Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Benko Gambit Move by Move...not! - by Junior Tay

I would first like to thank Wei Ming for plugging for me on this site and FB, as well as all the kind souls who have placed their FB likes for my first book, The Benko Gambit - Move by Move. I actually haven't gotten my own physical copies of the book yet though. In the past few months after I had handed in my final draft, I stopped playing the Benko completely just in case my hands got too itchy after finding a novelty or new idea. I don't know how my editor, GM John Emms can be so patient with my constant revisions and updates. However, once the book got published, I could rest easy again and get back to playing the Benko again without remorse...or so I thought. So, ever ready to brandish my new fangled repertoire, I logged onto playchess.com and promptly forgot my theory on move 8....What an embarrassment! If not for the free piece which my opponent donated to me, I would have been surely squeezed to pulp thanks to my pathetic flotsam and jetsam known as isolated pawn islands. How not to play against the 5.e3 Variation
[Event "Playchess.com Blitz"] [Site "Main Playing Hall"] [Date "2014.03.16"] [White "IM Edward Dearing"] [Black "Junior Tay"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A57"] [WhiteElo "2321"] [BlackElo "2348"] [PlyCount "38"] [EventDate "2014.03.16"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. e3 e6 6. dxe6 fxe6 7. Nc3 d5 8. Nf3 Bd6 $6 {an automatic response...forgetting what I analysed and recommended in the book.} (8... c4 $1 {was the move I mooted in Benko Gambit Move by Move. Here's a high level GM game with this continuation.} 9. Bd2 Bb4 10. bxa6 Nxa6 11. a3 Ba5 12. Be2 Nc5 13. Nd4 Bd7 14. b4 cxb3 15. Nxb3 Nxb3 16. Qxb3 Rb8 17. Qc2 Qc7 18. Rc1 O-O 19. O-O $44 {Kortschnoj,V (2615)-Volokitin,A (2671)/ Igualada 2005 (0-1.38)}) 9. e4 $1 {I was so aghast at allowing this that I took 30 seconds to reply...} dxe4 (9... Bc7 10. e5 $1 Ne4 11. Nxe4 dxe4 12. Qxd8+ Bxd8 13. Ng5 Ba5+ 14. Bd2 Bxd2+ 15. Kxd2 O-O 16. Ke3 Rf5 17. Nxe4 axb5 18. Bxb5 Ba6 19. a4 Rxe5 20. f4 Rd5 21. Rhc1 { with a huge advantage structurally and of course, he keeps the Benko pawn safely. Tatai,S (2435)-Bellon Lopez,J (2425)/Rome 1983(1-0.34)}) 10. Ng5 O-O 11. Bc4 Qe7 12. Ngxe4 Nxe4 13. Nxe4 Bc7 $6 14. Bg5 ({Houdini says Black's position is crap after} 14. b6 $1 Bxb6 15. O-O {The e6 pawn is stuck there and Black has no semblance of an attack to make up for the 'koyak' pawn islands.}) 14... Qf7 15. O-O (15. b6 $1 {again, to retain the Bc4 on that excellent square, is strong.}) 15... axb5 16. Bxb5 Bb7 {Now at least I have something to aim at.} 17. Qg4 $2 (17. Nxc5 Bd5 18. Qg4 {and the White a + b pawns can rock and roll.}) 17... Qf5 $1 {A fluke shot...didn't know that this will work that well.} 18. f3 $4 ({White has to play} 18. Qxf5 Rxf5 19. g4 Re5 20. Bf4 Rxe4 21. Bxc7 Rxg4+ 22. Bg3 $11) 18... Qxg4 19. fxg4 Bxe4 {and Black won 9 moves later.} 0-1
OK...things are not that bad as I got to play some of the theory I analysed like in the next game. A game that I liked
[Event "Playchess.com Blitz"] [Site "Main Playing Hall"] [Date "2014.03.16"] [Round "?"] [White "Motivatedbishop"] [Black "Junior Tay"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A58"] [WhiteElo "2474"] [BlackElo "2324"] [PlyCount "36"] [EventDate "2014.03.16"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 g6 6. Nc3 Bxa6 7. Nf3 d6 8. g3 Bg7 9. Bg2 O-O 10. O-O Nfd7 $5 {The line I recommended in my book (likewise GM Sergey Kasparov in his 'Dynamic Benko Gambit').} 11. Qc2 Nb6 12. Rd1 N8d7 13. b3 Bxe2 $1 14. Qxe2 Bxc3 15. Bb2 Bxb2 16. Qxb2 Nf6 17. Nd2 Nbxd5 18. Ne4 ({ Houdini demonstrated the nice line} 18. Nc4 Nc7 $1 19. Bxa8 Qxa8 {with sufficient compensation for Black who will continue with Ne6-d4.}) 18... Ra5 { and Black has the advantage and went on to win in 43 moves.} 0-1
However, there's chess theory and then again, after the theory, one must continue to play well. In the following game from the 1st Togo Playchess event, I got mauled by an Indian IM (the eventual winner, actually) after committing a sort of cardinal sin in the Benko...see for yourself. A game that I liked
[Event "1st Togo Playchess event"] [Site "Emanuel Lasker Arena"] [Date "2014.03.16"] [Round "?"] [White "IM Swayams Mishra"] [Black "Jrt"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A58"] [WhiteElo "2664"] [BlackElo "2387"] [PlyCount "73"] [EventDate "2014.03.17"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 g6 6. g3 d6 7. Bg2 Bg7 8. h4 h5 9. Nh3 O-O 10. Nf4 Nxa6 $5 {I've been looking at lines where Bxa6 might not be required and this seems like a good example.} 11. Bd2 Rb8 12. Bc3 Ng4 13. O-O Rxb2 $1 14. Qc1 Rb8 15. Bxg7 Kxg7 16. Nd2 {I can't ask for more out of the opening, can I? Got my pawn back and I still retain the initiative on the queenside. Suddenly, I decided on the worst move possible, breaking all the rules...} e5 $2 {I don't know why but it didn't cross my mind that he will simply capture en passant. I just thought that that will mobilise my centre and open the f-file for me.} 17. dxe6 $1 fxe6 18. Ne4 $1 {Now the Indian IM just walks all over me.} e5 19. Nd5 {Arggh...look at those knights sitting prettily on the squares I gave up...} Nc7 20. Nxc7 Qxc7 21. Qd2 Rb6 22. Rab1 Rxb1 $6 23. Rxb1 Bf5 {and now his knight starts to dance around and I could not hold out.} 24. Ng5 {Threatening Rb7} Rb8 25. Rxb8 Qxb8 26. e4 $1 {Very impressive. Blocking off his strong bishop's but also incarcerating my bishop.} Bd7 27. Qd5 $1 Qf8 28. f3 Ne3 $4 {and I got plucked after} 29. Qb7 Qc8 30. Qb3 {and my knight is plucked.} Qg8 31. Qxe3 Qxa2 32. Qd3 Qb2 33. Qxd6 Qd4+ 34. Qxd4 exd4 35. Bf1 Kf6 36. Kf2 Ba4 37. Bc4 {Utterly outplayed.} 1-0
Anyway, now it's time to stop playing online blitz for a while and try to wrap up my 2nd book, Ivanchuk - Move by Move. Oh, by the way, stay in tune for Wei Ming's own Chess Developments: Sicilian Najdorf 6 Bg5, which will be up on the market soon!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Ministry of Health topples Ministry of Education to win the Public Service Star Games Chess Teams by Junior Tay

This year, the organizers introduced a TN - scheduling the event on a Sunday (23rd March 2014) instead of a Saturday. This enabled the doctors to get a full team line-up. I mean, when you can rest former National Champion NM Derrick Heng and Leong Khai Pang during a match, the team certainly looks good. Usually, some of their players had to skip rounds or the whole event altogether but this year, they came in full force.

IM Hsu Li Yang, helming top board, did not have it easy though. In round 1, NM Luke Leong from Ministry of Home Affairs upset the apple-cart by beating Li Yang from the Black side of a Maroczy Bind. The game can be found in Olimpiu Urcan's super fast update.

The rest of his team members cruised to wins, giving his team a 3-1 headstart. The same could not be said about defending champions MOE. The absence of MINDEF's top board player, Victor Huang (off to USA to do a masters degree) was more than nullified by the introduction of Tan Chor Chuan, who represented Singapore in the Elista Olympiad. He made an immediate impact with his typical hyper-aggressive chess by pummelling CM Quek Suan Shiau in the following encounter.
A game that I liked
[Event "Public Service Teams 2014"] [Site "Civil Service Club"] [Date "2014.??.??"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Quek Suan Shiau"] [Black "Tan Chor Chuan"] [Result "0-1"] [PlyCount "74"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] 1. g3 {To avoid Chor Chuan's hack lines in the Kalashnikov...} Nf6 2. Bg2 e5 3. d3 Bc5 4. e3 d5 5. Nf3 Qe7 6. a3 O-O 7. b4 Bb6 8. h3 a5 $1 {Hitting White from the word 'go'.} 9. b5 a4 10. Bb2 Nbd7 11. O-O Re8 12. Qe2 ({During the post mortem,} 12. d4 {with the idea of} e4 13. Ne5 {seemed strong but after} Qd6 $1 14. c4 Nxe5 $1 15. dxe5 Rxe5 16. Bxe5 Qxe5 17. Ra2 {was reeled off by Houdini with strong compensation for Black.}) 12... c6 13. d4 e4 14. Nfd2 c5 $5 {No rest for the wicked! Chor Chuan just keeps swinging that club at any and every opportunity.} 15. c4 $1 cxd4 16. exd4 $6 {Suan will rue the moment he allowed the Bb6 to live...} (16. Bxd4 Bxd4 17. exd4 e3 18. fxe3 Qxe3+ 19. Qxe3 Rxe3 20. Rf3 $11) 16... e3 $1 {Wrecking White's pawns with the intention of plucking them off later.} 17. Qxe3 Qxe3 18. fxe3 Rxe3 {The position is fiendishly difficult to defend, especially in rapid chess.} 19. Kf2 $2 (19. g4 $1 Rd3 20. Ra2 $1 {Holds for White but how do you find this sort of move in rapid? No way! }) 19... Rd3 20. c5 Ba5 $1 (20... Nxc5 21. dxc5 Bxc5+ 22. Ke1 Rxg3 23. Rf2 Bxh3 24. Bxh3 Bxf2+ 25. Kxf2 Rxh3 {is another way to pilfer a mass of pawns but there's no need for complications.}) 21. Ke2 ({After} 21. Rd1 {Chor Chuan demonstrated} Ne4+ 22. Bxe4 (22. Nxe4 Rxd1 23. Nd6 Nf6 $17) 22... dxe4 23. Ke2 Nf6 {and White is still in the doghouse.}) 21... Rxg3 {The rest is just Chor Chuan and his lawnmower doing the deed.} 22. Kf2 Rg5 23. Re1 Nf8 24. Nc3 Bxc3 25. Bxc3 Ng6 26. Re3 Bd7 27. Rae1 Bxb5 28. Kg1 $4 Nf4 29. Kh1 Nxg2 30. Re5 Nxe1 31. Rxg5 Re8 32. Rg3 Re2 33. Kg1 h5 34. Rg5 Ne4 35. Nxe4 Nf3+ 36. Kf1 Rxe4+ $6 {Chor Chuan indicated that he should have delivered mate with R-anysquare on the 2nd rank except g2 and f2!} 37. Kf2 Nxg5 0-1

Following Francis Teo's win on board 4 against MOE's Lim Chye Lye from the White side of a Benko gambit, MINDEF held MOE 2-2 and delivered a mortal blow to the latter's chances.

However, by round 3, MOE had caught up with MOH on game points (9.5/12) and hence, met on top board. 

This time round, MOH bested MOE 3-1, with Li Yang beating Suan Shiau on board 1 and Dr J Nithiananthan overcoming his nemesis NM Olimpiu Urcan while Alvin Ong and Derrick Heng secured draws against Junior Tay and Pok Wern Jian respectively. This virtually put paid to MOE's hopes and consigned them to the fight for 2nd place.

In the final round, MOH just had to avoid defeat against MINDEF and with a 2.5-1.5 effort, they got the job done. IM Hsu, however, was put to the test by Chor Chuan, by having to defend a pawn down though he could have even turned the tables on move 43 with a surprising pin.
A game that I liked
[Event "Public Service Teams 2014"] [Site "Civil Service Club"] [Date "2014.??.??"] [Round "5.1"] [White "Tan Chor Chuan"] [Black "IM Hsu Li Yang"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [PlyCount "93"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 e5 4. Nf3 Nbd7 5. Bc4 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. h3 $6 {This inaccuracy allowed Li Yang to equalise.} c6 8. a4 Nxe4 $1 {Black gets to trade minors and equalize in the centre.} 9. Nxe4 (9. Bxf7+ Rxf7 10. Nxe4 exd4 11. Nfg5 Bxg5 12. Bxg5 Qf8 13. Qxd4 d5 {with equality - The Philidor Files - GM Christian Bauer (Everyman 2006)}) 9... d5 10. Nxe5 (10. Bb3 dxe4 11. Nxe5 Nxe5 12. dxe5 {with a level position in Murshed,N (2510)-Mokry,K (2525) Brno 1991 (1/2, 47)} Bf5) 10... Nxe5 11. dxe5 dxe4 (11... dxc4 12. Nd6 Be6 13. Nxb7 Qb8 $1 14. Nd6 Rd8 {is equal, even after} 15. Bf4 $6 f6 $1 16. Qe2 fxe5 17. Nxc4 Rd4 18. Bxe5 Bxc4 19. Qe3 Rd6 $1) 12. Bf4 Bf5 13. Qe2 Qb6 14. c3 a5 15. Rad1 Rad8 16. b3 h6 17. Qh5 {Here, Chor Chuan starts his caveman approach and Li Yang typically retreats his piece in defence.} Bh7 $2 ({Probably it is impossible for anyone except those animals like Stockfish, Komodo or that magician Houdini to find} 17... Be6 $1 18. Bxh6 $1 c5 $1 {when Black is holding out.}) 18. Rxd8 $6 {White keeps the advantage though, with this safe option.} ({White can combine to win a pawn or get a piece on the seventh rank based on the weakness of the h6 and f7 pawn.} 18. Qg4 $1 Kh8 (18... Qc5 19. Qg3 Kh8 20. Rxd8 Bxd8 (20... Rxd8 21. Bxf7) 21. e6 $1) 19. Rxd8 Qxd8 20. Rd1 Qe8 21. Qd7 $1 {and White dominates totally.}) 18... Qxd8 19. Rd1 Qc8 20. Be3 $1 Bf5 21. Bb6 Be6 22. Qe2 Bxc4 23. Qxc4 Qf5 24. Re1 Qxe5 25. Rxe4 Qg5 26. f4 Qf6 27. Bxa5 {White has collected a pawn but now Li Yang digs in and counterattacks from afar...} Bd8 $1 28. Bb4 Bb6+ 29. Kh2 Rc8 30. Be7 Qf5 31. Bh4 Bc7 {The initiative swings to Black as f4 becomes a target.} 32. Bg3 Rd8 33. b4 Kh7 34. Re2 Rd5 35. b5 $2 Qf6 $2 {Too passive. Chor Chuan gets his mojo back.} (35... Rc5 $1 {wins back the pawn.} 36. Qd4 cxb5 37. axb5 Rxb5) 36. bxc6 (36. Qe4+ Kg8 37. Qe7 $1 {and Black is in serious trouble.}) 36... bxc6 37. Qe4+ Rf5 38. c4 g6 {Black is out of the woods and proceeded to take over the initiative.} 39. Rf2 h5 40. Rf3 h4 41. Bf2 Bxf4+ 42. Kg1 $2 (42. Kh1 $1 {and now} Qa1+ 43. Bg1 $1) 42... Qa1+ 43. Be1 Re5 $2 (43... Bg3 $3 {A very difficult move to find as White get to capture f5 with tempo.} 44. Rxf5 gxf5 45. Qxf5+ Kh6 $3 {and incredibly, White has no check and has to lose a piece. Li Yang verified that he missed Kh6 in his calculations.}) 44. Qxf4 {and now the game petered to a draw.} Rxe1+ 45. Rf1 Rxf1+ 46. Qxf1 Qxa4 47. Qxf7+ 1/2-1/2

Congrats to MOH for a comprehensive victory, winning all of their matches to earn the title.

Final Results:

1st: Ministry of Health
2nd: Ministry of Education 1
3rd: Ministry of Defence 
4th: Ministry of Education 2

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

The Benko Gambit: Move by Move by Junior Tay (!)

I am extremely happy to be doing an advert on what has been the first chess book in a long time written by a Singaporean. My co-blogger, Junior Tay, who has been writing incessantly on current affairs in the local chess scene both on this blog and the now defunct Singapore Chess News, has finally put pen to paper to his first book project. I have witnessed first hand how much time and energy he has put in on this book and being the incredily task-focused person that he is, he has managed to complete the project in a little over 6 months, literally spending 4-6 hours on a daily basis. 

While the "move by move" suffix sounds like a series for developing players, Junior has done a remarkable amount of research which can be seen from the extensive list of material in his bibliography. More importantly, I am convinced he has moved theory forward which, citing one example, can be seen, in his incredibly detailed analysis of the critical 12.a4 line of the Benko, currently the most fashionable variation in the Benko at all levels. This makes this book a valuable resource for 1.d4 and Benko exponents of all levels. 

I am certain he is very proud of the final product, one which is written primarily out of love and passion for a subject that he has studied and used to good effect in many battles over the years. I am sure that the book will turn out to be a tremendous success and I'm very proud to have witnessed its evolvement over the last few months.

You can show your support for good chess writing, from a native Singaporean no less, here or download an extract here