>> Previous Update >>
Budapest Gambit 3...Ng4 4.Bf4 g5 5.Bd2 [A52]
In the encounter Heberla, B - Zwardon, V White met 4...g5 with the popular 5.Bd2, and then after 5...Nxe5 6.Nf3 when Black has various ways to set out his store:
Zwardon has experimented with many of these as you'll observe in the notes. In the actual game, he enterprisingly offered his h-pawn as bait a few moves later which was duly accepted. The resulting middlegame with White's queen misplaced and a rather lagging development should yield enough compensation for the pawn, but one small error allowed Heberla to consolidate and go on to win.
Although Black has had a few accidents along the way, it seems that the efforts of Zwardon and others is making 4...g5 into a more respectable weapon these days.
Benko Gambit Declined 4.Qc2 e6 5.e4 bxc4 [A57]
One of White's 'easy to handle' ways to decline the gambit, 4.Qc2 has been played over the years by many who want to avoid a theoretical discussion. Alas, as so often happens, it's starting to become a well-trodden path itself. The game Yuffa, D - Piesek, P illustrates one of the key set-ups (on both sides) that has emerged with the benefit of experience. The line with ...e6 and ...bxc4 being one of the best defensive ideas and, in return, Ng1-e2-g3 is perhaps the most testing:
In the middlegame, Black went astray which led to him coming under pressure, which in turn cost him a pawn, but not an easy one for his opponent to exploit and he was able to activate and draw.
Recent examples suggest that Black is not just fairly solid in this variation, but can play dynamically with a timely ...f5 or even ...h5 (see the notes for some examples).
Modern Benko Gambit Accepted 6...Bg7 7.e4 0-0 8.a7 [A58]
Bluebaum, M - Papp, Ga was a great fight, but one in which White was in the driving seat (true, in treacherous conditions!) for most of the time. The opening was another example of 8.a7 against the 'Modern Benko' move order (i.e. where Black intends to delay ...Bxa6 until his kingside is sorted) and one in which Bluebaum showed good technique in the late opening to pacify his opponent and create chances for a durable advantage.
For theoreticians, the critical moment is that 16...Nc7 is probably the right direction here (rather than 16...Nb4?!) for both the knight and for future investigations!
Benko Gambit Accepted with Kxf1 [A59]
Although Milos Perunovic recently wrote a book on the Modernized Benko Gambit (see above!), here, in the game Levin, Ev - Perunovic, Mil he stuck to the traditional method involving ...Bxa6 and ...Bxf1.
The most notable choice of his was to pre-empt the 'white outpost on b5' plan by opting for an early ...Na6 (from where the knight can cover b5 from c7 or even hop to it's own potential outpost on b4).
So this obliges White to think rather differently to those cases where the 'automatic' 11...Nbd7 has been played. In the actual game, White reacted solidly, but slightly leisurely which enabled Black to obtain a good game with the counter 15...e6!.
Dutch: Leningrad with delayed ...d6, 6...Nc6 7.Nc3 Ne4 [A87]
Now for something completely different! I've not examined the following position before on ChessPublishing:
Delaying ...d6 is known in the case where Black opts for ...c6 first, so that in certain circumstances ...d7-d5 might be an option. Here however after 7.Nc3 in the game Postny, E - Sagit, R the Swedish IM continued with 7...Ne4!?, an offbeat idea that he has played on several occasions. Despite the fact that Postny was probably well-prepared, I feel that Black could have equalized with 12...d5! (instead of the timid 12...d6). Later on, White didn't have much but was able to create enough problems for his less-experienced opponent to be able to make the difference.
Dutch Leningrad 7.Nc3 c6 8.Rb1 [A88]
There was nice finish in Garriga Cazorla, P - Gordievsky, D so don't forget to check it out!
In the opening, after the cautious 8.Rb1 the main line followed: 8...a5 9.d5 e5 10.dxe6 Bxe6 11.b3 Na6 and then White has the problem of what to do with the bishop on c1. Just about all of the reasonable squares have been tried in the past (and covered on ChessPub!), but 12.Ba3 (as played here) is a new one to me:
I don't think that any of White's options are particularly dangerous (Black's schema has proven to be rock-solid for decades), but maybe 12.Ba3 isn't a bad try, that is, if my suggested improvement on eighteen makes any sense.
Dutch Leningrad 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.d5 Na5 [A89]
The line with 8.d5 Na5 has been absent from ChessPublishing for several years, so it's time to make amends! Although the development of the queen to a4 is a well-established idea the switch to the other wing is relatively new:
It may look scary at first sight, but evidence suggests that Black is fine, largely due to his solid centre. The game Radovanovic, M - Gazik, V is a good illustration of Black's solidity noting that the 'Stonewall hole' on e5 doesn't seem to be an issue.
White could have kept the balance in the middlegame by exchanging off his distant knight on b6, because later Black had the better minor piece in the race situation.
Dutch Stonewall with Nh3 vs Be7 [A91]
Move order thoughts were very much in the minds of the players in Korobov, A - Kindermann, S throughout the early jostling. Ultimately, the Austrian GM's choice of a Stonewall with ...Be7 and ...Nc6 didn't turn out too well, because I think that the follow-up with ...dxc4 wasn't a very good idea:
Korobov slowly built up and exposed some soft spots in the black camp with a well-prepared e4 thrust. Overall, it was a good model of control and patience against a player who lacks counterplay and is saddled with the worst structure.
For those who like to keep their opponent guessing and play the 'tricky move order game', there are lessons here for either colour. From Black's point of view, if White has the option of playing with Nh3 it might be simpler to stick with the Iljin-Zhenevsky approach i.e. 6...d6 instead of 6...d5, as one can argue that White has already shown his hand to some extent with b3 and Nd2.
Albin without g3 [D08]
The Albin is one of those openings that some 'strong' players reserve for Blitz or Rapid. You have to have a certain confidence that Black is OK in the main lines to give it a go in slowplay situations. Buckels, V - Berelowitsch, A involved a 2500+ player that did just that. The following position arose in one of the most challenging lines:
In response, despite one source's preference for 16...Qd7, I think that Berelowitsch's choice of 16...Rc8 is better (bringing another piece into the game with tempo) which was demonstrated by the way that Black was then able to get himself castled and well-organized for the middlegame.
Later, snatching the pawn on a4 was a bit optimistic because it cost the exchange, but not the game.
Blumenfeld Gambit Declined [E10]
I must admit that when I was observing the game Pert,N - Li Wu, being played I thought that White was better throughout. It's only in the cold light of day (and with the help of my silicon friends!) that I realized that Black's opening was fine. In fact Li Wu's first sixteen moves look spot on (that is, if you think the Blumenfeld is the bee's knees), and it's only into the middlegame that some errors crept into his play (see moves 17, 18 and especially 24). My conclusion therefore is that 10...Nc7 looks like a reasonable alternative to 10...Qc8.
So has the 5.e4 counter-counter-gambit been shorn of its terror?
Till next month, Glenn Flear
>> Previous Update >>