Mayhem in the Morra and missing line

On (and other places) something’s been mentioned about missing lines in the Morra book. I think we are talking about two lines. My team mate (and Gambit expert, now writing for GAMBIT even), Michael Agermose Jensen mentioned this as well. He said the book was fantastic, but of course there was this problem.

About the minor of the two missing lines: Marc said it was played only twice and is bad. See the next newsletter.

About the bigger line, this is what happened: Andrew Greet found a nice improvement in one minor line (where he just had the feeling that there was something more) and after consulting with me (I just checked the evaluations), we replaced it. What Andrew did not notice and I had no chance to understand, was that this also meant that this delayed-Nf6 line was no longer covered. Big oops. Again, see the next newsletter for more details!

Sorry Marc, sorry readers. We will make it up to you!

As noticed on the blog, this is a nice review:

Finally; new excerpts for Playing 1.d4 – The Indian Defences and How I Beat Fischer’s Record are now up.


36 thoughts on “Mayhem in the Morra and missing line”

  1. garryk :
    It’s puzzling that you replaced a line in the book without informing the author…

    garryk? Mr Kasparov, is that you?

    Not so much puzzling, as standard procedure. As a rule, we analyse all the chess content our authors send (using our brains and computers), and improve where we can. Often that means several hundred places, so having author approval in every case would be a very long process.

    Sure, if we make a major change then we consult the author. We did not realise this was a major change. In the “missing Eliskases” line, only one sentence was changed. We will give the details in the newsletter.

    Also, re the importance of the lines, I think I misled Jacob about Marc’s comment about having faced one of the lines very rarely. Marc was talking about the more important line, not the lesser one! The lesser line is barely a line at all – it is a question about how to punish a blunder by Black.

    The more important line is the Eliskases, which some are calling a main line. In the precise move order being discussed, Marc tells me he has faced it just a few times out of about 2000 Morra games. Still, we will update and cover it in the newsletter.

  2. @garryk
    I think we should add that Marc was trying to kill two birds with one stone and phrased something slightly inaccurately (indicating a transposition, where there were none) and we corrected this error. In the process and indirect answer to the Eliskases line was lost. If it was clear that this was not a transposition line, but an independent line, we would not have made this change, of course.

    About the changing things, I can add a few things to what John is saying. First of all, our responsibility is not to the ego of the author, but to the reader, who is on the paying end of the transaction. Secondly, we invest quite heavily in a new title, so we certainly also have a big say. Finally, the author is better served with the book being as good as possible. There are many things we fix in each book, which no one would ever complain against; had we not fixed them. After all, editors edit the books, they don’t read them for fun :-).

  3. Gilchrist is a Legend

    Regards to Playing the French, I forgot if this was stated previously, but I think it was 3…c5 recommended for the Tarrasch in Playing the French–does that refer to the line 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. Ngf3 cxd4 6. Bc4 Qd6?

  4. Michael Agermose Jensen

    I am a little flattered by some of the comments here, But also flummoxed at people’s reactions towards the book’s content and style.
    Yes, the book is great, even without the missing line (and some minor omissions) – that’s my honest unbiased opinion.
    Rather than go into the details I will tell you a little story. At the recent Politiken Cup my roommate, a promising FM, played the Morra against Jacob. In thecommentary room the audience asked Per Andresen why the FM would play something like this? Per – always the funny guy – answered that the FM had been subjected to my bad influence. But it wasn’t me that convinced him to play the Morra, it was the book!

  5. Abramov Anjuhin

    In the quality of book and presented analysis I don’t doubt at all! To my mind the author of Mora Mayhem was guided by today’s best editor and author Jacob Aagaard, and last but not the least by the hardcore squad: Critter 1.4, Deep Rybka 4.1, HIARCS 13.2, Houdini 2.0, IvanHoe 9.46b, Komodo 64 ver. 4, Stockfish 2.2.2 JA & Strelka 5.5 🙂 A dream team 🙂

    Few years ago my friend, ex European champion, told me not to waste time on Morra. It’s simply unsound to sacrifice central pawn for flank one. And indeed: you get top notch book in a dubious gambit line. And when you study all these forcing lines you get nowhere, and you’d rather build full blooded repertoire in Open Sicilian.

    You don’t believe when I called it dubious. Let’s back it up with facts!

    Mega 2012 database – filter: good only games, both players Elo 2400+++.

    Games after 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 – only 68 🙁

    White players with rating higher than Elo 2500:

    – Kamsky- one blitz game
    – Zhigalko – one game
    – Adams – three blitz & rapid games
    – Nepomniachtchi – two blitz games
    – and few unknown guys with some low 2500 Elo 🙁

    Do not forget: Tired of bad positions? Try the main lines! 🙂

  6. @Abramov Anjuhin
    Obviously the Morra is not the most dangerous way to attack the Sicilian, but it might be if you take the pawn! Statistics will not tell you the full story.

    It should be said that Andrew was the editor of this book and indeed did a brilliant job. He just asked me for my opinion on this one little note, that apparently lead to a missing line!

  7. Gilchrist is a Legend :Regards to Playing the French, I forgot if this was stated previously, but I think it was 3…c5 recommended for the Tarrasch in Playing the French–does that refer to the line 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. Ngf3 cxd4 6. Bc4 Qd6?

    Isn’t this line known all the way out to a draw, based on White sacrificing the Knight on g7 and Black throwing it back on g3 at move 20?

    I always thought now-a-days that 4…exd5 was better with 5…Nf3 instead of 5…Nc6 against 5.Nf3.

  8. Gilchrist is a Legend

    3…c5 4. exd5 exd5 5. Nf3 (5. Bb5 Bd7 6. Qe2 Be7) Nf6 is my favourite line against the Tarrasch and I have never lost with it when playing it against 2250+ several times, but it seems that not many people play this compared to 4…Qxd5, 3…Nf6, or 3…Be7.

  9. Abramov Anjuhin

    Yesterday I was studying new Schandorff’s book „Playing 1.d4 – The Queen’s Gambit, 2nd edition“, chapter on Slav Defence. I must admit that this is very hard opening to crack, and it isn’t called by chance „hitting the wall with your skull“ by Kotronias in his „GM Battle Manual“.

    So I started to wonder if would it be beneficial to include Classical Slav in my repertoire as Black. How this opening goes along with GM Repertoire Tarrasch Defence?

    In Q-publishing program is announced „Grandmaster Repertoire Classical Slav“ to be written by English chess player Grandmaster Nicholas Pert (also known as Nick Pert, born 1981). Pert was the World Under-18 Chess Champion in 1998 and British Rapidplay Chess Champion in 2004. His current Elo is 2555, and peak Elo 2570 from May 2011.

    From Mega 2012 database I have extracted some useful information about the author, so perhpas this persuades the doubters in authors mastery and authority in Slav Defence.

    Filter: both players with Elo 2400+++:
    – Games: 34
    – Black wins: 5 games
    – Black draws: 23 games
    – Black losses: 6 games
    – Highest beaten opponent: Legky, Elo 2460
    – Black performance: Elo 2499

    Jacob, is he an expert or you chose him randomly?

  10. alberto cammurria

    I do not where else to leave this comment. so I am just leaving it here.

    GM Aagaard, your books on chess are extremely good and well written.

    There is, however, a slight problem. One that has nothing to do with quality of the chess analysis or chess theorizing. Rather it is a consistent technical grammatical error that you commit time and time again through these pages. namely the use of the word “however”. when one begins a sentence with this word it means “in whatever way…”. when you want to use it to denote exception to something it’s “yada yada yada, however, yada yada yada yada. Another slight grammatical transgression of which you are frequently guilty is ending sentences with prepositions. for example something like “observe the terrible situation the black king found himself in.” should read “observe the terrible situation in which the black king found himself.

    I don’t mean to be harping on grammar. I just think it would be a shame if all your hard work were to be slightly devalued in the eyes of certain people (not mine) because of these errors.

  11. alberto cammurria

    I retract my comments on your usage of “however” at the beginning of sentences. apparently what I had thought was a hard and fast grammatical rule not to be violated is something that is subject to much debate among people who debate such things. It seems that most people now accept that ‘however’ can be used to begin a sentence if immediately followed by a comma when it is to mean ‘nevertheless’. If you were raised on Strunk and White you would understand my confusion.

    I once had someone tell me that I couldn’t use ‘however’ at the beginning of sentences and always thought she was wrong or should be wrong. But I never bothered to research it to any extent.

    1. I am a linguist by education & trade and I want to make you aware that the following rule overrules all other rules: Common practice is always right. So, if lots and lots of people are making “a grammatical mistake” continuously, it is not a mistake. At times we do things that are grammatically questionable, but phonetically and visually preferable (to us at least) to what would be considered “correct usage”, but no one have ever criticised those points.

      Basically, the main rule with language is that there are far more ways to say things than you would usually think and that when you start making solid “rules” you are basically restricting yourself in your options of expression and seeing mistakes everywhere, except for focusing on the transfer of meaning that writing and reading is all about.

      Still I will tell John and Andrew that there editing stinks, just to show humility.

    1. Very soon. We have already put a lot of it together. It should be out this week and definitely before the Olympiad.

  12. Re the grammar “stuff” above: I am familiar with such rules and break them deliberately if, in my opinion, it makes the final text better. Naturally opinions will vary about such matters, which is why being an editor and having the last word is fun.

    “I will tell John and Andrew that there editing stinks” – there their, Jacob.

    I also split infinitives as often as I can.


    BOOST 🙂 Grandmaster Repertoire Open games 1.e4 e5 except Spanish 🙂

    Yesterday I was browsing trough “The Open Games For Black – A complete black repertoire with 1.e4 e5 against everything except the Ruy Lopez” written by your fellow “friends in publishing” Igor Lysyj and Roman Ovetchkin from Chess Stars. To my mind it’s an exceptional repertoire equipped by strong Chess Stars editorial stuff, top-notch Russian analysis and cutting edge repertoire lines. Just like Hansen at recent Checkpoint pointed out: well-written, with the recommendations easy to follow & understand and with the good balance between moves & analysis and explanatory prose.

    After browsing trough I quickly ran to my bookshelf in order to get Mihail Marin’s “Beating the Open Games – 2nd edition” as quickly as possible. It seems that Marin steered away from demanding variations, and this is vivid in King’s Gambit, Ponziani Opening, not to mention Vienna Game and Scotch Game. I suppose that Marin was deluded by staid, relatively passive but holdable positions, which are good meal for every GM, but not for amateurs who don’t have all great virtues needed for stiff defending followed by blossom at the end 🙂 Also the presentation style borrowed from Informator’s tables installed in ECO’s doesn’t suit today’s standards. Do you know how frustrating is to turn pages every ten seconds, memorazing footnotes number etc.

    Since announcement of Mikhalevski’s “Grandmaster Repertoire Open Ruy Lopez” I thought that it would be awesome if Marin could his mentioned book update in the form of “Grandmaster Repertoire Open games 1.e4 e5 except Spanish” with following in mind:

    – GM Repertoire format, layout and writing style
    – more mainlines and sharper option where needed

    Such book would with the Mikhalevski’s one be another “book of the decade”!

    Go for it 🙂



    Congratulations on this successful book! Judging by what I have seen in this book and how many exercises are incorporated in it I’m obliged to say just this: Jacob you’re new TRAINING GURU 🙂

    I received this book few days ago and firstly I have to go through “Verbessern Sie Ihre Variantenberechnung im Schach”. So it will take a while…

    But you can launch a poll where everyone can enter Elo rating and points obtained in tests. Hopefully some readers have finished them.

    PS Can we expect “GM PREPARATION Positional Play” in September together with:
    – Playing 1.d4 – The Indian Defences by Lars Schandorff
    – Grandmaster Repertoire 11 – Beating 1.d4 Sidelines by Boris Avrukh?

    Schandorff is sent to shops on the 7th Sep
    Avrukh and Positional Play are towards the end of editing; but if they make it out end of september of early october, I do not know.
    Thanks for the kind words. I think the next book will be better :-).

  16. I know it’s OT but I was wondering what is Lars going to suggest against 1.d4 d6. 2.c4 allows …f5 with a Dutch he triest to avoid after 1…f5 2.Bg5; 2.Nf3 rules out the Saemish against the KID. So this only leaves 2.e4 I guess.



    “….Mayhem in the Morra! is one of the best and funniest opening books I’ve ever read, and there’s hardly anything to criticize.

    ….Esserman’s book is an outstanding example of out-of-the-box thinking, profound enthusiasm for a subject and a lot of hard, hard work. It’s hilarious as well as ambitious; arrogant as well as amiable. It describes how an opening can make you sad and happy at the same time, depending on the way it is treated and how it treats you….”

  18. I thought I resurrect this particular blogpost as I cannot find the original blogpost on the Morra book itself.
    Lars Grahn in his blog (reading via Google Translate) gave a game between
    “Tobias Gutzmann – Thomas Ernst
    Morragambit (B 21)
    1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Sxc3 d6
    This usually black play 4 … Sc6 or this springardrag after 4 … e6. In this section stays the knight left in the stable. Gutzmann get a good head start for the development gambitbonden.
    5.Sf3 e6 6.Lc4 a6 7.0-0 b5 8.Lb3 Lb7 ?! 9.Sg5! SF6? 10.e5 !! upgraded.
    It is prayed in the peasant thrust and GM Ernst had seen enough. 10 … dxe5 falling on 11.Dxd8 + Kxd8 12.Sxf7 +, and after 10 … Sfd7 11.exd6 Sc5
    White can hit with 12.Sxf7! Kxf7 13.Dh5 + followed by Dxc5.”

    Later yesterday, Lars reported the following:
    “Last Tuesday I published Tobias Gutzmanns mini miniature against Thomas Ernst. Tobias shows subdued joy: “Actually the party was – apart from the result for me – pretty boring: Everything is in the book ‘Mayhem in the Morra’ on page 99. I actually have not played a single stroke itself, everything was preppat.” ”

    How to defeat a GM with a QC book!!

  19. @weng siow

    Thanks for pointing this one out, as we would not have spotted it ourselves. Tobias could have told us, but no doubt he is too modest to highlight his own win.

  20. @John Shaw
    One of Australian juniors uncorked Esserman’s secret weapon 11 Nd5!! (pp 169-170) on an “unsuspecting(??)” GM in the Bangkok Open in Rd 2 and won a miniature. Great advertising for QC again. I checked Langrock’s book and he only suggests the traditional Nd4 move. I guess the GM did not read pp 175-176 and GM Kevin Spraggett’s improvement 10…Na5!?
    Query: Does Rb8 and Rc1 make any difference? Esserman does think so at p 170.

    Here is the game:

    [Event “15th BCC Open 2015”]
    [Site “Bangkok THA”]
    [Date “2015.04.13”]
    [Round “2.8”]
    [White “Puccini,Jack”]
    [Black “Gomez,Joh”]
    [Result “1-0”]
    [WhiteTitle “FM”]
    [BlackTitle “GM”]
    [WhiteElo “2241”]
    [BlackElo “2524”]
    [ECO “B21”]
    [Opening “Sicilian”]
    [Variation “Smith-Morra gambit”]
    [WhiteFideId “3213307”]
    [BlackFideId “5201381”]
    [EventDate “2015.04.12”]
    [EventType “swiss”]

    1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 e6 6. Bc4 a6 7. O-O Nge7 8.
    Bg5 f6 9. Be3 b5 10. Bb3 Ng6 11. Nd5 Rb8 12. Rc1 exd5 13. exd5 Nce5 14. d6 Bb7
    15. Nxe5 fxe5 16. f4 Qh4 17. fxe5 Bxg2 18. Bf7+ Kd8 19. Qd2 1-0

    Perhaps Jack deserves a free book from QC backlist? 🙂 🙂 🙂

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