This is an extract from a game in a club blitz tournament the other day. I was white against one of my regular opponents. He’s rated well below me over the board, but has clearly been working very hard on chess during the lockdown: his opening play is particularly impressive and he’s also very sharp tactically.
I was White and chose to take on his Benko Gambit, an opening I played with success in the mid 70s.
We’ll pick the game up here with Black about to play his 23rd move. It’s a complex and fascinating position. The knights on d4 and c5 are both heading for outposts where they might possibly be met by exchange sacrifices.
The best move here is 23.. Rcb8, planning to capture the b2 pawn which is the lynchpin of White’s position, after which Black is doing well. Not so easy to find at speed, though, as it appears at first sight to be walking into a fork.
Instead he played the natural move:
Occupying the outpost and attacking b2 again.
Likewise occupying my outpost.
Sacrificing the exchange.
Taking back: obviously.
The wrong way to capture the pawn, but White would still have been better after 25.. Nxb2 26. Rda1.
Trading queens: not much choice.
Taking back: no choice.
Getting my knight into play: I was now looking at my two passed pawns which I was hoping to promote. If your visualisation skills are good you’ll see a problem with this move!
Defending the pawn on e7.
Pushing the pawn and threatening Nb6.
He’s blocked my c-pawn so now I tried the a-pawn.
Threatening my knight and winning the c-pawn.
Moving my knight to safety and attacking his rook.
Trying to promote my a-pawn.
Blocking my a-pawn.
Driving the rook away.
Capturing a pawn.
Threatening Be5+ – I saw that one.
Preventing Black’s threat.
Trying to undermine the f-pawn.
I wasn’t falling for that one, either.
Pushing his passed pawn. Now, for the first time for nine moves, I looked at my back rank, noticed to my horror that my rook was en prise, and hurriedly moved it.
The wrong square: Rb1 should win because the knight will eventually be trapped. Now it’s about level, but, with my opponent’s time running down, I eventually managed to win a game we both deserved to lose.
The moral of the story is this: always – even in blitz games – sit back and look at the whole board before making your move!