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smith-mora gambit

  • #1

    I have been playing chess for about 50 yrs (off and on) and since I've been on Chess.com (about 1 1/2 yrs now) I've "stumbled" on a rather courious opening called the Smith-Mora gambit (1.e4 c5  2.d4 cxd 3.c3 dxc 4. Nxc) I have had pretty good success with it and I was just wondering if anyone else was familiar with it and what their opinion was of it

  • #2

    Poor players usually take the bait, but most higher level players tend to avoid it and head for the 2. c3 Sicilian transposition by playing 3...Nf6

  • #3

    Before anyone dismisses the Morra, they should see Hannes Langrock's book, " The Modern Morra Gambit: A Dynamic Weapon Against the Sicilian". There's a minefield for black because of white's relentless development. The knight sac on d5 is an ever-present threat. All in all, I know when someone plays 3...c3, I take on principle, and know I'm in for a slug-fest.

  • #4

    Most of the people I've used it against will take the gambit....if you're quick to get your rooks on the open files then I've found my chances of winning are around 60%.  I usually play the French defense against e4 so I can't really comment from the opposite side of the fence, but as far as the Smith-Mora goes...I love it!  Very good point chopwood - it does seem most of white's advantage comes from the superior development.  Thanks everyone for your comments!  Most helpful (one of the things I love about Chess.com)!

  • #5

    I don't know if 3...Nf6 is the best answer to the Morra, but surely enough it's the most economical one. Why work on a second opening when some 70% of the good schoolboys play the (objectively best) 2...Nf6 against the Alapin and are well prepared to it?

  • #6

    the smith what? :P

    if you want dubious, play the sicilian wing gambit (1. e4 c5 2. b4?). a lot of low level sicilian players never knew what hit them.

  • #7

    Don't get me wrong. I used to play the SMG and had quite a few exciting games, mostly wins. But after I started playing A-Players & Experts, I found very few would take the bait. I even tried to learn the c3 (Alapin) Sicilian to hone the SMG declined skills, but I didn't like it too much.

  • #8

    Boy!! this is great!  I didn't think about opening any worm cans.  Like I said in my first post, I've been playing for about 50 yrs - all self-taught; some experience with players about 1800 (USCF rating).  I have seen players go with 3...Nf6 but only after taking the gambit and i usually develop B-g5 with some success.  The hardest time I seem to have is when someone plays e6 for some reason.  Like I said this is good stuff and some real food for thought.  THX DrSpudnik and pfren!

  • #9

    I think it's crap. Accept the gambit and it's white who is playing for a draw. If you have confidence in your tactics and spend some study examining the main lines there isnt much to fear. Worst case scenario you pitch the pawn back later in the game.

  • #10

    3...Qa5 looks interesting, however I always accept the gambit

  • #11

    The first I heard of it was some obscure reference to it in Chess Life.  It was a comment posted on a game submitted to them.  The comment made was that most players cannot lay off the gambit and so far that's been pretty much what's happened - but who am I to say?  To me it's been pretty amazing. Coincediently, if black replies to my e4 with e5 - for me it's Ruy Lopez all the way.  Easy-pleezy........Lemon squeezy :) 

  • #12
  • #13

    last week I had to face a +1800 OTB and I knew he was going to play the SM.

    I spent a couple of days reading and watching videos in YT. I even went through the famous Smith-Evans game of San Antonio and the following Smith-Mecking, which seemed to refute the gambit. I found that white has many sharp lines and the e5 advance was difficult to stop. At the end I decided to play 3...d3   Undecided

  • #14

    thanks for the info trigs - thanks for your input as well, diogens

  • #15

    I just played aganinst it 2 days ago the Chicago defense always backs me up i've come across the smith more somewhat alot (not lately inthe pass year or so) and I've only loss one game against it I certainly would never play it myself.

  • #16
    diogens wrote:

     At the end I decided to play 3...d3  

    That's a very good choice- especially if you are an Accelerated Dragon player.

    Anyway, how can white avoid being worse in the old mainline? Langrock in his old book (I don't have the 2011 edition) suggests 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cd4 3.c3 dc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 e6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Qe2 Be7 9.Rd1 e5 10.Be3 (10.h3 is nowadays regarded as just a waste of time) 0-0 11.b4!? Bg4 12.a3! Rc8 13.Rac1 Bxf3!? (all puncuation marks by Lanrgock, not me) 14.gf3 Nh5 15.Qd2! (to prevent ...Bg5) Nd4!? 16.Bxd4 he fails to mention the simple 16...ed4! where white has scored a remarkable 0% in three recent correspondence games. Now 17.Nd5 Bg5 18.f4 Bh6 is horrible for white, while 17.Ne2 Bf6 or 17...Rc7!? (intending Qc8) is not rosy at all, either.

    When the Morra was still played at the master level (e.g. by GM Milan Matulovic) it was believed that if Black is forced to play ...e5 and weaken the d5 square, that would be a fatal positional concession. Currently, Black deliberately goes for the d6/e5 central fomation in many respectable variations, without having any material gain!

  • #17
    alekhine wrote:

    diogens, did you win that game?  

    No, I didn't. But I could win a`piece and probably he, would anyway, win or draw the game. Has very little to do with the opening but just a better player in most  phases. I will post it after analysis.

    What I wanted to state, is that, after analyzing the opening and  reanalyzing the game, even rejecting the gambit, I didn't have enough technic to avoid e5 and whites dominant position.

    The Sicilian with black, requires good understanding and precise moves. But if you don't play the Sicilian you will never learn to `deal with it.

  • #18

    GM Larry Evans was a friend and confidant of both Fischer and Ken Smith (who introduced what he considered the improved move order of 1 e4 c5  2 Nf3 d6 (or Nc6) 3 d4 cxd4  4 c3), and brought them together - Fischer used Smith as a source for Russian language material.  But Evans was always strongly critical of Smith's gambit, being of the opinion it simply lost a pawn.

    White does only get a single tempo for his pawn, and in the process his Nf3 stays put, so it isn't so significant.  As long as Black doesn't panic and create weaknesses, he will be fine.

  • #19

    Okay, look.  I realize that I'm a lower rated player and more than likely always will be.  I have tried other lines against the Sicilian with some success or wih no success.  I simply have found that most of the players I confront will take the gambit.  I usually follow with B-c4 and sometimes - not always Q-b3. I castle quickly kingside and try to get my rooks on the open lines.  I have not found it to be a bunch of crap.  What I have found is that - for me - it is the best line and I agree with you Estragon about gaining only a single tempo. The pawn usually comes back to me somewhere mid-game but the biggest advantage I seem to have is that Black's forces are usually scattered and with quick attacks I seem to come out for the better. But, again, who am I to say?  I do thank everyone for their helpful suggestions/ideas. 

  • #20

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