Smith-Morra Gambit

Smith-Morra Gambit

| 26 | Opening Theory

Srikanth Narahari asked:

The following variation of the Smith-Morra Gambit is one of my favorite opening lines with White:

1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Bc4 e6 6.Nf3 d6 7.O-O a6 8.Qe2 Be7 9.Rd1 b5 10.Bb3 Ra7 11.Be3 Rd7 12.Rac1 Bb7 13.Nxb5 axb5 14.Qxb5 Nf6 15.Rxc6 Bxc6 16.Qxc6 O-O 17.Ba4 e5 18.Nxe5 dxe5 19.Rxd7 Nxd7 20.Qxd7 Qxd7 21.Bxd7 Rd8 22.Ba4 Rc8

Upon trying to evaluate the final position, I observed that white must give up the pawn on e4 in order to be able to make use of the two passed pawns "a2" and "b2." In the aforementioned position, white can prevent the a4-e4 rook fork by playing 23.f3; however, that would delay the maneuver of white's king from g1 to close to the passed pawns. Instead, if white chooses to go with 23.Kf1 Rc4 24.Bb3 Rxe4 25.Ke2, white's pawn loss could be compensated by the rapid shift of the king from the K-side to the Q-side.

I find myself unable to evaluate this position any further. I fail to see which side's position is truly superior, although I personally find white's position preferable. Your opinion regarding this position would be greatly appreciated.

Dear Mr. Narahari:

Yow! You seem to know what you're talking about, while I've never seen this line before. However, I'll bravely march on and tackle it, risking nothing less than public humiliation and, ultimately, ritualistic seppuku.

First off, let me state that I have little to no respect for the Smith-Morra Gambit. While it IS indeed dangerous against an unprepared opponent, someone that's armed with the best lines for Black can expect equality at the worst, and in many cases an advantage. I feel that there are three lines for Black that stand out above all the others. First up, the Finegold Gambit (don't forget to click on MOVE LIST to see all the text and moves):

Next up is a nameless system that Langrock (the man that wrote the definitive book on the Smith-Morra) called, "clever".

Finally we come to the most threatening line of all -- the Morra Killer!

Anyway, I apologize for getting so far off point! Let’s return to the line that interests you and your question:

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