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The Benko and Dutch are in the spotlight this month.

Download PGN of November '14 Daring Defences games

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The Benko Gambit 5 b6 [A57]

In Game One Illya Nyzhnyk plays with 5.b5-b6 and then follows up with the centre-grabbing f2-f4:

My investigations suggest that if White were then to develop his light-squared bishop to e2, Black should react with ...e6 hitting back at the white pawns asap. Instead, in the game, placing the bishop on c4 allowed Zherebukh to gain a tempo with ...Qb4 and Black seized the initiative.

The main feature of this game is Black's enduring pressure for the exchange.

Benko Accepted 6...Bg7, 8...Qa5 [A58]

In Games 2 and 3 the following position occurred after 8...Qa5:

This system seems to be breathing new life into the Benko Accepted. The approach is based on creating rapid threats that challenge White right from the start. Delaying ...d6 has the advantage of economizing a tempo for ...Qa5 (with threats) or the quick ...e6 (with quick central pressure).

In Game Two, Korobov-Horvath, White unpinned with 9.Bd2. Although the game panned out in White's favour, this was only because Black captured prematurely on e2, after 9...Bxa6 10.Bxa6 Qxa6 11.Qe2 e6 12.dxe6 the natural 12...fxe6! should be played, when I would be happy with Black.

In Game Three White instead tried 9.Nd2, but manoeuvring the knight to b3 didn't really pay off and White found himself under pressure. Even worse was 9.Bd3 which Gelfand tried in a rapid game against Carlsen, but after 9...Nxd5! Black was then already on top.

Objectively after 9.Nd2 Bxa6 White's best is 10.Be2 but I consider Black to be fine after 10...d6 11.0-0 Nfd7! as you can see in the notes.

Dutch Defence 2 Nc3, 3 Bg5 and 4 f3 [A80]

A popular Anti-Dutch System is featured in Game Four where White plays 2.Nc3, 3.Bg5 and 4.f3 with clear intentions of playing e2-e4. This advance can come sooner or later and isn't always played in Gambit style.

In the actual game Schenk was quite happy to sacrifice the pawn to shake up his higher-rated opponent. He obtained enough compensation but no more. A complicated struggle eventually ended in a draw, but along the way both sides missed chances to win.

Leningrad Defence 6 c3 [A81]

In Game Five Andreikin opted for 6.c3, a solid way of avoiding the main theory in the Leningrad. Nakamura had already faced this system recently (in a Blitz game) so was ready and came up with something new, 8...Qe8:

The American star unpinned before expanding on the kingside with ...h6 and ...g5.

In a complex early middlegame, both players offered pawn sacrifices that were refused. The struggle for the initiative was won by Black as Nakamura outplayed his opponent to build up nicely on the kingside.

Staunton Gambit 4...g6!? [A83]

For many years the standard book riposte to the Staunton Gambit has been 4...Nc6. However, in Game 6 4...g6!? was successfully employed by Chanda Sandipan:

This might induce some people to go for an all-out attack with 5.f3, and especially 5.h4, but these are not without risk.

In the game 5.Bc4 didn't seem to be a problem for Black who was able to obtain a good game very quickly. Sandipan may have misplayed the endgame to allow White a missed drawing opportunity, however he certainly handled the early stages in masterful fashion, see the notes.

Dutch 2 c4 Nf6 3 Nc3 e6 [A85]

In Game 7 Michal Krasenkow's 4.Qc2 is one of those annoying 'flexible' moves that can be difficult to pin down:

Black has a wide choice of development plans at his disposal, but in the game Pakleza was unable to solve his opening problems.

My feeling is that ...Bb4 is the right approach. The Nimzo-Indian with an extra ...f5 has proven to be a trustworthy set-up, as one can see in the examples cited in the notes.

In Game 8 the strange fourth moves 4.a3 and then 4...g6 took the players out of the book already:

Even so, by comparing with analogous systems my feeling is that ...e6 is a more useful move, in most lines, than a2-a3. So Black should have reason to be optimistic for the middlegame. I've noticed in the past that Vallejo likes to play with his g-pawns, but here he played ...g5 too early for my taste.

The decisive moment of the game was when sharp-eyed Topalov took the opportunity to play a strong positional queen sacrifice which enabled him to dominate the board.

Leningrad with 7...Nc6 8 d5 Ne5 9 Qb3 [A89]

Richard Rapport has been regularly playing the Leningrad with 7...Nc6 recently. Experienced veteran Miguel Illescas decided not to go into the mainstream theory with 9.Nxe5 and instead opted for 9.Qb3 in Game 9:

White maintains his space advantage and posed the question as what is Black actually doing with a knight on e5. Rapport dropped this centralized steed back to d7, heading for the more stable c5, but in the past had actually transferred the other knight there.

All this manoeuvring costs time. I suspect that White is a tempo up on analogous Leningrads (it's as if White has gained Q-c2 for free), so there is some sting in this approach.

In the game the Spanish GM kept control after Rapport erred on move 19. It's surprising that the rising Hungarian star didn't chop off White's light-squared bishop with a good game, see the notes.

Fluid Centre/Ilyin-Zhenevsky System 9 bxc3 [A96]

In Game 10 the following position arose in the Ilyin-Zhenevsky System:

I like Black's 11...c5! here, which restricted White's knight. In both the main game and Grandelius-Semcesen (see the notes) Black obtained a reasonable position.

Unfortunately, early prowess was undone when Rahmen got his pieces tangled. Here again move 19 proved to be the turning point, where instead the superior 19...Bg8! was at least equal.

Till next month, Glenn Flear

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