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??
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!
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!