Friday, February 16, 2018

Jerome Gambit: One Tempo Away

Although the Jerome Gambit is clearly a "refuted" opening, some of its lines approach legitimacy - and, at certain time controls or under certain conditions, it becomes "playable" as well.

Sometimes it is almost like White is one tempo short of an acceptable position - and that tempo shows up regularly in the games of club players.

The following game is a brutal example.

Wall, Bill - Guest2069651, 2018

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ 

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

A routine position for Bill. He has been here over 70 times.

8.O-O Nc6 9.Qd5+ Be6 10.Qh5+ g6 11.Qe2 

White engages in a bit of psychological warfare: the Jerome Gambit is known to be "bad" for any number of reasons, including having White using his Queen too early and too often. Here, Bill stirs things up - and perhaps gives his opponent the idea that the first player is a rank amateur not to be taken too seriously.

11...Qd7 12.Nc3 a6

Keeping White's Knight off of b5, but I do not think that this is the most useful move here.

13.f4 Nge7

Bill does not like this move, and recommends 13...b5 instead. Certainly 13...Nf6 was also playable. It is clear that Black puts his Knight on e7 to resist the advance of White's "Jerome pawns" but in this he is not successful.

14.f5 gxf5 15.Qh5+ 

Oh, that Queen!

White now can draw the game by repetition, but he wants more than half a point. Perhaps Black does not want a draw against such a disreputable opening as well, and so choosed a different line of play - handing White the necessary tempo to close out the attack.


Wiser was 15...Kg8

16.Bh6+ Kg8 

It is a bit of a shock to realize 16...Kf6 17.e5+ dxe5 (17...Kxe5 18.Bg7#) 18.Ne4 checkmate 

17.exf5 Bxf5 

Better than 17...Nxf5 but still leading to a loss.


Threatening a deadly fork at f6, and undermining the support of the enemy Bishop.


The "best" defense shows the strength of White's attack: 18...Rf8 19.Rae1 (winning the exchange can wait) Qd8 20.Nxe7+ Nxe7 21.Rxe7 Qxe7 22.Bxf8 Bg6 23.Qxg6+ hxg6 24.Bxe7 and White is a piece ahead in the endgame. I suspect that Bill would have found 20.Qh4!?, however, continuing to tie his opponent in knots.

19.Rxf5 Ne5 20.Rg5+ Ng6 21.Rxg6+ hxg6 22.Qxg6+ Black resigned