Master Lecture Series
IM Marc Esserman
Tuesday, December 8, 2009 7:00 PM
“My Best Games in the Smith-Morra Gambit”
Entry fee: free for BCF members
$10 for non-members
If there is sufficient interest, IM Esserman will play a Smith Morra thematic simul –EF $5 for all.
Marc is an experienced chess teacher based in Somerville, MA, a member of the board of the Boylston Chess Foundation, and a recognized expert on the Smith-Morra Gambit. (See the October NYT’s article about one of Marc’s Smith Morra games by Dylan Loeb McLain reprinted below.) Recent achievements include:
- 1st place in 2009 Eastern Class
- 2nd place 2008 Continental Open Miami
- 2008 Miami Open - tied 2-7
Club phone: 617-629-3933
BCF Blog: http://boylston-chess-club.blogspot.com/
An Often-Shunned Opening, for Good Reason
By DYLAN LOEB McCLAIN
NYT Published: October 24, 2009
Some openings are perennially popular. Others are rarely used, particularly among elite players, and often for good reason. The unpopular openings can be broken down into three categories.
The Bad: the Grob (1 g4), the Latvian Gambit (1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 f5) and the Sokolsky (1 b4) among them. They are risky and give opponents too many opportunities to seize the advantage.
The Ugly: Some openings are neglected not from any intrinsic failing, but because they are simply not faddish. In 1995, when Viswanathan Anand of India, the current world champion, played a title match against Garry Kasparov of Russia, he surprised his opponent with one of the Uglies, the Scandinavian (1 e4 d5). Though he lost the game, he got a good position out of the opening. But he has not played it since.
The Risky: They can offer a benefit because opposing players are often not well versed in their nuances. Usually, these openings are gambits, where a player sacrifices at least a pawn. But opponents who know how to handle them can obtain good positions. The Evans Gambit (1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Bc5 4 b4), the Schliemann Defense (1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 f5) and the Smith-Morra Gambit all fall into this category.
Of that group, the Smith-Morra is among the most respectable. By investing a pawn, White obtains a significant initiative. Black can defuse this advantage, but it takes patience.
The dangers of the Smith-Morra were illustrated in a United States Chess League game last month between Marc Esserman (who was awarded the international master title this week) and Tom Bartell, a master.
The Smith-Morra is a response to the Sicilian Defense. It is attractive because it is easy to find good squares for all of White’s pieces.
Bartell should have played his bishop to e6 earlier. By delaying that move with 11 ... Bd7, he wasted time. He created a weakness at b6 by playing 12 ... a6; 12 ... Rc8 would have been better.
He erred with 16 ... Nb8. He should have retreated his knight to a7, though his position is certainly ugly. Bartell’s slow development allowed Esserman to crash through with 17 Ne5.
Playing 19 ... Ne8 was not an option because 20 Bd5 wins Black’s rook.
Bartell would have put up more resistance by playing 20 ... Rd8 21 Rc5 Nbd7, when his pieces are developed. Instead, 20 ... Bf2 was an error, and Esserman pounced, beginning with 22 g4.
After that, it was a massacre, and Bartell resigned.