Sunday, February 10, 2013
The Sicilian busted?
About 30 years ago, FM Albert Chow told me that the Sicilian Defense was unsound, and that it was a matter of time before it was refuted. I laughed. He insisted that he was serious: while White's 1.e4 is an eminently logical move, 1...c5 was a silly move that does nothing for Black's development. Chow said that I had contributed to the ultimate refutation of the Sicilian with my win over David Sprenkle. I shook my head in disbelief. How could the venerable Sicilian, beloved by great players by Fischer and Kasparov, ever be busted? Marc Esserman's book Mayhem in the Morra! features a newspaper headline on its cover: "Sicilian Refuted! Morphy and the Romantics Run Wild!" While I'm sure Esserman would admit that this is hyperbole intended to be funny and sell more books, he makes a much stronger case for the Smith-Morra Gambit than I could have imagined. As the following game illustrates, declining the gambit with 3...Nf6 (transposing to the Alapin Sicilian) is not a panacea. Was Albert right? Black's resignation was premature, particularly given that this was a blitz game. The variation given at the end is Houdini 3's analysis of what might have happened.