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Leif Erlend Johannessen vs Magnus Carlsen
Midnight Sun Chess Challenge (2006), Tromso NOR, rd 4, Jun-27
Benko Gambit: Accepted. Fianchetto Variation (A58)  ·  0-1

ANALYSIS [x]

FEN COPIED

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-30-06  sharkbenjamin: Incredible envelopement. This is why I love the Benko Gambit. Your attack starts on the queen side then terminates on the king side.
Jun-30-06  BadTemper: I love that kind of manoevering attack on the king. My favorite kind of combination or whatever you want to call it.
Jun-30-06  BadTemper: Man I love this game. Looked at it again. Beautiful.
Jun-30-06  Runemaster: Yes, lovely. Thanks to Carlsen, it looks so easy, the shift of the pieces from the queenside to the kingside attack.
Jun-30-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: It seems to me that White doesn't do anything wrong, and yet he gets annihilated!
Jun-30-06  azaris: 5.bxa6 is already wrong.
Jun-30-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: <azaris: 5.bxa6 is already wrong.> Could you explain us your sibylline assessment? Karpov, Onischuk, Shirov, Gelfand and so on played it with success. What's wrong with it?
Jun-30-06  jamesmaskell: After move 4 for Black, White has a 0.89 advantage according to Shredder Classic 2. It recommends 5. bxa6 for White giving an advantage of 0.85 to White. The engine sees absolutely no problem with it.

The actual problems start around move 27 with Kh1. Run it through an engine. There were some large mistakes according to it. Carlsen played a very good game according to the engine. I was quite pleased by the way he did it.

Jul-01-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: A very convincing game for Magnus Carlsen. Johannessen played well and seems to have a small edge but Carlsen improved gradually his position getting the best of it.Not easy to find where White lost his way.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 g6 6. Nc3 Bxa6 7. g3 d6 8. Bg2 Bg7 9. Nf3 Nbd7 10. Rb1 O-O 11. O-O Qa5 12. Qc2 Rfb8 13. Rd1 Ng4 14. Bd2 Nge5 15. Nxe5 Nxe5 16. b3 Bc8 <This is new. 16...Qb4; 16...Qa3; 16...Ra7 have already been played.> 17. Na4 Qa6 18. Bc3 Bf5 19. Be4 Bd7 20. f4 Ng4 21. Bxg7 Kxg7 <Carlen does not take the offer. 21...Ne3 22.Qc3 Nd1 23.Rd1 f6 24.Bh6 Ba4 25.ba Qa4. Then Black wins the a pawn and they reach a position where White has 2 Bishops + Rook and pawn. This would be slightly better for White.> 22. Bf3 <Or 22.Qb2.> c4 <22...Ne3? 23.Qc3.> 23. e3 <shutting the a7-g1 diagonal, as Black threatened 23...Qa7. He could have played 23.Bg4 Bg4 too.> Qa7 24. Re1 cxb3 25. axb3 Nf6 <threatening 26...Bf5 winning the exchange.> 26. Ra1 <26.Nc3 Bf5 27.Be4 Ne4 (or simpler 27...Be4 28.Ne4 Nd5 with a small advantage to Black) 28.Ne4 Kg8, Black is better despite being a pawn down, as all the White pieces are tied sown to defence. Another possibility should be considered: 26.Qc3.> Rb4 27. Kh1 <To push the e pawn.> Rc8 <27...Ba4 was drawish. Carlsen wants more of course, as his position is already better.> 28. Qd1 (?!) <28.Nc3 looks natural. The Knight is misplaced on a4.> Qb7 29. e4 Rxb3 30. e5 Ng4!! 31. Bxg4 <31.Kg1 Qa7. 31.Qe2 Ba4.> Bxg4 32. Qxg4 Qxd5+ 33. Kg1 Rc2 34. Qh3 <34.Re2 Qd4 wins a Rook.> Qd4+ 35. Kh1 Re3! <threatening 36...Qe4.> 36. Qf1 <36.Re3 Qa1. 36.Red1 (the same if the Rooks goes to b1 or f1) Qe4 37.Kg1 Ree2 with a mating net. 36.Nc3 Qc3 with a mating net too.> Qd2 0-1

Jul-04-06  pebble767: 17. h3, which minimizes the threat of the light colored bishop, I believe is far better that Na4. In the end, the Knight in a4 even became a target.
Jul-20-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Carlsen's play in this game is amazingly strong. Both players follow established theory in the accepted line of the Benko gambit, and most of White's moves are strong and very well played.

Perhaps White could have tried 19. e4 Bg4 20. Rd2 to strengthen the center, secure the Kingside, and avoid the tactics that led to his defeat in this game.

Still Carlsen's 30. Ng4!! positional piece sacrifice offer is so surprisingly strong and subtle, one cannot blame White for having missed it. Analyzing with Fritz 8, it would appear that with Calrsen's near perfect play that White is busted whether he declines or accepts this offer. So, he accepted the sacrifice and lost to Carlsen's strong attack on his now weakened castled position.

The relatively quiet (without a check or capture) but strong followup moves 33...Rc2! and 35...Re3! were key elements in White's mating attack.

P.S. I think 30. Ng4!! would make for a tough weekend puzzle

Nov-25-07  notyetagm: This game was featured in the "Solitaire Chess" column by GM Danny King in a recent Chessbase Magazine.

Does anyone know exactly <which issue of Chessbase Magazine> this is? Thanks.

Nov-27-07  notyetagm: <notyetagm: This game was featured in the "Solitaire Chess" column by GM Danny King in a recent Chessbase Magazine.

Does anyone know exactly <which issue of Chessbase Magazine> this is? Thanks.>

Chessbase Magazine <115>.

Nothing like answering your own question. :-)

Nov-10-08  notyetagm: Chessbase Magazine <115>: http://uscfsales.com/item.asp?PID=2...
Nov-10-08  notyetagm: <patzer2: Carlsen's play in this game is amazingly strong. Both players follow established theory in the accepted line of the Benko gambit, and most of White's moves are strong and very well played. Perhaps White could have tried 19. e4 Bg4 20. Rd2 to strengthen the center, secure the Kingside, and avoid the tactics that led to his defeat in this game.

<<<Still Carlsen's 30. Ng4!! positional piece sacrifice offer is so surprisingly strong and subtle, one cannot blame White for having missed it. Analyzing with Fritz 8, it would appear that with Calrsen's near perfect play that White is busted whether he declines or accepts this offer.>>>>

Wow.

<So, he accepted the sacrifice and lost to Carlsen's strong attack on his now weakened castled position.

The relatively quiet (without a check or capture) but strong followup moves 33...Rc2! and 35...Re3! were key elements in White's mating attack.

P.S. I think 30. Ng4!! would make for a tough weekend puzzle>

Yet another brilliancy by Carlsen.

30 ... ?


click for larger view

I sure would like to see who found 30 ... ♘f6-g4!! when they played over this game in GM King's solitaire chess column.

30 ... ♘f6-g4!!


click for larger view

Jun-23-09  birthtimes: 27. Nc3 Qxa1 28. Rxa1 Rxa1+ 29. Kg2 appears to be a draw, thanks to White's passed b-pawn...
Jun-23-09  birthtimes: 14. Bg5 would have kept the initiative with White...
Aug-10-21  Gaito: What should be White's best strategy against the Benko Gambit? Obviously, trying to keep the extra pawn with a passive defense is not a good plan, for sooner or later Black is bound to recover the pawn and keep a lasting initiative as well. Tigran Petrosian showed that White's best plan is to play actively and that way White can keep the pawn AND the compensation. A key game was Petrosian vs. Balashov, Soviet Championship, 1977, a game where Petrosian played an early a4 and later a rook lift Ra3! You can see the game in the following link: Petrosian vs Alburt, 1977 I believe that Petrosian and Korchnoi were the best players to show the Benko Gambit is not a good choice if you know how to play against it. As far as I am concerned, I always loved when my opponents played the Benko Gambit: out of six games that I played as white against the Benko Gambit when I was a tournament player I managed to win all of them. But that was long ago. I have never played the Benko Gambit as Black and would never do that. But to each his own, as they say...
Aug-10-21  Gaito: In this game White wrongly assumed that he was free to create weaknesses on his kingside because Black's pieces seemed to be very busy on the opposite wing. Wrong! Magnus Carlsen showed that Black's attack can easily be transferred from the queenside to the kingside. 20.f4?, 23.e3?, and especially 27.Kh1? were weak moves that had no purpose other than inviting his opponent to eventually undertake an attack on the kingside.
Aug-10-21  Gaito:


click for larger view

WHITE TO MOVE

Instead of 27.Kh1? White could have tried 27.Nc3, for example: 27...Qxa1 (what else?) 28.Rxa1 Rxa1+ 29.Kg2 Ra3 30.Bd1. The position looks equal. (See diagram below):


click for larger view

Aug-10-21  Gaito: 28.Qd1? was another passive move. That's not the way to play as White against the Benko Gambit. White must play energetically! White's knight is badly posted doing nothing, so why not 28.Nc3, although to say the truth, it was already doubtful that White could find a saving clause. For example: 28.Nc3 Qb6 29.Rab1 Bf5 30.e4 Nxe4 31.Bxe4 Rxe4 32.Rxe4 Bxe4+ 33.Qxe4 Rxc3 34.Kg2 Rxb3 35.Rxb3 Qxb3 36.Qxe7 Qxd5+ 37.Kf2 (diagram)


click for larger view

Magnus Carlsen would very likely have won this ending as Black against anybody, even against an engine. But at least Black would have put up a fight.

Aug-10-21  Gaito: Suppose that you have the White pieces against an opponent who is fond of playing the Benko Gambit and who has studied books about that gambit. Of course you could accept the challenge and show that you are not afraid of it. However, from the psychological point of view there is still a better option: Do decline the gambit! If you decline the gambit, all the knowledge that your opponent has accumulated about the gambit comes to nothing, and you'll make him feel very uncomfortable. That is what Mikhail Tal did at the Biel Interzonal, 1976 when he faced the Cuban IM Joaquín Díaz, who was well-known for his expertise with the Benko Gambit. Tal simply didn't let him play what he had studied!

Remember the fox and the crow story for kids with moral!

Here is the game in this link:
Tal vs J Diaz Diaz, 1976

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