Welcome to my Benko Gambit (ECO A57) Declined game with Thomas Cook!

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. My opponent accepted the first gambit pawn but declined the second one (the a pawn). I was able to get a Rook and a pawn for a Bishop and Knight, but that left my Kingside weak and White played for a checkmate there. I was able to avoid the mate but ended up with doubled pawns in the Center, which White eventually won. At the point where I resigned White had connected passed pawns on the Queenside.

Cheapo Class, X/A/B Section
Round 1, Board 1
Date Played: 26 June 1993
White: Thomas Cook
(2153) Black: Mike Serovey (1671)

1. d4 c5 2. c4 Nf6 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. f3

Benko Gambit after 5. f3.

Benko Gambit after 5. f3.

GM John Fedorowicz gives 3 continuations for Black here:
1) To aim for normal 
 Benko Gambit  counterplay with 5… g6; 2) to mix it up immediately with 5… e6; and 3) to regain material equality with 5… axb5. I chose the first option.

g6 6. e4 d6 7. Nc3 Bg7 8. a4

Benko Gambit after 8. a4.

Benko Gambit after 8. a4.

GM John Fedorowicz give 8. Bg5 as the main line here. After 8. a4 he recommends 0-0 9. Bc4 Nbd7 10. Nge2 Ne5 as played in Chandler – Alburt, Hastings, 1980/81.

axb5 9. Bxb5+ Bd7 10. Nge2 O-O 11. O-O Na6 12. Bg5

Benko Gambit after 12. Bg5.

Benko Gambit after 12. Bg5.

Now White plays Bg5. I now think that the immediate h6 here was best. The idea behind 12… Nc7 was to capture on b5 with both my Knight and Bishop and thus to force White to recapture on b5 with his a pawn and thus to double White’s b pawns.

Nc7 13. Bc4 Ra7 14. Nc1 Qa8 15. b3 Re8 16. Nd3 Nfxd5!?

Benko Gambit after 16... Nfxd5!?

Benko Gambit after 16… Nfxd5!?

Normally, it is OK to trade a Knight and Bishop for a Rook and pawn. However, I was down a pawn here and thus should have avoided this exchange. Also, I ended up putting White’s Queen on the long diagonal from a1 to h8 and weakened my Kingside in the process.

17. Nxd5 Bxa1 18. Qxa1 Nxd5 19. exd5 Bf5

Benko Gambit after 19... Bf5.

Benko Gambit after 19… Bf5.

Now Black has a Rook for his Bishop and Knight and is thus down one point, which is equal to being down a pawn. White has a passed pawn on the a file which Black is trying to target. Black’s last move is threatening to capture the Knight on d3 and when White recaptures with the Bishop the pawn and d5 will be unguarded. Black needs to win a pawn in order to even up the material.

20. Bh6 f6 21. Nf2 Kf7 22. g4 Bc8 23. Ne4 Ba6

Benko Gambit after 23... Ba6.

Benko Gambit after 23… Ba6.

Black is still trying to win the pawn on d5. White, on the other hand, wants to pry Black’s kingside pawns open so that he can attack there.

24. Bxa6 Rxa6 25. g5 Qxd5

Benko Gambit after 25... Qxd5.

Benko Gambit after 25… Qxd5.

Black has evened up the material for the moment, but f6 is vulnerable. By forcing the exchange of queens on the next move Black saves f6 but ends up with doubled pawns in the Center while White gets connected passed pawns on the Queenside.

26. gxf6 Qd4+ 27. Qxd4 cxd4 28. fxe7 Rxe7

Benko Gambit after 28... Rxe7.

Benko Gambit after 28… Rxe7.

White is clearly better here. He has the Bishop and Knight versus a Rook and connected passed pawns versus doubled passed pawns. Black now tries to both protect his doubled pawns and to stop White’s passed pawns from advancing. However, Black ends up losing both d pawns.

29. Rd1 Rb7 30. Rd3 Ke6 31. Bf4 Kd5

Benko Gambit after 31... Kd5.

Benko Gambit after 31… Kd5.

The Black King is now guarding both d pawns but wants to attack White’s a and b pawns. White now repositions his Knight so that it simultaneously attacks both of Black’s d pawns and blocks Black’s Rook from attacking White’s b pawn.

32. Nc3+ Ke6 33. Nb5 Rf7 34. Bg3 Kd7

Benko Gambit after 34... Kd7.

Benko Gambit after 34… Kd7.

There is nothing Black can do to save his pawn on d4. He now focuses on trying to save the pawn on d6.

35. Kf2 Rf6 36. Rxd4 h5 37. Bxd6 Rfxd6

Benko Gambit after 37... Rfxd6.

Benko Gambit after 37… Rfxd6.

At this point White has a Bishop, Knight, and two pawns for his Rook. Black is probably lost no matter what he does, but he may have had better chances by avoiding the exchange here and trying to get his King over to attack the a and b pawns.

38. Rxd6+ Rxd6 39. Nxd6 Kxd6 40. Ke3 1-0

Benko Gambit after 40. Ke3 (Final position).

Benko Gambit after 40. Ke3 (Final position).

If Black moves his King over to the Queenside to stop those two pawns from queening then White can eat Black’s kingside pawns and queen on of his kingside pawns.

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