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LCB, Issue #047 --, Burn the Enemy with a Benoni Blitz
April 01, 2019

Burn the Enemy with a Benoni Blitz

Lapoc Chess Board, Issue #047 -- GOTM #16

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It's 1958 in Riga, Latvia and two heavyweights of the game lock horns. Famous Soviet GM Yuri Averbakh has come to take on local hero, GM Mihail Tal. The latter, dubbed the Magician from Riga, is still regarded by many as the greatest tactician of all time.

Tal, playing the Black pieces, opts for one of his favorite systems. The Modern Benoni is associated with him as he did more than anyone to popularize it. He loved it's possiblities for daring sacrifices and thrilling combinations.

When someone like Tal chooses a system as one of his mainstays, you know straight away it's a natural habitat for tactical games. A great choice if you want to sharpen this area of your game. Watch how he uses this system to create enormous problems for a very strong opponent.

Burn the Enemy with a Benoni Blitz

Averbakh, Yuri L - Tal, Mihail [E28]

GotM #16 - Riga, 1958
[Connaughton, Ken]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6

Black opts for the Benoni Defense

6.e4 g6 7.Be2 Bg7 8.Nf3 0-0 9.0-0 Re8 10.Qc2

Game position after 10.Qc2

Not the main move today.

(10.Nd2 known as the Knight Walk Variation is the modern approach.)

10...Na6 11.Bf4 Nb4 12.Qb1 Nxe4!?

Game position after 12...Nxe4!?

Tal sacrifices the Knight for a couple of pawns. In return he gains piece activity and the initiative. He will set traps for Averbakh in order to tie the White pieces up into knots.

13.Nxe4 Bf5 14.Nfd2 Nxd5

White's center has disappeared and he will still have great difficulty in holding the piece and indeed his position.


White decides to give back the piece for Black's center but Black has different ideas.

(15.Bg3 Bh6 16.Bb5 Bxd2 17.Bxe8 Qxe8 18.Nxd6 Bxb1 19.Nxe8 Rxe8 20.Raxb1 c4 21.f3 (21.Rbd1 Re2) 21...b6 22.Be1 Be3+ 23.Kh1 f5 24.Rd1 Nf4 25.Bd2 Nd3 26.Bxe3 Rxe3 27.Rd2+/= (IM Martin, Andrew); 15.Bg5 Qxg5 16.Nxg5 Bxb1 17.Bc4! Bd3!? 18.Bxd3 Nf4 19.Bb5 Red8 20.Rfb1 d5 21.g3 Ne6 22.Nxe6 fxe6~~ (IM Martin, Andrew))


Game position after 15...Nf6

The poor e4-Knight is still hopelessly pinned.


(16.Nxf6+ Bxf6 17.Bb5 Qxd6 18.Bxe8 Qxd2 (IM Martin, Andrew))


Black at last has his preparations complete and finally the exchanges begin.

17.Nxe4 Bxe4 18.Bxe4 Qxd6

Black has regained his piece and he emerges from the melee up a clear pawn. He also enters into an Opposite Color Bishops endgame with the better Bishop.


(19.Bxb7 Rab8 (IM Martin, Andrew))

19...Re7 20.Bf3 Rae8 21.Rad1 Bd4

Game position after 21...Bd4

Great outpost for the Bishop and the Queen is shielded.


White fears the advance of Black's pawn majority and moves to fix them.

22...b6 23.b3 Re5 24.Rd2 h5 25.Re2

White decides to trade Black's heavy pieces off the board.

25...Rxe2 26.Bxe2

Game position after 26.Bxe2

and the White Bishop likes the look of c4.

26...h4 27.Kh1 Qf4 28.g3

White threatening to open the f-file if Black takes on g3 but his is a desparate plight now.

28...Qf6 29.Qd1 Rd8 30.Bg4

Averbakh is maybe attempting to do something about his weak light squares.


Game position after 30...Bxf2!


(Best defense was probably 31.Qf3 Qxf3+ 32.Bxf3 hxg3 33.Kg2 Rd2 34.hxg3 Bd4+-+ and Black's majorities on both wings would win him the game.)


Game position after 31...Rd2!!

The knockout blow. After the sacrifice, the Queen will not be able to defend the critical long diagonal.


Just postponing the inevitable. There is no perpetual check in the wings.

(32.Qxd2 Qc6+-+ (IM Martin, Andrew); 32.Rxf2 Qxf2-+ (IM Martin, Andrew))

32...Kg7 33.gxh4

And now Black closes in.

33...Qd4 34.Bh3 Qd3 35.Bg2 Rd1

(36.Qb5 would have led to something like Rxf1+ 37.Bxf1 Qe4+ 38.Bg2 Qxh4 39.Bf3 Bd4 40.Qe2 Qf4 41.Bg2 Be5 42.Bf1 f5-+ with an eventual win for Black.)

Game position after 35...Rd1

White's defensive resources have been exhausted. He resigns.


Averbakh - Tal (Riga, 1958)

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