Monday, May 7, 2012

Smith-Morra Gambit (or Morra-Smith or Mora)

I want a main line for chess's Smith-Morra Gambit: 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3

Granted, from what I said in the previous post (Chess Theory), the concept of a main line in chess is theoretically incoherent.  Because all playable lines lead to draws, there is no such thing as "best play", at least not in any single-line sense.  (I am assuming the Smith-Morra is playable.)  All roads lead to Rome.

On the other hand, it is certainly possible, based on computer and human evaluation, to find what appears to be a "best line of play", or at most a handful of such lines.  That is what openings books are all about.  From a theoretical perspective, this is not an exercise in finding the best line(s), but rather in finding the longest line(s) before the inevitable draw.  The most scenic routes to Rome.  This is directly due to the horizon effect: the only reason humans and computers don't see all reasonable moves as leading to a draw is because they cannot look far enough (and thoroughly enough) ahead.  But scenic is good too.

So here is what I currently consider to be the main line of Smith-Morra:

3...dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 a6 7.O-O Nf6 8.Bf4 Bg4 9. h3 Bh5 10.Qb3 Qc7 11.Ng5 e6 12.Bxe6 h6 13.Nd5 Nxd5 14.exd5 hxg5 15.dxc6 fxe6 16.cxb7 Rb8 17.Qxe6+ Be7 18.Rac1 Qxb7 19.Bxd6 Qd7 20.Qxd7+ Kxd7 21.Bxb8 Rxb8 22.b3

if 8...e6 then 9.Qe2 Qc7 10.Rfd1 Nh4 11.Be3 Be7 12.Rac1 O-O 13.Na4 Nf6 14.Bb6 Qb8 15.Bb3 Nd7 16.Qe3 Nf6 17.Nc3 Nd7 18.Na4 draw by repetition.

If Black wants to decline the gambit, this is what I consider to be the main line of the best try:

3...d5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.cxd4 e5 6.Nf3 exd4 7.Qxd4 Qxd4 8.Nxd4 Nf6 9.Bb5+ Bd7 10.Bxd7 Nbxd7 11.O-O

Can anyone find anything better/longer?

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