Raymond Keene v David R Jenkins
Played in a simultaneous display by GM Keene in support of St, George's Hospital.
In preparation for this simul I had been wondering how to take advantage of the common knowledge that GM Raymond Keene profoundly dislikes the Benko (Volga) Gambit and has nurtured a career-long inclination to decline it. The way I normally play, a declined Benko Gambit merely triggers the further offer of the Blumenfeld Gambit, but this time I was facing the co-author with Garry Kasparov of the Batsford Chess Openings,. I reasoned that if I took him "out of the book" (but not out of the Benko) early he might see me as a chess patzer, and concentrate his energies mercifully elsewhere (it is well known that players in simuls quickly focus on the more “serious’ games”). On the other hand when some time ago a famous GM tried a similar tactic against the emerging Judit Polgar ("I thought I'd take the little girl out of the book") he was not only humiliated in a "brevity" but had his efforts labeled the Male Chauvinist Pig's Defense.
4. Nf3 is the classic and most popular way of declining the Benko Gambit, although it is in breach of the chess truism, that the way to refute a gambit is to accept it. This game was played in a charity simul in support of a St. George's Hospital charity, and competitors were encouraged to attract sponsorship on the basis of the number of moves they could survive in the lists against the charity's GM champion.
In the Benko Gambit accepted, 4.cxb5 is immediately followed by the offer of the rook's pawn with 4....a6 from which huge complications follow.
Over many years my usual response to 4.Nf3, declining the gambit, as indicated above, has been to enter the Blumenfeld Gambit with 4...e6, ignoring the sacrificed pawn (which White clearly hopes Black will grab) and counter-attacking in the centre. My plan this time, if my fluid hopes could so be dignified, was to get out of the book early and calculate through positions that would be broadly familiar to me because they are associated with the Benko Gambit accepted rather than the gambit declined, which Keene prefers. As John Fedorowicz puts it in The Complete Benko Gambit, White in the BGD "retains the option of accepting the gambit pawn under more favourable conditions". I wanted to encourage Keene to accept the pawn, and lure him into "unfamiliar" territory. What a stupid thought, I soon realized.
Last book move.
Allowing such an easy e4 is not a good idea, particularly as in the event I did not even get around to castling.
With 7.cxb5, at last the gambit pawn drops and I look around for some standard Benko Gambit tactics, hoping to play in some order moves like a6, Qa5 or Bb7 as well as castling out of trouble.
I was more than a little shaken by 9.b6, which I had not been expecting although I have seen it in other lines, and which immediately put me on the wrong end of some fine tactics. Although 9....Nxb6 is playable, this is only because of the temporary pin and Black's position is now distinctly fragile.
Turning up the wick.
GM Keene by this move arrives nice and early at a clearly winning position, the annotation gratis Fritz, but also my thoughts at the time. He celebrates with a little show of stylized aggression, using his bishop like a miniature croquet hammer to knock the pawn off its square into his cupped hand. Fair enough. But at least I have arranged the previous exchange to give me a long shot at h2, a square "chunking theory" might suggest could lie outside the immediate "chunked" vision.
I think this sudden emergence of ostensible counter-play took him by surprise as he pondered for over a minute to decide between 22.Kf1 and 22.Kh1. As always in these circumstances vulture spectators appeared in order to investigate the reason for the delay, and some stayed around waiting for tasty entrails.
This move, played quickly, involves an error in calculation although it might vaguely qualify as "the kind of move we make in situations like this". The problem is that the rook which this clearance move allows into the defense is useless, since following 23....Qh4 the bishop can block its line at the same time as discovering check. Not a good decision, argues Fritz explaining the award of the double question mark, "as now the opponent is right back in the game". Fritz offers 23.g3 Bxg3 24.fxg3 Qxg3 25.Re3 Qh4+ 26.Kg2+- as a way of hanging on to much of the advantage.
Keene, however, perseveres with his original plan, apparently not realizing that the light at the end of the tunnel has become an approaching express train. Something of White's deteriorating position might still have been salvaged by Bxe5+ (24...Bg4 25.Bxe7 Qh5-+ ) 25.Kg1 Qh2+ 26.Kf1
The corpse lashes out.
Actually, to be honest, I never got to deliver mate as GM Raymond Keene bowed out with a smile and generous handshake just as I was reaching to pick up the bishop to play it. Keene (this was his only loss) was an absolute sweetie in this simul defeat, presenting me with what he considered an appropriate signed book...
It was on the French Defense.
Notes by David R Jenkins