Sicilian Defence, Smith–Morra Gambit, Siberian Trap

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This article is about the chess opening. For the geophysical feature, see Siberian Traps.
Siberian Trap
a b c d e f g h
a8 black rook
c8 black bishop
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black queen
d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
c6 black knight
e6 black pawn
c4 white bishop
e4 white pawn
g4 black knight
c3 white knight
f3 white knight
h3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
e2 white queen
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
a1 white rook
c1 white bishop
f1 white rook
g1 white king
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Black wins with 9...Nd4!
Moves 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bc4 Qc7 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Qe2 Ng4 9.h3??
Named after Boris Schipkov of Novosibirsk Siberia
Parent Sicilian Defence, Smith–Morra Gambit

The Siberian Trap is a chess opening trap. After a series of natural moves in the Smith–Morra Gambit of the Sicilian Defence, White can lose a queen. The name appears to result from Boris Schipkov of Novosibirsk in southwestern Siberia.

The trap has occurred at least twice in tournament play: Kolenbet–Schipkov, Khabarovsk 1987, and Tesinsky–Magerramov, Budapest 1990.


1. e4 c5

The Sicilian Defence.

2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3

White's 3.c3 introduces the Smith–Morra Gambit. Black accepts the gambit pawn.

4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 e6 6. Bc4 Qc7 7. 0-0 Nf6 8. Qe2

White prepares e4–e5. This move is playable if White is careful on the next move. After 8.Re1 Bc5 Black has a good game as White's f2-square is sensitive. White also doesn't achieve much after 8.h3 a6. Instead, NCO suggests 8.Nb5 Qb8 9.e5 Nxe5 10.Nxe5 Qxe5 11.Re1 and White has some compensation for the sacrificed pawns.

8... Ng4! 9. h3?? (see diagram)

This is a decisive mistake. The same fate befell White after 9.Bb3?? in Kramadzhian–Schipkov, Novosibirsk 1988. Another try that doesn't work is 9.Rd1 Bc5. MCO-14 recommends 9.Nb5! Qb8 (threatening 10...a6 11.Nc3 Nd4!) 10.h3 h5 11.g3 Nge5 12.Nxe5 Nxe5 13.Bf4 a6 with a sharp position with roughly equal chances.

9... Nd4!

The Black threat of 10...Nxf3+ followed by 11...Qh2# wins material. If 10.Nxd4 then 10...Qh2#.


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