Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Sicilian Morra Gambit: The Siberian Trap

Paul Dargan has sent me this interesting post on a clever trap that can net Black an early point in the Morra Gambit. It's worth learning the pattern: it came up in one of my Internet blitzes this morning, from a game that started as a Benoni.

Paul got a chance to re-analyse the trap on a recent trip to Amsterdam, about which we'll post more later.

"We had fun messing around analysing a line of the Morra gambit that was becoming popular round about the time I stopped playing seriously in the early nineties – that can lead to some quick points against an unwary White. This line didn’t have a name back then, I discovered it in a copy of the excellent, but now defunct, “Inside Chess”. Now it seems to be known as the “Siberian Trap” or “Novosibirsk” variation. [ed: "Inside Chess" was a publication from Yasser Seirawan. It moved online when the print version ceased, and then to a annotated game column on You can pick up back issues of the magazine on Amazon's US site:]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.c3 dxc3 5.Nxc3 Nc6 6.Bc4 Qc7 7.Qe2 Nf6 8.0–0

All very typical Morra Gambit moves, that White often bashes out without too much thought

8... Ng4

Sicilian Defence Morra Gambit Siberian Trap

But what's this? Isn't Black meant to curl up and defend, trying to win with his extra pawn?

9.h3?? (or Bb3, Bg5, etc) 9... Nd4!–+

and Black is going to net the White Queen for two minor pieces due to the mate threat on h2.

Those interested in adding this line to their repertoire need to look at some of White’s more aggressive options – but note that Ng4 isn’t just a cheapo, the idea of moving the Knight to e5 to exchange one of White’s attacking minor pieces is positionally sound too. You do of course need to do some homework, I would suggest looking at:

9.Nb5 (Nd5 also gets played sometimes) Qb8 10.h3 h5 11.g3 from the diagram.

Or earlier deviations by White, especially 8.e5 Ng4 9.Bf4 d5 (f6?! Has a worse reputation) 10.Bd3 when both Bb4 and Nb4 are worth investigation."

Paul Dargan


leslie said...

Is this trap one of the reasons you don't see the Morra in GM games ?

Roger Coathup said...

there are a lot of good lines for Black in the Morra - GMs will be armed with the knowledge of the intricacies of one or two of them. Once they've negated White's early initiative and tricks, Black typically emerges either with an extra pawn, or a better position, and sometimes both.


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Chess Tales by Roger Coathup: A collection of online articles about chess and chess players.