Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Smashing the Finegold Defense to the Smith-Morra

Continuing our series on the Smith-Morra Gambit, we consider the Finegold Defense as shown in the game Esserman - Finegold, ICC 2006.  The Finegold Defense (1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 d6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bc4 Nf6 7.0-0 Be7 8 Qe2 a6), first described in Bob Ciaffone and Ben Finegold's book Smith-Morra Gambit, Finegold Defense (Gameplayer 2000), also available at ChessExpress, presents a real challenge to the Smith-Morra player, not only because it can be reached by various move orders but because there are so few good examples of White's play against the line -- especially with what may well be White's best plan, as recommended by Hannes Langrock: 9 e5! dxe5 10 Nxe5 0-0 11 Rd1 Nbd7 12 Bf4! (see diagram below).

Ciaffone himself endorses this line as likely White's best try, though he says he has never faced it in a game.  If any readers have played games that reached this position, please send them my way!  Meanwhile, enjoy Esserman's smashing example of one way to attack the Finegold, played against Finegold himself.

Remember: IM Marc Esserman will be giving a lecture on the Smith-Morra (that will feature some similar smashing games) at the Kenilworth Chess Club on April 15, 2010 ("Tax Day") at 8:15 p.m.  The lecture is open to the public and admission is $10.


chesslovers said...

i like play sicilian defend too, but on deferent varian..i like Taimanov varian...1.d4 c5 then Nf3..nice info.

Kelly Clover said...

I have encountered the Smith-Morra several times in serious tournament competition. I always accept the gambit and so far I have never gotten worse than a draw even against higher-rated players. Consider the following line of defense:

1. e4 c5; 2. d4 cd; 3. c3 dc; 4. Nxc3 Nc6; 5. Nf3 a6; 6. Bc4 e6; 7. O-O Nge7. What does White do here? On 8. Bg5 h6; 9. Bh4 Black can choose between 9.___ Qa5 or g5. I also have a website that talks about the Simth-Morra gambit. http://cloverchess.com/other-sicilian

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the 11...Qb6 line mentioned in the Esserman - Finegold game you analyze is refuted by 12. Bxe6 fxe6 13. Nxe6 g6!and now you suggest the line 14. Nd5!? Nxd5 15. exd5 Ne5 16. Be3 Qb8 (16... Qb7?! 17. f4 Bxe6 18. fxe5 with initiative) 17. f4 Bxe6 18. dxe6 Nc4 (18... Nc6!? ) 19. Bd4 O-O 20. b3 Na3 and I don't know how Black deals with 21.Qb2! with the twin threats of Qxa3 and Bh8 with mate at g7.

Michael Goeller said...

The PGN file for the analysis can now be found here:


Using that URL as a model, you can track down all other PGN files on this site.