Welcome to my Benko Gambit (ECO A57) Declined game with K. Pascucci!

On this page I have posted one my chess games in which I played the Black side of the Benko Gambit.

The game includes analysis and diagrams. I actually got a decent position out of the opening and had a slight lead in development but started to make a series of mistakes around move 27 that lead to the loss of a Rook and my  resignation.

Southern Class Championships
Round 3, Board 27
Date Played: 17 October 1992
White: K. Pascucci
(1654) Black: Mike Serovey (1700)

1. d4 c5 2. d5 Nf6 3. c4 b5

Benko Gambit after 3... b5.

Benko Gambit after 3… b5.

We have now transposed into the Benko Gambit. White now declines the gambit by playing 4. b3, which seemed to be the most popular way to decline the gambit at the time that this game was played.

4. b3 bxc4 5. bxc4 d6

Benko Gambit after 5... d6.

Benko Gambit after 5… d6.

The exchange on c4 has left the b file open and removed one of the targets that Black normally attacks in the gambit accepted lines. I have also played the pawn to b4 followed by a5 in order to lock up the Queenside. In this game I thought that I would have better chances by opening up the Queenside some.

6. Nc3 Nbd7 7. e4 g6 8. Bd3 Bg7 9. Bd2 Rb8

Benko Gambit after 9... Rb8.

Benko Gambit after 9… Rb8.

Up until this point Black has played the moves that you would normally see in the gambit accepted. Now, Black decided to grab the open b file and White immediately challenges that Rook.

10. Rb1 Rxb1 11. Qxb1 Qb6

Benko Gambit after 11... Qb6.

Benko Gambit after 11… Qb6.

Neither side wants to give up control of the b file! White’s Bishop on d3 is basically a tall pawn because it really doesn’t do anything but guard the other pawns. White took this opportunity to reinforce his pawn at e4 and Black decided to eliminate the queens and then complete his development. Simply castling on move 12 was also good for Black.

12. f3 Qxb1+ 13. Nxb1 O-O 14. Bc3 Ba6

Benko Gambit after 14... Ba6.

Benko Gambit after 14… Ba6.

White moved his dark-squared Bishop to c3 in order to contest the long diagonal that goes from a1 to h8. Black also has his light-squared Bishop on an active square attacking the White pawn at c4. On his next turn Black can either grab the b file with his Rook or attack the c pawn again with his Knight. Black chose the latter.

15. Ne2 Nb6 16. Na3 Nfd7

Benko Gambit after 16... Nfd7.

Benko Gambit after 16… Nfd7.

Black has a slight lead in development even though he did not need to sacrifice a pawn to get it. Black’s last move offers the exchange of dark-squared bishops and also prepares Ne5 attacking c4 again. White now played the Knight to b5 in order to block the Bishop at a6 from attacking c4.

17. Nb5 Bxc3+ 18. Nexc3 Ne5 19. Ke2

Benko Gambit after 19. Ke2.

Benko Gambit after 19. Ke2.

Black now has several options that seem good. He can get his Rook into the game by moving it to a8 guarding the pawn at a7, he can capture the Knight on b5 with his Bishop and he can capture the pawn at c4 with a Knight. Black chose the last option because it gave him a passed c pawn and he figured that he could win the isolated a pawn.

Nbxc4 20. Bxc4 Nxc4 21. Nxa7 Na3+

Benko Gambit after 21... Na3+

Benko Gambit after 21… Na3+

Black’s last move keeps the White knights off b5 and the White Rook off b1. Black missed playing 22… Rb8 followed by Rb2 grabbing White’s second rank and attacking two pawns there.

22. Ke3 Ra8 23. Nc6 Kf8 24. Kd2 Ke8 25. Nb1 Nc4+ 26. Kc3 Kd7 27. Re1

Benko Gambit after 27. Re1.

Benko Gambit after 27. Re1.

Black wanted to prevent White from playing e5 here and thus played his Knight to e5 allowing White to capture on e5 and double Black’s pawns. This capture also left Black’s passed c pawn unprotected. Better was 27… f6.

Ne5? 28. Nxe5+ dxe5 29. Nd2 Bc8

Benko Gambit after 29... Bc8.

Benko Gambit after 29… Bc8.

At one time I considered Black’s last move to be a mistake and 29… Bb5 to be better. However, after 30. Rb1 Black has to move the Bishop again or protect it with Ra5 and thus doesn’t have time to capture the a pawn.

30. Ra1 Ra4?

Benko Gambit after 30... Ra4?

Benko Gambit after 30… Ra4?

Playing 30… Ba6 was better because then if Nc4 Black can capture it with his Bishop. 31. Nc4!! not only threatens to win the doubled pawn at e5 but also the fork of the King and Rook at b6. Black missed that fork and protected the pawn instead! Also possible was 30… Ra3+ followed by Ba6 or Rd3 depending on where White moves his King.

31. Nc4!! f6?? 32. Nb6+ 1-0

Benko Gambit after 32. Nb6+ (Final position).

Benko Gambit after 32. Nb6+ (Final position).

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