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Benko Gambit Accepted 7 g3 [A58]
Simen Agdestein conjures up a novelty in the Fianchetto Variation of the Benko Gambit. An important one in Sergey Kasparov's fashionable line involving the manoeuvre 9...Nfd7 and then ...Nb6 (see recent updates for more examples). Here is the position from Game one after 11.Qc1!:
White's 11.Qc1 constitutes a fine psychological blow. Black would like to ignore the threat of B-h6, however this looks risky, as White then has kingside attacking chances. In fact, although it looks slightly odd, I actually like Djurhuus's 11...h6. The way he followed up also seems acceptable. However for most of the game White kept a pull. I feel that the source of Black's difficulties was some imprecise play after regaining the pawn. My conclusion is that I'm not convinced that Benko players should be that worried by 11.Qc1 (if well prepared!), but it certainly has the merit of forcing Black away from routine moves.
Benko Accepted with Kxf1 [A59]
If I was a Benko practitioner, a line that would concern me would be that featured in Game Two, where White 'attempts to save a tempo on the Main line'.
In the diagram position, both of 13.Nd2, as played in the game, and the new 13.Ng5, see the notes, are promising. Benko specialist GM Misa Pap has had this line before, and frankly his play this time was far from convincing. Despite the result, Black didn't get near to equalizing! Miljkovic (playing White) was probably disappointed not to win.
Could the 'logical' move 12...Ng4 be dubious? A radical thought. If so, Black should try one of his alternatives (such as 12...Qa5) and keep this leap in reserve.
Leningrad Dutch 7...c6 [A88]
A high-level encounter between Evgeny Tomashevsky and Wang Hao in Game Three had several notable phases. The Russian's play in the latter stages of the opening could be described as 'solid', and he obtained a slightly more comfortable game. Then, in order to make headway, he had to allow his c-pawn to be taken. Wang Hao had little option but to take up the challenge. For his pawn, Tomashevsky had good play but Wang Hao defended well. A draw was the logical result, but the error of trading a pair of rooks by Tomashevsky gave the Chinese star a chance to play for more.
The line with 8.Rb1 is less well mapped out than others, which explains a certain interest since Kramnik gave it a go a couple of years back.
Leningrad Dutch 7...Nc6 8 d5 Na5 [A89]
In Game 4 (Chadaev-Hoang Thanh Trang), the aggressive attempt with ...f4 rebounded on the naturalized Hungarian:
This pawn sacrifice is a thematic idea that we have already seen in analogous Leningrad lines. The problem for Black was not the loss of the f-pawn, but the weakening of the e4-square, which in turn enabled White to put the backward pawn on d6 under pressure. A further inaccuracy left Black with nothing to show for dropping d6.
Stonewall Dutch Qc2, Rb1 [A90]
Game 5 is really an example of what to avoid with Black! Rombaldoni plays the b-pawn push, a gambit which Pucher decides to accept. Although Black can possibly get away with this, he then needs to be very accurate. The fact that White won in twenty moves, should in itself warn you that defending this type of position with the black pieces is fraught with danger! I suggest that you investigate the alternatives on move 10, particularly 10...Nd7 and 10...b5. See recent updates where the dynamic plan with ...b5 has been examined in this and analogous positions.
Albin Counter-Gambit 5...Bg4 [D08]
There have been a few encounters at a high level, although the gambit has lost its topicality. Morozevich has played a couple of recent encounters that may renew interest, especially as the main line with 5...Nge7 is still going strong theoretically. In Ding Liren-Lin Chen, another plan with ...Bg4 and ...Qe7 is tried:
Black had a rough time in the all-Chinese encounter, but managed to save himself in the end. As an improvement in Game 6 I suggest that Black doesn't give up the bishop pair so lightly. Those who like to analyze deeply may like to examine if White can really get away with grabbing a piece on move 11. If so, then Black's whole plan may be dubious.
Blumenfeld Gambit Declined 5 Bg5 [E10]
In Game 7 Black meets 5.Bg5 with 5...b4 (gaining space, but releasing the tension). Neeloptal seeks a sharp solution but Kryvoruchko, playing Black, soon takes control in the complications.
The examples given suggest that 7...Be7, as played here in the game, is better than 7...Nbd7. However this should only be considered as a provisional conclusion as the resulting possibilities should be checked, as play can become sharp quite quickly.
The most popular response to 5.Bg5 is 5...exd5 6.cxd5 h6, when White will usually capture on f6
In Game Eight, although the computer gives the position as equal for most of the game, I think that White had the easier position to play. Indeed, Zoler was able to squeeze out a win. As a general rule, although ...bxa4 and ...Na6-b4 seem reasonable enough, it may be that the alternative approach involving ...b4 is more trustworthy. In both cases White obtains access to c4, but keeping the queenside intact has its points. In several examples in the notes, Black lives in peace despite White's domination of c4.
Till next month, Glenn Flear
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