Monday, January 13, 2014

Smith Morra Mayhem!

Quick update...I will probably have a few over the next month.

I have been playing a lot of blitz lately (2-5 games a day, with 3 0 time controls). I have ignored opening theory (in fact I have purposefully been playing objectively unsound, reckless openings), tactical training, and slow games for the last few years. Other bits of life have become my highest priority.

While I have found the Smith-Morra a fun weapon against the Sicilian, I also got the suspicion that I was missing lots of opportunities. Hence, on a whim, I bought the book 'Mayhem in the Morra' by Marc Esserman. It isamazing, written by someone who loves chess, loves the opening, and takes great pains to explain tactics and strategy at multiple levels, including word-based explanations for people like me, to more concrete variation-crunching analysis for those that want more meat on the bones.

I am getting a much better understanding of the main strategic goals, but also the most common tactical themes (e.g., a common knight sacrifice that I frankly would never have thought of on my own). It is so clear, its enthusiasm for the game so contagious, that it makes me want to drop everything and start doing chess full time.

If I had to come up with any criticisms (which I force myself to do for all reviews) it is that he is probably not objective enough; he is something of an evangelist for the opening, and evangelicals are usually not the most trustworthy sources. That said, in this case it is contagious and likeable (unlike some offbeat opening books where it is offputting, especially if the person writing it is rated 1000 at but writes as if they have a refutation of the Ruy Lopez). Frankly, at my crappy 1200-level blitz games, I will never find any problems with this opening.

I like to make an analogy between good chess authors and mother birds. They do all sorts of work to get the food and digest the material, and are kind enough to spit it back in the mouth of those of us less able to secure our own food. This guy is like a freaking pelican mommy shoveling chewed up fish into my cakehole. Thanks to Marc Esserman for this great book, it truly makes me wish I had more time for the chess sink.


Blogger Glenn Wilson said...

It's great to see you posting! The Smith Morra can be a lot of fun to play.

I Tweeted this post to

1/16/2014 05:43:00 AM  
Blogger AoxomoxoA wondering said...

Good to see you back, most chess improvement blogs are "dead"

1/23/2014 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger Michael Goeller said...

I share your enthusiasm for the book, as you can see from my review from last year:

Great to see you blogging again, even if it is a one-off. I might be retired....

1/27/2014 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger Polly said...

Nice to see you back. Is 2014 the year all us older bloggers make our comebacks?

I've written 3 posts so far this year. that's more then I write for the year of 2013.

2/07/2014 01:12:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

I saw that review after I posted this, Michal. It was reassuring to know that you liked it too!

2/15/2014 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger Crafty Mentor said...

Hi BDk,
I'm so glad to see you back. You may never know me but I read almost all of your posts in re ICS. I joined ICS last year and found your ICS Forum site as well. Unfortunately, you were "not there" anymore when I came. You will see we were looking for you there. Please bring back the life in the ICS forum site. Thank you.


2/17/2014 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Ernesto that is so nice of you to say :) ICS is a really good resource. Maybe I should hand that forum over to one of its more active members.

4/02/2014 10:55:00 AM  

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