Friday, 17 June 2011

Up until what level would you play this?

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7?! is the Jerome Gambit, which was played during the 19th century. It is completely unsound, and I found only won win for White in my database (which I will give below). However it is only unsound against strong opposition and may be effective against weaker opponents. Is this an acceptable approach to playing chess, or is the game about 'absolute' truth?
At a junior club I coach at there is a player who either plays this or even an accelerated version of it (1.e4, 2.Bc4, 3.Bxf7+) I have told him it is unsound, and will not work against strong opponents, and he accepts this. However he argues that it works against almost all of his opponents, which is true. It also helps him learn some attacking ideas, that may be useful as he improves. So at this stage I'm not to doctrinaire with him on what is 'proper' and what is not. I'm also assuming that a couple of bad losses in serious competition will eventually show him the folly of his ways.
The following game was the only win I found for White in this line. It was played by Henry Charlick (from Adelaide) and is one of a number of games where he showed some inventive opening ideas. I have no idea where the notes for the game have come from, but am assuming they may be the original notes from when the game was first published in the local press.

Charlick,Henry - Mann,J [C50]
corr m Adelaide, 1880

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ This ingeneous sacrifice was invented by Mr Jerome, an American player, in 1874, and, unless correctly answered, yields a strong attack.  It seems rather rash to venture on it in a correspondence game. 4...Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 5...Kf8 is, we think, better. 6.Qh5+ Ng6 6...Ke6 is preferable. 7.Qd5+ Ke8 8.Qxc5 d6 9.Qe3 The authorities give 9.Qc3, but White prefers the text. 9...Nf6 10.d4 Qe7 10.Kf7 is surely stronger, bringing his R into immediate action, and threatening ...Nxe4. 11.0-0 Ng4 This only assists White in developing his game by driving back the N presently; 11...b6 seems the best method of getting his forces into action. 12.Qe2 Qh4 13.h3 Nf6 14.f4 White has now a most formidable attack. 14...Nh5 15.Qf2 Qxf2+ 16.Rxf2 Rf8 17.f5 Ne7 18.c4 c6 Again we should have preferred ...b6. 19.g4 Nf6 20.Nc3 d5 21.e5 White's Pawns now look quite irresistible. 21...Nd7 22.cxd5 Nxd5 23.Ne4 N7b6 24.b3 a5 25.e6 This, we believe, is premature; 25.Bg5 is a very strong move. 25...h6 26.Bb2 Ke7 27.Re1 Ra7 Black's game is so cramped that defeat is inevitable. 28.Nc5 White might also have obtained a fine game by 28.h4. 28...Na8 29.Nd3 b5 30.Ne5 Kd6 31.Rc1 Ra6 32.Rc5 Bb7 33.Rfc2 Rc8 34.Bc1 a4 35.b4 Very well played. 35...a3 Had he taken 35...Nxb4, White would have gained a winning position by 36.Bf4. 36.Bd2 Nab6 37.Be1 Na4 38.Bg3 Ke7 39.Nd7 Nxc5 40.dxc5 Rg8 41.Bd6+ Ke8 42.Rd2 Ra4 This, we believe, is his best play; had he moved 42...Nf6, White could have replied with 43.Be5, forcing the game in a few moves. (If 42...Nxb4 White wins offhand by 43.f6!) 43.Rxd5 Well played, obtaining a winning position, though it still requires great care to bring about that result. 43...cxd5 44.f6 gxf6 45.Nxf6+ Kd8 46.e7+ Kc8 47.Nxg8 Bc6 48.Nf6 Rxb4 49.e8Q+ Bxe8 50.Nxe8 Rb1+ 51.Kf2 Rb2+ 52.Kf3 Rxa2 53.Nc7 b4 54.Nxd5 b3 55.c6 Rc2 (Must) 56.Bxa3 Ra2 57.Bd6 Rc2 58.Be5 b2 59.Nb6+ Kd8 60.c7+ Rxc7 61.Bxb2 Rc5 62.Bd4 Rb5 63.Nc4 Ke7 64.h4 Ke6 65.Ke4 Rb1 66.Ne3 Kf7 67.h5 Kg8 68.Nf5 Kh7 69.Be3 Re1 70.Nxh6 Rxe3+ 71.Kxe3 Kxh6 72.Kf4 and Black resigns.  The whole of the end game has been played by White with the greatest precision. 1-0


Paul said...

11...Nxe4 !

Anonymous said...

What a lot of effort white had to go to in outplaying his opponent a piece down! Might have been simpler to just hang on to the bish.

Anonymous said...

Morphy would commonly give piece odds, sacrifice on Bxf7 going two pieces down and win. So there you go - against club opposition anything is possible.

Rick Kennedy said...

The Jerome Gambit can be a fun way for a couple of friends or club mates to while away some time (especially at blitz), as long as neither takes the opening too seriously.

Just like E.J. Diemer referred to his Blackmar Diemer Gambit as a "high school for tactics" the Jerome Gambit can be seen as a sort of "pre-school for tactics".

If your student has not yet discovered my Jerome Gambit blog (where I have posted daily for over 3 years) you might want to point it out to him, Or not, as you see fit.

A stronger player can also give "Jerome Gambit odds" to a weaker player, also, to even out the contest. Perhaps the most notorious such game was played by the Mexican champion Andres Clemente Vazquez, who once gave "Jerome Gambit plus Rook odds"

Vazquez,A - Giraudy,M
Mexico, 11.1876

[remove White's QR]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ Ke6 7.Qf5+ Kd6 8.d4 Bxd4 9.c3 Bb6 10.f4 Qf6 11.fxe5+ Qxe5 12.Bf4 Qxf4 13.Qxf4+ Ke7 14.Rf1 Nh6 15.Qe5+ Kd8 16.Qxg7 Re8 17.Qg5+ Re7 18.Rf8# 1–0