“Busts to the Bust:” Contest Winners

Back at the end of July, we published Elijah Logozar’s provocative polemic, “A Bust to the Smith-Morra Gambit.” We also invited readers to submit their responses, or “busts to the bust,” in a contest sponsored by US Chess Sales and Chessable. Thanks to both of our sponsors!

Three submissions came in before the August 15th deadline, all of which are published below. (A fourth arrived too late to be judged.) While Logozar responds to all three, only two prizes could be awarded. The winners of the contest are:

1st prize – A $50 Gift Certificiate to US Chess Sales

Winner: Pranav Nagarajan

2nd prize – A one year PRO membership at Chessable.com

Winner: Daniel Jones


Before getting into the details of each submission, here is Logozar’s overall response to the challenges to his idea.

I would like to thank the CLO readers for submitting their attempts to disprove my anti-Morra analysis and for taking it seriously.

Pranav analyzed one of my recommended lines to a draw. My claim is that Black was pressing on the way and is the only one who had serious winning chances. With precise defense White is able to hold a draw, but it is not easy. Black can always draw by perpetual check at will.

In his chess.com blog post, Daniel claims that my claim of refutation was exaggerated. I’d argue that refutation has multiple possible definitions, and I was operating under the one that means “prove to be substandard or conceptually incorrect.” My claim is that Black is at least slightly better in all variations, not that White loses by force.

Brian claimed that I’d underestimated White’s chances in the 6.Bf4 a6 7.Be2 variation. I believe that White’s chances are only practical as objectively White doesn’t have sufficient compensation for the sacrificed pawn.

1st PrizePranav Nagarajan

Logozar’s response

2nd PrizeDaniel Jones

Jones’ response to Logozar’s claims is found at his chess.com blog. Because of the formatting there and the embedded diagrams, we ask that you click the link to read Jones’ thoughts.

Logozar’s Response

Daniel Jones wrote a blog on chess.com claiming to counter the assertions that I made in my Chessable course ‘Mop up the Morra’. Daniel’s major claim was that Black does not have an advantage in my recommended mainline because in his view the engine’s preference for Black on move thirteen is too small to be categorized as an advantage. Daniel also claimed that 7…h6 is not a novelty as it was analyzed by Langrock before I published ‘Mop up the Morra.’ Daniel’s third claim was that my assertion that the Morra was ‘refuted’ and the claims in my advertisements were exaggerated. Here is my response.

In my course and the US Chess article, I clearly defined novelty as in ‘not been played in FIDE master games’. According to this definition, 7…h6 would be categorized as a novelty even if Langrock’s book was released first. In any case, I discovered 7…h6 before I checked Langrock’s book, which I cited as a source before I published ‘Mop up the Morra’.

My claim after 13…g6 is that Black is slightly better (=+). Refute can mean ‘prove to lead to a lost game’, but it can also mean ‘prove to be substandard or conceptually incorrect.’ I used definition two and this should be clear from my claim of a small Black advantage. It is well known that in advertising not everything is literal, so you have to use the context to interpret meaning. The aim of the Smith-Morra Gambit is to fight for the initiative and to obtain attacking compensation for the sacrificed pawn. In my recommended variation, White needs to play precisely to reach an endgame where he is defending and fighting for a draw. Conceptually, the Morra gambit is inaccurate because White’s dynamic compensation is gone and Black will be statically pressing.

As for the chess-related portion of Daniel’s rebuttal, his post concludes that the engine assessment of -0.19 after 14.Nd6 is sufficient to claim that White’s position is either equal or close enough to being equal that White need not be concerned. However, not only is 14.Nd6 far too soon to be cutting off further exploration into the position (I analyzed 14.Nd6 significantly deeper in my course), but the comparison Daniel drew between this variation and a position after move three of the Spanish Game is not a fair one.

In Jones’ quoted Morra position with 13…g6, the position is very settled, having reached a queenless middlegame with chances for only one side. In the Spanish position, all pieces and pawns remain on the board, countless options exist for both sides, and both sides have legitimate chances to play for a win. Due to the more settled and clarified nature of the line Daniel discussed from my repertoire, fewer branches exist, and the position better lends itself to deep and nuanced engine analysis than a position taken from move three of the Spanish Game.

Honorable mentionBrian Tay

Logozar’s response

Comments

  1. IN THIS PAST WEEKEND 2019 TN OPEN SEPT 13 -15 NASHVILLE MONTGOMERY BELL STATE PARK 18 YEAR OLD ELIJAH LOGOZAR 2133 CANDIDATE MASTER / EXPERT SHOWED UP HALF HOUR LATE TO HIS GAME AND STILL MANAGED TO DEFEAT ONE IM RONALD BURNETT 2410 A 2 X NY CHAMPION AND AN 11 X TN CHAMPION THEN IN THE VERY NEXT ROUND FM TODD ANDREWS 2360 A 1 X GA CHAMPION AND A 10 X TN CHAMPION SACRIFICED AN EXCHANGE OF ROOK FOR BISHOP THEN OFFERED LOGOZAR A DRAW LOGOZAR DECLINED THE DRAW AND LOST BUT STILL MANAGED TO SCORE 4.0 OF 5.0 TAKING TOP EXPERT PRIZE

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