Is the Smith-Morra Gambit a good idea for regular play?

iamunknown2

Hello! I am a ~1600 rapid (15 | 10) chess player. I play the Sicilian Taimanov myself, but I often run into people who play 1...c5 against me. I started playing the Smith-Morra Gambit (2.d5) recently, and I think I have been getting good results - most of my losses are due to stupid moves I make after obtaining an advantage. I also think the Smith-Morra also gives me some much-needed practice in tactics and attacking skills.

I've seen a lot of people label the Smith-Morra gambit as a "surprise weapon". Is it wise to use the Smith-Morra gambit as a standard reply against the Sicilian Defense? Is it an unsound opening? Should I just learn to play the standard Open Sicilians?

poucin

At your level (and even mine), u can play almost everything.

Play what u like.

Smith Morra gambit is not refuted : see at high level, most transpose into Alapin with 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 Nf6.

rterhart

I have been playing the Smith-Morra for a while now, both here and OTB. I generally like it because it seems to take most Black players out of their comfort zone.

There is one big drawback for me though: Smith-Morra sacrifices a pawn in exchange for rapid development and the early initiative. This means you have to retain the initiative and attack after the opening. I find it hard to get the timing and the means of attack right, especially if my opponent defends correctly (i.e. makes no obvious blunders). I tend to get into trouble after ill advised attacks based on the idea: I am a pawn down, I have to do something. 

I have bought Marc Esserman's book Mayhem in the Morra. It is certainly worth buying if you want to continue playing the Morra.

Esserman swears it's playable at GM level, and the book has a lot of matches that seem to prove his point. There may be many reasons for you or anyone else to abandon the Morra, but 'not playable at a serious level' is not one of them.

BonTheCat

My personal experience of repertoire books covering opening lines that are relatively rare birds at the highest level is that they have to be taken with a rather large grain of salt, and even more so when it comes to gambits. In my view, John Nunn's recommendation from 1999 in his one volume encyclopedia (the NCO) is still a very good, solid set-up for Black: 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 a6 5.Bc4 e6.

Titled_Patzer

Long live Ken Smith !

Titled_Patzer

Main reason SM is not seen at highest levels is because the Gambit will be declined by Black who responds with the Alapin. (See post #2 from an IM.) Why play Defense for 1/2 the game with no winning chances if White so chooses to regain the pawn by force ?

Morra Gambit is a rating maker when accepted. Long live those who shout it is refuted. White is praying... please, please take the pawn !

08-abchess2006-64

My opinion as a 1700 OTB player is this: A 2000 or so player play Queen's Gambit Accepted against me and got crushed. This is off topic, but have a solid line, and a line you play to confuse others, such as the Smith-Morra. But do not play it regularly, because who knows what happens? This is only my opinion, and you can ignore it if it doesn't matter to you. It's fine. You rule your game!happy.png

NMB93

The smith-morra gambit is my favorite line in the sicilian as black, though I am at a much lower level. I might simply be playing against people who think they can be tricky and aren't, but I've always found that it removes white's initiative immediately.

BonTheCat
NMB93 wrote:

The smith-morra gambit is my favorite line in the sicilian as black, though I am at a much lower level. I might simply be playing against people who think they can be tricky and aren't, but I've always found that it removes white's initiative immediately.

It seems to me that anyone playing the Smith-Morra has to be prepared to sacrifice a lot more than just that one pawn in the opening.

saniyat24

I usually did not play the Smith-Morra in Sicilian but after a Smith-Morra tournament, I tried once more with the White, and I have obtained an interesting position where my knights are sitting on d1 and e1 and guarding every threat around from Black...whether I can remain blunder free in the end game is yet to be seen...

BonTheCat

Your knights on d1 and e1? But you're White and you're playing a gambit!