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Marc Esserman vs Viswanathan Anand
Tradewise Gibraltar (2016), Catalan Bay GIB, rd 8, Jan-26
Sicilian Defense: Alapin Variation. Smith-Morra Declined (B22)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-02-16  Kinghunt: The draw may have been the pragmatic choice given the strength gap, but white had excellent chances to push for a win instead. For white's 20th move, Komodo 9.3 gives 20. h5 Bc6 21. Qe3 with a score of +0.76 (d=38).
Feb-02-16  Marmot PFL: Surprised anyone would try the Morra gambit on Anand, or that he would decline it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: One suspects that if White had not been playing a top GM, he may well have plumped for 20.h5--it is certainly a plausible move, not to mention very much in Esserman's style.
Feb-02-16  Mudphudder: Marmot, I'm fairly confident that if Anand wasn't doing so poorly in this tournament then Esserman (even though he is like the guru of Morra gambit) would have opted to play a more solid opening against Anand.
Feb-03-16  sorrowstealer: anything can happen when your confidence level is low.
Apr-20-16  Smyslov57: Great analysis of the game by chess legend GM William Lombardy:

And, reading his wonderful book on the Morra, I'm pretty sure that Esserman would have played it regardless of Anand's tournament situation. But as Rev. Lombardy says, he missed the mark and let Anand off the hook.

Apr-21-16  RookFile: I agree that the Lombardy video is worth a look. As has been noted here, surely white's issue was one of confidence, not the position on the board.
Sep-20-19  saintdufus: It wasn't White whose issue was confidence, but Black. Esserman is the world's #1 authority on this opening: he believes in it strongly, so he always plays it, no matter who his opponent is.

I do wish Anand had accepted the gambit though. Maybe he feared a similar fate to what befell Loek Van Wely.

Feb-06-20  RookFile: If you're confident, you play to win with white, not take a draw. Black can't be blamed for taking a draw in a greatly inferior game.
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