Smith-Morra Gambit: Declined


Playing the Smith-Morra Gambit, often guarantees White quick development, open attacking lines and tactical opportunities. All that for the price of a mere pawn. So I can understand why Black would consider declining this gambit. Problem is that if Black doesn’t have a concrete plan, White will still benefit from those advantages, just without having to give up a pawn in order to achieve them.

In this game, Black seemed to opt for a hybrid between the d5-declination (3. ..d5 4.exd4 Qxd4 5.cxd4) and the “Dragon-variation” (normally 3. ..g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bc4 e6). And as with all compromises, you risk ending up with the disadvantages of both, meaning in this case an extremely weak f7-square and no development at all.


Here’s the full game with annotations. Make sure to also check the Pirrot-Muehlbayer game that deviates from mine in move 10.

Conclusion: Even in the declined variation, this was a typical SMG-style game for me. Quick development, my rooks brutally dominating the open files and my knights deciding all the action in the center. And as for those tactical opportunities, I got more of them than I could handle. Specifically in moves 13 and 25 I missed some combinations. Looks like I could benefit from some additional “tactics trainer” lessons, or just even more SMG games, which might be an even better practice.