Double Blind

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:

23.. Nd3

Occupying the outpost and attacking b2 again.

24. Nc6

Likewise occupying my outpost.

24.. Rxc6

Sacrificing the exchange.

25. dxc6

Taking back: obviously.

25.. Qxb2

The wrong way to capture the pawn, but White would still have been better after 25.. Nxb2 26. Rda1.

26. Qxb2

Trading queens: not much choice.

26.. Nxb2

Taking back: no choice.

27. Nd5??

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!

27.. Kf8??

Defending the pawn on e7.

28. c7??

Pushing the pawn and threatening Nb6.

28.. Rc8??

Preventing Nb6.

29. a5??

He’s blocked my c-pawn so now I tried the a-pawn.

29.. e6??

Threatening my knight and winning the c-pawn.

30. Nb6??

Moving my knight to safety and attacking his rook.

30.. Rxc7
31. a6??

Trying to promote my a-pawn.

31.. Ra7??

Blocking my a-pawn.

32. Nc8??

Driving the rook away.

32.. Ra8
33. Nxd6??

Capturing a pawn.

33.. Ke7??

Threatening Be5+ – I saw that one.

34. f4

Preventing Black’s threat.

34.. g5?

Trying to undermine the f-pawn.

35. g3??

I wasn’t falling for that one, either.

35.. c3??

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.

36. Rc1?

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!

Richard James

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Richard James

Author: Richard James

Richard James is a professional chess teacher and writer living in Twickenham, and working mostly with younger children and beginners. He was the co-founder of Richmond Junior Chess Club in 1975 and its director until 2005. He is the webmaster of chessKIDS academy ( or and, most recently, the author of Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids, both published by Right Way Books. Richard has been a member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club since 1966. Richard is a published author and his books can be found at Amazon. Richard is currently promoting minichess (games and puzzles using subsets of chess) for younger children through his website, and writing coaching materials for children (and adults) who want to start playing serious competitive chess, through View all posts by Richard James

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