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Akiba Rubinstein vs Rudolf Spielmann
Vienna (1922), Vienna AUT, rd 12, Nov-28
Benko Gambit: Declined. Main Line (A57)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-02-05  Karpova: no kibitzing on this classic yet?

10.bc4:! excellent move (if the knight moves away, black plays d4)

25.re3!! (after 29...re3: fe white's q-rook gets to the f-file).

33.h5! black cannot prevent h6

47.rb8! white threatens rh8 and rh6

rubinstein played a perfect game of chess here!

Apr-02-05  paladin at large: <Karpova>Interesting play by Spielmann with 7. Nxe4, whereby he anticipated having a powerful pawn mass in the center and free action by his remaining pieces. He must have overlooked Rubinstein's ability both to defuse the threat and turn the tables with 10.Bxc4. Very farsighted play by Rubinstein and precise play in a tricky endgame. Why can't I play rook-and-pawn endings like this?
Apr-02-05  Karpova: <paladin at large>
yes, 7....ne4: is interesting. spielmann played the same variation against vukovic in the same tournament and won. the main drawback is that this risky kind of play was useless against capablanca or rubinstein (except for rubinstein blundering away every advantage in the end). rubinstein was a great attacker and we see that comes out of the opening being a pawn down but having the better position. he knows how to turn this into an advantage.
Oct-30-09  jonico: It is my idea or 14.Qxc4 Bd5 15 Qxd5#?
Oct-30-09  Shams: <jonico> 14.Qxc4?? d5
Oct-30-09  Starf1re: Sharp opening! A good lesson in grinding out a win with a small opening advantage.
Jun-24-13  RubinSteinitz: I`m curious how this variation got named the Benko Gambit if it was played before Pal Benko`s time. Or is there another Benko?
Jun-24-13  RubinSteinitz: I did some research to answer my own question and the Benko Gambit, named after Pal in the 60`s was actually called the Volga Gambit for years.
Jun-24-13  Shams: <RubinSteinitz> As the story goes it was called the Volga Gambit in the Soviet Union because they weren't about to honor the Hungarian émigré/defector Pal Benko with naming rights. A minor master who lived in the Volga region did some theoretical work on it (possibly prior to Benko, I don't recall) so they settled on that as the name. Many Russian players still call it the Volga I believe.
Jul-03-13  RubinSteinitz: Thanks Shams for the additional info on this very sharp opening. I have chosen to take the Kingside fianchetto approach as white after accepting the gambit with attempts to neutralize black`s Queenside by having pawns on a4, b3 and Rb1, Nc3 in supporting roles. Black`s mobility is tough to slow down.
Jul-03-13  Karpova: <RubinSteinitz: I did some research to answer my own question and the Benko Gambit, named after Pal in the 60`s was actually called the Volga Gambit for years.>

The difference between Volga Gambit and Benko is the interpretation.

Paul van der Sterren on pages 153-154 of 'FCO': <'Volga Gambit' is the older name. It dates from a time when 3...b5 was played with the intention of following up with ...e6, trying to break down White's pawn-centre. [...] By around 1970, Pal Benko demonstrated a totally different way of looking at the position after 4.cxb5. [...] It is a pure sacrifice. Black is not giving up a pawn in the hope or even the certainty that he will regain his lost material; his sole intent is to take advantage of the positional pluses that compensate for the missing pawn. Remarkably, these pluses are of almost entirely positional nature.>

Jul-03-13  Shams: <RubinSteinitz><I have chosen to take the Kingside fianchetto approach as white...>

You should play the 10.Rb1 line as it's quite a problem for Black and the other lines are nothing special.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: As I recall, Kavalek responded to the Volga Gambit story by remarking that the Soviets claimed that television was invented by a Soviet, one Televidenko, who carried pictures from place to place.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Shams> Incidentally, I was surprised to see that Mega Database 2013 shows White scoring much better with 4.Nf3 against the Benko than with 4.cxb5. 4.cxb5 scores a very lackluster 52.1% in 25,118 games, while 4.Nf3 scores 60.1% in 3,623 games. That also appears to be much better than any major subvariation arising after 4.cxb5 a6, for example 5.e3 (54.0%), 5.f3 (54.1%), and 5.bxa6 g6 6.g3 (53.6%).
Jul-03-13  Nerwal: <Incidentally, I was surprised to see that Mega Database 2013 shows White scoring much better with 4.Nf3 against the Benko than with 4.cxb5>

4. ♘f3 is very flexible, not so common, and it's not so easy for black to decide what to do next. This meets the weaknesses of Benkö players admirably; they like main lines, they don't like to have doubts about which strategy to implement, and they usually fancy thematic moves and straightforward play.

Things like 4... b4 and 4... bxc4 are fairly bad especially when improvised, so that leaves 4... e6, the Blumenfeld gambit with not so great results, the normal 4... g6 and 4... ♗b7!? which is actually very decent and might be the best answer. So black usually goes with 4... g6, but then white can try to reach a line of the accepted gambit where g6 isn't the best answer, for instance 5. cxb5 a6 6. b6, reaching the 5. b6 line but with 5... e6, the best reaction, ruled out. There are also promising sidelines like Yermolinsky's 5. cxb5 a6 6. ♕c2!? or even 5. ♕c2, which are fairly effective in practice and quite awkward to meet for black, as again the thematic queenside pressure is limited and routine moves and strategy will not do.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Nerwal> Good points. 4.Nf3 essentially announces, "I'm going to develop my pieces. What exactly does your little demonstration on the queenside achieve?" 4...bxc4 just sucks; 4...b4 spends two tempi to lock down the queenside - where, just last move, Black thought he was going to play; and other moves may end up allowing White to take the pawn for little compensation. Maybe the maxim, "The only way to refute a gambit is to accept it.", needs to be rethought.

Yermo discusses the 5.cxb5 a6 6.Qc2 line in his book. I'm thinking of taking it up.

The main lines aren't too appealing to me. White has to play very precisely to try to exploit the extra pawn. Screw up a little and you're suddenly busted. Fedorowicz, who wrote a book on the Benko, says he hates playing against it. When he gave a simul here last year, he played 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 on every board so he didn't have to face it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Hmm, Donaldson/Minev (Rubinstein: Later Years) give <46...Ree7> -- instead of 47...Rde7 -- as the last Black move.

The book move seems credible. Changed rook positions would lend White last move <47.Rb8!...> additional punch, the threat ... 48.Rh8 Kg7 49.f6 Kxh8 50.Rb8+ ..., where an immediate check-mate follows.

Can someone verify the move from other sources? Thx.

Jul-20-13  Karpova: <Gypsy> Mihail Marin on page 48 of 'Learn from the Legends - Chess Champions at their Best' also gives 46...Ree7. But h also used 'Uncrowned King' as source. Kmoch in 'Rubinstein's Chess Masterpieces' page 116 gives 46...R(K8)-K2.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Thx <Karpova>!

In the mean time, I found another Rubi book, this time in Polish; and it also goes with <46...Ree7>.

Dec-27-17  Albion 1959: Possibly one of Rubinstein's lesser known "Great victories"? It did not even make Irving Chernev's The Golden Dozen! But I suppose we all have our own individual tastes and preferences. Psychologically, this must have been a blow to Spielmann. He played this very sharp gambit line as black in order to create complications and put Rubinstein on the defensive. Yet by move 11 it was Spielmann who was on the back foot for the rest of the game! This was a superb effort by Rubinstein, full of subtle touches were he quietly, slowly but surely makes inexorable progress and wears Spielmann down. Move 34 h6! Was an nice touch to create the passed f-pawn. Not easy to say where Spielmann went wrong! I actually prefer looking at these old master games, as opposed to today's 21st century computer generated analysis, along with the heavily over analysed opening theory. Not that these don't have their place in modern chess. But sometimes I can understand why Fischer turned against chess, all the fun and originality was gradually being squeezed and sucked out of the game. Yet we see in any game or sport, the next generation coming along and take it to the next level. I wonder how far the bar can be raised by the 22nd century and where the game will be by then?
Jun-21-19  jinkinson: Black appears to be in zugzwang in the final position. A pretty finish.
Jul-10-21  tbontb: Rubinstein resolves a complex tactical opening into a favourable ending then advances in close formation, probing with both RPs and methodically restricting enemy counterplay. At the end, rather than playing for zugzwang, a more forcing engine line is 47.Rf6+ Kg8 (....Kg7 Re6) 48.Rb8+ Kg7 49.Rfb6 Rd5 50.R8b7 h6+ 51.Kh5 axb6 52.Rxe7+

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