Qd6+ Kd8 23.Qf6+ and a draw by repetition. Again, I do not think that dropping a half point was in Bill's plans.

After the text, the issue of extra pawns vs extra piece becomes immaterial.  

19.Qxb6+ Ke7 20.Qf6 checkmate