Smith-Morra Gambit Deferred

The idea of the Smith-Morra Gambit Deferred is to play “d4” a move later (i.e. “3.d4” rather than “2.d4”). This is like the main line of the Sicilian Defence (with Nxd4), but here White plays “4.c3!?” gambit instead of recapturing.

Diagram: Smith-Morra Gambit Deferred (Nc6 Sicilian)

Diagram: Smith-Morra Gambit Deferred (d6 Sicilian)

Diagram: Smith-Morra Gambit Deferred (e6 Sicilian)

Transpositions: There are transpositions in these positions to various options:

  • Main lines of the Sicilian Defence (if White plays Nxd4 instead of c3)
  • Smith Morra Gambit Accepted (Black plays …d4xc3)
  • Smith Morra Gambit Declined (Black plays …d3 instead of d4xc3)
  • c3 Sicilian, main lines (Black plays …d5 or ..Nf6 instead of d4xc3)
  • c3 Sicilian Deferred is a similar line, which may transpose.

Most of these lines will transpose to the mainstream open Sicilian variations should White choose to play Nxd4 rather than c3.

Very similar to this delayed Morra Gambit is the “c3 Sicilian Deferred”. White delays c3, but has not played “d4” first, as here.

Smith Morra Gambit Accepted: In this line after “c3”, Black can force a transposition to the main lines of the “Smith Morra Gambit” (i.e. accepted) by playing d4xc3.

Black can consider “d3” as a way to reach a Smith Morra Gambit Declined.

Black can consider “d5” in these lines in order to reach a version of the “c3 Sicilian” (i.e. the tactical lines with “d5 exd5 Qxd5”). This idea doesn’t work too well here in the “d6 Sicilian” move order, where Black has already moved the "d’ pawn, and would lose a tempo versus the main line.

Black may also play “Nf6” to reach the slower lines in the “c3 Sicilian” where Black plays Nf6 (rather than the tactical lines with “..d5” and “Qxd5”).

Black might even consider allowing White to play “c3xd4” in the hypermodern spirit, where White would claim the center, but Black attacks against the center (e.g. with a “g6” and “Bg7”).

Reverse Move Order: White might also try an early-d4 move order, which is a Smith-Morra Gambit, but where White does not immediately play c3.

Diagram: Smith-Morra Gambit without c3 (Reversed Move Order)

Black can then play “d6”, “Nc6” or “e6” and this transposes to the already-mentioned variations above when White plays “c3” (rather than Nxd4 with main lines).

Note that Black could in this line save the “d4” pawn by playing “e5!?”, since Nxe5 loses the Knight to the Qa5+ (a Queen Fork). But in this line, the move e5 seems to make the c3 gambit look more enticing than the main lines, as e5 has weakened the d5 and d6 squares. So White can just play c3.

Diagram: Smith-Morra Gambit (e5 Line)

Black can accept the gambit here with “4..d4xc3”. However, this unusual position after “e5” and “c3” is not well-known to theory and needs more analysis. Black moves such as “d5” and “Nc6” look like playable ways to decline the gambit (i.e. rather than “dxc3”), but the variations look very tactical.

Other Anti-Sicilian Openings include:

References: BCO 2 page 296, rows 3 and 4 give the “3.c3” against the “d6 Sicilian” with Black replying Nf6, and White moves of Be2 or h3 (the “e4” pawn is protected by the Qa4+ Queen Fork).

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