Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Smith-Morra Gambit in the Sicilian Defense

The Smith-Morra Gambit for White from the Black's Sicilian Defense opening gives White lasting pressure and piece activity in exchange for a pawn or two. Here are two 1900 players going at it in the Vermont Open, 4th round, 2005.

1. e4          c5

2. d4          cxd4

3. c3          dxc3

4. Nxc3      Nc6

5. Nf3         d6

6. Bc4         Nf6

Still a book move but one wrought with danger. Safer is 6. ...... e6 or a6. But even with the text move, the game is still rated even by Igor3000, the chess machine super GM.

7. e5            Ng4

8. e6            Bxe6

9. Bxe6        fxe6

10. Ng5        Nf6

11. O-O        Qd7

12. Re1         e5

13. Qb3         .......

This is the last book move....following the script he knows for this opening. But Igor says White is down -1.5 pawns. He is waiting for his opponent to crack under the strain of a worse position. Black is up material granted, but his extra pawns are doubled, his King is not castled and his black-squared bishop is still unemployed.

13. .......         Nd4??

Here is the opponent slip up that White was hoping for. We don't know the clock situation here, but it would be safe to say Black is searching for the right move, while White is peeling off his book moves much faster. Don't underestimate the clock pressure the gambit accepter is probably under as another negative besides positional. White is now up (+1).

14. Qf7          Kd8

15. Be3          h6

16. Bxd4        hxg5

17. Bxe5        Kc7??

Another slip up (+4.6). Needed was 17. ......Rc8.

18. Bxf6         gxf6

19. Nd5+        Kd8

20. Nxf6+       Qb5?

The better move is 20. .....exf6, but it doesn't save anything in the face of 21. Qxf6.

21. a4              Qc6

22. Rac1          Black resigns

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