Smith Morra Gambit - Taming that Sicilian

The Smith Morra Gambit is a very interesting answer from White to the Sicilian Gambit. It is not widely respected among GMs but at club level it is extremely potent. It is more solid as gambits go than say the Latvian Gambit for instance.

As with most gambits, there are solutions for Black but they are difficult to find. Even slight inaccuracies are enough to land him in hot water quick.

Can Black solve the riddles? Or will he get himself tied up in knots in just a few moves? The Smith Morra is a variation within one entry of the ECO Index. That entry is B21.

History of the Smith Morra Gambit

Smith Morra Gambit

Smith Morra Gambit

This gambit takes it's name from two 20th Century players who researched it thoroughly. They were Pierre Morra from France (1900 - 69) and Kenneth Ray Smith from the United States (1930 - 99).

This gambit was originally named the Matulovic Gambit but he more or less abandoned the opening before 1960. Perhaps he lost faith in it as a viable option. The other two got their names on it mainly due to the research and analysis they did on it.

Frenchman Morra produced some literature on the opening about 60 years ago. This consisted of mainly articles but also a booklet. Smith went quite a bit further. He wrote nine books and forty-nine articles on it. When he lost three from three against GMs in a top tournament in 1972 using the gambit, it was definitive proof that Black can refute it.

Smith Morra Analysis

Smith Morra Gambit - Main Line

Smith Morra Gambit - Main Line

Like most gambits, the Smith Morra is not often seen at the highest levels. The GMs mostly know how to cope with it. But unless you're playing GMs every day, this tactic can bring you much success against the Sicilian.

Many players like to play aggressive, cut throat openings that you can often get with King's Openings. The slower burning positional games that you find in the Queen's Openings may not to be their taste.

And yet they find themselves coerced into 1.d4 instead of their prefered 1.e4 all because of the dreaded Sicilian. The Smith Morra offers these players the means to reclaim their ground. It is very effective at club level at least. Lets take a look at some deeply interesting lines in our Smith Morra Gambit Analysis using Fritz.

Moving On

This is a fun gambit with many lines and possibilities. You can see some practical examples of the kinds of positions you can reach in these Smith Morra games.

I said earlier that grandmasters don't particularly like this opening and this is true. But there is one contemporary GM who has put a lot of work into it in the last few years.

Take a look at the glowing reports for the Smith Morra from Russian American GM Alex Lenderman. We have another central gambit coming up for you to absorb. This one is the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit.

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