The Smith-Morra Gambit... Accept or Refute?

marvellosity
Elubas wrote:

Oh cmon, you're a good player, but you really think you're going to find a lot of moves they didn't consider?


Frankly, yes. I'm strong enough that in conjunction with a strong engine I can explore lines and ideas in lines that the GMs who write things like MCO don't have time to. There have been several lines suggested by GMs that I've managed to find considerable improvements on.

It seems to be the nature of the opening... I play the Gruenfeld and Najdorf too, but it's a rarity where I think I find a better move than one covered by GM analysis, and if I do it's usually just a minor improvement rather than overturning an evaluation.

TheOldReb
marvellosity wrote:
Elubas wrote:

Oh cmon, you're a good player, but you really think you're going to find a lot of moves they didn't consider?


Frankly, yes. I'm strong enough that in conjunction with a strong engine I can explore lines and ideas in lines that the GMs who write things like MCO don't have time to. There have been several lines suggested by GMs that I've managed to find considerable improvements on.

It seems to be the nature of the opening... I play the Gruenfeld and Najdorf too, but it's a rarity where I think I find a better move than one covered by GM analysis, and if I do it's usually just a minor improvement rather than overturning an evaluation.


 How strong are you ? Whats your otb rating and have you ever beaten any IMs or GMs, or FMs playing the morra gambit against them in otb classic play ?

marvellosity

Reb, I'm 184 ECF, and I've never played any titled players OTB :)

traxlerman

The smith-morra gambit is a pathetic entertaining gambit: put pawns on d6 and e6 and you are absolutely fine

Tricklev
traxlerman wrote:

The smith-morra gambit is a pathetic entertaining gambit: put pawns on d6 and e6 and you are absolutely fine


A very deep and precise refutation from someone rated 1300.

Fromper
pvmike wrote:

I've played the morra smith alot and I feel like black gets an advantage in this line.


I agree with your evaluation. Black does seem to have an advantage in that line. This is because white traded away two pairs of minor pieces for no reason, when he needs those pieces for his attack. To keep black from getting an advantage in that line, white shouldn't play that way.

You've got a fairly normal position through 6. ... a6, which will probably transpose to a main line, but it's too early to know which one. But why would white play 7. Bg5? Normal play in this gambit says O-O, Qe2, and Rd1 next. Only then will you decide where the c1 bishop goes, depending on what black has done, unless there's a very specific reason to bring the bishop out early.

Rules of thumb for placing that c1 bishop:

1. If black plays Qc7 or Qb8 with the pawn on d6, then play Bf4 to pin and attack the d6 pawn. This counts as a good, specific reason to bring the bishop out earlier than normal in this gambit.

2. After Nge7, play Bg5 to pin the knight to the queen on d8. This also counts as a good, specific reason to bring the bishop out earlier than normal in this gambit.

3. Play Be3 most other times.

4. Bg5 against Nf6 is generally useless, because black easily breaks the pin with Be7.

Those aren't absolute rules, but they are pretty good guidelines for placing that bishop, which is the only white piece that doesn't have a pre-determined spot in this opening.

So after Nf6 in your line, white traded with Bxf6 for no reason. Remember that trading off pieces tends to favor the defender, since the attacker needs all his pieces to build pressure in his attack. If you're the attacker, as white is in this gambit, then you'd better have a REALLY good reason for any piece trades. Don't just trade for the heck of it.

So then you play Nd4 for no obvious reason, and trade that knight for the one on c6. Again, you didn't have a good reason to move that piece, or to trade it away.

The standard line for white is to play Qe2, then Rfd1 and Rac1, to create pressure up the c and d files, hoping for tactics against black's queen, or at least pressure based on tactical threats that black has to watch for.

Moving that knight from f3 shouldn't happen without a good tactical reason until after the rest of your development is completed that way. And even then, that knight tends to be among the last white pieces to move, because it's usually best placed right where it is, to capture on e5 if black puts his knight there, or to support a pawn push of e4-e5. Sometimes, that knight will even capture a black pawn on e5. But in general, that knight stays on f3 to cover e5 until the tactics dictate otherwise.

--Fromper

marvellosity

Unfortunately, Fromper, you're missing the whole point of that move order. 0-0, Qe2, and Rd1 turns into an epic fail when Black continues with Nf6 and Bg4 and is basically a clear pawn up. That's why 7.Bg5.

pvmike

Fromper, 7. Bg5, the move suggested by Langrock, in his book on the morra smith, which by the way is excellent, he says it's the only was for white to play. I've looked into why the it's only move, but I know one of the beating the anti-sicilians books, suggests this line and gives a more detailed explanation.

Atos
RainbowRising wrote:
SteveCollyer wrote:

This opening is not sound.

The best modern OTB GM's like Kramnik, Anand & Carlsen never play it so why should you?

I constantly bump into GM's in my CC games, so just look to play the QGD instead.

The Morra gambit may be a fun opening for the rest of us, but chess really shouldn't be about fun.


Im starting to wonder if you know shit about anything


Um RR Steve already indicated that he wasn't serious with this comment.

I think that he wants to get back to chess but he is doing it in his usual roundabout way !

Atos
traxlerman wrote:

The smith-morra gambit is a pathetic entertaining gambit: put pawns on d6 and e6 and you are absolutely fine


Again, if you have such a simplistic understanding of it, I would be very happy to play it against you. Yes strong GMs can probably refute this opening but it doesn't work with "put pawns on d6 and e6". If it did even you would be a strong GM.

Fromper

Hmm... I have Langrock's book, but I haven't read the whole thing, let alone memorized every variation. I wasn't aware that he recommended Bg5 against the a6 and d6 without e6 line. Nobody's ever played that way against me - or if they have, they've transposed to more common lines pretty quickly. That's how I learn - look up my games in the book and learn one line at a time, rather than sitting there trying to read and memorize the whole book. In fact, I consider that the best way for anyone to learn openings, at least below master level.

Looking at it, after 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 d6 6. Bc4 a6, he's worried about 7. O-O Nf6 8. Qe2 Bg4, pinning the f3 knight and getting an active position for black, while taking away much of white's activity. I can see the point. Obviously, black can't play Bg4 until after Nf6, or else white could win back his gambit pawn with a decent position via Bxf7+ Kxf7 Ng5+ and Qxg4. Several opponents have made that mistake against me at various points in the opening.

You know, even after looking over Langrock's recommendation, I still don't think I'd play his recommended 7. Bg5. It may be best at master level, but it leads to a difficult position for white to play, as pvmike pointed out. Faced with this, I'm likely to stick with the normal 7. O-O, hoping to transpose to better lines for white. If black does continue with 7. ... Nf6, threatening Bg4, I think I'd just play 8. h3. Langrock calls this "inaccurate", because now black can transpose to other lines where h3 isn't useful, and he's probably right. But below master level, it stops Bg4 and lets white stick to familiar looking positions and plans. Even in OTB tournies against players rated 1900-2000 USCF, I've found that forcing my opponent out of their preparation, while sticking to positions I know, gives me a little bit of an edge, even if the position on the board doesn't quite justify it.

As I improve, I'll probably have to study this line more and figure out why Langrock recommends Bg5, so I'll be prepared against higher rated opponents who really know what they're doing. But for now, I think I'm best off improvising after h3.

--Fromper

aansel

Great post Fromper. I agree with your thoughts in the opening and also you gave practical advise on how to learn an opening and use the tools (books and database). 

prensdepens

I love to gobble enemy pawn if given free!

Yummy!

burp!

AnthonyCG

I never got these Smith-Morra threads. 1...c5 players obviously hate it despite it's "unsoundness" and the White players don't seem to mind. Always a funny thread.

Technically the soundness of an opening is quite irrelevant until 2000 elo and even that may be an understatement.

Fromper
Schachgeek wrote:

The best way to refute a gambit....is to accept it.

Yum.


That's the old saying, repeated ad nauseum by various masters and grandmasters over the years. I disagree.

The chess definition of "refute" means to show that the person playing a move has a worse position because of that move than if they'd played something better. Why does this necessarily have to involve capturing material? There are plenty of gambits that are perfectly playable when accepted, but the opponent can really mess up the gambiteer and leave them with an awkward position by declining the gambit properly.

In the case of the SMG, it's probably unsound at top levels, and accepting the gambit is probably the way to prove it. But it's certainly sound enough for any amateur player who has the aggressive tendencies to play it properly.

madhatter5

in the accepted line I usually put my rooks on the C and D files.

AnthonyCG

I remember from my days of playing 1.e4 that White has all the fun in that variation.

Poompat

The best line (and most uncomfortable for White) is ...Bg7.  After 1.e4 c5  2.d4 cd  3.c3 dc  4.Nxc3 Nc6  5.Nf3 g6  6.Bc4 Bg7, the best for White is 7.e5!? with "some" complications, but not enough for the pawn.  Same with 6...d6!?  7.e5!?

I let Fritz (and other programs) analyzed this line for 5-6 hours and Black is better by about 0.5-0.75 pawn-eqivalence.

 

The reason is that:-  A) open a1-h8 diagonal is good for "Dragon" bishop,   B) open c-file is also good for "Dragon" set-up --eg. White will not dare o-o-o, f3, g4 as in Yugoslav,  C) White's e5 is not so dangerous as in other lines.

 

Having said that, I still love Morra Gambit as White and have good results (against amateurs-level players under 2200ELO) with it.  Out of about 30+ rated games, I remember losing only 2-3 games... and those from my ugly blunders late in the games.

dschaef2

I always accept gambits and then play solidly to show the gambiter that they should not have  given me the pawn!

Poompat

Most experts on SMG agree that it is "dynamically" sound.

The reason top players (quoting FM Hannes Langrock) do not play SMG is simply that they do not want to start the game with a "material deficit" on move 3, and spend the rest of the game try to prove the gambited pawn's compensation.

If you set a computer program (eg. Fritz) to analyze (in infinite mode) the position after 1.e4 c5  2.d4 cd  3.c3 dc  4.Nxc3 for about 1-2 days [I did!]... the evaluation is about -0.4 to -0.5 (Black is better by about a half pawn)