CHAOS. PURE CHAOS!
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 18th MOVE (18.Nc4)
Black is actually much better here, though it is hard to prove this. The benoni is famous for leading to completely mind-boggling complications where , to stay in the game, each player must play with great imagination, energy and precision as they walk a tight rope. The initiative is of utmost importance. Often there is a material imbalance as both players try to out do each other…
White White’s last move a number of serious threats appear: 19.Bxf4; 19.Bxe8; 19.Qxd6
There is no turning back and Black is up to the task! Suicidal now would be 19. Bxe8 Nxe1 20. Qxe1 Bb7! when Black will soon crash thru the centre….
Black must be careful as 19… Rd8?! 20. Bf4! gives White chances; 19… Bb7!?, however, is worth consideration.
The strongest move! For only one piece (at the moment!) the attack of the Queen and Bishop pair put the White monarch under pressure. For example, 20. Qf3 Bh3! (20… Qxe1!? is also good for Black: 21. Bxe8 Be6 22. Bb5 d5 23. exd5? Bf5) 21. Qxh3 Qxe1 22. Qf3 Qxe4 23. Qxe4 Rxe4 and the ending is much better for Black ;24. Nxd6 Rg4 25. Kh3 Rg1 26. Bc4 Rf8 etc.
WHITE TAKES HIS BEST CHANCE:
20… Bh3-ch! 21. Kh1
Critical position, and amazingly complex and hence easy to go astray. How should Black proceed in such a way as to preserve and even increase his advantage?
The road to victory begins with 21… Rxe8! :
White is an entire Rook to the good, but his pieces are stumbling over themselves trying to deal with Black’s multiple threats. In particular, the Black Bishops are lions! There is no satisfactory defence and White must shed material to avoid getting mated…for example:
22. Bd2 (22. Nxd6? Qf2!; 22. Qe2 d5! 23. Nd2 (23. Nd6 Re6!) 23… Bg4 24. Qf1 Be5 25. Re2 Bxe2 26. Qxe2 Bd6 etc) 22… d5 (22…Qf2 is also very hard to meet) 23. exd5 Rxe1 24. Qxe1 Qxc4 25. Qe8 Bf8 26. Bh6? Qxd5 mating
This apparently strong move actually allows White to turn the tables! Black hopes to gain a tempo hitting the Queen before taking the Bishop. It is not clear what Damljanovic missed; perhaps he underestimated White’s 23rd move!?
White can not take this Bishop and thus White saves this piece: 22… Kxf7? 23. Qd5-ch! Ke8 24. Nxd6-ch and Black’s King is butchered.
22…Kh8 23. Bg5!!
White’s idea is that if 23… Qxg5 then White untangles himself with 24. Qd3! Rf8 25. Rf1!Qh5 26. Rbe1 Bh3 27. Rf4! and emerges with a won game. Damljanovic finds a clever resource ….
Now 24.Qd3?? loses to 24…Bf3-ch and 25…QxB-ch.
Better, but also struggling is 24. Qd2?! Bf3-ch 25. Kg1 Rf8 26. Qf4! (26. Bd5?? Qg4-ch 27. Kf2 Bxe4! and White’s King is cooked) 26… Bd4-ch 27. Ne3 Rxf7 28. Qh4! with a real struggle .
HOWEVER, the winning line is the cold-blooded and paradoxical 24. Qd5!: after 24… Bf3-ch 25. Kg1 Qg4-ch (25… h6 26. Kf2 hxg5 27. Re3 g4 28. Qxh5) 26. Kf2 the King manages to find relative safety in the middle of the board: 26… Qg2 27. Ke3 and Black’s attack soon peters out, leaving White with a lot of extra material.
INSTEAD, WHITE RETURNS THE FAVOUR:
Surprisingly, now the game peters out to a drawish ending, almost by force!
24… Bf3 25. Kg1 Qxg5 26. Qg3! [26. Kf2 Qg2 27. Ke3 Re8!! 28. Bxe8 Bxe4] 26… Bd4 27. Kf1 Qxg3! 28. hxg3 Rf8!
Black will recover a piece!
29. Nd6! Be5! 30. Re3 Bg4! 31. Kg2 Bxd6 32. e5 Bxe5 33. Rxe5 Rxf7 34. Rbe1 With 2 pawns for the exchange, Black is at no risk of losing. The game was agreed a drawn on move 49.
A HARD FOUGHT GAME!