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Mayhem in the Morra Paperback – July 1, 2012

4.9 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“In 2011, when preparing for the US Championship, I decided to employ the Morra Gambit as a surprise weapon if given the chance. Marc supplied me with a vast amount of analysis and novelties for that tournament and I became convinced that the gambit was not only dangerous, but perfectly sound. There is no greater authority in the world on this line than Marc Esserman and he lays it all out there in this book.”

Foreword by GM Larry Christiansen

About the Author

Marc Esserman is an International Master from the USA who has played and analyzed the Morra Gambit for most of his life.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 and up
  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Quality Chess; 1 edition (July 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907982205
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907982200
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #581,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I own every book on the Morra in English but the new book by Marc Esserman is now my new favorite. In fact, like another reviewer here, it may well be my favorite chess book, period, as it it most entertainingly written. He has put some serious work into the opening and offered much original analysis. He has played it in thousands of games (and won) against GMs in tournament play. The most satisfying example would have to be his win against GM Finegold, who authored "The Finegold Defense", a work that claimed to refute the Morra. It was all the more satisfying that he beat Finegold in his favored "refutation" variation. Similarly, he devotes a whole chapter to IM Timothy Taylor's book, "How to defeat the Smith-Morra Gambit" and shows that Morra players have nothing to fear there. Other chapters include subjects such as defanging the Siberian Trap, the Chicago Defense etc. and there is a very good chapter on the Bg7/ Dragon type systems that are quite popular. There is also a very good section on the Nd5 sacrifice that, after reading, I was immediately able to employ against a strong opponent to good effect. There are a few typos (check the other Amazon reviews for a few naysayers) but these, happily, are not critical. I could go on but I'll finish by noting that reading this book has revitalized my enthusiasm for this gambit and although I've only read about a quarter of it studiously, it has improved my understanding and handling of the gambit already. Even if some of his original lines end up being overturned, this is an indispensable addition to the Morra gambiteer's library.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is great fun to read, which is my main reason for you to buy it. I also learnt heaps about the opening from it, even though I already knew a lot about the opening previously and have played hundreds of games with it. There are a few typos but don't let the exaggeration of their importance by other readers put you off; their impact on the overall book's value is minuscule. The main negative about the book is that Esserman isn't super objective, he loves to label a fun position "clear advantage white" when it's only slight advantage white, so it's best to also get the old "Winning with the Smith-Morra Gambit" (1994) by Burgess, which is both fun and objective, but dated. I find myself reading "Mayhem in the Morra" more than that book though because the analysis is still accurate enough to provide a very good book. Esserman is an IM who crushed Van Wely and Milov with the opening, and drew with Nakamura (all 3 games are in "Mayhem in the Morra") so you can imagine that he has to be fairly objective in his appraisal of the opening or the GMs and IMs he plays would smash him. If you play the Smith-Morra gambit, you should definitely buy "Mayhem in the Morra".
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Esserman delivers a thoroughly researched and laboratory tested gambit to make most any Sicilian defense a wild ride into chess incredulity. Presented are some unique and counter intuitive replies to a wide range of black setups against the Smith-Morra.

More than a pocket knife, this book offers secret agent type weapons with tremendous surprise value to complicate and even mystify your opponent. He covers, with great entertainment value, lines of the Siberian trap, Scheveningen, Dragon, Chicago, Maroczy, and c3 Sicillian. Both Morra accepted and Morra declined avenues are richly annotated with replies that at first seem to gambit perhaps another pawn, knight or bishop - but offer more hidden avenues to winning that will defy the bean counters of Chess.

I have never read a more lively, rich, or entertaining chess book. I had many reservations on this swashbuckling, derring-do line of attack for white against the Scillian. Testing the Smith-Morra out in tournament play after only reading the first half of this book proved more than victorious for white, it proved to be an awful lot of fun.
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Format: Paperback
IM Esserman has achieved a remarkable intellectual and chessic success with "Mayhem in the Morra!" a how-to guide to a swashbuckling chess opening, the Smith-Morra Gambit. This is not your average chess openings book, full of dry analysis, endless reams of computer evaluation, and repetitious coverage of the same famous games. No, this book is full of wit, humor, and lucid writing. But it is also full of many useful chess diagrams, original, in-depth analysis of positions I have not seen covered anywhere else, practical advice for beginner and intermediate players, and even deep coverage for GM-level players.

What really recommends the book to me is how it somehow simultaneously manages to be entertaining (you can enjoy it simply by reading through without even looking at any of the chess) and instructive. But more than that-- the book is instructive for both intermediate and advanced, very advanced players. He hits that balance by providing detailed comments for us mortals in the first half of each chapter and then building to more complex situations until finally ending the chapter with some mind-boggling theoretical material. The theory here is impressive, and a sample check with my computers (not such a simple test, as this book also shows again and again) indicates that these lines are sound, or at least will be difficult to refute outright. Much of the theory is completely original material, not reguritated from endless computer lines and not taken from 100s of other sources. Instead, a lot of the theory relies on situtions from practical play from tournaments but also from blitz, rapid, and on-line games.
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