Smith-Morra Gambit

Chessboard showing the Smith-Morra Gambit with the moves 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 played
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Learn the Smith Morra Gambit

The Smith Morra Gambit is an aggressive opening choice for white if black decides to play the Sicilian. It is a great opening for players who like to end their game with checkmate before move 40.

I think the understanding of this gambit is best conveyed by this quote from Marc Esserman from his great book Mayham in the Morra:

As I’d do with any serious opening, I will not stop the analysis in each critical variation until I have demonstrated that White is fighting for the advantage. Yes, that is not a misprint - that White is fighting for an advantage in the Morra Gambit.

-Marc Esserman in his book Mayhem in the Morra!

So if you still think the Smith Morra is the opening for you, here are the basics you need to know about the opening:

The starting position of the opening
The starting position of the opening.

In the starting position of the opening, white is down a pawn. And not just any pawn, a center pawn. But as a gambiteer we of course see our compensation. Just look at the difference in development. White has two pieces out while blacks pieces are all still standing around on their starting squares.

Black has to be careful. If black does not develop accurate we will use our lead in development to start attacking them before they even get the chance to castle.

The basic setup for the white pieces in the smith morra.
Basic setup for white.

This is the basic setup for white. If black does not immediately run into any traps this is the setup we should strive for. Where we develop our black bishop depends on what our opponent does. Buth once the black bishop moves, our rook on a1 will find a great home on the open c1-c8 file.

Video Content

There is some great video content about the Smith Morra Gambit available on YouTube.

Hanging Pawns has an excellent video in his series on the Sicilian Defense in which he talks about the Smith Morra theory. Even more analysis is done by ChessNetwork in this.

The Saint Louis Chess Club channel has a video in which the legend Yasser Seirawan analyses a game played by a participant in the gambit.

If you want to see live games in the Morra, Eric Rosen has the right ones for you. He has a video in which he plays against the opening and one in which he plays the opening himself.

Studies about the Smith-Morra Gambit

Learn the Smith-Morra Gambit using public studies.

Understanding the Smith Morra Gambit
145 by Arne

This is my study about the Smith Morra Gambit. The perfect gambit to get sicilian players out of their repertoire.

Mayhem in the Morra
15 by OprahsFatAnkles

Smith morra gambit by gm molton
10 by tiranor

From lichess study

Play against Stockfish

Play the Smith-Morra Gambit
Play against the Smith-Morra Gambit

Do you want to try out the Smith-Morra Gambit? Train this opening against Stockfish.

Play against Stockfish either as white or black and explore the opening.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Smith Morra?

The Smith Morra is a Gambit line for white in the Sicilian. In the Smith Morra white gambits a pawn for quick development and active play against black. It is an aggressive opening for white with many traps that black can fall into.

Is the Smith Morra gambit sound?

The Smith Morra is a sound gambit. The gambit even finds play in the top ranks of chess. There are grandmasters who use this opening as a surprise weapon against Sicilian players. Even though white gives up a pawn, the lead in development makes this more than up.