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Hot Topic (More than 10 Replies) A new look at the Smith-Morra (Read 13961 times)
MNb
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Re: A new look at the Smith-Morra
Reply #16 - 03/16/06 at 02:38:45
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Dear Hubert,

I really do not know, why I must lay my hands on additional literature on the Morragambit. I have explained many times before, why I do not play this opening anymore. As I do not intend to play the Sicilian as Black for the next decades either, I will save my valuable western currency for other subjects. So thanks for your advice, but no, thanks.
Still just a warning. That death bell has ringed many times before. Every time again Black players thought, it was the final one. Palkovi mentions that h6 line; I have taken a brief look at it and thought it OK for Black - but not a straightforward refutation. Also 7.Bg5 remains.
That 3...Qa5 line is another example of overoptimism. Not that it is bad - but 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 Qa5 4.Nf3 Nc6 (dxc3) 5.b4 Qc7 6.b5 Ne5 7.Nxe5 Qxe5 8.Qxd4 is a decent possibility for White, Makropoulos-Ljubojevic, Athena 1981. Palkovi recommends 5.Bc4 dxc3 6.Nxc3 d6 7.h3 (yes, this move is a success for Black) Nf6 8.Qe2 e6 9.o-o Be7 10.Be3 o-o 11.a3 followed by 12.b4.
I stick to my statement, that Black has good prospects, if he avoids underestimation and remains a little modest.

Ch.gr.
Mark
  

The book had the effect good books usually have: it made the stupids more stupid, the intelligent more intelligent and the other thousands of readers remained unchanged.
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Uberdeker(Guest)
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Re: A new look at the Smith-Morra
Reply #15 - 03/15/06 at 21:56:54
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Dear Mnb,

Tim Taylor clearly demonstrated in his excellent pamphlet on the 6. ...a6 line that 8. Bg5 is inadequate in view of 8. ...e6 ; 9. Qe2 h6 and then further chase/elimination of the dark-squared Bishop.
I strongly recommend you get your hands on this piece of chess literature which rings like the final death toll for the gambit, although, as has already been mentioned, there are plenty of other strong lines for Black.
Actually, my adoption of 2. ...Qa5 vs 2. c3 has forced me to come up with yet another defence to the Morra after the moves 2. d4 cd ; 3. Ktf3 Ktc6 ; 4. Bc4 d6 ; 5. 0-0 dc and here too Black seems to keep good chances for an advantage.

                                                             Regards,
                                                                 Hubert
  
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MNb
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Re: A new look at the Smith-Morra
Reply #14 - 02/13/06 at 01:52:53
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"Why does everyone waste their time discussing an opening that simply drops a pawn."
Because of all those Black players who, like MrF, underestimate this gambit, think they will have an easy job and only wake up when it is too late.
Since almost 20 years all Morragambiteers know, that both 8.Bg5 and 7.Bg5 are better. For more details I refer to theorybooks - plenty around - or some other threads.
Still 6...a6 is a very good move, if Black is prepared to conduct an accurate defence.
  

The book had the effect good books usually have: it made the stupids more stupid, the intelligent more intelligent and the other thousands of readers remained unchanged.
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MrF(Guest)
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Re: A new look at the Smith-Morra
Reply #13 - 02/12/06 at 02:28:38
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Why does everyone waste their time discussing an opening that simply drops a pawn.  3. c3? and black already has a clear edge.
1. e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3?? dxc4 4. Nc3 Nc3 5. Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 a6! 7.0-0 Nf6
Now white is stuck, if
8.Qe2 Bg4 -+ with the idea of ...Bxf3 and ...Ne5
8. h3 e6 9. Qe2 b5 10.Bb3 Ra7! with the idea of ...Rd7, a game of mine continued...
11. Rd1 Rd7 12.Bf4 Bb7 13.Rac1 Be7 -+, white has no good moves!

  
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basqueknight
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Re: A new look at the Smith-Morra
Reply #12 - 12/01/05 at 00:31:32
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My info came from Starting out the siclian by emms
  
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kylemeister
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Re: A new look at the Smith-Morra
Reply #11 - 11/30/05 at 23:38:57
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I don't think that 50% of "professional games" are even 1. e4 openings, let alone Sicilians.  25% is surely too high for the share of Sicilians, let alone Najdorfs.

(I believe that in his recent repertoire book, Larry Kaufman said that, at 2600+ level, 1...c5 and 1...e5 are each about twice as common as the "other" [not 1...c5 or e5] replies to 1. e4.  That means that the Sicilian occurs in about 40% of 1. e4 games.)
  
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basqueknight
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Re: A new look at the Smith-Morra
Reply #10 - 11/30/05 at 23:15:44
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Unclear is what i aim for when i play some obscure gambit line!

The Milner Berry against the Caro-Kann and the smith morra are good examples.

i dont know if im going for an advantage when i play them im just going for somthing they dont know or dont know as well.

Shock value is important but only goes so far. The Fred delivers shock value but not enough to warrant about 10 or more minutes on the clock which a lot of people spend when they havent seen somthing before.

Im not convinced that the gambit it self is very sound i think that if black jsut excercises caution and plays a lot of solid moves he should be fine. I think the real test of the gambit is when black plays an early e5. This stops a lot of theoretical sacrifices and ideas.

The shock value is rather high in the smith morra because its very uncommon. I would say that it might be stronger than the open sicilian on the occasions its played simply because people dont know how to handle it. The open sicilian is very common. Somthing like 50 percent of professsional games are Sicilians and 25 percent of them are Najdorfs! So maybe the Smith-Morra could do some damage at the top level. GMs included! How many of them really have somthing prepared for it i wonder. I dont think they could just play chess against it. Thats a sure way to end up in a bad positon.

The Fianchetto variation never bothered me and I have a very high + score against it. a6 lines are a little more difficult but not a big problem. The biggest thing that any smith-morra player should know is the siberian trap and how to avoid it.

If you want any lines just hit me back and ill dig up the analysis i had on it back when i played it all the time.

  
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kylemeister
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Re: A new look at the Smith-Morra
Reply #9 - 11/30/05 at 14:58:36
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Just to comment on the two lines you (Craig) mentioned ...

7.0-0 (I would expect 7. e5 to be better for Black after 7...e6; I've never seen this line seriously advocated for White) Nf6 8. Qe2 Bg4 9. Rd1.  Now Ken Smith once recommended 9...Bxf3 10. Qxf3 Ne5 11. Qe2 Nxc4 12. Qxc4 Qc8; indeed that was his preferred line for Black whenever someone had the temerity to play his own gambit against him.  When I looked at this line long ago, though, I concluded that (a) White has good compensation in Smith's line;  (b) the immediate 9...Bxf3 lets White off too lightly; Black should just play 9...e6.  Then if 10. Rd1 Be7.  White needs to do something about the annoying bishop on g4, or else Black clearly stands well (better).  So 11. h3 (11. Bf4 could transpose after 11...Be7 -- 12. e5 is not a threat because of 12...Nh5 -- or Black might play 11...e5) Bxf3 12. Qxf3 Be7 13. Bf4 Qb8.  Now 14. Qg3 runs into 14...Nh5 (15. Bxd6 Nxg3 16. Bxb8 Nxe4), and against other moves, well, Black is a pawn up with a solid position.

So, you think White has a way of playing against the Sicilian which offers him objectively better chances of advantage than 2. Nf3 and 3. d4?  Do tell.    Smiley
  
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CraigEvans
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Re: A new look at the Smith-Morra
Reply #8 - 11/30/05 at 13:22:03
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Before the great deletion, there was a thread on the Morra where a few people showed that white does indeed get compensation in all lines with correct play. I tried cracking a few of his lines but they all seem to hold - if we ever get the old threads back then this one definitely makes for good viewing.

My personal opinion is that the morra gambit gives compensation for the pawn, possibly even enough compensation, but that other lines are better (though, as I've said elsewhere, I don't think the Open is the strongest continuation. On the subject of the 2150, I suppose I should mention he also plays the latvian from time to time ("when he's happy with the draw"), and a number of gambits as white. So, on his scale, I suppose he genuinely believes that the morra is stronger than the open sicilian, and I certainly don't believe it to be much worse myself. To clarify my feelings, I think that objectively after 3.d4 white's advantage is probably exhausted (note, this is personal opinion, not a solution to the problem 1...c5 + 3. d4 = ?), whereas the morra is objectively, theoretically and practically unclear, and therefore makes an excellent weapon.

I must confess that it's not a line I play against often, but I'd give serious consideration to 7.e5 in this line, which looks fun at least (whether it's sound or not is not something I've given due thought to, since at the level I play ideas like this do not have to be sound). However, in the line you mentioned (although I do not believe Bg5 is the correct move, I think white should just castle and get on with his plan of Qe2, Rd1 etc), I would maintain that white has small compensation for the pawn, even if it is indeed insufficient.

I'd be interested to see what the Palkovi book on the Morra says (I've still not gottena round to buying it, or indeed any openings book of the last two to three years except the SOS series) - I seem to remember hearing that it had some nice ideas in this variation.

Regards,
Craig
  

"Give a man a pawn, and he'll smell a rat. Give a man a piece, and he'll smell a patzer." - Me.

"If others have seen further than me, it is because giants have been standing on my shoulders."
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Re: A new look at the Smith-Morra
Reply #7 - 11/30/05 at 12:03:44
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The Morra, despite black's high number of possible replies, continues to be an outstanding choice at club level. Last season I whipped it out against a 2150 who has been playing solely the sicilian defence for 15+ years, and after the game he remarked that it was only the second time he had ever faced it, and wondered why more people didn't play it since even he felt it was stronger than the open sicilians for white (possibly going a little too far there, but still...). Most players with black seem to chicken out into either a c3 sicilian (where they are already committed to a particular line which they may not usually play) or with this 3...d3 move (which just gives white an edge). Even those who accept it then seem to pretend that they're playing an open sicilian, which is known to be the wrong strategy. In the above game I was completely winning after 15 moves and, if it weren't for my spending 45 minutes analysing an unsound double piece sac (it looked fun...), finding the refutation and then playing it anyway... let's just say that I would have been bringing home the point.

From a practical point of view, I feel that the ...g6 line may be black's best, the kingside seems safer in those lines and Nd5 sac ideas just don't seem to work as well. Anyone playing the ...d6, ...e6 and ...a6 lines, while this may well be fine for black, are helping white out since this is the setup he has most probably studied and is also the one which the Morra seems most geared to. As for playing an early ...b5 and ...b4, in McGrew's excellent articles at chesscafe.com he shows that these ideas should be encouraged for white.

At GM level with the Morra, white probably gets compensation with exact play but he has better options. At candidate master level, the Morra is quite viable. At club level, the Morra will score heavily if someone spends the time learning it. Whether black is prepared or not.

I pray I am alive the day the Sicilian is finally refuted. Then there'll only be the petroff to worry about.

Regards,
Craig


Hmm.  Well, I don't doubt the veracity of your report, but I find it rather stunning that a 2150 player would think that the (Smith)-Morra is stronger for White than the open/main-line Sicilian(s).  I also disagree with the notion that "at GM level with the Morra, white probably gets (sufficient?) compensation with exact play but he has better options."  Perhaps I can paraphrase your view as:  with best play the Morra is =, but the Open Sicilian is +=.  I think the truth is that White struggles to demonstrate more than equality in many lines of the Open, while in the Morra Black should be able to achieve at least a slight and maybe a clear advantage.  I've never seen a line which seems sufficient for White against the 6...a6 variation I mentioned earlier, for instance.  Just to take one example, I recall a book on the Smith-Morra by a British FM/IM named Neil Carr, in which I believe he claimed that the line 3...dc 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 d6 6. Bc4 a6 7. Bg5 Nf6 8. Bxf6 gf offers White good compensation.  I would find that near-impossible to swallow (the position is close to a normal Richter-Rauzer one, just with White missing his c-pawn).  I would submit that this picture explains why the Morra is almost never seen on GM level.         
  
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CraigEvans
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Re: A new look at the Smith-Morra
Reply #6 - 11/30/05 at 05:44:09
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The Morra, despite black's high number of possible replies, continues to be an outstanding choice at club level. Last season I whipped it out against a 2150 who has been playing solely the sicilian defence for 15+ years, and after the game he remarked that it was only the second time he had ever faced it, and wondered why more people didn't play it since even he felt it was stronger than the open sicilians for white (possibly going a little too far there, but still...). Most players with black seem to chicken out into either a c3 sicilian (where they are already committed to a particular line which they may not usually play) or with this 3...d3 move (which just gives white an edge). Even those who accept it then seem to pretend that they're playing an open sicilian, which is known to be the wrong strategy. In the above game I was completely winning after 15 moves and, if it weren't for my spending 45 minutes analysing an unsound double piece sac (it looked fun...), finding the refutation and then playing it anyway... let's just say that I would have been bringing home the point.

From a practical point of view, I feel that the ...g6 line may be black's best, the kingside seems safer in those lines and Nd5 sac ideas just don't seem to work as well. Anyone playing the ...d6, ...e6 and ...a6 lines, while this may well be fine for black, are helping white out since this is the setup he has most probably studied and is also the one which the Morra seems most geared to. As for playing an early ...b5 and ...b4, in McGrew's excellent articles at chesscafe.com he shows that these ideas should be encouraged for white.

At GM level with the Morra, white probably gets compensation with exact play but he has better options. At candidate master level, the Morra is quite viable. At club level, the Morra will score heavily if someone spends the time learning it. Whether black is prepared or not.

I pray I am alive the day the Sicilian is finally refuted. Then there'll only be the petroff to worry about.

Regards,
Craig
  

"Give a man a pawn, and he'll smell a rat. Give a man a piece, and he'll smell a patzer." - Me.

"If others have seen further than me, it is because giants have been standing on my shoulders."
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TopNotch
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Re: A new look at the Smith-Morra
Reply #5 - 11/29/05 at 19:06:05
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I think that a strong candidate for Black's best line (e.g., a former US champion of my acquaintance opined that it "busts" the Smith-Morra) is 3...dc 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 d6 6. Bc4 a6.  The most well-known game with it is surely K. Smith-Evans, San Antonio 1972.  The line was the subject of a book by the American IM Tim Taylor.


I also like this line for Black.

Two thumbs up, but it should be noted that black has other equally promising lines as well.

Topster Grin
  

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Re: A new look at the Smith-Morra
Reply #4 - 11/29/05 at 13:00:12
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I think that a strong candidate for Black's best line (e.g., a former US champion of my acquaintance opined that it "busts" the Smith-Morra) is 3...dc 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 d6 6. Bc4 a6.  The most well-known game with it is surely K. Smith-Evans, San Antonio 1972.  The line was the subject of a book by the American IM Tim Taylor.
  
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basqueknight
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Re: A new look at the Smith-Morra
Reply #3 - 11/29/05 at 12:40:51
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basqueknight, isn't the Chicago Defence the critical test of this gambit ?!


No i dont believe so. I believe fellow Michigander Ben Finegold has the best defense against it. Its Called the Finegold defense and basicly you play in Scheveningen style.

The Chicago doesnt scare me though. Im not saying its not a good try just not the best.

Note: Finegold did not invent the finegold defense he only helped analyse it and Ciaffone was the real discoverer of the defense but his name is harder to pronounce and he doesnt have a title.
  
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MNb
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Re: A new look at the Smith-Morra
Reply #2 - 11/28/05 at 08:58:04
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Not especially. As I do not believe, that the lost posts will be refound, I will give an overview of the Morra Gambit. It will become clear, that White's main problem is Black's wide choice. 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3.

2...e6 transposes to the Schmid-Benoni.
3...Nf6 is a main line of the Lasker-Alapin.
3...g6 4.cxd4 d5 5.exd5 transposes to the Panov-Attack.
3...d6 4.cxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 might transpose to the 2.c3 d6 variation.
3...d3 4.Bxd3 and the plan f4/Nf3 is attractive.
3...d5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.cxd4 and it is not clear, if White always can take benefit of the early exchange on d4. There are good some transpositions to the QGA and the Semi-Tarrasch, but what about Nf6 6.Nc3 Qa5 7.Nf3 Bg4 and e6 6.Nc3 Qd6 7.Nf3 Nf6 ?
Of course there is no reason, why Black should not accept the gambit. Then Black can play all kind of setups:
Najdorf: 4...a6 5.Bc4 e6 6.Nf3 b5 7.Bb3 d6 followed by Nf6, Be7, Nbd7 and Nc5. Winning a second pawn with b4 is usually dangerous.
Dragon: 4...g6 5.Bc4 Bg7 6.Nf3 Nc6.
Paulsen/Taimanov: 4...Nc6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bc4 a6 7.o-o Nge7, Bc5 or d6 8.Qe2 Nge7.
Scheveningen: 4...Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 e6 7.o-o a6 (the old main line sees Nf6 8.Qe2 Be7 9.Rd1 e5) 8.Qe2 Be7 (avoids Bg5 lines) 9.Rd1 Qc7 (probably better than Qa5 and Bd7) 10.Bf4 Nf6 11.Rac1 Qb8.
Then there are several independent variations, like the Chicago Defense, the Siberian Trap, 4...Nc6 5.Nf3 e5, 4...Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 a6.

My point is clear: Black has even more options than in the Open Sicilian. So my advice to Black is to buy a book on the Morra Gambit (does not really matter which one), chose a variation, collect some games from databases and spend an evening analysing. If Black is to lazy, then play 3...Nf6, 3...d6, 3...g6 or 3...d5 transposing to a 2.c3 variation.

My advice to White: if you like this structures, just play the Open Sicilian. You will already have a knight on d4, more choice and in the long run you will have to spend less time to study.

I have played the Morra Gambit for almost 10 years, but abandoned it when my opponents began to outprepare me. Playing the Morra Gambit is a kind of Hope Chess (see Dan Heisman on chesscafe.com): White hopes to catch the opponent in some trap.
The Morra Gambit might be theoretically correct, but it is not practical.
  

The book had the effect good books usually have: it made the stupids more stupid, the intelligent more intelligent and the other thousands of readers remained unchanged.
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