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Stigma
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Re: Morra Gambit ...Bd7
Reply #6 - 12/29/07 at 09:43:55
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MNb wrote on 12/28/07 at 15:28:16:
Eeehh, what does condescending mean? I am only Dutch .... If it is something negative, no, I did not intend it.

You seemed to be saying that my respect for 10.a3 showed a poor understanding of gambit play, while actually it was just based on the available games. I'm just a pragmatic OTB player, after all! But let's not lose sleep over this.
Btw. I have discovered that Silman analyzed 10.Be3 Nf6 11.Bg5 to a Black advantage by trading the d6-pawn for the bishop pair (x.Bxf6 Bxf6), so we could ask how much the extra move a3 benefits White after 10.a3 Nf6 11.Bg5.

Best wishes to you (and your computer!).

As for wins against the Morra, sadly I have yet to face a White player who had bothered to study it in detail, they are usually just untheoretical hackers. If that trend continues I expect the points to keep rolling in!  Wink
  

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Re: Morra Gambit ...Bd7
Reply #5 - 12/28/07 at 23:20:34
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neerbuigend
  

If nothing else works, a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through.
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MNb
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Re: Morra Gambit ...Bd7
Reply #4 - 12/28/07 at 15:28:16
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Stigma wrote on 12/27/07 at 11:42:22:
I assume you didn't intend this to be as condescending as it appears.

Eeehh, what does condescending mean? I am only Dutch .... If it is something negative, no, I did not intend it.
As my computer is in repair for two weeks - the disadvantage of living at the edge of the jungle - you must wait for a serious answer.
Best wishes for 2008, including a lot of wins against the Morra.  Wink
  

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Re: Morra Gambit ...Bd7
Reply #3 - 12/27/07 at 11:42:22
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I agree that it is logical to have one thread for all Bd7-lines. I also agree that the focus is on move order a) for the time being.

MNb wrote on 12/26/07 at 03:15:38:
Have you ever played gambits yourself? I suspect not or you would be more suspicious of 10.a3. At move 4 White's only compensation consists of a lead in development. His first task is to activate all his pieces and his second one to convert this lead into something concrete. The latter usually happens during the transition from opening to middle game. Now at the tenth move White still has two passive pieces: Ra1 and Bc1. Moreover Black has not made any concession yet. Still you want to play a prophylactic move, a move to preserve your bishop? Such logic suits the quieter variations of the Open Sicilian, not the Morra Gambit. My first and probably also my second reaction is that White does not have time for it.


I assume you didn't intend this to be as condescending as it appears. Yes, of course time is important in gambits, and of course 10.a3 is a kind of concession, but so is every White alternative including 10.Bf4 (which gives Black ...e5 with tempo, going into the respectable Classical Morra structure). The entire point of Black's move order is to put White in this "minor zugzwang", and to achieve this Black has himself made the slight concession ...Bd7, which may often turn out not to be the optimal square for the bishop.

In fact, the move a3 (between move 10 and 15) appears in many of those OTB games where, in my view, White has come closest to equalizing. They also involved some of the strongest tournament players who have risked the Morra with White, which is enough reason to take it seriously and prepare for it:

Parma-Eliskases           1962      1/2
Rizzitano-Benkö           1978      1-0
Nemet-Klauser             1993      1-0
Burgess-Stage             1993      1/2?
Mi.Zelic-Pataki              2004 (2) 1-0
Equidistance-Sophistry  2006      1/2 (note especially this endorsement from the strong Equidistance Freechess team)

So the respect shown to an early a3 does not, as you seem to suggest, rest solely on my own gambit experience (I have played the Evans, King's Gambit, Blackmar-Diemer and Benkö Gambit in rated tournament games, but only a game or two with each. Nowadays I have more respect for the value of material.)

Concretely, after 10.a3 Nf6 11.Bg5 Black may well be better off than in the other Bd7 lines, but sticking to my assumption that those lines are dubious for Black, allowing Bg5 still feels wrong to me. However, your line with 10.a3 Qc7 looks interesting and possibly good for Black. If in the end Zelic's Nd5 gives White enough compensation against both 10...Rc8 and 10...b5, I still have MNb's 10...Qc7 to look into. Smiley So while a3 is a move White often plays at some point maybe move 10 is not the right time (and maybe no time is right... we will see).

Returning to the main line 10.Bf4 e5 11.Be3 Nf6 I think we can agree that 12.h3 is a luxury White should try to do without.
In general when White just builds up (like Rd2/Rad1, Rac1 with or wthout a3, etc.) Black must find some way to make progress without falling for tactics on the d-file, or simply dropping the d-pawn. I usually operate with four main plans that are not all mutually exclusive:

1) Try to get in ...Bg4 and ...Nd4. Experienced Whte players either prevent this with h3 or keep the bishop on e3. I don't usually play ...Bg4 unless the Nd4 follow-up is likely to be available, but maybe I should consider it more often since h3 and especially g4 are very committal moves from White.

2) Playing ..Be6 which invites Bxe6 fxe6. In this structure Black increases his central control and often gets play on the kingside (the recent game Colding-Krush annotated on Chesspublishing.com is a model, although from a different move order). I think White should only allow this if he has an immediate tactical follow-up, usually against e6.

3) Exchanging on d5 in such a way that White must recapture with the pawn, thus giving Black a mobile kingside pawn-majority. It is maybe strange that White allows this at all, but sometimes Black can start a skirmish on the queenside to misplace White's pieces first and then exchange.

4) Playing on the kingside with ...Kh8 and ...f5, usually after an exchange or two on d5 to reduce White’s tactical chances in the centre. I think of this as Black’s last resort if White has coped with Plans 1-3, and it can be very effective not least because many White players assume only they have attacking chances. Black threatens to get serious play on the f-file and against g2. The move ...Qe8 is usually an important part of this plan, to stop tactics based on Nxe5, overprotect Nc6, and prepare to swing the queen over to g6 or h5. This is a main reason I don’t like committing to Qc7 early.

First, 12.Rd2. It has become apparent to me that you are finding the same holes in Palkövi as I have, but whereas I stopped there you are looking for improvements for White as well!

My interest in 12...Ng4 was largely based on that hole in Palkövi (14.Nxe7? Na5), but I agree 13.Nd5 Nxe3 14.Qxe3 has to be better. In my old notes I then intended Plan 1) 14...Bg4 to gain access to d4 for the knight, but Black's material advantage seems difficult to convert with Bc4 becoming such a strong piece. White is at or very close to full compensation. 14.Nxe3 obviously stops Bg4, but after 14...0-0 I imagined the knight would not stay on e3 for long. Looking at it now, probably White can employ some prophylactic thinking and eliminate Black's idea entirely.

So, 12.Rd2 0-0 13.Rad1 h6 remains my main response. While 14.Nd5 is better than Palkövi’s 14.Nh4, Black should of course not fall for the Bc5 trick, but instead play Plan 4): 14...Nxd5 (14...Nxe4 15.Bb6 Nxd2 16.Bxd8 Nxf3+ 17.Qxf3 Bxd8 18.Qa3 is interesting, Black nominally has enough for the Queen but to me this looks hard to win for either side.) 15.Bxd5 (15.exd5 looks just silly with two rooks on the d-file) 15...Qe8! 16.a3 Kh8! Intending ...f5. White’s pieces don’t threaten anything in the centre, and while Black’s extra pawn on d6 looks a bit irrelevant at the moment, it is a useful ”endgame insurance” if Black can’t break through on the kingside. White has not equalized here.

White’s troubles in this line lead me to think your novelty 12.b4!? deserves strong consideration. Since this is already a monster post I will leave further discussion of that till later and just note that 12...0-0 intuitively appears the most sensible reply to me.
« Last Edit: 12/27/07 at 15:19:39 by Stigma »  

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MNb
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Re: Morra Gambit ...Bd7
Reply #2 - 12/26/07 at 03:15:38
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I mentioned the other ...Bd7 options for two reasons: the sake of completeness and to invite others, who might be interested. It is a bit silly to have separate threads on all ...Bd7 lines. It is also fine with me to concentrate on
1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 e6 7.0-0 Be7 8.Qe2 a6 9.Rd1 Bd7
and take this as a starting point for the time being.

Have you ever played gambits yourself? I suspect not or you would be more suspicious of 10.a3. At move 4 White's only compensation consists of a lead in development. His first task is to activate all his pieces and his second one to convert this lead into something concrete. The latter usually happens during the transition from opening to middle game. Now at the tenth move White still has two passive pieces: Ra1 and Bc1. Moreover Black has not made any concession yet. Still you want to play a prophylactic move, a move to preserve your bishop? Such logic suits the quieter variations of the Open Sicilian, not the Morra Gambit. My first and probably also my second reaction is that White does not have time for it.
Even after 10.a3 Nf6 11.Bg5 I am not sure about White's chances. Compare two related lines:
7...Nf6 8.Qe2 a6 9.Rd1 Qc7 10.Bg5 Be7; in "our" line Black may try to find a better square for the queen.
7...Bd7 8.Qe2 Nf6 9.Rd1 Be7 (still handy, my overview) 10.Bg5 a6 and here White's best is 11.Rd2, not 11.a3.
But of course Black can argue that after 10.a3 he might force the white bishop to f4 anyway. 10.a3 Qc7 (10.a3 is less useful than 7...Bd7 compared to regular ...Qc7 lines) 11.Bf4 Ne5 12.Bxe5 dxe5 13.Rac1 Rd8 14.Ba2 Qb8 and Black is fine.
So the hesitating 10.a3 gives Black some good extra options.

To me it is clear now that White should try 10.Bf4 e5 11.Be3 Nf6 and I would say that the strong grip on d5 and the permanent weakness on d6 are two very concrete reasons to claim compensation. Being a pawn down White still needs active play of course and it is still a long game, so I can imagine Black wanting to play this line as well.

12.h3 0-0 13.b4 Rc8 and I have looked at 14.Nd5 but b5! 15.Bb6 Qe8. I do not trust 14.a3 b5 15.Bd5 Nd4! (maybe even better than Nxb4).
I cannot suppress the feeling that White misses a tempo. So what about immediately 12.b4!?
a)12...Nxb4 13.Rab1 b5 14.Rxb4 bxc4 (we already know 14...d5? 15.Nxd5!) 15.Rxc4 and Fritz likes this, but I am not so sure.
b)12...Rc8 13.Nd5 Nxd5 (b5? 14.Bb6) 14.Bxd5 Nxb4 15.Bxb7 Rc2 16.Qe1 was my idea with h3 and 0-0 included; unclear.
c)12...0-0 13.b5 (13.Nd5 does not work that well after Nxd5 14.Bxd5 Nxb4 15.Bxb7 Bb5) axb5 14.Bxb5 Bg4 unclear.
So maybe 12.Rd2 is still best after all.
a)12...0-0 13.Rad1 h6 I suggest 14.Nd5 (14.Nh4 b5! 15.Bb3 and only now Na5) once again as Nxe4 15.Bb6 Nxd2 16.Bxd8 Nxf3+ 17.Qxf3 Bxd8 18.Qa3 probably leaves Black with insufficient compensation for the queen and Nxd5 15.Bxd5 Bg4 16.h3 Bh5 17.g4 Bg6 18.Bxc6 bxc6 19.Bc5 wins the pawn back with an edge. Black has other move than 15...Bg4 of course but Black is left with some problems anyway.
b)12...Ng4 13.Nd5 Nxe3 14.Nxe7? is another piece of faulty Palkovi analysis as Na5! looks good. The normal 14.Qxe3 and 15.Rad1 must be enough for equality while 14.Nxe3 is also an interesting try.
Other tries are 12.Nd5 and [b]12.Rac1/[b] but I haven't looked at them yet.
  

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Stigma
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Re: Morra Gambit ...Bd7
Reply #1 - 12/25/07 at 19:23:49
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MNb wrote on 12/25/07 at 01:07:23:
I do not claim an advantage, not at all, but it looks like White has more than one road to full compensation.


I feel that even when Black plays ...e5 White cannot just rely on his 'long-term compensation' to see him through, he should have very concrete reasons to claim compensation. I want to comment on the lines you gave in turn.

MNb wrote on 12/25/07 at 01:07:23:
Stigma plays variation a, so I will start here as well.

I must admit I am not that interested in the other move orders, I thought they were just inferior, but maybe other forum members have something to say. There are specific reasons for delaying Nf6 (making White "waste" a tempo on not having Bg5 available) and I'm not keen on committing the queen to b8 or c7 yet. Why give White that information so early?
1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 e6 7.0-0 Be7 8.Qe2 a6 9.Rd1 Bd7

MNb wrote on 12/25/07 at 01:07:23:
One option is 10.a3, though generally speaking I suspect this move. As White after Rc8 still continues with 11.Bf4 e5 12.Be3 Nf6 (Palkovi suggests ...b5) I wonder if 10.a3 is not just a loss of tempo. There is a game Zelic-Pataki, Paks 2004, which I hardly understand: 13.Nd5 (iso 13.Rac1 0-0 14.b4 b5 from the Burgess-Stage game) Nxd5 14.Bxd5 0-0 15.Rac1 Qc7 (huh?) 16.h4 (huh?). More consequent is 10.a3 Nf6 11.b4 b5 12.Bb3 (or 12.Ba2, I don't know which square is best) 0-0 13.Bb2 Qc7 (after ...e5 White has the usual lasting compensation, but Qb8 also must be investigated) 14.Rac1 Rc8 15.Nd5 exd5 16.exd5 Qb7 17.dxc6 Bxc6 18.Ng5 with interesting complications.


I actually doubt that white can do without a3 (or a4) now or soon, since Bc4 risks losing its nice diagonal to ...b5 and ...Na5. 10.a3 may be a loss of tempo, but is legitimate if White can provoke Nf6 and answer Bg5 in one move. Thus, as Black I would never play 10.a3 Nf6?! 11.Bg5! although maybe Black has chances to equalize there. In your line I would have thought 13.Bb2 e5! is good for Black, since the bishop looks strange on b2 in a Boleslavsky structure. OK, White is probably playing to arrange an f4-break, but it takes time.

After 10.a3, Rc8 was Silman's main recommendation, but 13.Nd5 in Zelic-Pataki (not mentioned by Silman) actually looks like one of the better White attempts I have seen. I need to look at this a bit more before I conclude. For the record Silman also gives 10...b5 11.Ba2 Rc8 12.Bf4 e5 13.Be3 Nf6 '=+' , I'm not sure who the insertion of ...b5 favors if White now goes for Zelic's 14.Nd5.

MNb wrote on 12/25/07 at 01:07:23:
Still I recommend 10.Bf4 at once with e5 11.Be3 Nf6 to follow. The usual 12.Rd2 0-0 13.Rad1 can be answered with Qc7 14.Bg5 (maybe 14.Nd5 is better; 14.h3 is another idea) Bg4! 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.Nd5 Qd8 17.h3 Nd4! and Black is better, Morshedi-Newsham, Dallas 2000.


13...Qc7 looks strange to me. It can be very convenient when White jumps into d5 to have a choice whether to capture immediately, later, or not at all. Maybe Black was trying to provoke White into Bg5, and succeeded! 14.h3 (as you mentioned) looks like a nice move to insert for White, and I don't like Black's queen on c7. In this 12.Rd2-line I prefer either 12...Ng4!? or 12..0-0 13.Rad1 h6.

MNb wrote on 12/25/07 at 01:07:23:
It is my impression that doubling rooks on the d-file does not really work here. So best might be 12.h3 0-0 (Rc8!? 13.Rac1) 13.b4 (dismissed by Palkovi, but he missed something) Nxb4 14.Rab1 b5 (Qa5 15.Bd2 Qc5 16.Rxb4 Qxb4 17.Nd5) 15.Rxb4 d5 (bxc4 16.Rxc4 with sufficient compensation as White's pieces all are active and because of the d5 and d6-points) Pinter-Podlesnik, SLO 1994, 16.Nxd5! Bxb4 17.Nxe5! bxc4 18.Bb6! and White emerges with an advantage from the complications.


I often see h3 when White insists on getting his bishop to g5. White needs either h3 or Be3 to prevent Black's strong plan of ...Bg4 and ..Nd4, but not necessarily both.
Since 13.a3 followed by b4 would be just normal play and not very challenging, I assume the point of 13.b4 is to do without a3. 16.Nxd5! does indeed look like a strong novelty over Pinter-Podlesnik!

But there is another problem for White; how to answer the simple 13...Rc8! with tactical threats against c4 and c3. 14.Rac1?! b5 followed by 15...Nxb4 and White certainly doesn't have compensation for two pawns. After 14.a3 b5 15.Bd5 Black could simply return to 'normal' play (i.e. White has played like in Burgess-Stage but spent time on h3) but should use the momentum with 15...Nxb4! 16.axb4 Rxc3 17.Rxa6 Nxd5 18.Rxd5 Qc8. Black has a clear advantage with a pawn and the bishop pair, and can take control of d5 whenever he wants. 15.Bd3 is a lesser evil for White, but he is not fighting for control of d5 and has to be worse, 15...Na5 being one possible continuation for Black.
  

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Morra Gambit ...Bd7
12/25/07 at 01:07:23
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The big problem with the Morra Gambit is that Black has so many reasonable defences available. One of them is playing ...Bd7 at some point.

Stigma wrote on 12/24/07 at 10:00:08:
Just so it is clear to everybody, the line in question goes

1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 e6 7.0-0 a6 (other move orders possible) 8.Qe2 Be7 9.Rd1 Bd7 and now White doesn't have his normal move Bg5, so must find something else, the main line continuing 10.Bf4 e5 11.Be3 Nf6 with a Boleslavsky/Classical Morra structure where white has wasted some time, but could argue that Bd7 is not optimally placed.

My claim (following Silman 1997) is that White is the one trying to equalize here, and if he makes that his goal he should consider following Burgess-Stage, Guldbjerg 1993 ('=' on move 16 according to several sources).


There are quite a few transpositions possible indeed. To expand the subject a bit I will use a quite unusual one:

1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 e6 7.0-0 Bd7 8.Qe2 (I am not convinced that 8.Nb5 is better, but if yes Black can avoid it by playing 8...Bd7 or 9...Bd7) when I recognize five options:
a) 8...a6 9.Rd1 Be7
b) 8...a6 9.Rd1 Qc7?! (loss of tempo)
c) 8...Nf6 9.Rd1 Be7
d) 8...Be7 9.Rd1 Qb8
e) 8...Qb8 9.Rd1 Nf6
I am willing to investigate all four lines.

To be honest I am only sure of variation b. 9...Qc7 invites 11.Rac1, after which Her Majesty has to go somewhere else. Stigma plays variation a, so I will start here as well.
One option is 10.a3, though generally speaking I suspect this move. As White after Rc8 still continues with 11.Bf4 e5 12.Be3 Nf6 (Palkovi suggests ...b5) I wonder if 10.a3 is not just a loss of tempo. There is a game Zelic-Pataki, Paks 2004, which I hardly understand: 13.Nd5 (iso 13.Rac1 0-0 14.b4 b5 from the Burgess-Stage game) Nxd5 14.Bxd5 0-0 15.Rac1 Qc7 (huh?) 16.h4 (huh?). More consequent is 10.a3 Nf6 11.b4 b5 12.Bb3 (or 12.Ba2, I don't know which square is best) 0-0 13.Bb2 Qc7 (after ...e5 White has the usual lasting compensation, but Qb8 also must be investigated) 14.Rac1 Rc8 15.Nd5 exd5 16.exd5 Qb7 17.dxc6 Bxc6 18.Ng5 with interesting complications.
Still I recommend 10.Bf4 at once with e5 11.Be3 Nf6 to follow. The usual 12.Rd2 0-0 13.Rad1 can be answered with Qc7 14.Bg5 (maybe 14.Nd5 is better; 14.h3 is another idea) Bg4! 15.Bxf6 Bxf6 16.Nd5 Qd8 17.h3 Nd4! and Black is better, Morshedi-Newsham, Dallas 2000.
It is my impression that doubling rooks on the d-file does not really work here. So best might be 12.h3 0-0 (Rc8!? 13.Rac1) 13.b4 (dismissed by Palkovi, but he missed something) Nxb4 14.Rab1 b5 (Qa5 15.Bd2 Qc5 16.Rxb4 Qxb4 17.Nd5) 15.Rxb4 d5 (bxc4 16.Rxc4 with sufficient compensation as White's pieces all are active and because of the d5 and d6-points) Pinter-Podlesnik, SLO 1994, 16.Nxd5! Bxb4 17.Nxe5! bxc4 18.Bb6! and White emerges with an advantage from the complications.
I do not claim an advantage, not at all, but it looks like White has more than one road to full compensation.
  

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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