Sicilian Defense: Smith-Morra Gambit

Chessboard showing the Sicilian Defense: Smith-Morra Gambit with the moves 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 played
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In this gambit, White’s aim is to complete his development as quickly as possible and to exert pressure on the opponent’s position via the open lines. If Black captures the pawn, White takes it back with the queen’s knight, and will continue to build up through the moves Kf3, Bc4 and castling. White gains a slight developmental advantage as well as pressure on the d-file in most variants, partly also on the opponent’s queenside through Qe2, Rfd1 with the pawn advances e5 and b4.

White receives long-term positional compensation for the pawn, as is typical for modern gambit games (e.g. the Volga Gambit). However, it is questionable whether white receives sufficient compensation for the sacrificed pawn, because unlike in the Volga Gambit, in the Morra Gambit white sacrifices a valuable central and not a side pawn, for which the gain of a single tempo (hitting with the queen knight on c3) is generally not considered sufficient. However, if the game is not played accurately, Black can get into big trouble. This is why this gambit enjoys a certain popularity, especially in amateur circles.

Play against Stockfish

Play the Sicilian Defense: Smith-Morra Gambit
Play against the Sicilian Defense: Smith-Morra Gambit

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