The Smith-Morra Gambit
What do you do against the Sicilian Defence? Do you play a mainline, safe in the knowledge that despite being the most reliable way to gain an opening advantage, you could be condemned to spending years studying a huge body of opening theory, or do you choose an Anti-Sicilian, a way to sidestep the mainlines at the risk of allowing Black to have a sneaking chance to achieve equality? The Morra Gambit, characterised by the moves 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 is one of the least played, yet according to IM Trent most underrated Anti-Sicilians that White has at his disposal. By sacrificing a pawn, White aims to rapidly develop his pieces with the objective of delivering a swift knockout blow to the unprepared Black camp. Objectively speaking, Trent emphasises, if Black knows his stuff he has various ways to achieve a perfectly reasonable position. The beauty of this opening, Trent explains, lies in its practical “over-theboard” potential. Black players will have trouble coping with unknown positions and being put on the back foot from the start. It should be of no surprise that around 50% of players with Black decide to decline the gambit, but even in this case Trent presents a host of tricky variations which allow White to play with venom and great attacking possibilities, not to mention a number of previously unseen theoretical novelties!