The Magnus Smith Trap in the Sicilian Defense is a trap that one can employ to gain an upper hand over their opponent.
Named after the three-time Canadian chess champion Magnus Smith, this trap holds a notable position in the Sicilian Defense playbook.
Move Order of the Magnus Smith Trap
Understanding the move order of the Magnus Smith Trap is crucial to implement it successfully.
This trap unfolds with the following sequence of moves:
- e4 c5
- Nf3 d6
- d4 cxd4
- Nxd4 Nf6
- Nc3 Nc6
At this juncture, black often falls into the trap by responding with 6… g6?! which subsequently leads to 7. Nxc6 bxc6 8. e5!
In response, black makes a faulty move of 8… dxe5?? which leads to instant disaster.
Then there’s 9. Bxf7+ Kxf7, leading to white taking black’s queen.
Theory, Strategy and Purpose of the Magnus Smith Trap
The Magnus Smith Trap operates within the framework of the Sozin Variation or the Fischer–Sozin Attack of the Sicilian Defense.
The trap capitalizes on black’s attempt to counter white’s bishop on c4 by “biting on granite” through 6…e6.
The critical error occurs when black opts for 6… g6?! instead, setting the stage for the trap.
White proceeds to eliminate the knight with 7. Nxc6 bxc6 and then advances the e-pawn to 8. e5!
After this, black is in a precarious position.
A subsequent faulty move of 8… dxe5?? leads to white’s 9. Bxf7+ +−, effectively winning black’s queen after 9…Kxf7 10.Qxd8.
Variations of the Magnus Smith Trap
Like most chess traps and defenses, the Magnus Smith Trap has a few alternative paths based on black’s response.
After 8. e5!, black has preferable alternatives such as 8…Ng4 9.e6 f5, and 8…d5 9.exf6 dxc4 10.Qxd8+ Kxd8 11.Bg5 Be6 12.0-0-0+ Ke8.
These have been used in historic matches such as Schlechter–Lasker, World Championship (1910), rd. 7, and Rosen–Burn, Paris 1900.
The response “Correct is 8…Ng4,” as suggested by Bobby Fischer, leads to a complex game where white still maintains an advantage.
This was demonstrated in Suetin–Makarichev, Moscow 1983.
Evaluation of the Magnus Smith Trap
The Magnus Smith Trap is generally evaluated at around +9.30 for white.
Theory & Continuation Lines of the Magnus Smith Trap
Below we have some common theory and continuation lines from the Magnus Smith Trap that you would see at the highest level of play.
10… Bg7 11. Qa5 Bf5 12. O-O Rhd8 13. Qa3 h6 14. h3 Nd5 15. Re1 Nxc3 16. Qxc3 e4 17. Qc4+ Kf8 18. g4 Rab8 19. gxf5 gxf5
10… Bg7 11. Qa5 Nd5 12. O-O Nxc3 13. Qxc3 Be6 14. Re1 Rhd8 15. Bg5 Kg8 16. Qa3 Rd4 17. Bxe7 Bd5 18. Bc5 Rc4 19. h3 Rxc5
10… Bg7 11. Qa5 Nd5 12. Ne4 Bf5 13. f3 Rhd8 14. O-O Kg8 15. g4 Bxe4 16. fxe4 Rf8 17. Rxf8+ Rxf8 18. exd5 cxd5 19. Qxd5+ Kh8
10… Bg7 11. Qc7 Bf5 12. O-O Rhd8 13. Qxc6 Rac8 14. Qa4 Rxc3 15. bxc3 Rc8 16. Qxa7 Nd5 17. Ba3
MAGNUS SMITH TRAP! Crushing the Sicilian Defense
History of the Magnus Smith Trap
The Magnus Smith Trap is named after Magnus Smith (1869–1934), a three-time Canadian chess champion.
While the exact date of its conception is unclear, it has been a recurring feature in professional chess matches for over a century.
Is the Magnus Smith Trap Good for Beginners or Intermediates?
While the Magnus Smith Trap may appear tempting for beginners due to its potential for quick wins, it’s not generally recommended.
The trap relies heavily on black making specific mistakes.
If an opponent avoids these pitfalls, a player relying on the trap could find themselves on the back foot.
On the other hand, intermediates who have a more comprehensive understanding of chess theory can use the trap to their advantage, especially against less experienced players.
However, it’s essential to avoid becoming over-reliant on it and to develop a broader, more adaptable strategic repertoire.
How Often the Magnus Smith Trap Is Played at the Grandmaster Level
While the Magnus Smith Trap has seen play at the grandmaster level, it’s not a common occurrence.
Grandmaster games typically don’t fall into such traps as the players are well-versed with these tactics and steer clear of the pitfalls.
Therefore, the Magnus Smith Trap is more likely to occur in amateur games or lower-level professional matches.
FAQs – Magnus Smith Trap in the Sicilian Defense
1. What is the Magnus Smith Trap?
The Magnus Smith Trap is a chess opening trap that occurs within the Sicilian Defense.
Named after the three-time Canadian chess champion, Magnus Smith (1869–1934), this trap involves a sequence of strategic moves that can potentially corner the opponent and create an advantageous position for the player utilizing it.
2. What are the initial moves of the Magnus Smith Trap?
The opening sequence of moves for the Magnus Smith Trap are as follows:
- e4 c5
- Nf3 d6
- d4 cxd4
- Nxd4 Nf6
- Nc3 Nc6
At this point, the game transitions into the Sozin Variation (or Fischer-Sozin Attack) of the Sicilian Defense.
3. What makes the 6th move, Bc4, significant in the Magnus Smith Trap?
The 6th move, Bc4, is the start of the Sozin Variation within the Sicilian Defense.
A common response by black is 6…e6, which serves to render White’s bishop on c4 relatively impotent, as it is said to “bite on granite”.
This move by Black prepares the setup for the potential trap to be sprung later.
4. How does Black fall into the Magnus Smith Trap?
Black falls into the trap with the move 6…g6. Here, the trap starts to unfold with the following sequence:
- Nxc6 bxc6
Now, Black is in a precarious position.
5. What happens if Black responds with 8…Nh5?
If Black responds with 8…Nh5, White can continue with:
- Qf3! e6 (or 9…d5 10.Nxd5!)
- g4 Ng7
- Ne4 Qa5+
- Bd2 Qxe5
In this sequence, Black’s queen ends up being trapped.
6. What are the preferable alternative moves for Black?
Black can avoid the trap with the moves 8…Ng4 9.e6 f5 or 8…d5 9.exf6 dxc4 10.Qxd8+ Kxd8 11.Bg5 Be6 12.0-0-0+ Ke8.
These sequences of moves have led to draws or even victories for Black in past games.
7. What happens if Black plays 8…dxe5?
If Black plays 8…dxe5, they fall into the trap.
This move is considered a mistake, leading to disastrous consequences.
According to chess legend Bobby Fischer, the correct move is 8…Ng4. Following the incorrect move 8…dxe5, White can play 9. Bxf7+, leading to a win for White as Black’s queen is lost after 9…Kxf7 10.Qxd8.
8. How does the Magnus Smith Trap end?
The Magnus Smith Trap ends with the sequence 9. Bxf7+ Kxf7 10.Qxd8.
This sequence results in White winning Black’s queen, putting White in a significantly advantageous position and potentially leading to a win for White.
The Magnus Smith Trap in the Sicilian Defense is a fascinating aspect of chess strategy, promising quick victories if black falls into the designated pitfalls. However, relying solely on this trap is not advisable, especially for beginners.
Rather, it serves as a testament to the complexity and strategic depth inherent in chess, illustrating the importance of deep understanding, adaptability, and continued learning in the game.
- Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defense
- Alapin Variation of the Sicilian Defense
- Dragon Variation of the Sicilian Defense
- Accelerated Dragon of the Sicilian Defense
- Scheveningen Variation of the Sicilian Defense
- Poisoned Pawn Variation of the Sicilian Defense
- Sicilian Defence, Chekhover Variation (Szily Variation or Hungarian Variation)
- Yugoslav Attack, Dragon Variation