Archive for the ‘Bayonet Attack 9. b4’ Category

The Fabulous 00s: Close but no Mohata

July 11, 2008

Chess Life Online Weirdness

Often times, Chess Life online articles are written hastily (presumably to keep their entertainment value fresh) and the readers really miss out on what’s going on.

In a World Open 2008 article that just appeared, FM Todd Andrews presents some endings in an article titled “Endgame Joy in Philly”.

Let’s look at a particularly bizarre example – since it’s presented without notes and we are led to believe WGM Mohata playing black was somehow ground down (she was ground down earlier that day vs FM Andrews) – but what actually happened?  White was Andrews’ buddy FM John Bick.  CLO readers are having Caissic wool pulled over their eyes here.

Let’s start the action from Andrews’ first diagram.  Black to move.

Position after white’s 39th move in FM Bick – WGM Mohata.   Mohata all the way in this position.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  GONGING NOISE: Mohata stands better! The classical advantage of a 3 on 2 majority versus a 4 on 3 majority plus white’s b2 and a3 pawns are on the same color as the white bishop.  White has a bad game!   Mohata’s got the joy goin’ on!  GONG!!  CLO Readers WAKE UP!!! I can only hope that GM Benko never sees this article. He gets offended when the superior side loses.

To compound white’s difficulties, black can constantly threaten to make a K&P ending and invade with her king versus white’s rickety king-side pawns as the variations will show.  How could she lose?  It took something special, and something quite illogical. These are the questions Andrews might have talked about in the article.  But since the remaining moves (where White wins?!?!?!) have no notes, the reader might just believe Mohata was somehow outplayed.  The truth is black can easily win this position in many plausible lines and white at best can hope for a draw.  For black to lose is totally outside the pale of human dignity.

Let’s see how black can reel in the Bick for a full point using the above-named advantages in some sample lines where white makes even tiny inaccuracies.

For convenience, I will just call this move number 1.

1….Ke6! Always king to the center first before undertaking operations.  The f4 hole beckons.  1…Bd4? 2. Bc3 Be5?? (2…Bg1 =) 3. Bxe5 fxe5 4. Kc3 Ke6 5. Kb4 Kd6 6. Ka5 Kc6 7. g5! wins for white (not 7. Kxa6? g5! drawing).

2. Bc3 Bc7 3. h3 a5 4. Ke3 g5! and by fixing the hole on f4 black is totally winning.  For example, 4. Kd4 Bb6 mate! Or 5. Ke2 Be5 and black easily wins the K&P ending.  OK that defense didn’t work out for white.  Let’s try again.

4. Kc2 This hunker-down is plausible but not so easy to play OTB; the usual instinct is to stay more active.  4…a4!? A possible try. 5. Bd2 Bb6 6. f4 g5! A nice shot; if white takes twice on g5 black has Ke5 and Kxe4.  So white plays 7. fxg5 fxg5 8. Bc3! keeping the king out.  I don’t see a win then.

Let’s go back and see some more ideas.

1…Ke6  2. Ke2? This passive move is crushed!  2…Bd4!  3. Bc3 Ke5! White is running very short of move.   Do you want to see another nice move/plan?  The foxy 3…Be5! 4. h3 Bxc3! 5. bxc3 Ke5 6. Ke3 g5! (Always this move, fixing white’s f4 hole) and black wins. This suggests 4. h3? is a blunder crippling white’s majority and let’s try 4. h4! instead.  Now, 4…Bxc3 5. bxc3 Ke5 g5 is only a draw because white gets a protected passed pawn.  So after 4. h4, black should play 4…h5! fixing the h-pawn on black and retaining good chances.  If 4…h5! 5. Ke3? Bg3! wins.  White must play 5. Kf2 to guard the g3 square for the time being.  Then 5…Bf4 does not seem to lead anywhere; white can move his own bishop.  How about 5…Kf7!? establishing what may be a very pretty zugzwang?

5…Kf7 – Zugzwang!?

For example, 6. Kg2? (moving the king too far afield) and now the thematic 6…a5! winning.   A very nice shot here: 6…a5! 7. Kf2 Bxc3 8. bxc3 g5! making a passed h-pawn.  As has been written in many ending manuals, the white king cannot dance at two weddings!  Or, 6. gxh5 gxh5 7. Kg2 a5! with the brutal finale 8. Kf2 b4 9. axb4 Bxc3 10. bxc3 a4 and queens!  8. g5 Bxc3 9. bxc3 fxg5 and once again black will have his two remote passed pawns which decide.  Note also that 6. gxh5 gxh5 7. Bxe5 fxe5 just lands white in a lost K&P ending with inevitable zugzwang giving black’s king decisive entry points.

4. Kd2 a5! and black is way on top. A nice tactical motif.  For example, 5. h4 Bxc3+ 6. Kxc3 (6. bxc3 Kf4 wins) Kf4 7. a4 (or 7. Kd4 Kxf3 8. g5 fxg5 and wins queen and pawn ending) 7…bxa4 8. Kxc4  Kxf3 9. g5 (last try) 9…fxg5 and black wins the queen and pawn ending.

Let’s go back and try some other lines.

1….Ke6 2. Bf8 (Waiting).  2…Ke5 3. Bg7 With a USA-style subtle threat.  3…g5!! (Cold shower) and black wins.  Note how black can afford, in many position, to fix her kingside on black because white is so hopelessly compromised on black squares in the 3 on 2 majority situation on the queenside.

1…Ke6 2. f4! A plausible move getting rid of the hole on f4.  Now, if black plays 2…Bc7 3. Ke3 g5 4. f5+ Kf7 5. h3 Bf4+ 6. Ke2 Be5 7. Bc3 Bxc3 8. bxc3 the single white problem, the backward pawn on e4, won’t be enough. 8…Ke7 9. Ke3 Kd6 I do not see a win in this K&P ending, because if black’s king goes too far on the queenside white can break with e4-e5.  That position is a draw as long as white does not go crazy with 10. Kd4 a5 11. a4?? bxa4 12. Kxc4 Ke5 and black wins.

So let’s try the immediate  1….Ke6 2. f4 g5!? as a trickier try.  Of course, 3. f5+?? now loses to 3…Ke5 4. Bc3+ Bd4! and white has to resign.

White could answer with 3. fxg5 fxg5 4. Bc3 trying to keep the king out, but then black has the nice switcheroo with 4…Bc7! 5. h3 Be5! (The thematic idea to capitalize on the 3 on 2 majority).  Now, 6. Bxe5?? Kxe5 lands white in a lost ending with black using the usual motif of decoying with the remote passed pawn to win white’s remaining pawns.  He must stay calm with 6. Ke2 and hold on passively – indications are he can hold it unless I am missing a black resource.  There is actually a nice variation buried here to show how narrow the path is.  6. Ke2 Bxc3 7. bxc3 Ke5 8. Ke3 a5 9. Kf3 Kd6 10. Ke3 Kc5 (the only try) 11. Kd2 b4

Position after 11….b4 (analysis).  Close but no Mohata.

and now black is hoping for the blunder 12 axb4??+ axb4 13. cxb4+ Kxb4 14. e5 Kc5 15. Kc3 Kd5 16. e6 Kxe6 17. Kxc4 Ke5 and wins!  Correct for white is the tactical 12. cxb4+! (a narrow saving resource!) 12…cxb4 13. a4! Only move! 13…Kd4 14. a5 c3+ 15. Kc1 Kd3 16. a6 b3 17. a7 b2+ 18. Kb1 Kd2 19. a8=Q c2+ 20. Kxb2 c1=Q+ 21. Ka2 Qc2+ 22. Ka1 and draw.  Whew!

Let’s look at another, more craven, formation.

1…Ke6 2. Kc2 (Passive cowering). 2…Ke5 Black can also torture with 2…Bg1.

3. Bd2 (More passive cowering).  3…Bg1 4. h3 This incredibly passive formation is the best white’s been doing so far!  Maybe, just maybe, he can hold this one and make a draw.   There is a cool K&P variation hidden here:  1…Ke6 2. Kc2 Ke5 3. Bc3+?  Bd4 4. h3 Bxc3 5. Kxc3 Kf4 6. Kb4 and now black to play and get good winning chances.  Take a look.  Solution next time.  Hint, don’t play 6…Kxf3?? 7. g5! and white wins!  That would lose the game for Mohata, imagine that!

What’s the most iron-clad draw?  Many of the ‘draws’ above are kind of scary for white. Some of the lines above point out tenuous white draws.   But black is certainly pressing. Andrews should have pointed out Mohata’s fundamental advantages starting from his first diagram but I concede many Chess Life Online articles are crazy rush jobs.  I welcome readers’ inputs on these lines and also it would be nice if someone had a definitive evaluation from the diagram – black wins or a draw?    Poor Mohata – she lost the actual game. None of the instrinsic advantages were used.  Did I mention that?

3% Vicary

Elizabeth Vicary had minimal contribution to this post.

Postscript:  A Curious Warrior Gambit Opening Omission in Chess Life

In the curious article “The Bathhouse & the Indian” (yes, an ampersand was employed in this article’s title, Earth calling CL Editor) GM Kraai omits an important move that was known in the time of the Toltecs or, failing that, at least the To’hona Oodham and the Yavapai.  I did enjoy references to truck grease but I wish the article had included somebody eating the worm out of the tequila bottle.  Let’s get to the chess.

In his notes to  Johnston vs Leeds-Tilley, after the moves

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 0-0 6. Be2 e5 7. 0-0 Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. b4 For some reason, Kraai awards this an exclamation point.  Radjabov wouldn’t like that!

9. … Nd7? A huge lemon simply because it allows so many juicy white continuations.  Every Russian schoolboy knows about 9…Nh5!

Now, in the game, white played 10. Be3 and very oddly, this move passes by without comment.  White has a far more entertaining option.  Let’s go back to the position after black’s 9th move to summon the spirit of what is known from the past.  Eugene Meyer must have shown me these lines 30 years and many moon ago.

10. c5!

10. c5! Ye Olde Toltec Gambit.

Summoning the spirit of <insert deity/deities>.  Accepting is very risky.  For example, 10…dxc5 11. bxc5 Nxc5 12. Ba3 Nd7? 13. Nb5! with a juicy edge. For example, 13…c5 14. dxc6 e.p. bxc6 15. Nd6 with complete paralysis as in Schenk-Braun Boeblingen 2003.  Or, 12…b6 13. Bxc5 dxc5 14. Na4 and white has scored very heavily starting from here, for example 14…Nxd5? 15. Qxd5 Qxd5 16. exd5 e4 17. Nd2 Bxa1 18. Rxa1 and white won easily, Savchenko-Maier, Porto San Giorgio 2000.

Declining is the Better Part of Valor

In this gambit, declining looks like a better bet. For example 10…f5 11. Ng5 Nf6 12. f3 h6!? is not ridiculous. 13. Ne6 Bxe6 14. dxe6 d5 15. exd5 Nfxd5 16. Nxd5 Qxd5! is murky as practice has shown.  White might do better with  11. Ng5 Nf6 12. Bf3!? but here, black has what may be a TN, 12…a5!, with counterplay.  That suggestion is hot off the Rybka griddle. I don’t think that position has been seen before.

This gambit stuff would make the Yavapai proud!  Very bold and thematically fitting into the article.  I would lose the ampersand in the title, though – editor?

GM L. Ftacnik, Hero!!

Wish I had seen this.  From J. Shahade’s CLO World Open 08 story,

“Co-winner GM Lubomir Ftacnik became heroic to some and notorious to others early in the tournament when he grabbed the mike and yelled “Shut-up” repeatedly when announcements began, even though some of the games had been going on for 20 minutes”.    Is there any question?  Hero!!!!

By the way, Ftacnik was a runner-up in the epic World Junior Championship that the USA’s Mark Diesen won way back in 1976.  Ftacnik got there by swindling pre-tourney favorite Vladimirov.

What’s New Elsewhere

I just posted the blunderfest Ehlvest-Liu from the NY International 2008 Part Deux.

Awesome Error Message

From the site at 12:23 EST Sunday July 13, trying to read an article, I get:

Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 262144) (tried to allocate 6144 bytes) in /nfs/eagle/export0/www/docroot/global/ on line 464

That’s better than the article!  All I wanted was a measly 6144 bytes!

Unrelated Query

Presumably correspondence players, having plenty of time to think (and even access to chess engines) should be able to find good moves.  Why is it that correspondence games presented in Chess Life magazine are usually of such poor quality?


The Fabulous 00s: Can Blitz Teach Us Anything about the King’s Indian Defense Bayonet Attack?

December 30, 2007

The ICC and other online forums (fora??) are, I think, a good vehicle for learning-by-example. More specifically, the 5-minute pool where there are plenty of GMs to serve as sounding boards.

I like trying out the Bayonet Attack in the King’s Indian Defense.  It happens to have the ECO code of E97 – this can be useful when conducting online searches.  Let’s see how it did in some recent ICC blitz games.

IM Aries2 – GM Boing777 (Orazly Annageldyev) 

The first moves are familiar – popularized by Kramnik and his second, Dutch GM Loek van Wely.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. b4

I like this variation because it is forcing and white can often channel black into some special, narrow, labyrinths.  Van Wely has had some exciting games versus Radiabov recently (admittedly, Teimour came out on top, but Loek certainly had his chances as he explains in New In Chess magazine). And here the Central Asian GM plays a common defensive scheme.



Position after 9…a5!?  Is this a good reaction? 

Is this a good reaction, or playing on the side of the board where white is stronger?
It brings back good memories for me, I defeated GM Biyiasis way back in 1982 in this line.  But black can be more clever and introduce the a7-a5 move in a roundabout way. For example, 9…Nh5!? (the most common) in  aries2- SNOEBE ICC blitz 2007 which saw 9…Nh5!? 10. c5!? a5!? (a mixture of ideas with some thematic links to this game) and there followed 11. cxd6 cxd6 12. bxa5 Rxa5 13. a4 with murky play.  White won the game but it had little to do with the opening.

I’ve also faced 9…Nh5 in numerous OTB games.  Here, for example is a smooth win over Dmitri London, a player who created a stir in the early 80s with some flashy wins over strong players – but then “retired”, I suppose, probably by simply entering the workforce.

IM M. Ginsburg – NM D. London NY State Masters 1982
1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. e4 d6 4. d4 Bg7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. b4 Nh5 10. c5!? (Kramnik later popularized 10. Re1) 10…Nf4!? 11. Bxf4 exf4 12. Rc1 a5 13. a3 axb4 14. axb4 Kh8 15. Qd2 Ng8 16. Rfe1 f5 17. Bd1!? Nf6 18. cxd6 cxd6 19. exf5 Bxf5 20. Nd4 Qd7 21. Qxf4! (Safe!) 21…Bd3 22. Qd2 Bc4 23. Ne6 Rfc8 24. Bf3 b5 25. h3 Ra3 26. Nxg7 Kxg7 27. Qd4 Re8 28. Ne4 Re5 29. Nxf6 Kxf6 30. Bg4 Qa7 31. Qf4+ Black resigns 1-0.  

The reader may be wondering about the leap 10…Nf4!? – is it necessary?  No, the move 10…f7-f5 is also possible.

Here’s an example:

IM Aries2 – NM WaShiHwanNi  ICC Blitz 2007 

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. d4 O-O 6. Be2 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. b4 Nh5 10. c5 f5 11. Nd2 Nf6 12. f3 f4 13. Nc4 g5 14. a4 (White is faster in this race on opposite wings) 14…Ng6 15. Ba3 Rf7 16. b5 Bf8 17. b6! (A thematic breakthrough; black is lost) 17…axb6 18. cxb6 h5 19. Nb5 Ne8 20. bxc7 Nxc7 21. Nbxd6 Once the bastion on d6 falls, the rest is carnage. 21…Rg7 22. Nxc8 Rxc8 23. d6 Ne8 24. Qd5+ Kh7 25. Nxe5 Nxe5 26. Qxe5 Nf6 27. Qf5+ Kh8 28. Rac1 Black resigns 1-0

And we’ve already seen this subvariation 9…Nh5 10. c5!? Nf4!? in the famous M. Ginsburg – I. Gurevich “Pawn Box” game in another post.  I also had it in a game versus NM Glenn Lambert, Lloyds Bank 1978 as reported in a Lloyds Bank nostalgia post.

Another quite original idea is aries2- IM Roberto Paramos (xadrezgalego), ICC Blitz 2007, which saw 9…Ne8!? 10. c5 f5 11. Nd2 a5!? 12. cxd6 Nxd6! (behold the value of 9…Ne8!) 13. bxa5 Rxa5 with complex play. That game was eventually drawn.

But let’s see the thoroughly modern December 2007 blitz game with the newfangled 9….a5!? first.

10. bxa5 Rxa5 11. a4 c5!? 12. Nd2 Nd7 13. Nb3

According to Openings Explorer feature (a ‘premium’ feature for those members who want ‘to go to 11’ [cf. Spinal Tap movie]), 13. Nb5!? has been seen in a few recent games with mixed results.   In this game, I innovate by dispensing with the leap Nc3-b5. It’s not clear how useful that is, anyhow.   Just to give one example of 13. Nb5!?:   13. Nb5 Ra6 14. Ra3 Kh8 15. Qc2 f5 16. exf5 gxf5 17. Nf3 h6 18. Nh4 e4 19. f3 exf3 20. Raxf3 Ne5 21. Rg3 Kh7 and white had some edge and went on to win a sharp game, Gulko-Reinderman, Las Vegas FIDE World Ch. 1999.

13…Ra6 14. a5 f5 15. f3 f4 16. g4!?   The move g2-g4 is seen in other King’s Indian lines, in particular 9. Ne1 variations. White doesn’t want to sit and wait passively for a pawn storm to swamp his kingside.  Philosophically, does white have the “right” to create some holes on the kingside in exchange for the obvious claims to some space?  Can the bottled up rook on a6 justify this ambitious scheme? 


Position after 16. g4!?  What’s going on? 

16…h5 17. h3 g5 18. Bd2 Ng6 19. Be1 Nf6 20. Kg2 Nh4+

The situation is very sharp. White loses his useful dark square bishop but maintains a king side blockade. 

21. Bxh4 gxh4 22. Qe1 Nh7 23. Na4 Qg5 24. Nb6 Rxb6 25. axb6 Nf6 26. Kh2(!) Sidestepping problems. The sacrifice introduced by black on move 24 may be insufficient.

26… hxg4 27. hxg4 Bxg4 28. Rg1 Qh6 29. Nd2 Bh5 30. Ra7 Rf7 31. Qxh4 Kh7 32. Qg5! This simplification wins.

32…Bg6+ 33. Qxh6+ Bxh6 34. Rga1 Nh5 35. Rxb7!

A typical blitz finale. Black gives up as 35….Rxb7 36. Ra7 wins for white. 


I am going to add to this post and introduce the historical 1982 Biyiasis material, as well as other topical games in this 9…a5!? defensive line.  Interestingly, I could not find the Biyiasis game (Philadelphia Swiss) in the usual Chessbase databases – yet another game from the past that this column will “contribute” to future databases.

The Fabulous 70s Part 4: More Lloyds Bank Follies

June 24, 2007

King’s Indian Defense, 9. b4!? Bayonet Attack

NM Mark Ginsburg vs NM Glenn Lambert
Lloyds Bank Open, London 1978

This game was really wild and featured (at the time) very topical Bayonet Attack King’s Indian Defense theory. GM-to-be Ron Henley was another practitioner of the white side.

1.c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. e4 d6 4. d4 Bg7 5. Be2 O-O 6. Nf3 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. b4!?

The Bayonet Attack, 9. b4!?, was popularized much later by GM Kramnik. In the 70’s, we played it differently. The differences will become clear. At any rate, the white king is not in danger of being mated so that is a distinct plus of the variation.

9…Nh5!? The most testing reply. 9…Nd7? runs into the strong gambit 10. c5! as IM Eugene Meyer proved at least a few times. It’s no fun in that line to face 10…dxc5 11. bxc5 Nxc5 12. Ba3.

9…a5?! also isn’t great; Black is playing on the side of the board where White is faster. After 10. bxa5 Rxa5 11. a4 white established a big initiative and went on to win, IM Ginsburg-GM Biyiasis, Philadelphia 1982. We will cover that game in an installment of The Fabulous 80s.  White also has 10. Ba3!? there, avoiding 10. bxa5 c5!? which GM Nunn said was good for black. That conclusion is not altogether clear to me – refer to a more recent installment to see more.

10. c5 Logical. White is preparing to give up the unmoved bishop on c1 to accelerate his queenside play. In later years, 10. Re1 Nf4 11. Bf1 came into fashion to ignore the N on f4, arguing it simply impedes the attack. The text is more to the point in terms of queenside activity and leads to positions that are worth a re-visit even in today’s theory landscape.


The former tabiya of this variation until 10. Re1 replaced 10 c5. Maybe the current game will trigger a re-investigation of certain key positions after 10. c5.

10…Nf4 One of the main moves. I have faced 10…a5!? in a tournament game, but playing all the board looks a little haphazard for black. Black also has 10…f5!? here which I was always curious about but never had to face. Black seems OK after 11. Ng5!? Nf4! as I learned in a blitz game with IM David Goodman so maybe white is better off with 10…f5!? 11. Bc4!? – the entire system needs more exploration.  After the text, the next moves for both sides are clear for a while.

11. Bxf4 exf4 12. Rc1 h6 13. h3 g5 14. a4 (14. Re1!?)

14…Ng6? 14…f5 is superior here. Play might proceed 15. cxd6 cxd6 16. Nd2 Bd7 with a small edge for white.

15. cxd6 cxd6 16. Nb5! Now white is on top.

16…a6 17. Nc7 This piece is really powerful with influence all over the board.

17…Rb8 18. b5 Strangely, the hard to spot 18. a5! is strong here too. For example, 18. a5 Bd7 19. b5 axb5 20. Qb3 f5 21. exf5 Bxf5 22. Bd3 with a white plus.

18… axb5 19. axb5 Qe7 20. Re1! b6 20…Qxe4?! leads to big trouble after 21. Bc4 Qf5 22. Bc4 Qf6 (22…Qd7? 23. Bxg6 fxg6 24. Ne6! Rf7 (24…Rf6? 25. Rc7!) 25. Qd3! Kh7 26. b6! with total paralysis, an unusually nice winning line.) 23. Ne8! Qd8 24. Nxg7 Kxg7 with massive compensation after, e.g., 25. Qd2.

21. Na6 Rb7


Both sides are playing consistent moves yet white’s chances have to be rated higher, since he is faster in his plans.

22. Nd4? A blunder. 22. Bc4! or 22. Qb3! or even 22. Bf1 were all fine and black has a very bad position. White thought the e-pawn is immune, but it is not. After 22. Qb3!, the e-pawn really is immune due to 22…Qxe4? 23. Bd3 trapping the queen. 22. Qb3 Bd7 23. Nb4 and white has a big edge.

22…Bxd4? As so often happens, the opponent trusts an erroneous calculation and makes a blunder in reply. 22…Qxe4! 23. Nc6 Ne5 and black is back in the game although white has some compensation.

23. Qxd4 Ne5 24. Nb4 Qf6 25. Nc6 An amusing dance of the knights. White protects the queen on d4 and wards off tactics.

25…f3 Black might as well sharpen the game to the utmost because he is positionally behind.

26. Bxf3 Nxf3+ 27. gxf3 Qxf3 28. Rc3 Qf4 29. Kg2 f6 30. Rf3 Qh4 31. Ree3 g4 32. hxg4 Bxg4 33. Rg3 Kh7

The game is getting very exciting, and both players are getting short of time to the time control on move 40!

34. e5! Objectively white is winning now but it will be a nervous affair with both kings exposed.


34…Rg7 35. exd6 Qh5 36. Qe4+ 36. Kg1 is winning with less tricks. 36…Kh8 37. Ne7 f5

Black does his best to find tactical counter-chances. One slip up from White and the tables might turn completely!

38. Qf4 Ra8 Trying his last chance. Black activates his rook and tries to keep an attack alive.

39. Re1?! 39. d7 wins cleanly.

39…Ra4! Grasping at every possible chance and forcing a crisis.


Quick, you have no time, what do you play??

40. Rh1!!

Right! Deduct points if you played 40. Qxa4?? Bf3+ 41. Kf1 Qh1 and mate next move. In addition, the flashy 40. Ng6+? Rxg6 41. Re8+ Kh7 42. Re7+ is simply a draw. The text, temporarily sacrificing a rook, is the only way to win.

40…Qxh1+ 41. Kxh1 Rxf4 42. d7 Bf3+ 43. Kg1!

No points for 43. Kh2?? Rh4+ 44. Rh3 Rg2+ and black mates.

43…Rh4 44. d8=Q+ Kh7 45. Rxg7+ Kxg7 46. Nxf5+ 1-0

A tremendous fight! It takes two players to create such an exciting battle of chess ideas.

Let’s move ahead a year and take a look at a very tragic encounter (from my point of view). It demonstrates clearly my lack of nerves and inexperience in international play.

Benko Gambit Declined (Deferred)

IM Paul E Littlewood (2405) vs Mark Ginsburg (2340)
Lloyds Bank Open, London 1979

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 c5 7. d5


7… b5?! At the time, I was a believer in deferred Benko-gambit positions.

8. cxb5 a6 9. b6?

There was no reason whatsoever to give the pawn back. The obvious 9. bxa6 gives white a big edge. The sensible alternative 9. O-O axb5 10. Bxb5 Ba6 11. Qc2 preparing a2-a4 is also very good. In either case white has a nice extra pawn and doesn’t have the development obstacles of a regular Benko.

9…Nbd7 10. O-O Rb8 11. Bf4 Rxb6 12. Rb1 Rb4? Very bad – no, horrifically bad. The text not only misplaces the rook, it assists in white’s obvious a3 and b4 plan. 12…Ng4!? is fine.

13. a3 Rb8 14. Qd2?! 14. b4! gave white a huge edge.

14…Re8 15. Bh6 Bh8 16. Ng5 Nb6


17. h3? 17. b4! is extremely strong.

17…e6 18. dxe6 Bxe6 19. Rfd1? Weak. 19. b4 (again!) gives white a big plus.

19…Bb3! Of course. Now black is equal.

20. Re1 Nc4 21. Qc1 Ne5 22. f4 Nc6 23. Bxa6?? Oops! The experienced IM has a mental blackout and loses an entire piece!


23… c4!

Is it possible that white totally overlooked this? His bishop is lost.

24. Kh1 Qa5

Take a look at this position. How can I lose? How can I avoid winning? These are good questions.

25. Bxc4 Bxc4 26. b4 Qa8 26…Qa7 is more natural.

27. b5 Nd4 28. Rb4 Rbc8 29. b6 Qb7 30. Qd1 Nh5 31. Qa4

So far, black has done all the right things after white’s bad gaffe on move 23. He is now in a position to force resignation and score a big upset. Now he proceeds to miss win after win. Would a well-timed candy bar for quick energy have altered the result?


31… Bb3 Starting the long spiral down. Very clear was 31…Ra8 32. Qd1 d5! 33. Nxd5 Bxd5 34. exd5 Rxe1+ 35. Qxe1 Nc2 and wins.

32. Qa7 Qxa7?

Missing the simple 32….Ng3+! 33. Kg1 Qa7 34. bxa7 Rxc3 35. Rb8 Rcc8! – it never occurred to me that I could simply allow white to queen. After 36. a8=Q Rxb8 37. Qa5 Nde2+ 38. Kh2 Bc3! and wins.

33. bxa7 Black has completely unnecessarily complicated matters, but he is still winning.

33…Nc2?? What on earth is this? Black has gone “bonkers” as the British would say. 33…Rxc3+ 34. Rb8 Rcc8! (Once again this key resource!) 35. a8=Q Rxb8 36. Qa6 Ng3+ 37. Kh2 Ngf5!! – a beautiful shot to win the game. The game concludes 38. exf5 Rxe1 39. fxg6 hxg6 40. Qxd6 Ra8 41. Qc5 Nf5 42. Nf3 Ra1 43. Bg5 Be6 and black has ideal and very aesthetic coordination. The 41…Nf5 theme is recurrent in all these lines. Naturally, black once again missed that he could simply let white queen.

34. Rxb3 Nxe1? Last chance for 34…Bxc3 and an edge.

35. Nd5 Bg7?? Oh no! 35…Bd4! 36. Rb8 Ng3+ is a perpetual check and a disappointing draw. The text even loses for black, an unbelievable nightmare (for me!).

36. Bxg7 Kxg7 37. Rb7




This is a textbook diagram for “horrific and humiliating loss of control”. White now has a decisive edge.

37… Ng3+ There was no way out of the bind. White wins in all lines.

38. Kh2 Nxe4 39. Rxf7+ Kg8 40. Ne7+ Rxe7 41. Rxe7 Nc5 42. Rxe1 1-0


I was completely shell-shocked. I guess juniors sometimes go completely cuckoo and stop bearing down!