Monday, January 1, 2018

Jerome Gambit: Taken From A Private Collection

The following "Chess" column appeared in the Albany Sunday Express of August 4, 1889 (page 3), presenting Game No. 19, a Jerome Gambit that had been "Taken from a private collection." 

Diagrams have been added, and notation has been changed from descriptive to algebraic. It has to be noted that the columnist has a good idea of how to play the Jerome Gambit, and Black, in the game, shows a decent understanding (e.g. castling-by-hand, returning the sacrificed piece for a couple of pawns) as well. It would be interesting to learn who played White, and who was maintaining a "private collection" of games. - Rick.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+

The Jerome Gambit.Theoretically white should lose as it is an unsound sacrifice, but the defense requires care. Against a slightly weaker player it is usually successful and forms a pleasing variation.

5...Nxe5 6.d4

We like this method of conducting the attack better than 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.Qf5+ Kd6 8.f4 Qf6 etc. as the latter seems to drive the K towards a place of refuge and to develop black as fast as white. We think white has the correct idea of the force of the gambit, viz.: to castle QR and push the king's flank pawns on black's exposed position.

6...Bxd4 7.Qxd4 d6 8.Nc3 Nf6 9.Bg5 Be6 10.O-O-O 

10...h6 11.Bh4

Better than 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 and if 11...g5 12.Bg3 Nc6 13.Qe3 Qd7 14.f4 with a strong attack.

11...Rf8 12.f4 Nc6 13.Qe3 Kg8 14.h3 

If 14.e5 Ng4 15.Qg3 Qe8 16.h3 Ngxe5 17.fxe5 Nxe5 with a good position and a P ahead.

14...Qd7 15.g4 Nxg4

This seems to be best, as it leaves black a P ahead and breaks white's pawns, the advance of which it would be difficult to stop.
Black has the best game. 

16.hxg4 Bxg4 17.Rdg1 a6? 

18.Nd5 a5 19.Qc3 b5 

19...Qe6 is better; in his desire for counter attack black has neglected to propose for white's bold plan.

20.Nf6+ Rxf6 

[Unfortunately, at this point in the newspaper there appear to be typos in the columnist's assessment, making some of his comments difficult to read and understand. He does show a preference for the move in the game, noting "If 20...gxf6 21.Bxf6 Rxf6 (else mate or loss of Q) 22.Qxf6 Qg7 23.Qxg7+ Kxg7 24.Rxg4+ winning B and a superior game." This assessment misses, after 20... gxf6 21.Bxf6, the defensive idea 21...b4!?, forcing a separation between the White Queen and her Bishop. The best response seems to be 22.Qc4+ d5 23.Qxd5+ Qxd5 24.Rxg4+ Kf7 25.exd5 Kxf6 26.dxc6 Rh8 when White is a pawn up in a Rooks and pawns endgame, but Black has neither lost his Queen nor been checkmated. - Rick]

21.Bxf6 gxf6 22.Rxh6 Rf8

No other move is satisfactory.

23.Qh3 Kf7

As good as any move white's combination is a gem.

If 23...f5 24.exf5 and a win is easily forced. 

24.Rxg4 Ke8 25.Rh7 Qe6 

26.Qh5+ Kd8 

If 26...Rf7 27.Rh8+ Ke7 28.Rgg8 

27. Rgg7 Qc4 28.Rd7+ Kc8 29.Rxc7+ Kb8

[It is not possible to see the remaining moves, due to incomplete scanning of the newspaper page, but clearly White has a winning attack, e.g. 30.Rb7+ Ka8 31.Qxb5 Qxb5 32.Rxb5 with the advantage of the exchange and two pawns. Even stronger would be 30.b3!? attempting to nudge the Black Queen away from her defense of the b-pawn and practically forcing 30...Qc5 31.Qxc5 dxc5 32.Rxc6 when White is up a Rook and a pawn.   - Rick]

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