Taking Out The Trash - Part 3 - The Smith-Morra Gambit

I've decided to return to my Taking Out The Trash series after a long break.  The Smith Morra gambit is without doubt the most respectable gambit that I will try to 'refute' in this series.  I recommend you use this particular line only as a start of your investigation.  

One last disclaimer: 3. ... Nf6 is an alternative to accepting the pawn sacrifice.  Black may force the game into a Alapin (2. c3) Sicilian this way and, as long as he knows the theory, will get a perfectly fine game like this.  

Personally... I grab the pawn. 


  • 3 years ago


    Nice lines you gave us about this trash gambits. Could you explain us in such a nice amount of details how to bit the counter gambit Albin???

  • 3 years ago


    After 8....e5 even the a6 move is included, i think after 9.dxe5 Black does not have to take the queen right away, 9...Bxf7!!! wins the game on the spot for black

  • 3 years ago



  • 3 years ago


    i was just briefly going over your analysis and i was wondering why  14. Bh6 wasn't up there? you can win the rook and then you have compensation 0.o
     also, after 12. Qa4 i feel like moving the knight would give me better play then trading queens. White is honestly just being childish and is threatening nothing the whole game. it's just a bunch of one movers which don't work. another example would be instead of 15...bxa6 you can just take the pawn in the middle and white is still up, yeah he has a week pawn, but even without it, he is still better. 2 passed pawns woudn't be to much to take care of considering the bishop pair and how half of white's pieces are useless.

  • 3 years ago


    You should at least cover the critical line (as mathijs pointed out). Perhaps you've spent too much time watching Dzindzi's misleading analysis.

  • 3 years ago


    Yeah, the qe2, rd1 plan is not universal for all variations of the morra gambit. in this particular variation, bf4 is indeed the strongest try as white's queen has no use on e2. Aside from qb3, I also recommend g4. after bg6, qe2 is strong as white is now threatening the crushing e5. black is almost obligated to play e5 himself. I have lots of personal analysis here where houdini/rybka struggle to find accurate moves. however, after black plays e5 rad1 is winning. white has some pretty interesting sacrifices that houdini will not find, atleast for a long time. leave your engine on at that position for a few hours and watch the evaluation turn from -0.2 to equal to plus 0.5 and up.

  • 3 years ago


    I think Langrock is a student of Mueller, hence the association. Here is (at the very end of the column) an early outing of Mueller's analysis. I imagine that in the second edition of the Langrock Morra book there are more details (but I only have the first edition).

    I'm not exactly sure when you want to play your Qb8 setup. If you mean 10...Qb8 in my main line, you would have found a novelty. I can't judge the merits, but I doubt it will be the refutation. If you want to play it in the Bxf3 line, then white will be up a tempo over your game, because he did not play Qe2 before playing h3 and Qxf3. It is fully playable for black though. It is in fact the sideline I gave.

    I wish I could take credit for the quality of the analysis, but I'm standing on the shoulders of giants here. If I was going to respond to your Blackmar-Diemer post (I considered it), I would have to present much shoddier analysis.

    Declining is of course also a very solid option for black. I must admit that I sorely regret it is possible.  I think the opening would be more popular on a high level if it wasn't necessary to learn two entire non mainline opening  systems (the Alapin and the Morra) in order to play it. I'd like to see what very strong players would make of the white intiative. I'm always a bit surprised at all the scorn that is heaped on the gambit (you're certainly not the first player to "take out the trash" or something similar). It seems clear that white has at least reasonable compensation. If Kramnik sacs a pawn on move 6 in a Catalan for much murkier compensation, it doesn't evoke anywhere near the level of outrage.

    To be honest, I was a little upset that you tried to kill my baby, but I try not to let it get the better of me.

  • 3 years ago

    NM ih8sens

    Did I make a bold claim somewhere? :P

    I was actually aware of Esserman's Qb3 move.  Esserman seems to love this gambit, and he really does believe in it.  

    To be honest, I don't think it's a bad opening.  I think the extra tempo lets white get away with giving up a pawn for initiative, and as a rule, black probably should find ways to decline most gambits of this nature.

    However, I think black can get away with grabbing the pawn.  For example, after Esserman's 10. Qb3!?, I think black can even aim for the same setup as my analysis by playing Qb8, although other moves are also interesting.

    I was not aware that Dr. Mueller has analyzed the Smith Morra.  As an extremely strong endgame theoretician, I would have imagined him on the black side of this opening.  


    Edit - PS: Thanks for posting that analysis by the way.  I've had issues in a couple other blogs where aficianados spam the page with extensive, and usually poor, analysis of obscure sidelines that I "failed to adequately cover".  You, on the other hand, were able to post reasonable analysis without acting insulted that I tried to 'kill your baby' lol...


    My goal is not to be comprehensive, but rather, to give players playing against gambits a solid place to start their research.  With this aim in mind, I feel I've given one of black's absolute best replies to the Smith Morra.

  • 3 years ago


    Well, I'm glad that you at least acknowledge that this a respectable gambit, but you might want to do a bit more research before giving such bold judgments. This line has been analysed by German IM Hannes Langrock and his compatriot GM Karsten Mueller, as well as by Morra afficionado IM Marc Esserman. They find that white has full play for the pawn, in this line as well as the whole opening complex. Here's a sample variation of Esserman's analysis (from his excellent and original book "Mayhem in the Morra"):

    The play conforms to a general trend: playing gambits is very difficult for both sides. If white plays only standard moves, his intiative can be nullified by a good defender. If black has no respect for the white initiative, he will get overrun. A lot precise, non-standard and imaginative moves are required to play these lines well. Of course, if you only play 1600-level gambiteers, you will win most games.

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