Jan De Jong (1969)††††† Mike
Splane (2200)†††† January 22, 2009††††
A rare success for me in the Benoni - I usually get good positions in this defense and then hang something. This time I managed to hold on.
Iím not sure where Jan goes wrong in this game, but I think I was slightly better by move 16 - I have a solid position with active squares for all of my minor pieces. His mistakes on move 17 and 20 turn a slight disadvantage into a lost game.
1. d4 Nf6†† ††2. Nf3 c5†††††† 3. d5 d6††††††
Iíve been doing a lot of thinking about move orders in this opening. White has several good lines that Black can avoid with precise play.
If White plays 4. Nc3 without c2-c4, Iíll fianchetto and reach a version of the Pirc where I have some prepared analysis.
†4. c4 e6†††††††
Black can delay this move until he has completed his development if heís willing to enter this exchange sacrifice line: 4. Ö g6†† 5. g3 Bg7†† 6. Bg2 0-0†† 7. Nc3 e6† 8. de Be6†† 9. Ng5 Bc4†† 10. Bb7 Nbd7 11. Ba8 Qa8 Unfortunately Korchnoi refuted Blackís idea by playing 7. 0-0 instead of Nc3. This allows 11. Na3 which wins for White.† So by delaying Nc3 White forces Black to clarify the center immediately.
5. Nc3 ed †
I didnít realize it during the game, but now that White has committed his knight to c3 I do not have to immediately play this exchange. The disadvantage to waiting is White can play e4 and then recapture on d5 with the e pawn.
6. cd g6††††† 7. g3
White has a variety of opening systems to choose from and this is not the strongest. The ďknightís tourĒ variation with 7. Nd2 and 8. Nc4† is scoring extremely well and I do not have a good line prepared against it. The positions are similar to the game, but his bishop is on a better diagonal, preventing Blackís Öb7 Ė b5.
7. Ö Bg7††††† 8. Bg2 0-0††††† 9. 0-0 Na6†
One disadvantage of having the bishop on g2 is White loses control of the f1 a6 diagonal, and Black is able to enforce a timely Öb5 pawn push. Iím already playing for that idea.
10. Nd2 Nc7††††† 11. a4 b6††††† 12. Re1 Re8††††† 13. Nc4 Ba6†††††
White can try 14. Nd6 Qd6††† 15. Bf4 Qd8††† 16. d6 Ne6 17. Ba8 Qa8 but Blackís two pieces will be stronger than Whiteís rook and pawn.
14 Qb3 Rb8†††††† 15. Bf4† Bc4†††††
Iím already thinking about endings with a strong knight on d4 versus a garbage bishop on g2.
16. Qc4 a6††††† 17. e4?
Ironically, this weakens the d pawn instead of strengthening it. A kibitzer suggested 17. b4 here. In the post mortem I suggested 17. Ö b5† 18. Qb3 a5! 19. ba b4 20. Nb5 Nb5††† 21. ab Rb5† 22. a6 Nh5 and it looks like Black is a bit better.
17. Ö b5†††† ††18. ab ab†††††† 19. Qd3 b4††††† 20. Nb1?†
I was expecting† 20. Ne2 Ng4†††† 21. Ra1 Ne5 when the game is still fairly balanced. He is planning to shift the knight to c4 via d2, a good positional idea that fails to tactics.
20. Ö Nfd5††††† 21. Bc1 Nb6
This was actually a hard move to commit to. I only played it after I saw how to defend the d6 pawn Ė by not defending it!
I almost blundered into 21. Ö Nb5†† 22. Qd5 but fortunately saw the blunder in time. Iíve lost a couple of games to Jan on blunders like this.
22. Rd1 Ne6!
He canít take the d pawn. After 23. Qd6 Qd6†† 24. Rd6 Nd4 threatens 25. Ö Nb3, or Ne2+ or Be5.
25. Ra6 Nc4 is not a defense.
The best try is 25. Bf4 but this loses another pawn after† 25. Ö Ne2+†† 26. Kf1 Nf4††††† 27. gf Bb2
23. Nd2 Nd4
Now my minor pieces all dominate his, and I was sure of winning. His bishops are particularly bad so all exchanges of rooks, knights and queens favor me. The black square bishop is tied to defending the b2 pawn and the White square bishop has nothing useful to do. the winning plan is to simplify and then pile up on the b2 pawn.
24.Nc4 Qd7††††† 25. Ra6 Nc4††††† 26. Qc4 Qg4††††† 27. Re1 Rbd8
Playing it safe. Iím thinking about an eventual Ö Bd4 followed by Ö d5.† The e-pawn will be pinned to the queen due to the idea of ed? Bf2+
28. Be3 Nf3+††††† 29. Bf3 Qf3
This simplification either wins the e pawn or leaves him with three weaknesses if the queens come off: f2, e4 and b2. The rest is technique, as they say.
30. Bc1 Bd4††††† 31. Qe2 Qe2††††† 32. Re2 Ra8!
This nice move forces the win of the b pawn. If he trades rooks Iíll play Re8-a8-a1-b1, so he decides to take the d pawn.
I also could have played 32. Ö d5 but didnít want to allow any counterplay with 33. Bg5
33. Rd6 Ra1†††† 34 Re1
If 34 Rc2 b3 wins.
34. Ö Bb2†††††† 35. Rdd1†† Bd4†††††† 36. Kf1 b3††††† 37. Re2† b2††††† 0-1