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    Mastering the Morra Gambit

    The opening moves of a chess game incite a battle of positional or strategic concepts. In the Sicilian Defense, after 1. e4 Black plays 1…c5, fixating on the d4 square. In response, White most commonly plays 2. Nf3 and follows it up with 3. d4. This is called the Open Sicilian. After Black takes the d-pawn, the position already exhibits several important characteristics. Black has more central pawns than White. As a result, he often utilizes the half-open c-file and the queenside minority to attack White, but he also has enduring endgame chances due to the central majority. White, on the other hand, has potent centralized pieces and a development lead. The onus is then on White to pressure Black using these positional pluses and either end the game early or gain a long-lasting advantage.

    In the Smith Morra Gambit, White sacrifices a pawn early in order to enhance his usual initiative. Typically, the positions which stem from 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3, the starting position of the Smith Morra Gambit, are more tactical and, more importantly, more fun than what White usually gets out of an Open Sicilian! Personally, I have a great deal of experience playing, studying, and analyzing this opening. I love it because not only does it force Black to stray a bit from his own home court, but it also allows White to have all the attacking chances—gone are Black’s minority attacks and c-file pressure. Whether you plan for this to be a side weapon or your main opening against the Sicilian Defense, I encourage you to check out the ten games that I have annotated covering ten different structures that Black can employ against the Smith Morra Gambit. My sources for games and analysis include chessgames.com, Megadatabase 2013, Houdini 3, Winning with the Smith Morra Gambit by Graham Burgess, Mayhem in the Morra! by IM Marc Esserman, and The Modern Morra Gambit: A Dynamic Weapon against the Sicilian by IM Hannes Langrock.

     

    I hope you enjoy the course and happy gambiting!

    CM Emily Tallo 

    • 1A Famous Encounter...
    • 6A Fiery Fianchetto...
    • 2The Morra-Marcozy...
    • 7A Rookie's Defense...
    • 3Danger Against 3...d5...
    • 8A Practical Response to 3...Nf...
    • 4A Lesson in the Siberian ...
    • 9Tactical Turmoil in the Scheve...
    • 5Reexploring the Unexplored...
    • 10Smashing the Scheveningen...
  • Author
    Emily Tallo

    My name is Emily Tallo. I’m an 18 year old USCF expert from Fort Wayne, Indiana. I study chess by following high level chess tournaments, reading chess books, doing tactics and compositions, analyzing opening variations, and playing way too much internet chess. My greatest chess achievement was playing and finishing well in the World Youth Chess Championship in Caldas Novas, Brazil in 2012. My passion for chess, which began in the sixth grade, has driven me not merely to improve myself, but to improve others as well. With Chess U, I hope to do just that. Enjoy!

    CM Emily Tallo