I added a new 'Interesting videos' page where I'll link to videos I've watched and liked.


T45L game, cachboy VS MusiqueWand, The PORTUGUESE Gambit

I was inspired by GM Smerdon and decided to look into this dreaded and if I may say so, misunderstood defence.

If you’re interested then I’d recommend John Watson’s interview with GM David Smerdon. He seems to be a really cool guy with an open mind.

I hardly knew anything about this Gambit and was surprised to discover (with what I can only describe as minimal preparation) that it ha been severely misunderstood.

Yes, Black does “give it all he has” but it’s not a suicidal defence at all.
Some lines are extremely dangerous for White. If he leaves his King in the centre and attempts to keep his pawn advantage he may unleash an impossible attack. What’s even more interesting is that unless you’re familiar with it it’s really hard to anticipate it.

In other lines where White does play 0-0 Black doesn’t try to presume he has a spectacular King side assault but that doesn’t mean he is a clear pawn down!
Black has a lot of positional compensation. Black seems to have a lot of positional assets while on the other hand White seems to have a few liabilities. Of course, he is a pawn up, so assuming White can defend he’s supposed to have a winning Endgame right? 
Well, I’m not so sure.

One thing that this game reminded me is how effective it is to be prepared!
I’ve played over some games, read articles and spent some time analyzing. What surprised me is that the ideas weren’t that difficult to learn and that I was able to follow them quite well.
If you follow this game with Rybka you’ll see that I hardly made any crucial mistakes.

[Event "ICC"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[Date "2011.03.12"]
[Round "?"]
[White "cacheboy"]
[Black "MusiqueWand"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B01"]
[WhiteElo "2308"]
[BlackElo "2372"]
[Annotator ",USER"]
[PlyCount "67"]
[EventDate "2011.??.??"]
[TimeControl "2700+45"]

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. d4 3... Bg4 


{This is the start of the Portuguese. Sometimes White tries to avoid it with: 3. Nf3 but alas, Black can still employ 3… Bg4. the modern “refutation” continues with: 4. Bb5+ Nbd7 5. h3, and here most websites I’ve seen give …Bh5 but I think that after 5… Bxf3 6. Qxf3 a6 7. Be2 Ne5 8. Qg3 Qxd5 Black is doing just fine.}

4. Bb5+ 

{It’s amazing how fast White can find himself in total oblivion! For instance after: 4. f3 Bf5 5. c4 e6! 6. dxe6 Nc6!! [image]  and here, believe it or not but after: 7. exf7+ Kxf7 White is very close to a losing game! He’s King is just too weak and the pressure is coming and coming fast!}

4... c6 


{Quite playable and more thematic is: 4... Nbd7 but I wasn’t sure about it since Black doesn’t have the thematic …Nc6 anymore. However, after: 5. Nf3 Nxd5 6. O-O (6. c4 c6) 6... c6 7. Be2 e6 8. c4 N5b6, With a CK structure, I think Black should be ok.}

5. dxc6 Nxc6 6. Ne2 Qd5 


{Also interesting are: 6... Qb6) and the simple 6... e6} 

7. Bxc6+ Qxc6 8. O-O e6 9. Nbc3 Rd8


{Black has a lot of pressure over White. The Bishop on g4 pins the Knight and the d8 Rook exerts a lot of pressure on the d-file all the way to White’s d-pawn. 
Some of the positional ideas that Black has: …Be7 to finish development and protect against Bg5 without disturbing the d8 Rook or …Bf8-d6-b8 from where the Bishop will point to White’s King side with threats like …Qc6-c7 threatening checkmate!
Two key moves for White are f3 and/or Bf4. Bf4 should be able to stop …Bd6 but that leaves Black with the annoying Knight pin. While, f3 creates holes in the position. When White plays f3 instead of Bf4, Black can then switch from the …Qc6-c7 plan to …Qc6-b6 plan and pressure the newly weakened diagonal.

It’s interesting to note that if White decided not to play f3 at all and instead goes for a quick 9. Bf4 then the game reaches equality very quickly: 9… Rd8 10. Nbc3 Bd6 11. Bxd6 Rxd6 12. h3 Bf5 13. Ng3 Bg6 14. Rc1 O-O 15. Nce2 e5}

10. f3 


{We can see how the b6-g1 and h4-e1 Diagonals have been weakened. Moreover, White has a hole on the e3-square a possible King side weaknesses, especially on g3}

10… Bf5 11. Be3 

{Right, White takes care of the hole on e3 but allows …Bd6 instead. Other moves to consider were 11. Bf4 and 11. Bg5} 

11... Bd6 


{One point to notice here is piece strength. Black has the Bishop Pair, he has a beautifully active LSB on f5, his Knight on f6 is better than either of White’s Knights, he has a very powerful Rook on d8 and most importantly his DSB is significantly better than White’s. it’s quite easy to understand why this gambit has more than cheap King side attacks! Black’s piece placement is superior to White’s in all areas, in fact, once Black castles or connect the Rooks he’ll be ahead in development.}

12. Qd2!


{Good move. White’s plan is to exchange the DSB with Be3-f4 however Qd2 was quite a multipurpose move. it connects the Rooks and protects the c2-pawn. One finer nuance to this plan is that exchanging the DSB will further weaken White’s e3-hole and g3-square.}

12… h5!? 


{Now we see another point to Black’s game. He didn’t intend …0-0 unless he had to. Instead he wants to secure the weakness on the g3-square with …h5-h4 and initiate a possible attack. So far I was still in my preparation so the ideas came quickly and easily.
Black can always play …Kf8 to defend the g-pawn and plans like …Bd6-b8 / …Qc7 are still playable and dangerous. If White plays Bf4 to exchange the DSB Black will follow up with …Qb6 attacking along the b6-g1 diagonal and the b-pawn with possible Knight sacs on g4}

13. Bf4 Bxf4 14. Qxf4 h4 


{Black secures the weakness on g3, prevents Ng3, adds more King side pressure and prepares …Qb6 with a positional grip}

15. Rf2!? 

{Quite interesting! We are now out of my “book” I’m no longer in preparation but the move itself is understandable and doubled edged. White blocks the pressure with his Rook, indirectly defends the c-pawn as well as the e3 Knight and if possible will later on may attempt to play g3 / Rg2. if instead 15. Qg5 then 15… Kf8 and it’s hard for White to make progress}

15... Qb6 16. Na4 Qb4 17. b3 Bxc2 


{Material count is now equal! However, closer inspection should prove that black is clearly better. White’s Knight on a4 is quite inactive and a bit goofy. White has an isolated d-pawn. White has a lot of weaknesses, especially the e3-square and the Rook on f2 doesn’t look all that happy. In the mean time, Black is trying to decide which is better, …Rd7 / prepring …Rhd8 or …Rc8 taking control of the c-file with a possible …Rhd8.}

18. Nc5 Nd5! 


{Actually, a lucky move! apparently White had some tactics. for instance: 18... b6? 19. a3! Qb5 20. Nc3 Qc6 21. Nxe6 [image]  , luckily my intuition naturally went for …Nd5 attacking the Queen.} 

19. Qg5 

(19. Qc1 Bf5 20. a3 Qb6) 

19... O-O


20. Qxh4

{Truthfully, I don’t know. I couldn’t tell while playing whether Black is still better or rather, if his positional pluses outweigh material deficiency. Apparently it does! Still, upon reaching this position I was a bit worried.}

20… b6 21. Ne4 



(21... Rd7 22. Rc1 Rfd8 23. Qg3 (23. Rxc2 Qe1+ 24. Rf1 Qxh4) 23... Bd3, should also be ok.) 

22. Qg5 Bd3! 


{Black is clearly better now. White’s weaknesses are about to be dismembered. Notice how Black’s Knight stops the isolated pawn a-la-Nimzovich while controlling White’s weak e3- and c3-sqaures. Black has two major threats: …Bxe2 / …Qxd4 and …Rc2 / …Rfc8. Another idea to think about it …Ba6 with …Nb4-d3 but that takes some preparation.}

23. Qd2 Qxd2 

{The next few moves are forced}

24. Nxd2 Rc2 25. Nc1 


{An important position to study. Silman likes positions of this sort. White’s Knight is completely out of play and with it the a1 Rook as well. Keep an eye for that Knight, it is about to become a completely useless piece, as though White is playing a piece down.
Black has some interesting ideas here, …Ba6, …Rc8 but the best reply which I found was …Nb4. White is being strangled. What’s amazing about it is that these positional concepts came straight from the opening so I didn’t have to go through intense calculation to find them! Quite an important point about the Portuguese don’t you think?}

25… Nb4 

(25... Ba6 26. Nc4 Nb4 27. Ne3 Rc3 28. Nd1 Rc6 is not as good since Black no longer controls key squares inside the White camp.) 

26. a3 Rfc8 27. Nc4 Bxc4 28. axb4 Bb5 


{Notice how to Knight is completely paralyzed}

29. Na2 

{Talking about a misplaced piece! Yawza!}

29… Kf8!? 


{Rybka says 29... g5 is much better. 30. g4 Kg7 31. Kg2 f5} 

30. h4 Ke7 31. g4 f5 32. g5 g6 33. Rh2?

(Better was 33. f4)  

33... f4 0-1


Online sources for the Potuguese:



As usually you can find this game on my ICC library, game number 59


Amaurosis scacchistica

Amaurosis scacchistica (Latin for chess blindness) is the failure of a chess player, during a chess game, to make a normally obvious good move or see a normally obvious danger. The term was coined by Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch. Similar to chess blindness is the Kotov syndrome, in which a player, after a long period of calculation, suddenly makes a move they have not analyzed at all.

A brilliant Smyslov game

My favorite Chess Interview! Kramink's opinion on Smyslov

For the full article 'Kramnik Interview: From Steinitz to Kasparov' click HERE

Kramnik:- I did not have the opportunity to study chess classics when I was a child.
I was born in the Russian provincial town of Tuapse where chess literature
was difficult to obtain.
only books on modern players, such as ...
Karpov, Petrosian, etc. were available.
Of course, later I filled the gap in my education.
However, it is much easier for me to talk about those who I met over the board, i.e. Karpov, Kasparov.

Interviewer: - As you see it, should young chess players study the classics?

- In my view, if you want to reach the heights, you should study the entire history of chess.
I can't give any clear logical explanation for it, but I think it is absolutely essential to soak up the whole of chess history.

Smyslov plays the game how it should be played - Kramnik

- How would you describe Smyslov?

- How can I express it in the right way? ...

He is truth in chess!
Smyslov plays correctly, truthfully and has a natural style.
By the way, why do you think he lacks that aura of mystique like Tal or Capablanca?
Because Smyslov is not an actor in chess, his play is neither artistic nor fascinating.
But I am fond of his style.
I would recommend a study of Smyslov's games to children who...
want to know how to play chess
Because he plays the game how it should be played
His style is the closest to some sort of 'virtual truth' in chess.
He always tried to make the strongest move in each position.
He has surpassed many other of the World Champions in the number of strongest moves made.
As a professional, this skill impresses me.
I know that spectators are more interested in flaws ...
ups and downs.
But from the professional standpoint, Smyslov has been underestimated.

He mastered all elements of play.
Smyslov was a brilliant endgame specialist.
All in all his play resembled a smooth flow, like a song.
When you look at his games, you have that light feeling as if...
his hand is making the moves all by itself while...
 the man is making no effort at all
- just like he was drinking coffee or reading a newspaper!
This has the feel of Mozart's light touch!
No stress, no effort, everything is simple yet brilliant.
I like this feature of Smyslov and I am fond of his games.

- Smyslov and Botvinnik played almost a hundred games against each other.
Iincluding three World Championships.
Did they produce high quality games in terms of modern standards?

- They did, there was real quality about their games.
Of course, they made mistakes since the matches were very long but...
the average level of their games was very high.
Sometimes they blundered but I would not say this had a strong impact on the general assessment of the play.
At the same time the average strength of each move was very high.

- Did Smyslov play chess like his predecessors?

- No, he played differently, he had his own brand of chess.
He was a master of positional play and surpassed his predecessors in this area.
He was also good at opening preparation and tactics but no more than that.
Smyslov did not have incredible conceptual ideas but...
he was very accurate and carried out his ideas 'millimetre by millimetre'.
Probably, he was the first chess player to reach the highest level of accuracy.
To a certain extent, Smyslov was the pioneer of this style,
which was later brilliantly developed by Karpov,
i.e. the gradual mounting of positional pressure based on...
the most accurate calculation of short lines.

Go to the official Kramnik website to see this Interview


T45L game, MusiquWand VS. vnchess.

A simple game.
No need for deep analysis but it’s still nice to share the basic themes of development.

[Event "ICC"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[Date "2011.03.06"]
[White "MusiqueWand"]
[Black "vnchess"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2363"]
[BlackElo "2195"]
[ECO "E94"]
[Opening "King's Indian"]
[Variation "Orthodox variation"]
[TimeControl "2700+45"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2 O-O 6. Nf3 e5 7. O-O exd4 


{I actually quite like these Marotzy formations! I have always found them solid and natural to play}

8. Nxd4 Re8 9. f3 c6 10. Nc2! 


{A modern move, White brings the Knight back but opens the file for his Queen and centre pawns to stop …d5. this move is also effective against …Nb8-a6-b4 and if needed it supports b2-b4. Black’s d-pawn is always a problem pawn in the Marotzy bind formation.}

10… Na6 11. Kh1


{This is a prophylactic move but a good one as that! White makes sure that …Qb6 is not …Qb6+ and that makes a lot of difference! Some of White’s possible plans even include a Rg1 / g4 or Qd3 / Bd2 / Ne3. the idea of Qd3 is very rarely played and if Black allows it it’ll allow White a fantastic game. White would prefer to have his DSB on d2 because that protects the c3 Knight from Bg7xc3 and use the e3 square to post another Knight to stop future …d5. if White just plays Bd2 first the Bishop will block the Queen and …d5 may be possible. Of course the simple Bc1-e3 is more common to parry …Na6-c5 and to simply develop the Bishop out to a centralized square. Blakc would want to play …Be6 / …Nd7 but that will allow for Qxd6! Another good point for the earlier Nd4-c2.}

11… Be6 12. Be3


{Just look how White’s pieces are all beautifully centralized}

12… d5? 

{Premature! That allows white to advance with e4-e5 and then f4 with a dangerous central domination.}

13. cxd5 cxd5 14. e5! 


{Black already has an isolated pawn in the centre that in itself is a weakness. White gains more space, dislodges black’s Knight and introduces a new threat, Nc2-d4 as well as f3-f4-f5. try to find some of the lines controlled by the Bishops that will later provide a vital tactical resource} 

14… Nd7 15. f4 f6? 


{Very bad move! now Nd4 will attack the Bishop, if the Bishop stays then NxB / Qxd5 will pin the Rook and it’s pretty much game over. If the Bishop moves… well… you’ll see!}

16. Nd4 Bf7 17. e6!!


{Same plan, how cool is that! Now you can see that after Qxd5 White threatens Bxa6 and Black may find the recapture …bxa6 hard to play when the Queen will threat to capture the Rook. Of course, f4-f5 is always in the air and once White plays Rad1, positionally speaking, Black can resign.}

17… Bxe6 18. Nxe6 Rxe6 19. Qxd5


{Pinning the Rook, if …Qe7?? Then Bxa6 is 1-0}

19… Nc7 20. Qb3 Kh8 21. Bg1! f5 22. Rad1! Qc8 23. Bf3! 


{White’s last 3 moves are all best moves and positionally best but not very difficult to find}

23… Rb6 24. Bxb6 


{Black had other plans but they more or less led to the same thing. Pressure on the b-pawn, total positional control and a2-a4-a5 and winning. I missed the threat of Qf7 but not because I didn’t see it but because I thought advancing the a-pawn is stronger. either way, both are good and decent plans.}

24… Nxb6 25. a4 Na6 26. a5 Nc5 27. Qb5 Nbd7 28. Rxd7 1-0



The record, 34 blindfolded chess games!

GM George Koltanowski, the legendary grandmaster of chess who wrote more than 19,000 chess columns for The San Francisco Chronicle with the same ease with which he dispatched countless opponents in a career that spanned 10 decades, died Saturday in a San Francisco hospital after a brief illness. He was 96. Mr. Koltanowski, a gentleman of the Old World who made the world's most difficult game look easy, enjoyed introducing newcomers and children to chess as much as he enjoyed playing it. His column, which appeared in The Chronicle every day without interruption for 52 years, was the longest-running daily chess column in history. ``Chess is an international language,'' he once said. ``Everyone in the world can understand it, appreciate it and enjoy it.'' Few, however, could understand the game as well as Mr. Koltanowski. He was an international grandmaster, one of only 200 in the world, and the former chess champion of his native Belgium. He was also the world champion of a form of the game known as blindfold chess, in which the player commits the game to memory and does not look at the board or touch the pieces used by opponents, who play in the normal fashion. Mr. Koltanowski's 1937 feat of playing 34 opponents simultaneously while blindfolded without losing a game has never been equaled. Known as Kolty to his legions of friends and fans, Mr. Koltanowski not only lived and breathed the game, but also cherished and enhanced it. He wrote chess books, conducted chess tournaments, coached chess players, wore chess neckties, told endless chess stories and turned the lights on and off in his Cathedral Hill apartment with chess-styled switch plates. He preferred the brand of scotch that came in purple cloth sacks -- not because he liked that brand but because the bags could be used later to hold chess pieces. A native of Antwerp, Mr. Koltanowski learned the game while watching his father play his older brother. He took up the game seriously at the age of 14. Three years later, he was champion of Belgium and soon gave up a fledgling career as a diamond cutter to play full time. He competed in scores of tournaments in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, holding his own against the top players of the day, including former world champions Alexander Alekhine and Max Euwe, his good friend. He served a short stint in the Belgian army, where his primary duty, he recalled with a characteristic grin, was the peeling of potatoes. While he peeled away absent-mindedly, he studied chess positions. ``Soldiers were going hungry,'' he said, ``because I was peeling the potatoes into smaller and smaller cubes.'' He even credited the game of chess with saving his life. When the Nazis overran Belgium during World War II and several of his family members perished in the Holocaust, Mr. Koltanowski was on a chess tour of Central America. He was allowed to immigrate to the United States only because a chess- playing consul in Cuba had been amazed by one of Mr. Koltanowski's demonstrations. He came to New York City, where he met his wife, Leah, on a blind date in 1944. They moved to the Bay Area in 1947. The following year, he began writing his daily chess column in The Chronicle. It also appeared as a syndicated feature in other papers. ``George Koltanowski was a legendary member of the Chronicle family,'' said Managing Editor Jerry Roberts. ``He was a great chess player, an outstanding journalist, a true gentleman, and he could beat any other newspaper's chess columnist with his eyes closed.'' Every day, Mr. Koltanowski would offer readers a chess problem or puzzle and relate the moves of a recently played tournament game, along with his comments on the moves and perhaps an amusing anecdote. His chess maxims were as funny as they were profound. ``Pawns are like buttons,'' he was fond of saying. ``Lose too many and the pants fall down by themselves.'' He was assisted in every aspect of his career by Leah Koltanowski for more than 50 years, although she does not play chess and never wanted to learn. ``George is the grandmaster,'' she said. ``If he taught me the game, I'd be just another chess player.''

Did you know?!?

History of Chess
c500 CE Chaturanga, earliest chess precursor, created in the Punjab. The Queen (or counsellor) could only move one square diagonally and the Bishop could only move two squares diagonally. The rook was called "Chariot", the Bishop was called "Elephant" and the Knight was called "Horse".
c. 600 Chaturanga reaches Persia.
c. 612 Chess reaches Europe
c. 800 Chess reaches Italy
c.820 Chess reaches Russia
c. 1000 Chess widely known throughout Europe.
1013 Chess arrives in England
1400's Queen and Bishop changed to move like they do now currently
1500's En passentadded to Pawn move, and Castling introduced. The first version of castling was two moves. Castling was changed to one move in 1561.
1886 First World Chess Championship Match. Steinitz is crowned the first World Chess Champion.

A good loss against the almighty Uwak! French defence, Annotated.

Play chess online


A 90 30 game, MusiqueWand VS. NFork, Modern Benoni

Yet another 90 30 game against the naturally talented NFork.
I was expecting NFork to play his usual Gruenfeld and prepared a nice line in the Russian variation: 1.c4 Nf6 2.d4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Qb3 as played in Botvinnik – Yudovich Moscow, 1933.
It’s slightly tricky, not all that effective analytically speaking but in practical play the average White wins goes up.
In retrospect it may not be the best choice because the game can transpose to the “Game of the century” as played in: Byrne vs Robert James Fischer, Rosenwald Memorial 1956 but surely White doesn’t have to play Bg5 as White did.

Either way, NFork decided to prepare something delicious too and we ended up playing a Modern Benoni game.

Two funny facts about this game…
One, to quote Benko in his book ‘Winning with Chess Psychology’, “When you’re trying to surprise your opponent you better know for sure that it really is a surprise!!”
In this case, it was not!

My opinions about the Benoni game have been previously mentioned and I’ve also spoke about it quite harshly.
I used to play it myself and have studied it quite a lot (although that was 10 years ago) but as the saying goes: “if god was playing god against the Benoni, White would win”. I believe it was Gallagher who said that.

I have played some interesting lines against the Benoni, including the Timanov variation, modern variation, Penrose variation and off beat avoiding lines as well.

I recently won an IM in 13 moves! It was a Correspondence game and despite her tricky play the main strategy of Nf3-d2-c4 and Bf4 more or less remained the same.
I don’t believe in openings that you can’t play in Correspondence games. 
I’m not against it and I’m certainly not going to refute something that has an amazing practical score but I still have a problem with it.

The game I won against Uwak with 1. d4 Nf6 2. g4 can be considered as a practical opening that wouldn’t stand a chance in Correspondence play.
As far as I’m concerned the same is true with the Benoni.

And two, somehow, don’t ask my how or why I didn’t pay much attention to the opening and played a move I didn’t want to play!
So it’s funny that in the end we were playing a MB line I had no knowledge of!
Luckily I managed to play decent moves and won the game.

I’m supposed to play a Benoni game VS. Phosphorus sometime in the future. The loser will buy a chess book to the winner – it certainly makes you more focused and hungry for the win if you actually have to pay the victor!

Right, to the game….

BTW, at the bottom of this post you will find an online interactive chess board on which you can play through the entire game without the need for a real broad!

[Event "ICC"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[Date "2011.03.03"]
[White "MusiqueWand"]
[Black "NFork"]
[Result "1-0"]
[TimeControl "5400+30"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5


3. d5 e6 4. Nc3 


4… exd5 5. cxd5 g6 6. Nf3 

(Strange! What I meant to play was 6. e4 d6 7. Bd3 Bg7 8. Nge2[image]  with a very comfortable game in a Penrose style variation)

6… d6 7. e4 Bg7 8. h3 O-O 9. Bd3 


{This is the modern set up. So far Black hasn’t been able to prove something substantial against it. The h3-pawn prevents …Bg4 and …Ng4. White’s strategy is simple, he’ll castle King side, play Bf4 to pressure Black’s backward d-pawn and then the usual Nf3-d2-c4 and attack the d-pawn. Black can attempt …a6 / …b5 but the simple a4 takes care of that. White has classical development and a rather healthy game, the only minor problem is his somewhat weaker backward e-pawn and Black usually plays …Re8 to pressure it. It would have been to Black’s advantage if he could play …Bg4xf3 because that would deprive White from that important piece and allow Black to take advantage of the e5 square but alas, he can’t! what’s even more interesting is that regardless of strategy most lines are tactically unjustified! If you put these positions through a Rybka analysis you’ll discover that Black’s tactics don’t work!} 

9… b5 

{This is the normal reply. Since …a6 / …b5 requires too much time and can be held off by a4 Black wastes no time and plays …b5 but is it good? Is it a gambit? A pawn sac? A temporary tactic to win White’s centre pawn for a b-pawn? Is it Superman? Well, believe it or not White’s seemingly weaker pawn structure is actually stronger. it’s not easy for Black to take advantage of it while at the same time it’s quite easy for White to play a Knight to c4 and attack Black’s d6-pawn. In adittion, trying to chase the Knight away or gain tempo on it allows White to obtain further space control and a dangerous pawn structure. Whatever black has, seems a mere illusion.} 

10. Nxb5 Nxe4?! 11. Bxe4! 


{Appearances can be deceiving. At best play Black may obtain a dubious, drawing position but even then his endgame is deficient and hard to play. Still, let’s consider some of Black’s ideas: first of all, he needs to regain his lost piece! Therefore the thematic reply will be 11… Re8 and indeed Black played that in the game! Rybka gives 11… Qa5+ as well. The first thing that pops to mind is …Re8 followed by …f5 but surprisingly this is incorrect! Black has to hold on to his initiative and keep the White King in the centre. a critical Benoni player would realize that whatever force is working for him it is the power of his attacking lines. for instance, the combination of …Re8 / … Ba6 / …Qa5! Is the only way for black to play for an advantage. After that he may reposition his b8-Knight to e5 and break through via …f5. this will be a nice way for Black to utilize his set up. The problem is that even then Black must play purely positional moves and accept his material loss! After …Qa5 White will have Nxd6 which attacks the Rook on e8 as well. Life isn’t easy for the Benoni player.}

11… Re8 12. Nd2!! Ba6! 13. a4! f5? 


{As mentioned, 13… Qa5 would be better. [image]  After 14. Nxd6 the best Black can do is to continue with the same approach and play 14… Nd7!? And here White has many ways to play for a definite closure. 15. Nxe8 Rxe8 16. f3 is a simple one, or 15. Qf3 to support the Bishop, or 15. g4!? Or 15. f3. Black just doesn’t have enough to take advantage of White’s King. Another issue in such positions is Black’s DSB which as the game progresses seems to lose its power and attack air.}

14. O-O! 

{Now that White gets to castle his game is a lot easier and significantly more dangerous! Rybla already gives White a winning score.}

14… fxe4 15. Nc4! 


15… Bxb5? 

{There are better moves like 15… Qe7 or 15… Be5 trying to support the d-pawn.[image]  the problem here is seen after White’s next move.}

16. axb5 


{If White gets the opportunity to play Nc4-a5-c6 Black can simply resign because he will never be able to capture it and allow a protected passed pawn on the sixth rank! On the other hand having a Knight on the sixth is stronger than any Rook so either way Black is lost! What else? White has the semi-open a-file, that in itself is an edge but it also allows Whites to play Ra6 which protects the c6-square and attacks Black’s backward… you guest it… d-pawn! Black has development problems, he can’t develop his b8 Knight (or his a8 Rook for that matter) without losing his d-pawn to Nxd6 or Rxd6 and once that pawn falls it’ll be that much easier for White to play Re1 and Nxe4. White is also threatening the powerful Bf4 or if he can Bg5 which as it turns out strikes a massive discombobulation on black’s camp. It’s interesting to point that Black doesn’t have the time to play …Bxb2 and even if he can it’s not really important! White still has beautiful posts and strong pawns to play with.}

16… Nd7
17. Nxd6


17... Re7 18. Bg5! 


18… Nf6?! 

{Black is hoping to for …Re7 and something takes d5 but that’s not going to happen when White can just defend that knight and keep it in place. If 18… Bf6 then 19. Be3! To attack the c-pawn and after 19… Bxb2 20. Ra6! [image]  It’s clear that black is in trouble with simple Qb3 or Nc4 threats.}

19. Ra6 Re5 20. Bf4 1-0



20. Bf4 was a nice move but according to Rybka 20. Qc1 is even better


That would prevent …h6 and open the possibility of Qc4 rather than Qb3 which is slightly better. From c4 the Queen will still attack along the a2- g8 diagonal while protecting the d- and b-pawns. 

I do have one minor issue with it. White can’t play the knight back to c4 but perhaps there is no need.


For instance, after: 20… Re7 21. Qb3 Rd7 22. Re1


The e4-pawn is threatened, there’s pressure along the a2-g8 diagonal. White can still redeploy with Bg5 and a timely Rd1 to both protect and push the pawn.
White is aggressively placed.

* to play through the game with an online digital board, see the game below.

As usual, you can find this game on my ICC library, game number 56.

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