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Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4 (B21)
1 e4 c5 2 f4

Number of games in database: 2064
Years covered: 1620 to 2014
Overall record:
   White wins 36.8%
   Black wins 41.3%
   Draws 21.9%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
PRACTITIONERS
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Lawrence Day  64 games
Mark Hebden  37 games
John Cochrane  28 games
Somacarana  27 games
Howard Staunton  16 games
La Bourdonnais  14 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
D Zardus vs A Steventon, 1986
Tal vs Neibult, 1991
Morphy vs J L Preti, 1858
H Bohm vs A Kochyev, 1977
Lenderman vs Gulko, 2007
McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834
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 page 1 of 83; games 1-25 of 2,064  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Greco vs NN 1-021 1620 Miscellaneous GameB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
2. NN vs Greco 0-136 1620 Miscellaneous GameB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
3. G Atwood vs Philidor 0-140 1794 LondonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
4. G Atwood vs Philidor 1-040 1794 CasualB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
5. J Wilson vs G Atwood 0-131 1801 CasualB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
6. W Lewis vs J Wilson 1-042 1819 Lewis vs. WilsonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
7. W Lewis vs J Wilson 1-041 1819 Lewis vs. WilsonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
8. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 1-039 1834 London m5 ;HCL 18B21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
9. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 0-148 1834 London m5 ;HCL 18B21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
10. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 0-125 1834 London m5 ;HCL 18B21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
11. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 0-153 1834 London m5 ;HCL 18B21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
12. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 1-048 1834 London m6 ;HCL 18B21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
13. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 1-059 1834 London m6 ;HCL 18B21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
14. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 0-129 1834 LondonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
15. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 0-144 1834 LondonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
16. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 0-135 1834 LondonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
17. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 1-051 1834 LondonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
18. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 0-125 1834 LondonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
19. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 0-155 1834 LondonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
20. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais ½-½81 1834 LondonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
21. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 1-046 1834 LondonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
22. Bledow vs Von Der Lasa 1-038 1838 BerlinB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
23. Cambridge vs Nottingham City 0-134 1838 Match?B21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
24. Von Der Lasa vs Mayet 1-046 1839 BerlinB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
25. Popert vs Staunton 0-133 1840 LondonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
 page 1 of 83; games 1-25 of 2,064  PGN Download
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 7 OF 7 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-01-07  HoopDreams: < Manic: I agree with <HoopDreams>, I believe there is no known refutation but while this opening is very dangerous with black, I hear (it's only a rumour) that it is unsound with best play, but you have to be a GM to refute it. It works extremely well at club level.> Smith Morra gambit is not unsound with best play, GMs cannot refute it
Mar-16-07  Holden: Opening of the day, Smith-Morra. I play SM as my only response to 1...c5 in 5 min blitz or less. I don't mind a transposition to Alapin, which I intend to learn more about. The Alapin is a different kind of game, though.
Apr-06-07  atripodi: Isn't 2.d4 pretty much busted by 2...d5? Is there a line that's suitable for white?
Apr-06-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: <atripodi: Isn't 2.d4 pretty much busted by 2...d5? Is there a line that's suitable for white?>

Care to elaborate? I haven't heard of 1. e4 c5 2. d4 d5 yet, so I'd be mildly surprised if it's actually the 'refutation' of 2. d4.

Apr-06-07  atripodi: Woops, thats 2.f4, my mistake.
Apr-06-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: Oh, well then that would make sense.

However, 1. e4 c5 2. d4 d5 is a reversed Albin-Counter Gambit. I think it's good for white, but can certainly throw him off if he's not prepared, I'd imagine.

I played a game today that went 1. e4 c5 2. f4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 and my opponent whipped out the odd looking 4. Bd3. I'm not sure of the motivation behind that move, if there was any, but I'm pretty sure it's the wrong way to play it.

Apr-06-07  Astardis: Why are 2. d4 and 2. f4 put together in one opening? Isn't it a hell of a difference whether I play one or the other?
Apr-06-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: <Astardis: Why are 2. d4 and 2. f4 put together in one opening?>

They're put together in one ECO code. They certainly are different openings, but ECO codes are far from perfect.

May-16-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  refutor: gangstaman...1.e4 c5 2.f4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Bd3 just gave you the best advanced caro-kann ever

a terrible line in the advanced caro is 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Bd3 Bxd3 5.Qxd3 e6 6.f4. you've got all the advantages of that line, but in addition you've played ...c5 in one move instead of two

May-21-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  kellmano: <atripodi: Isn't 2.d4 pretty much busted by 2...d5? Is there a line that's suitable for white?>

There's certainlly this one:

Deming vs Cornell, 1980

Seriously though, the position you menetion only appears seven times in the database here and has a bad score for black. A nice thing about this website is the way you can respond to questions over a year later.

May-21-08  Zygalski: Zerathul:
<If u are a Sicilian player looking for a refutation of the Morra Gambit, this is the line for u

1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 d6 6. Bc4 a6! 7. O-O Nf6

From now on, Black scores 60% or more in every sub-variation, in every database>

7.0-0? is slightly wrong in this variation.
I think 7.Bg5! is better, for instance; 7...Nf6 8.Bxf6 gxf6 9.0-0 e6 10.Nd4! Gives White reasonable play & at worst is probably equal. Chessbase gives this:
P=13
1-0=5
0-1=5
1/2-1/2=3

Oct-21-08  Amarande: How about the direct 3 ... d3, attempting to spoil White's center pawn formation?

E.g.:

<1 e4 c5 2 d4 cxd4 3 c3 d3 4 Nf3> It seems to me to be profitable to White NOT to capture this pawn immediately. There is no real way for Black to support it, and neither Bxd3 nor Qxd3 seems really great - neither of these pieces wants to be at d3. Therefore, White holds off on taking Black's 're-gambit' pawn.

<4 ... Nc6 5 Be3 d6 6 Nbd2> Here we see the major positive effect of 4 ... d3. It forces White to make a choice - either he gives back tempo, or must place his pieces on less strong positions, giving Black an easy defensive game. If White instead goes in for the Maroczy formation with 6 c4 g6, again things are more comfortable for Black than in the normal Maroczy Bind, because White's Queen or KB will have to lose time or position due still to that need to recapture at d3.

As a result, IMO, 3 ... d3 most likely refutes the Smith-Morra, not in the sense of that the gambit is unsound but in the sense that it appears that any advantageous formation White can secure, could have been secured under better circumstances in some other variation.

<6 ... g6 7 Bxd3 Bg7 8 O-O Nf6 9 c4 Nb4!> Here we see the trouble with having to recapture on d3. White will have to either retreat this Bishop or allow it to be exchanged. If 10 Bb1, the QR is shut in for at least a few more moves and White will have to lose yet another move with the B in order to develop it. 10 Be2 may be strongest here, leading into probably a more traditional Maroczy situation; instead White decided to develop another piece to try to take advantage of Black's loss of time with the N.

In any case, White's Queen's wing would definitely have to suffer significant softening in order to prevent this intrusion by the Knight. a3 would be necessary, but then Black can make definite counter plans on the Q wing beginning with ... a5. After this ... a4 threatens, and White will have to make some form of Pawn concession on the Queen's wing however he addresses this, which gives Black the characteristic Sicilian counterplay.

<10 Qb3 Nxd3 11 Qxd3 0-0 12 Bd4!> A good idea, essentially pinning Black's Nf6 for a lengthy time, as Black can hardly afford to allow the Bg7 to be traded in the Dragon formation, as well his QN has been exchanged and ... e5 would definitely be faulty, leaving the d6 pawn a permanent weakness.

<12 ... Qc7 13 Rfd1 b6 14 e5?!> An attempt to capitalize on space in the center and superior development, but it also seems that this move weakens White's tough grip on d5, and disposes of Black's need to worry of a weakness at d6 should the e-pawn need to advance.

<14 ... dxe5 15 Bxe5 Qd7 16 Qxd7 Bxd7 17 a4 a5 18 b3 Bc6 19 Re1 e6 20 Rad1 h6> To at least restrict some of the mobility of White's Knights. Despite the two Bishops and the White Pawn majority being somewhat weakened by 17 a4, Black has difficulty coming up with a strong plan here; in particular he is hampered by the fact that moving the Knight results in Bxg7 and numerous King's wing square weaknesses.

<21 Nd4 Bb7 22 Nb5 Bc6 23 Bc7 Nd7 24 Ne4> In addition, Black has no good way to shut out White's Knights on the Q wing.

<24 ... Rac8 25 Rxd7?!> This leads to a favorable pawn formation on the Q wing in exchange for the Exchange. It seems strong but later apparently looks like it's only good for a drawn position. In any case however the position is mainly even and White has only a slight advantage at best.

<25 ... Bxd7 26 Bxb6 Bxb5 27 axb5 a4!> The Q side pawns look to be strong, but they are not strong enough. This move actually makes White's passed pawns even further outside, but it also removes the support of the rear b-pawn and leaves the remaining two pawns open to attack, it will turn out White can't consolidate them enough for a win.

<28 bxa4 Rxc4 29 a5 Rb4! 30 Nd6 Be5! 31 Bc5 Rb3 32 b6 Bxd6 33 Bxd6 Ra8!> An additional nicety - White has never had a chance to make luft, and this assures the draw, as one of the passed pawns must be lost; the other will be neutralized by returning the Exchange.

<34 Bc7>
If 34 Ra1?? Rxa5! or Rxb6! and Black even wins!

<34 ... Rxa5 35 b7 Rab5 36 b8Q Rxb8 37 Bxb8 Rxb8 1/2-1/2> A book draw - 4v3 all on the same side of the board can be won only under certain special circumstances, involving either a passed center pawn or pawns already very far advanced.

Oct-20-09  Manic: <Amarande> I did not read all of your post, but the most common tactic by White against the 3...d3 variation is to play 4.Bxd3. Then white aims for a Maroczy bind with c4, Nc3, f3, Nge2, Be3. The order depends on what black plays but that is close to the right order. Later white will play Rc1 and Bb1 (b3 in between maybe to support c4) and white's position is quite comfortable.
Dec-09-09  Amarande: <Manic> It's not so much that 4 Bxd3 is a bad move, but rather that even this leads only, at best, to a normal Maroczy Bind with no special advantages.

The advantage of 3 ... d3 then is that it with a single, sound move (there is no refutation for it, that I am aware of) avoids the many traps associated with the main line (which are in large part associated with Black's loss of two tempi by cxd4 and dxc3 - in the d3 variation Black also cedes tempi initially, but this is not serious due to the positional particulars and, especially, the fact that Black probably only loses one tempo as White probably plays c4 soon, thus himself losing a tempo from having also played c3), and more or less gives Black some control over the opening (White wanted to play a Smith-Morra, but now the position will probably become an Accelerated Dragon or an entirely different variation like that shown in my previous post). OTB, this can have a significant effect on many levels as the psychological effect of denying a gambiteer their main-line attacking choices is often a major one.

Dec-09-09  MaxxLange: <Amarande> Speaking of psychology, I think that the old "the only way to refute a gambit is to accept it" saying has a pretty big hold on many players, who feel ashamed to decline a gambit that is supposed to be "unsound" at "the higher levels".

Gary Lane's book on the Blackmar-Diemer gambit has a story about GM Guerevich facing it. He thought for about 20 minutes, and declined it by 1 d4 d5 2 e4 dxe4 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 f3 e3. In the postmortem, he told the lower rated opponent that he had decided that taking on f3 "looked too complicated", so he didn't play it.

Dec-27-10  LDJ: I want to play the Sicilian more regularly in OTB play, but I don't know very much of the theory about the Smith-Morra gambit. Are there any lines that I should know about? I know that it can be a dangerous weapon against unprepared players, but that's practically the only thing I know about it :) Oh, and now that I'm kibitzing on the B21 page, I might as well ask: is there anything I should know about the 2.f4 Sicilian, except that 2...d5 equalizes quite easily?
Dec-27-10  GilesFarnaby: <LDJ:...>

Good questions, Iīll try a very general approach:

<I want to play the Sicilian more regularly in OTB play, but I don't know very much of the theory about the Smith-Morra gambit.>

The best video Iīve seen of the S-M (and I have seen like 4 or 5) is an old Daniel Martin one, maybe you can track it down; if I remember correctly he made an approach from white, but if you just write down the lines and check them with computer you will find the refutations for black. About books I canīt really tell you since I donīt use them that much, but maybe you will be able to find for free an article Albert Hoogendoorn wrote about the gambit: very general but very clear, so good for begginers.

<Are there any lines that I should know about?>

Hmm, there is the Bxf7+ famous trap with Bc4 if the d file is open and Rh8 is not yet connected with Q when K takes the B.

I.e., here (or with a similar setup):


click for larger view

The sharpest early deviation for white is to give a 2nd pawn with 4.Bc4:


click for larger view

...but will turn into rubbish if black knows how to defend.

Other than that... well, just study all the lines, is the only way of learning an opening. I would reccomendt you to get a good .ctg opening book (Rybka 4īs or Fritz 12īs one or something similar), and, once you know the general lines, then start studying famous games and analyzing with computer (the best engines nowadays are free: Firebird, Robbolito...) Remember that is equally important to be prepared against "good" moves than against "bad" ones.

<is there anything I should know about the 2.f4 Sicilian, except that 2...d5 equalizes quite easily?>

If black is ambitious can answer with 2...e5: is very tricky to play for black, but also very good and sharp if succesfully done, and practically wins a pawn without much compensation for white, so you may want to check it as well (mainly with computer because it doesnīt have much theory written about it yet nor GM practice): of course the white player that answers 2...e5 with 3.fxe5 or f5 is outright dead, so is a good weapon to hunt patzers early in the game.

Dec-28-10  GilesFarnaby: <GilesFarnaby: The best video Iīve seen of the S-M (and I have seen like 4 or 5) is an old Daniel Martin one>

Sorry, I meant Andrew Martin, the British IM.

Dec-28-10  MaxxLange: Chessbase has a new-ish DVD from IM Lawrence Trent about the Smith-Morra.
Apr-14-11  Penguincw: Opening of the Day
Sicilian, Smith Morra Gambit
1.e4 c5 2.d4

Not such how 2.d4 is a gambit.

Apr-14-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Penguincw> 2.d4 isn't a gambit if after 2...cxd4, White plays 3.Qxd4. Usually White prefers 3.c3, which is the Smith-Morra Gambit. 3.Nf3 is also possible, which is a gambit if Black plays 3...e5!? Note that in that event White can't play 4.Nxe5? Qa5+.
Dec-27-11  Penguincw: Opening of the Day

Sicilian, Gran Prix Attack
1.e4 c5 2.f4


click for larger view

Isn't it supposed to be Gran<d> Prix attack instead of Gran<> Prix attack?

Nov-08-12  FrogC: Smith-Morra is Opening of the Day, and I notice that declining the gambit with ...d3 scores quite well for Black in the database. I had always understood it was supposed to be bad, but after all it's logical - White's pawn on c3 is on the natural square for the queen's knight and he can't get a Maroczy bind without losing a tempo. I've never done well accepting the gambit (you need to be either a tactical wizard or really booked-up), so may try this.
Nov-08-12  Troller: <FrogC> For what it's worth, Sune Berg Hansen played ..d3 against me in a blitz game once. It can't be all bad I suppose.

Another good way is 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 d6 6.Bc4 e6 (not Nf6? e5!) 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Qe2 Be7 9.Rd1 e5 10.h3 (almost forced) 0-0 11.Be3 Be6.

I've played the Morra extensively, usually with very good results, although many of the games were against "fish"; I've yet to encounter ..d3 in a serious game, but I have come across 3..d5 occasionally.

May-31-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  DcGentle: Smith-Morra Gambit opening of the day again, and personally I think that this opening is underrated. Maybe the move Bc4 of this opening is overrated though. This would surely surprise many connoisseurs of this gambit.

But have a look here (DcGentle chessforum), and you might discover why. This line is the core of my private Smith-Morra analysis, which lasted several years, yes, right, I dedicated my analysis time to nothing else. For I wanted to know whether the common notion is true, that this gambit is unsound and only for amateurs. Good news: It's not. But current theory is right, with current theory Black can win with best play.

When I have finished the development of my new paradigm engine, then I'll write a book on the Smith-Morra.

And by the way, declining the gambit doesn't help Black.

Greetings, <DC>

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