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Marc Esserman vs Vadim Martirosov
"That's a Morra!" (game of the day Nov-06-2012)
Harvard Open (2008) (blitz), Harvard University, rd 3, Oct-11
Sicilian Defense: Smith-Morra Gambit. Accepted Kan Formation (B21)  ·  1-0


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Given 19 times; par: 33 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-03-12  notyetagm: Game Collection: THE UNDERRATED REMOVAL OF THE GUARD -- Heisman

M Esserman vs V Martirosov, 2008 20 ♖c1-c7!.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: These are also Morras: M Esserman vs J Sarkar, 2008 M Esserman vs Van Wely, 2011 Esserman is a complete tactical maniac. He almost makes the Morra look sound.
Nov-06-12  waustad: There is a whole lot to like in this attack!
Nov-06-12  waustad: Very nice pun too, but I don't need a big pizza pie in the eye.
Nov-06-12  Abdel Irada: ∞

<When an eel hits your arm
And does you lots of harm,
That's ... a moray!>

Nov-06-12  Abdel Irada: <He almost makes the Morra look sound.>

I'm not altogether sure it isn't.

This isn't merely personal experience, although I have had good results with the gambit, even against strong opposition.

Garry Kasparov barely escaped with a draw when Jol Lautier played it against him — and Lautier would have won if he'd seen one more sacrifice.

Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: After 21...Rf7 22. e8=Q+ Nxe8 23. Rxf7 Qxf7 24. Bxf7+ Kxf7, black has ♗+♘+♘+♙ vs. ♕.
Nov-06-12  Abdel Irada: <al wazir>: That's a creative defense, but White has 22. Rxf6!, Qxe7; 23. Rxf7, Qxf7; 24. Bxf7, Kxf7; 25. Qxd6, and Black has only two pieces for the queen, one of which will soon fall to a fork.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Abdel Irada: <He almost makes the Morra look sound.>

I'm not altogether sure it isn't.>

Me neither. Esserman makes the interesting observation that Short claims the Morra is unsound, but plays the King's Gambit himself. Esserman doesn't understand how the King's Gambit, wherein White trashes his own kingside, can be sound, while the Morra is unsound. He has a point.

Nov-06-12  newzild: <FSR> It is possible to believe that an opening is unsound and to play it anyway, especially if it leads to complicated positions.

I always avoid the Morra by playing 3...Nf6, transposing into lines of the c3 Sicilian that are mostly harmless for Black.

As for White's performance in this game, it's very impressive indeed. The maneouvre Ra8-a7-d7 appears to waste too much time.

Does anyone know if the rook lift is book?

Nov-06-12  Abdel Irada: <newzild>: Yes. It's called the Chicago Variation. It's intended to neutralize the pressure on the d-file that constitutes part of White's compensation for the pawn.

This, incidentally, was one of Black's problems: The Chicago isn't really a good test of the Morra's soundness. Esserman's attack was particularly audacious, but combinations directed at e6 are fairly common in this system.

There *is* a defense to the Morra that really does threaten to refute it, but I'm not about to reveal it. :-D

Nov-06-12  newzild: <Abdel Irada> Thanks for your informative response.

I have no doubt that there is indeed a very testing defence, and I'm curious to know what it is, but to be honest I would probably stick with 3...Nf6 anyway because my book-bashing days are well behind me.

Nov-06-12  5hrsolver: Nice attack. Sometimes everything just works.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Jeremy Silman has a good discussion in his review of Langrock's book, which before Esserman's book was the best book ever written on the gambit: But don't play the Finegold Defense.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: White ends ahead a queen for a pair of horses.

White's last move is close to the strongest possible move. Here it is (old Style)

PxQ(Q)dbl ch/mate-a simple example oon a board:

click for larger view

Nov-06-12  BarcelonaFirenze: What happens if black doesn't take the knight on move 13 (for example Qc8)?
Premium Chessgames Member
  JohnBoy: <Abdel> - Where do you come by "Chicago" for the rook lift? This was shown to me by Defirmian, in about '78, as a way to dissuade white from e5 in many lines. He claimed to have invented it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Abdel> didn't make up the name. A number of Chicago players (at one point I probably could have named them) advocated the line, and it is called that in Langrock and Esserman's books.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: It's true that DeFirmian did play the ...Ra7-d7 defense in J Frankle vs DeFirmian, 1980, which is the earliest game with it that I see in's database. He got crushed horribly.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: It's true that DeFirmian did play the ...Ra7-d7 defense in J Frankle vs DeFirmian, 1980, which is the earliest game with it that I see in's database. He got crushed horribly. I don't know if it qualifies as a true "Chicago" defense, which normally involves the knight going to f6 before the rook maneuver. DeFirmian left his knight on g8 and played Qf6. It worked out as badly as it sounds.
Premium Chessgames Member
  hedgeh0g: A very nice game, but I have to say I'm partial to the "mainline" defence for Black (Nc6, d6, e6, Be7, Nf6, etc.). White gets the initiative, Black gets a pawn and my feeling is the position is dynamically balanced (although careful play from Black is required).
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