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I could entitle this month's update 'The Benko is back!'. Suddenly a number of 2600+ players are employing this particularly daring defence and obtaining good results! More below...

Download PGN of November '09 Daring Defences games

First of all I need to reply to a couple of e-mails. Klaus Eckler, whilst using Fritz 11, has found some improvements on my analyses from last month.

In this position in the game Bareev - Zinchenko:

I praised the move 35 Rd5 in last month's survey, however Black has a nice resource which renders this move less than appropriate!

If you examine these additional notes it seems that 35 Rd5 should only lead to a draw, whereas 35 Rb1 Qa5 36 d6 would have maintained some advantage.

Another valid point made by Herr Eckler was in the game Moiseenko - Petrosian.

Here I gave an amusing (but not particularly rigorous!) variation leading to a draw. Again Herr Eckler has found a better line for White where he obtains chances for an enduring advantage.

As to my use of analysis engines, I use Fritz 8 which in fact finds the same moves as Klaus Eckler (with trusty Fritz 11). However as a general rule I try not to slavishly follow the moves suggested, preferring to rely as much as possible on my own experience and inspiration. In my annotations I am trying to give a GM's insight into a position, and I recommend that readers think through my comments and variations and not expect their analysis engine (however powerful) to be always right. In particular in endgames, they often miss the point!

However it's quite clear that I should have checked through my lines with my analysis engine. I usually do, but clearly not always! Christmas is coming, I could get hold of a more recent version, or start using Rybka or Hiarcs again, but these oversights were not Fritz 8's, they were mine.

I'm sure Klaus Eckler and others will be checking up on me in future, so I'll have to me more precise in my analysis, whatever engine I use!

Antoshin Dutch

A new subscriber was interested in the Dutch Antoshin. I have included some notes that I made some years back which demonstrate a way for White to keep some advantage. Although I don't believe that we can talk of a refutation, the ideas herein perhaps explain why strong players don't seem to play like this anymore with Black, see Game 3. Is the diagram position (as I seem to suggest) favourable for White?

I'm willing to go into more detail soon if anyone can find an improvement for Black. Any ideas?

The English Defence

Chernyshov plays very aggressively in Game 4 and earns the full point even if the whole experiment isn't fully convincing when viewed under the microscope.

As for the opening, I don't think that White's set-up is particularly challenging and Black has more than one way to achieve a decent position.

Budapest Gambit

Mixed fortunes for Black in the two Budapest games this time.

In Game 5 Sulskis ventures 4...g5 against 4 Bf4. A move that may or may not be best, but creates unusual positions against which White often doesn't react well:

It seems that Smith wasn't particularly well prepared as Black obtained a comfortable, if not superior, game very quickly.

In Game 6 Grigore sticks to playing his pet line with 10 a3, whereupon, after some normal moves, his opponent Skembris is able to introduce a prepared novelty on move 14. It's not clear how many of the following moves were found over the board, but Grigore's pawn sacrifice when followed up with the nice attacking move 21 Ra5! created problems for Black which led to him crashing through on the kingside:

Perhaps Black should aim to improve earlier by following Moskalenko (see note to move 12), but in any case 10 a3 shouldn't be underestimated.

Benko Gambit

Several games this time plus some references to other very recent GM games in the notes. Clearly the tide has turned and people are again looking at the Benko again. I presume that this means that the movers and shakers aren't afraid of 10 Rb1 in the fianchetto variation anymore.

Zvjaginsev shows what you can do with the Benko if you get things moving in Game 7! Against the 5 b6 system his rook manoeuvre 7...Rb8 and then ...Rxb6-b4-d4 seems to confuse his opponent and, once the kingside opened up, White went down in flames. This looks like an idea worth a good look and is perhaps more dynamic than capturing on b6 with the queen or knight.

Now Black won quickly after 22...Rxf3!

Game 8 shows another victim getting mixed up after 5 Nc3, the so-called Zaitsev variation. However of all people, you don't expect Benko specialist Pavel Tregubov to get mugged in such a primitive way. My advice is to look at these notes and those of Feller-Edouard from the archives and you'll certainly do better if you note one of the evident improvements on moves 8 or 11.

In Game 9 Feller-Vuckovic, I examine a number of recent game segments in the popular 4 Nd2 variation. My conclusion is that White has nothing, and that he should really switch variations if he wants any advantage. The idea of 4 Nd2 is (apart from the need to avoid lots of theory!) to get a nice solid comfortable game, but Vuckovic show that Black can liven things up and he even wins in 22 moves.

Beliavsky in Game 10 sticks to the 5 e3 variation with which he has some experience. However Caruana is able to snuff out any White advantage, and due to his well-defended centre is even able to seize the initiative, even if it proves insufficient to win. So 5 e3 is another line where Black is fine.

In the Benko Accepted, the Fianchetto variation is still topical. Meier uses a less well known plan with Re1 and Qc2 (making a change from the ubiquitous 10 Rb1) and wins a comfortable game against Lanka (Game 11). It seems that Lanka's choice of 12...Ng4 is questionable, and the follow-up with 14...Nbc4 turns sour very quickly. Benko fans should decide on how they intend to meet Meier's plan but 12...Ra7 and 12...Qc7 both seem like better tries.

Now a tactical exercise from Sargissian-Caruana. How to beat a strong tactician?

How did Sargissian win by force in just three moves? White to play and win (see Game 12 for the answer).

Apart from this nice finish by White, the game is notable for 17...Qb6 which seems like a playable novelty, and the fact that Black's position was in my opinion about equal until he got too excited and blundered with 20...Bh6.


Till next month, Glenn Flear

If you have any questions, either leave a message on the Daring Defences Forum, or subscribers can email me at