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Okay, having mentioned Esserman's line, I looked at his analysis more deeply and will mention what I think is an improvement (or rather a challenge to his evaluation):1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 d6 6. Bc4 a6 7. O-O Nf6 8.Bf4 Bg4 9. h3 Bh5 10. Qb3 Qd7 11. Be2 Bxf3 12. Bxf3 Nd4 13. Qd1 e5
(13... Nxf3+ 14. Qxf3 e5 15. Bh6 Qe6 16. Bg5 Be7 17. Bxf6 Bxf6 18. Nd5 compensation - Esserman)
14. Bg5 Be7 15. Bxf6 Nxf3+ 16. Qxf3 Bxf6 17. Nd5 Bd8
White's claim in positions like this is that the powerful knight is more than enough compensation for the pawn. I've adjusted Esserman's move order above to reach a similar position I think is slightly more favorable for Black. White's position is maybe easier to play... for the first several moves. Fritz assesses this as completely equal, but I think Black has good long-term chances if he defends carefully as he has methods for counterplay on the kingside. One good knight is not enough to win the game. This is a sample line that shows some defensive ideas for Black.
18. Rac1 Rc8 19. Qa3 Rc6 20. Rxc6 Qxc6 21. b4 O-O 22. Rc1 Qd7 23. Qb3 Qe6 24. a4 Kh8 25. b5 f5 26. bxa6 bxa6 27. Qb8 Be7 28. Qb7 Bh4 29. f3 fxe4 30. fxe4 a5 31. Rc7 Rg8 =/+
White's attack has reached a dead-end and Black can slowly unravel with move like ...h6 and ...Qg6 to seek counterplay in the center and the kingside. Admittedly White's knight on d5 looks very nice and Black looks very passive initially, but I think it is hard to fully equalize if Black defends accurately.
This has been my favored line against the Smith-Morra for many years. However, some recent analysis by Esserman (8.Bf4 Bg4 9.h3) is making me reconsider whether this is the best winning attempt for Black. Of course, Black can consider 8.Bf4 e6 transposing into another line of the Morra, but I don't think I am entirely happy about that either.
However, Esserman's book alerted me to a new idea for Black I had not considered before: 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bc4 Nf6, aiming for an improved version of the Siberian Attack. Black often can aim for a French structure and I think is a good approach to play for a win if Black can weather the storm.
I played some games with white, but I see that black usually plays e6 rather than d6. NO explanation in the video against this idea.
A great video especially getting away with the knight of f6 which I've heard and seen can be bad.
What is the link to the Morra site reffered to at end of lecture ? Thank you.
Give me a line you think is good for white and let's analyze it.
In response to Sputnick, white is not the only one allowed to study this stuff. Accepting gives black an extra pawn, something Korchnoi used to enjoy in positions worse than these. Korchnoi had a monster lifetime score against Tal :) Black's ambition after declining with Nf6 is to reach a draw. Why not win a pawn and have all three results possible?
GM Nigel Short said believing in Morra compensation is like believing in Santa Claus, which is a little harsh. Black must be accurate, but isn't this true in any opening? I like the "Mecking/Evans" defense and think it's logical. Computers tend to agree. White has space, but it's offset by black's extra center pawn. I saw in some recent books authors liked an early Bf4, but that blocks the "Sozin" motifs of f2-f4-f5. Generally speaking black can respond with h7-h6!? and even follow up with g7-g5!? to transpose to the classic black win, Smith-Evans.
This series was about accepting, which I believe is fine for black. Declining with 3... Nf6 is fine (see Sevillano-DeFirmian as a very important game in the declining line). However, accepting is more principled. It's funny that in many lines, *black* can actually get an attack!
I haven't looked at it with a computer but after the supposed erroneous Nxf3 the claim that bxa6 spoils it is...questionable. Nxh2 looks pretty darn scary for white. f3 loses the queen Ba4+ ke7 doesn't change things and if the q moves to say c2 then nf3! (Qh4 is a mate threat) I don't see how white survives. - NO I was completly wrong black is busted in that line, lol oh well.
Around 13:37, after Nxf3 bxa6, why doesn't Rxb3 work?
so many variations in chess. That's why chess is recommended (in our family) for mental build-up.
Great little series so far.Nice teaching style!
Can't Black answer 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cd4 4.c3 with 4...Nf6 again?
GM Jacob Aagaard has devoted a 50-page article on the ...Nf6/d6/e6 system as anti-Alapin/Morra system in his "Experts against the Anti-Sicilian" publication. He proposes different variations than GM Delchev in his "Safest Sicilian" repertoire book.
Both systems seem mighty good to me- white has no advantage, no tricks, and no fireworks- he must play chess to survive.
@ sputnick: Esserman in his book suggests against this setup Tiviakov's 7.a3 (he also briefly deals with 7.Bc4 as "equal"), but he does not mention at all the simple and effective plan suggested by Aagard: 7...Nc6 8.Bd3 de5 9.de5 g6, which seems mighty fine for Black. He only covers mediocrely the other Black plan (...Bd7-Bc6 and ...Nd7) which is not regarded very highly by Aagaard.
What is Esserman's response to this?
Following up on my prior comment, I think the following delayed Morra might be interesting: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.c3!? With the pawn on e6, Nf6 is not quite as good. At least Rozentalis and Hartley say in Play the 2.c3 Sicilian (p. 132) that "we don't think this is black's best plan." And if black accepts the gambit here with 4...dxc3 does white have much against this ...e6 defense?
I totally agree with with IM pfren that 3...Nf6 is an entirely adequate reply to the Morra. In fact, 3...Nf6 is why I decided not to play the line with white. Why bother to learn all of the gambit theory when black can decline it AND be totally equal? Thus, for someone like me who has not yet had the time to learn all of the open Sicilian theory, Bb5 is the answer. It may not give white much in the Moscow variation lines, but at least white has not wasted all that time on all that Morra theory!
Isn't 3...Nf6 perfectly adequate for Black?
Why should he memorize long, complex lines, and not just play chess?
3...Nf6 kills two birds with one shot (the Morra and the Alapin). The lines suggested by Esserman in his book give white absolutely nothing.
Sure, Black does not try refuting the gambit with 3...Nf6. But he has a fully equal, unbalanced game, and fair chances to positionally outplay white.
by IM Mark Ginsburg
IM Mark Ginsburg continues his series on how to deal with the Smith-Morra Gambit by showing how Black should tackle some early sidelines in the Evans Defence. How to respond to Lenderman's early e5 lunge (the Nf6-g4-e5 & Bd6-e5 maneuvers!), what to play against Bc1-f4 (counterattack with Nf6-h5!) and Bc1-e3 (an early Nf6-d7!), it's all explained in this video, which also includes some instructive computer lines.
Intermediate | Advanced
Sicilian Defense: Smith-Morra Gambit #2 (B21)
Related: Part 2
Play Key Position Vs. Computer
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IM Mark Ginsburg
Mark learned chess at age 6 but only at age 13 was he informed that tournaments existed! He received the International Master title at age 22 and had a peak USCF rating of 2578 in 1993. Mark has twice been the Manhattan Chess Club Champion, and has also played quite a bit overseas in Belgium, Holland, England, and Switzerland. Mark has a PhD in Information Systems from NYU. Mark currently resides in Tucson, AZ and has been Co-State Champion of Arizona twice. Chess is a difficult proposition to teach because it combines logic and imagination, but Mark believes that if logic is applied then imaginative ideas work better. This belief comes through in his teaching style and practices...
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