At a job interview I’d set up two different positions. My interviewer asked me to come up with a lesson plan, or at least something that they could learn from. After quickly introducing ourselves we set those up (see below). Black’s arrangement is the same in both diagrams, but White’s one differs a little. In one he’s already castled while in the other he’s not, and the c2 pawn is occupying the c4 square.
Black can play e5
If you know a little bit about the King’s Indian then you probably know why playing e7-e5 is fine here. White is controlling that square twice and you are defending it only once. However Black’s dark-squared Bishop is x-raying the h8-a1 diagonal. So if White goes pawn grabbing, Black will be able to play Nxe4, at the right moment, and get his pawn back with an equal position.
Black shouldn’t play e5
Why is Black unadvised to play that exact same move here ? Isn’t the g7 Bishop still there, ready to jump into the game at the right moment ? He surely is but White has castled and his c2 pawn is still on c2.
Frank is a chess player. He participated in the Bankers Athletic Leagues quite a while ago. Now he harbors New-York, spreading his own memories and vision of the world through lengthy and insightful conversations. We had the chance to encounter him at the Chess Forum, a vibrant shop where chess amateurs come and go and usually play blitz games. So what about Pal Benko ?
Benko was famous as the man who, in 1970, stepped aside for Bobby Fischer to enter the World Championship Cycle. But he was also praised and recognized as an innovative opening theoretician, endgame genius and a brillant problem solver. Born in Amiens, France in 1928 to a vacationing Hungarian family, Benko grew up in Budapest, Hungary. The memorable chess player received an invitation to the 1957 World Student Team Championship in Iceland, where he played on the first board. That’s when a new chapter of his life begin as he decided to walk into the American Embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland and asked for asylum.
At first working as a mutual fund salesman, it didn’t take him long to get back to his first calling. Indeed Pal Benko started making a living with chess, and back in the 60’s it was much easier said than done. The prizes were definitely not as important as they are today, at least for major international events. Anyway the reborn chess master was thriving and even set a record winning 4 U.S. Chess Open in a row (1964-1967). His most famous game was a loss, against Fischer in a game during the 1963 U.S. Chess Championship during which the audience was stunned by Bobby’s 19th move.
In his career, he also devoted a lot of his time to writing chess articles. For instance he was a long-time columnist for Chess life from 1971 to 1981. Moreover he and the Polgar family have had an everlasting friendship, as they all live in Hungary at some point and would go on vacation together. He was also a long-time trainer and mentor of the Polgar sisters, so no wonder they’ve been so successful. Susan Polgar visited him in Hungary shortly before he passed away. Chess grandmaster Pal Benko lives on through his books, columns and games.
Our chess’ knowledge is somewhat representative of our strength over the board. Knowing opening moves, remembering how to convert a theoretically winning endgame into an actual victory, and turning a somewhat better position into a favorable game are some of the aspects that assess a player’s skills. But what happens when we fall into our opponent’s preparation, or if the game just shifts in a variation that you aren’t quite so familiar with ? Understanding a position that you have never even encountered is what chess is about too. Having the right mindset, experiences and instinct to properly evaluate what you can’t do, if not what you must play !
You’re looking at a variation of the French reached via the Tarrasch. White opted for a line in which his d4 pawn seems to be hanging. Black doesn’t necessary have to capture it, but a lot of players do while thinking their opponent just blundered. Let’s see what that get them into !
White just dropped a pawn but that’s not all of it. First of all White’s development is really simple and while he’s already castled and only one move away from connecting his rooks, Black is still a couple of tempo away from doing likewise. Black’s most consistent answer seems to be Qb4, harassing White’s Queen (that you’d never want to trade at this stage of the game), since letting her sit on the 4th rank could allow a possible Queen lift to the kingside, that may be really dangerous for Black if well timed. Now let’s see how wrong can things go for Black if not assimilating the ins and outs of his own game (Black should focus on developing its queenside pieces for now, after throwing in a Qb4).