A close look at a rare gambit

Chess Checks

A close look at a rare gambit

There was a time in the 18th century when gambits were very fashionable, where in a player would sacrifice a pawn in the early stages of the game for active play. To accept the gambitted pawn was more often the done thing, while rejecting the pawn was sort of frowned upon.

These volatile openings, predominantly the King’s Gambit and the Evans Gambit led to plenty of fireworks in the form of sacrifices and combinations, and generally provided more thrills to the followers.

In the game which follows, Black plays the Benko gambit, one which is rarely seen these days at high level tournaments. Black however tries a novelty early and fails to get his attack going, never getting any compensation for the gambitted pawn. In fact it is White who systematically builds up an attack to clinch the game.

White: AleksandrovAleksej (2591) – Black: Van der Weide Karel (2467)
Saint Vincent, 2000
Benko Gambit
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5
The Benko Gambit where Black sacrifices a pawn early in the game for active play. This is one of the volatile and exciting defences against the Queen’s Gambit but is rarely seen in top level games these days.
4.cxb5
White accepts the gambitted pawn. The other options is 4.Nf3 e6
4. ..a6. Hurling one more pawn!
5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.g3
White can also think of 7. e4
7. ..d6 8.Bg2 Bg7 9.Nf3 Nbd7 10.Rb1
This was a new idea at that time. Other options are 10.0–0 Nb6 11.Rb1
10...Nb6
If 10...0–0 11.0–0 Nb6
11.b3

Diagram 1

11. ..Bc8
Black tries a new idea by retreating back the bishop to the original square but this does not appear like a good move
If 11...Ra7 12.0–0 Qa8 13.Nh4 0–0 And if  11...Bb7 12.Nh4 Ra5
12.Nh4
If 12.e4 Ba6 13.Bf1 Qc8 14.Bd2 0–0 15.Bxa6 Qxa6
12...h6 13.Qc2 Qd7 14.Bd2
White played a novelty here. Generally this bishop is placed at 14.Bb2
g5 15.Nf3 Qf5 16.e4 Qg6 17.0–0 0–0 18.Qd2
14...g5 15.Nf3 Bb7
Black could capture the central pawn with any of his knights 15. ..Nbxd5  15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.Nxg5 Bb7 And if 15...Qf5 16.e4 Qg6 17.Rc1
16.e4 Ba6 17.a4
A good move!
17. ..0–0
If 17...Qc7 18.Nd1
18.a5 Nc8 19.e5 Nh7
If 19...dxe5 20.Nxe5 Qc7 21.Nc6 (21.d6 Nxd6 22.Bxa8 Rxa8) And if 19...Ng4 20.h4 gxh4 21.Rxh4 dxe5 22.Nh2  Nxh2 23.Bxh6 And if 19...Ne8 20.h4 g4 21.Ng5
20.h4
Putting on pressure on King-side
20. ..g4 21.Ng5 Nxg5
If 21...hxg5 22.hxg5 f5 23.gxf6 Nxf6 24.exf6 Rxf6 25.Qh7+ Kf8 26.Ne4
22.hxg5 Bxe5 23.Rxh6
White can consider 23.b4 cxb4
23. ..f5
If 23...Re8 24.Qh7+ Kf8 25.g6
24.Rg6+
Better is to continue 24.gxf6 exf6
24...Kf7
If 24...Kh7 25.Re6
25.Re6 Ke8
Trying to escape from the King-side with White’s pieces threatening a massive invasion
26.b4. White is relentless in his pursuit
26. ..cxb4 27.Rxb4 Ra7 28.Na4 Rc7 29.Qb3  and Black resigned for if 29.Qb3 Rh8 30.Nb6 Qd8 31.f4 gxf3 (31...Rh2 32.fxe5 Rxg2 33.Rh6 Kf7 34.e6+ Kg8 35.Bc3) 32.Qxf3
1–0

Diagram 2

White to play and checkmate
1.Nh4+ Kf4 2.g6 checkmate


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