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Tactical Patterns Everyone Should Know: The Siberian Trap

  • GM Gserper
  • | Oct 20, 2013

What in the world is the Siberian Trap you might ask. Is it what Russians use in taiga to hunt the Siberian tiger?

One of the World Heritage Sites, the Putorana Plateau,
is composed of Siberian Traps | Image Wikipedia

Well, if you ever tried to find a weapon against the dangerous Smith-Morra gambit (which we analyzed a couple of months ago here), then you probably saw this wicked trick:

Check any database and you'll see how many poor souls (even masters!) played the natural looking 9.h3?? (or 9.Bb3 for that matter). Then the game ends instantly:

This is a very good illustration for a pattern that we are going to discuss today. As you could see, the key features of the pattern is the knight on f3 (or Nf6 for Black) guarding against the instant Qh2 (or Qh7 for White) checkmate. Therefore, such a knight should be deflected by ...Nd4! (or Nd5! for White). It is a pattern both simple and deadly, so without further ado, let me offer you some puzzles to solve:

As you could see in all the games that we analyzed today, the victims were famous masters and grandmasters. I hope that after this lesson you'll do better than them, and never miss this tactical pattern in your games. Good luck! 



  • 6 months ago

    NM adypady02

    I actually got to employ it before I read the article! Not to mention I was also a victim.

  • 7 months ago


    Thank you very much for the article. Smile

  • 12 months ago


    1st example how bad is g3??

  • 12 months ago


    now i know!!!

  • 12 months ago


    Good review and tactical insight.

  • 12 months ago


    Nice article ! And I had a trouble playing against the Smith Morra !

  • 12 months ago


    Any info on traps is useful info imo. Thank you for sharing this.

    Added; Anuana,  They blundered, which can happen to anyone, even GM's.

  • 12 months ago


    But why would one do h3 on move 9 on  irst game shown. Why wd not one go or g3 do deny acess to queen on h2.. And knight on g4 will be rendered useless .

  • 12 months ago


    Relevant, concise and useful!! Thank you very much for this nice tactical insight!

  • 12 months ago


    i feel confident in finding this in my games nowEmbarassed

  • 12 months ago


    Why in the world would anyone want to hunt a tiger? They're not enemies. They're fellow beings. I know, it's a joke - but even so...

    Nice article, fun puzzles. Thanks.

  • 12 months ago


    Excellent article on the Siberian trap. Thank you GM Serper.

  • 12 months ago



  • 12 months ago


  • 12 months ago


    thanks i am greatful.just learnt about the morra trap

  • 12 months ago


    I play morra gambit a lot with white and this siberian thing sometimes backfires for black... I have seen it backfiring more compared to success.. If you know how to counterattack it doesn't work well.

    Try playing Siberian trap in a correspondence game and it won't work but in blitz it is a good idea, still doesn't work very well against regular morra players.

  • 12 months ago


    really useful.thnks

  • 12 months ago


    there'll plenty of these traps now on chess.com. thxCool

  • 12 months ago


    thank you very much

  • 12 months ago

    IM pfren

    Black looks being OK in the variation suggested by Esserman. Apparently young players are doing their homework, since the move not mentioned by Esserman (14...Ne8) earns the approval of mr. Houdini... chances are roughly level.

    Both sides made mistakes in that game, but after a quick check I cannot find any advantage for white after 14...Ne8.

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