Benko GambitA57

J Parker
J Edge

Midland Open

The following game peters out to a draw but it is one of my favourites because I remember the supreme confidence on my opponents face changing to a look of apprehension due to the tactical passage of play from moves 20-30. It is one of my characteristic games where I have to rely on middle game tactics to bale myself out of an inferior opening. Jonathan Parker was pushing to qualify for the British Championship but the following game held him up for a month or so. Another Benko Gambit. One of my old favourite openings which I used to use for surprise value until Adams and Kasparov explored many of the possibilites and made it well-known.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. Nf3 d6 5. a4 used to restrict blacks usual Q-side play 5... bxc4 White will always be able to get the pawn back, but playing ...b4 allows white too much control 6. Nc3 Nbd7 7. e4 Ba6?! Probably not the best, as White gets too much initiative but one of my home-made moves to take the play into less usual channels. Plans based around the break e6 by Black are now more common. 8. Be2 g6 9. O-O Bg7 10. Nd2 Ne5 Inviting White's next move. The following exchanges both help to untangle Black's position and clear the decks for White's central attack. 11. f4 Nd3 12. Nxc4 Bxc4 13. Bxd3 Bxd3 14. Qxd3 O-O We now enter a stage where White is preparing to crash through the centre by limiting any possible Black counterthrusts whilst Black tries to put pressure on the Q-side and get behind the White centre. 15. h3 stopping Ng4 if White plays e5 15... Rb8 16. Rf2 Rb4 17. Be3 Qb8 18. Re1 Nd7 19. Qc2 Nb6 White now seems to have the best of the play with his Q-side well defended and his centre poised to roll forward. He decides its time to press his attack. 20. e5 Nc4 21. Bc1 dxe5 I had seen the following move, but judged that my best chance lay in provoking tactics rather than letting White dictate the pace. Basically, I am relying on tactics to survive. 22. Na2! The threatened R is tied down to the defence of the N 22... exf4 laying a trap 23. Bxf4 Na3! hitting Q and B 24. Qc1 If instead (a) 24 bxa3 Rxf4 and Black's B on g7 becomes a killer. (b) 24 Nxb4 Nxc2 25. Bxb8 Ne1 leaves White with too many pieces hanging and ...Bd4 is also threatened. 24... Rxf4! This exchange sacrifice was forced but is easily worth it. 25. Rxf4 Bxb2 26. Qd2 Nb1 The escape route for the N. If 27. Rxb1 Bd4+ 28. Rxd4 Qxb1+ 29. Qd1 Qxa2 27. Qe3 Nc3! 28. Nxc3 Bxc3 The black Q is hitting the R on f4 so the Black B is safe. 29. Ref1 Bd4 30. Rxd4 cxd4 31. Qxe7 Qd8 to take the sting out of a possible d6. White has 32. Rxf7 now but after the Queens come off he is unlikely to get more than a draw. The tactics are now over so you need not follow the game any further if you don't want to. 32. Qe4 Qb6 33. Rd1 Rd8 34. Kh1 White is winning the d4 pawn anyway so he takes time to avoid possible tactics. Both players are a little short of time before the 40-move time control so some quick moves follow: 34... Qc5 35. Rxd4 Qc1+ 36. Kh2 Qc5 Black uses the check to prepare a blockade of the P on d6. 37. Rd3 Qd6+ 38. Kh1 Rc8 39. Rd1 Rc5 40. Qd4 Rc7 White had stopped notating and Black had covered his scoresheet so a couple more quick moves... 41. Re1 Rc8 42. Rd1 a6 43. a5 h5 44. Qb6 Rd8 Just keep the blockade up 45. Kg1 Kg7 46. Qd4+ Qf6 47. Qd3 Qd6 48. Qc4 Rd7 49. Qd4+ 1/2-1/2