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Aleksandr Lenderman vs Boris Gulko
"Morra Less" (game of the day Apr-28-2013)
(108th) U.S. Open (2007), Cherry Hill, New Jersey USA, rd 8, Aug-04
Sicilian Defense: Smith-Morra Gambit. Accepted Scheveningen Formation (B21)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Dec-04-09  Gouvaneur: It was lost anyway, after taking on d1 Ra1 will follow.
Sep-20-12  shakman: nicely played game by was already won in the opening!
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: I love the repeated pinning sequences:

12.Bxc6 Rc8
32.Nxd4 Rd2
33.Nb5 e3
36.Re1 Rd1 and if 37.Nxd1 then 37...Ra1.

Premium Chessgames Member
  sleepyirv: The black side of the Morra-Smith can be very nice. Black doesn't do anything too flashy but gets dominant central control.
Apr-28-13  Abdel Irada: White's 10. Bb5 and 11. Qc4?! handed over the initiative.

Better alternatives are 10. h3 and 10. Be3, with the latter currently enjoying the better reputation. (Of course, White cannot allow the black knight to go to d4 once his knight is pinned by the bishop on g4.)

Objectively, the Smith-Morra may or may not be sound, but it is certainly not as bad as Gulko made it look in this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: I'd have to look at his book <Mayhem in the Morra!> to see what exactly he recommends against this line, but I'm sure that Morra guru IM Marc Esserman would <not> approve of White's handling of the opening (e.g. 10.Bb5 and 11.Qc4, begging to get the pawn back with a lousy game).
Apr-28-13  Abdel Irada: <begging to get the pawn back with a lousy game>

This is indeed not the way to play a gambit: as if one had lost a pawn and had to recover it at all costs.

Psychologically, it is as difficult to play a gambit as to play against one. One *must* play gambits with a swagger; there must be not a hint of uncertainty in one's mind that one's gambit is irrefutably sound and called for by the position.

Let a doubt cast its distant shadow on this certitude, and you begin to think of yourself as an underdog striving for equality. And when that happens, you will play timidly when the position demands all-or-nothing attack, and then you really will lose.

(If this sounds as though I speak from experience, there may be a reason for that.)

As a general rule: If in the Morra (and this is true for most gambits) you find yourself with an opportunity to regain your gambit pawn at the cost of the initiative, scorn it. Your opponent isn't offering to give it back as an act of random kindness, and you are likely to find yourself struggling for a draw.

In such openings as this, irrational ambition is a prerequisite for success. So, once you get out of "book" as you know it, treat every move like a puzzle and believe that there *is* a solution. Believe that strongly enough, and you may even find one.

Apr-28-13  Mudphudder: I know Lenderman is already losing by the end but 37.Kh1??? is hysterical....I can't stop laughing. It's almost a glimpse into the fear of his king before he gets executed...
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Mudphudder> I assume Lenderman was just screwing around at that point. He's a strong player (now a GM) and obviously realized the game was over.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: White is definitely in trouble here...
Apr-28-13  Abdel Irada: <HeMateMe: White is definitely in trouble here...>


Please share the secret of your profound insight. Was it the resignation after White's 37th move that told you? The fact that White was down an exchange and faced with a passed pawn on his second rank that he couldn't stop? The mate in one?

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <FSR> check chapter 2 which gives

<9...e5 10.Be3! 0-0 11.Rac1> as initial moves...

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: 37.Nxd1 Ra1
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: Oh, I see now AylerKupp already posted it.
Apr-28-13  lost in space: <<whiteshark:> <FSR> check chapter 2 which gives <9...e5 10.Be3! 0-0 11.Rac1> as initial moves...>

Much more logical as the game continuation. Development and getting all pieces into play.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: hideous final move!

Mora gambit:playoffs! playoffs!

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: 36....?

click for larger view

White's silly 37th shouldn't distract from Black's pretty 36th.

Feb-21-16  PJs Studio: I have to agree with FSR. White must be ultra accurate in the Morra. I strongly believe over all the Morra is not unsound. Ex, blacks first move DOES NOT allow for Kingside development and the nature of resulting positions give white EVEN MORE tempo usually. After all, it's always a bunch of tempi for the smallest investment.

That said, the Nc6 e6 fNe7-g6 lines with or without f6 create a dam good defensive posture for black. Nakamura uses this line as black - but he always wins no matter what crud he plays.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Good Wednesday puzzle after 36.Rel.
Mar-18-16  PJs Studio: Agreed. I'd have to have some time on the clock to find 36...Rd1!! winning instantly. Gulko is/was a top player for years. Incredibly accurate player.
Mar-18-16  PJs Studio: Whites attack was flawed in this game. Bb5 is a miss. Be3 with a3 & b4 provoking a6 and then using Nd5 and Be3-b6 is not only standard it's tough to defend... for a measly pawn? - no thanks.
Mar-19-16  RookFile: You would think that for the sacrificed pawn white would at least be making the threats in this game. Instead, it was quite the contrary.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: The young Lenderman's play in the middlegame was limp, but Gulko played with great verve and concluded matters with a most elegant tactical stroke.
Mar-20-16  PJs Studio: Gulko has is such a powerful force. I'd pay money to see an Esserman v Gulko Morra!!!!
Mar-20-16  SirDumbsss: Lenderman is THE MAN in the Morra currently, or am I mistaken?. Gulko was a beast, crushed me but at least I had black in a KID
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