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I like to play the Smith-Morra gambit. Recently, a friend showed me a game where he (as white) successfully played a h-pawn push in the Smith-Morra gambit, which both damaged black's kingside while opening up the file for the rook. He then followed up with a massive attack along the h-file, and easily won.

This could have been a once-off against an unskilled opponent, so I'd like to see how viable this is in other situations.

Question: What are some instructive games with a white h-pawn push in the Smith-Morra gambit?

  • I am not an e4 player but would like to try and help. Can you update your post with an illustrative game, so I can know which variation I should focus on. Thank you. Best regards. – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Mar 31 '14 at 22:08
  • I'm not really familiar with this opening. However, it seems to me that the piece positioning in the castled quadrant of black's king allows the h pawn attack to be successful. Particularly the fact that the king's knight seems out of place on g6. I think this is more of a middle game motif that was successful given the position. – Mark Sep 30 '16 at 1:07
  • No, no, no. H pawn push is not a main idea in the morra and you won't get any instructive games with it. If you want to play the morra, get Esserman's mayhem in the morra. – CognisMantis Oct 1 '16 at 3:20
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I checked my main games database and my book on the Smith-Morra, "The Modern Morra Gambit" by FM Hannes Langrock. I could find no examples of high-level players successfully employing this strategy to launch a kingside attack. The Smith-Morra focuses very strongly on quick central control and development, so it makes good sense to me that white's play will almost always be focused on the centre rather than along the h-file.

The one system within the Smith-Morra where I found a couple of examples of white successfully playing h4-h5 was in the Nge7-system. In this system, black plays Nge7 and Ng6, with the aim of using the knight to add extra control over the e5-square. In these cases, h4-h5 was usually played not with the aim of a kingside attack, but with a view to chase away the strongly placed black knight and regain control over e5. I did find one interesting example in the aforementioned book of white using this to instigate an attack, though it revolved more around using the e5-pawn as a central wedge rather than an attack on the h-file. It was given as D.Cantell Martinez - O.Martinez Rodriguez, Asturias 2001, though I don't know how much value to attribute to it as couldn't find it in my main database nor on chessgames.com, and I couldn't find the players for sure on the Fide ratings website (I found two possible O.Martinez Rodriguez, rated about 1800 and 1900). In any case, it was given in the book as:

  [FEN ""]
  [White "Martinez"]
  [Black "Rodriguez"]

  1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 e6 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bc4 Bc5 7.O-O a6 8.Bf4 b5 9.Bb3 Nge7 10.e5 Ng6 11.Bg3 O-O 12.h4 Qc7 13.Re1 Rd8 14.h5 Nf8 15.Ne4 Be7 16. Nf6+ Kh8 17. Ng5 g6 18.Nxf7+ Kg7 19.Qf3 Bb7 20.h6+ 1-0

Overall, it seems to be a very uncommon theme in this opening.

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