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!


  1. Hi,

    Can you recommend a decent pte chess club for my 7 yr old to join - we live in the area of Novena, Bukit Timah? completely flummoxed by the availability of chess clubs here. Putting him to trial with Power Chess at Crown centre. Any comments. SCF is too far and tried for a few months there- too many students and he doesn't really understand the concepts. Appreciate your expert input. Thanks.

  2. Hi Serene,

    You can try Thomson CC chess club which opens every Friday evening. The person in charge is John Wong who is a d