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Hot Topic (More than 10 Replies) Is there still hope in the King Walk variation ? (Read 2795 times)
Paul Cumbers
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Re: Is there still hope in the King Walk variation ?
Reply #15 - 05/12/21 at 23:12:44
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Confused_by_Theory wrote on 05/10/21 at 02:33:33:
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.e4 Bxf1 8.Kxf1 d6 9.g3 Bg7 10.Kg2 O-O 11.Nf3 Qb6 12.Qe2 Nbd7 13.a4 Rfb8 14.Nb5 Ne8 15.h4 Nc7 16.Nxc7 Qxc7 17.h5 Rb4 18.Ng5 Qc8!?
Could maybe be ok after:
19.Nxh7 Kxh7 20.hxg6+ Kg8 21.gxf7+ Kxf7 22.Qh5+ Kg8 23.Qh7+ Kf7 24.Bh6 Qg8
The idea. If the queen was on b7, then Rg8 would have to be played instead and we get a probably worse defensive setup.
25.Qf5+ Nf6 26.Rae1 Rbxa4

Although with some direct attacking moves in the form of
26.Rh4!? Qc8 27.Rg4!? Bxh6 28.Qg6+ Kf8 29.Qxh6+ Ke8
White seems to have good compensation.

This feels rather dicey for Black with the king floating around! Maybe it's a question of taste, but personally I wouldn't like this in a practical game. White also has an optional bail out perpetual with 24.Qh5+ which is a bit of a downer.

Quote:
P.S. some players have also tried 15.Ra3. Plan seems to be:
15.Ra3 Nc7 16.Nxc7 Qxc7 17.b3 and white is not losing the b-pawn quickly.

Now 17…Qa5! (intending …Qc3) is a recent novelty which seems to give Black reasonable counterplay, viz: 18.Bd2 (18.Nd2 Qc3, e.g. 19.Ra2 [19.Nc4 leads to an interesting queen sac: 19...Rxb3 20.Bd2 Qxc4 21.Qxc4 Rxa3 with compensation] 19...Qb4, intending …Bc3) 18...Qa6 19.Qxa6 (19.Qe3 Bb2 20.Ra2 Bd4 21.Nxd4 cxd4 22.Qxd4 Rxb3) 19...Rxa6 20.a5 (or 20.Re1 Nb6, preparing ...f7–f5 or possibly ...c5–c4) 20...f5 21.exf5 Nf6! 22.fxg6 hxg6, with …Nxd5 to follow (Lysyj-Kovalchuk, Cheliabinsk 2021).
  
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Re: Is there still hope in the King Walk variation ?
Reply #14 - 05/12/21 at 02:32:04
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Okay so line A is the most interesting for white, but black can learn a lot by looking at all three.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.e4 Bxf1 8.Kxf1 d6 9.g3 Bg7 10.Kg2 O-O 11.Nf3 Qb6 12.Qe2 Nbd7 13.a4 Rfb8 14.Nb5 Ne8 15.h4 h6 16.Bd2 Bxb2 17.Rab1 Bg7 18.Na3 Qa6
Looks like the only move to me. Black needs queens off in this h4 line.
19.Qxa6 Rxa6 20.Rxb8 Nxb8 21.Rb1 Nd7
21...Ra8 planning ...Na6 was another idea I had, but in this h4 line 22.Rb7 Kf8 23.a5 Na6 24.Nc4 Nec7 25.h5 is very unpleasant for black.
22.a5 Ra7 23.Ne1 Nc7.
This might be an improvement on 23...f5.

* * * * * * * *
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* * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * *
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*

Position after 23...Nc7.

I used more than one engine here. I agree black is not equal, but it doesn't look terrible. In a lot of lines after ...h6-h5, when I was wondering why the engine liked white so much, I would play a move for black that wasn't in the PV, and it answered Bg5!

24.Nd3 Kh7

Or 24...f5 25.f3 Kh7. I think the engine's "idea" is simply to free up the Bg7 without playing ...h6-h5.

Probably too slow is 24...h5 25.f3 Bf6 (against g2-g4) 26.Nc4 Kf8 (26...Kg7 27.Bg5 Bxg5 28.hxg5 f6 29.f4) 27.Kf2 Ke8 28.Ke2 Kd8 29.Bg5. Black has to be wary of white switching the rook to the kingside, either on the f-file or the h-file.

25.f3 f5

I would rather do without ...f7-f5, but waiting passively eventually favored white in every line I looked at.

26.g4 fxe4 27.fxe4 Nf6 28.Nf2 Nd7 29.Nc4
29.Nd3 repeats, if white wants.
29...Ne5 30.Nxe5 Bxe5

* * * * * * * *
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Position after 30...Bxe5. Deep HIARCS gives +0.3, Stockfish 8 (don't ask) gives +0.7, neither one at great depth. To my human eye it looks like black can hold. Trying to win would be something else though.
  

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Re: Is there still hope in the King Walk variation ?
Reply #13 - 05/11/21 at 21:16:34
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an ordinary chessplayer wrote on 05/10/21 at 00:02:59:
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.e4 Bxf1 8.Kxf1 d6 9.g3 Bg7 10.Kg2 O-O 11.Nf3 Qb6 12.Qe2 Nbd7 13.a4 Rfb8 14.Nb5 Ne8

I don't see any significant difference between these three lines:
  • 15.h4 h6 16.Bd2 Bxb2 17.Rab1 Bg7 18.Na3 (see diagram)
  • 15.Bg5 h6 16.Bd2 Bxb2 17.Rab1 Bg7 18.Na3
  • 15.Bd2 Bxb2 16.Rab1 Bg7 17.Na3


  • * * * * * * * *
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    *
    Position after 18.Na3. Also possible with wPh2, and bPh7.

    Black has to be ready for this setup anyway, so just prepare for it, and then you can calmly answer 15.h4 with 15...h6. White might have some cheese with h4-h5 followed by a sac on g5. But the queenside is wide open so with accurate play by black it just can't work. This is likely to be one of those positions the engine misevaluates anyway. Engines love a space advantage (Pd5!) and the middlegame. They don't know anything about pawn chain solidity and the endgame. The deeper you go after ...Bxb2, the better black will be doing.

    But hey, I don't even play the Benko, so what do I know?

    You raise a good point. I'll try and make the case that there are subtle but all-important differences between the three lines:

    Line A: 15.h4 h6 16.Bd2 Bxb2 17.Rab1 Bg7 18.Na3
    • A1: 18...Qa6 19.Qxa6 Rxa6 20.Rxb8 Nxb8 21.Rb1 Nd7 22.a5 Ra7 Compared to Line C1, the insertion of h2–h4 and ...h7–h6 helps White, e.g. 23.Ne1 f5 24.Nb5 Ra6 25.exf5 gxf5 26.Nc2 Ndf6 27.Ne3 h5 28.Be1! Kf7 29.Kf3 Kg6 30.Ke2 Black is reduced to a 'sit and wait' strategy. If 30...Bh6 then 31.f4;
    • A2: 18...Qa7 19.a5 Nc7 (19...h5 may be best, but Black loses time compared to Line B2: 20.Qd3 Nc7 21.Rxb8+ Rxb8 22.Rb1 Rb7 23.Nc4 Qb8 24.Rxb7 Qxb7 25.Bf4 with pressure) 20.h5! g5 21.Qd3 Qa6 22.Nc4 Nb5 23.Ne3! eyeing the f5–square, with a clear advantage.

    Line B: 15.Bg5 h6 16.Bd2! Bxb2 17.Rab1 Bg7 18.Na3
    • B1: 18...Qa6 19.Qxa6 Rxa6 20.Rxb8 Nxb8 21.Rb1 Nd7 22.a5 Ra7 23.Nh4!? emphasises the g6–weakness (caused by ...h6), making it hard for Black to arrange counterplay with ...f5 or ...e6. Relatively best might be 23...Kh7 24.f4 c4 25.Nxc4 Nef6 but Black can't hope for more than a draw after something like 26.Kf3 Nc5 27.e5 Nxd5 28.exd6 exd6 29.Nxd6;
    • B2: 18...Qa7! 19.a5 Nc7 20.Qd3 Qa6 21.Nc4 Nb5 22.Rhc1 Nd4 23.Rxb8+ Rxb8 24.Nxd4 cxd4 25.Ne5 Nc5 26.Qxa6 Nxa6 27.Nc6 Rb2 28.Bf4 Bf6 (not 28...Kf8? 29.e5!) 29.Bxh6 Ra2 White resumes his pawn-up status, but Black's active rook and passed d-pawn should provide just enough play.

    Line C: 15.Bd2 Bxb2 16.Rab1 Bg7 17.Na3
    • C1: 17...Qa6! 18.Qxa6 Rxa6 19.Rxb8 Nxb8 20.a5 Ra7 with reasonable chances, e.g. 21.Rb1 Nd7 22.h4 (22.Nh4 is less effective than in Line B1 - 22...Nc7 intends ...e6 or ...f5, e.g. 23.Nc4 f5! 24.exf5 Kf7!; similarly 22.Ne1 f5! 23.exf5 Nc7 is an improvement for Black on Line A1) 22...Nef6 23.Re1 Rb7 24.Nc4 Ng4 etc.;
    • C2: 17...Qa7 18.a5 Nc7 19.Qd3 Qa6 20.Nc4 Nb5 21.Rhc1 Nd4 22.Nxd4 Now compared to Line B2, Black can't play 22...cxd4? 23.Rxb8+ Rxb8 24.Ne5 Nc5 25.Qxa6 Nxa6 because there's a back-rank problem: 26.Nd7! Rb2?? 27.Rc8+ and there's no ...Kh7.

    My (tentative) conclusion is that Black gets reasonable counterplay in Lines B and C, but not in Line A.
      
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    Re: Is there still hope in the King Walk variation ?
    Reply #12 - 05/10/21 at 02:33:33
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    Hi.

    Paul Cumbers wrote on 05/09/21 at 20:21:45:
    I'm trying to patch up the 'King Walk' for Black, but can't find a good response to 15.h4!?:

    1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.e4 Bxf1 8.Kxf1 d6 9.g3 Bg7 10.Kg2 0–0 11.Nf3 Qb6

    (Playing 11...Nbd7 first might be inaccurate because of 12.a4 Qb6 13.Ra3! Rfb8 14.Nd2! with the knights coming quickly to c4/b5.)

    12.Qe2 (12.a4 Na6!?) 12...Nbd7 13.a4 Rfb8 14.Nb5 Ne8 Now looking at openingtree.com, the move 15.h4!? seems to be gaining traction (15.Bg5 h6! 16.Bxe7!? Rb7 17.Ra3 Qa6! is a mess). I suggest 15...Nc7
    • 15...h5 merely hands White the g5–square: 16.Bg5;
    • 15...h6 16.Bd2! returns the pawn, when 16...Bxb2 17.Rab1 Bg7 18.Na3 leaves Black passively placed (a4–a5 is coming).

    16.Nxc7 Qxc7 17.h5 Rb4 18.Ng5 Qb7 19.Nxh7!? Qa6 (taking the knight looks too dangerous) 20.Qxa6 Rxa6 21.hxg6 fxg6 22.a5 Rxe4 23.Ng5 Rb4 24.Ne6 Bxb2 25.Bxb2 Rxb2 White has an annoying pull (e.g. by doubling rooks on the h-file).

    It does look annoying.

    I was gonna say.
    1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.e4 Bxf1 8.Kxf1 d6 9.g3 Bg7 10.Kg2 O-O 11.Nf3 Qb6 12.Qe2 Nbd7 13.a4 Rfb8 14.Nb5 Ne8 15.h4 Nc7 16.Nxc7 Qxc7 17.h5 Rb4 18.Ng5 Qc8!?
    Could maybe be ok after:
    19.Nxh7 Kxh7 20.hxg6+ Kg8 21.gxf7+ Kxf7 22.Qh5+ Kg8 23.Qh7+ Kf7 24.Bh6 Qg8
    The idea. If the queen was on b7, then Rg8 would have to be played instead and we get a probably worse defensive setup.
    25.Qf5+ Nf6 26.Rae1 Rbxa4

    Although with some direct attacking moves in the form of
    26.Rh4!? Qc8 27.Rg4!? Bxh6 28.Qg6+ Kf8 29.Qxh6+ Ke8
    White seems to have good compensation.

    Have a nice day.

    P.S. some players have also tried 15.Ra3. Plan seems to be:
    15.Ra3 Nc7 16.Nxc7 Qxc7 17.b3 and white is not losing the b-pawn quickly.
      
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    Re: Is there still hope in the King Walk variation ?
    Reply #11 - 05/10/21 at 00:02:59
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    1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.e4 Bxf1 8.Kxf1 d6 9.g3 Bg7 10.Kg2 O-O 11.Nf3 Qb6 12.Qe2 Nbd7 13.a4 Rfb8 14.Nb5 Ne8

    I don't see any significant difference between these three lines:
  • 15.h4 h6 16.Bd2 Bxb2 17.Rab1 Bg7 18.Na3 (see diagram)
  • 15.Bg5 h6 16.Bd2 Bxb2 17.Rab1 Bg7 18.Na3
  • 15.Bd2 Bxb2 16.Rab1 Bg7 17.Na3


  • * * * * * * * *
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    *
    Position after 18.Na3. Also possible with wPh2, and bPh7.

    Black has to be ready for this setup anyway, so just prepare for it, and then you can calmly answer 15.h4 with 15...h6. White might have some cheese with h4-h5 followed by a sac on g5. But the queenside is wide open so with accurate play by black it just can't work. This is likely to be one of those positions the engine misevaluates anyway. Engines love a space advantage (Pd5!) and the middlegame. They don't know anything about pawn chain solidity and the endgame. The deeper you go after ...Bxb2, the better black will be doing.

    But hey, I don't even play the Benko, so what do I know?
      
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    Re: Is there still hope in the King Walk variation ?
    Reply #10 - 05/09/21 at 20:21:45
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    I'm trying to patch up the 'King Walk' for Black, but can't find a good response to 15.h4!?:

    1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.e4 Bxf1 8.Kxf1 d6 9.g3 Bg7 10.Kg2 0–0 11.Nf3 Qb6

    (Playing 11...Nbd7 first might be inaccurate because of 12.a4 Qb6 13.Ra3! Rfb8 14.Nd2! with the knights coming quickly to c4/b5.)

    12.Qe2 (12.a4 Na6!?) 12...Nbd7 13.a4 Rfb8 14.Nb5 Ne8 Now looking at openingtree.com, the move 15.h4!? seems to be gaining traction (15.Bg5 h6! 16.Bxe7!? Rb7 17.Ra3 Qa6! is a mess). I suggest 15...Nc7
    • 15...h5 merely hands White the g5–square: 16.Bg5;
    • 15...h6 16.Bd2! returns the pawn, when 16...Bxb2 17.Rab1 Bg7 18.Na3 leaves Black passively placed (a4–a5 is coming).

    16.Nxc7 Qxc7 17.h5 Rb4 18.Ng5 Qb7 19.Nxh7!? Qa6 (taking the knight looks too dangerous) 20.Qxa6 Rxa6 21.hxg6 fxg6 22.a5 Rxe4 23.Ng5 Rb4 24.Ne6 Bxb2 25.Bxb2 Rxb2 White has an annoying pull (e.g. by doubling rooks on the h-file).
      
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    Re: Is there still hope in the King Walk variation ?
    Reply #9 - 04/05/20 at 19:01:16
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    I was unsure whether it's OK to link to them here. I thought you could easily Google it.

    But OK, I'll try and see if it's allowed to stand:

    https://www.modern-chess.com/en/databases-of-the-month/database=94
      

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    Re: Is there still hope in the King Walk variation ?
    Reply #8 - 04/05/20 at 17:42:08
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    Stigma wrote on 04/05/20 at 14:06:02:
    @trw:

    Have you seen GM Grigorov's recent Modern Chess database on the 5.e3 Benko for White?

    There's quite a bit in the free excerpt. He agrees that 5...e6 is a good reply and proposes 6.Nc3 exd5 7.Nxd5 Bb7 8.Nxf6 Qxf6 9.Nf3 Be7 (9...Bd6 is also covered) 10.Be2 and now:

    * 10...axb5 11.Bxb5 0-0 12.0-0 Rd8 or 12...d5

    * 10...0-0, which he considers most precise: 11.bxa6 Bc6 '!' (11...Nxa6?! 12.Bd2 and other Black 11th moves are also analyzed).

    I haven't bought it yet, but am tempted because it's on a sort of double discount right now - both "Database of the Month" for April and a Candidates 2020 promo ending today.



    Nope, I haven't seen it. Do you have a link? Nothing turned up on Amazon.
      
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    Re: Is there still hope in the King Walk variation ?
    Reply #7 - 04/05/20 at 14:06:02
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    @trw:

    Have you seen GM Grigorov's recent Modern Chess database on the 5.e3 Benko for White?

    There's quite a bit in the free excerpt. He agrees that 5...e6 is a good reply and proposes 6.Nc3 exd5 7.Nxd5 Bb7 8.Nxf6 Qxf6 9.Nf3 Be7 (9...Bd6 is also covered) 10.Be2 and now:

    * 10...axb5 11.Bxb5 0-0 12.0-0 Rd8 or 12...d5

    * 10...0-0, which he considers most precise: 11.bxa6 Bc6 '!' (11...Nxa6?! 12.Bd2 and other Black 11th moves are also analyzed).

    I haven't bought it yet, but am tempted because it's on a sort of double discount right now - both "Database of the Month" for April and a Candidates 2020 promo ending today.
      

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    Re: Is there still hope in the King Walk variation ?
    Reply #6 - 04/04/20 at 23:02:48
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    I didn't think white was getting anything in 5. e3 ?

    For example what's wrong with

    A
    1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. e3 e6 6. dxe6 fxe6 7. Nf3 d5 8. Be2 Be7

    or

    B

    1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. e3 axb5 6. Bxb5 Qa5+ 7. Nc3 Bb7 8. Bd2 Qb6

    (Granted White won the last high level correspondence game here:
    [Event "WC41/sf04"]
    [Site "ICCF"]
    [Date "2017.06.20"]
    [Round "?"]
    [White "Laghetti, Gaetano"]
    [Black "Masek, Jan"]
    [Result "1-0"]
    [ECO "A57"]
    [WhiteElo "2472"]
    [BlackElo "2414"]
    [PlyCount "89"]
    [EventDate "2017.??.??"]

    1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. e3 axb5 6. Bxb5 Qa5+ 7. Nc3 Bb7 8.
    Bd2 Qb6 9. Nf3 Nxd5 10. a4 e6 11. O-O Nb4 12. Ne5 Qc7 13. Qh5 g6 14. Qg5 Bg7
    15. Nc4 O-O 16. e4 Nd3 17. a5 Ra7 18. Nb6 h6 19. Qg3 Qxg3 20. hxg3 Nb4 21. Bf4
    N4c6 22. Bd6 Re8 23. Nc4 Bf8 24. Bc7 Rc8 25. Bb6 Ra8 26. Rfd1 Nd4 27. e5 Bd5
    28. Nd6 Bxd6 29. exd6 Nxb5 30. Nxb5 Na6 31. Na7 Rcb8 32. Nb5 Rc8 33. Rdc1 c4
    34. Nc7 Nxc7 35. dxc7 d6 36. Ra4 Kf8 37. Raxc4 Ke7 38. b4 Kd7 39. R4c3 Bb7 40.
    b5 f5 41. Ra1 Rh8 42. a6 Bc8 43. f4 h5 44. Rac1 Ke7 45. Be3 1-0


    However, I am going to argue that 11... Nb4 is a mistake and that either Be7 or Bd6N should keep equality.

    However, in 2019-2020 11... Be7 was seen in 9 games in TWIC with a result of +5 =2 -2 so still hitting an awful 67% results in practical play. Not sure we can blame this one on the opening though...

    C
    Another 5. e3 line from correspondence:

    [Event "CL/2019/B4"]
    [Site "ICCF"]
    [Date "2019.09.01"]
    [Round "?.1"]
    [White "Mignon, Frédéric"]
    [Black "Rook, Detlef"]
    [Result "1/2-1/2"]
    [ECO "A57"]
    [WhiteElo "2444"]
    [BlackElo "2446"]
    [PlyCount "70"]
    [EventDate "2019.??.??"]
    [WhiteTeam "Mieszko I"]
    [BlackTeam "The Underdogs II"]

    1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. e3 g6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. e4 O-O 8. a4 Bb7
    9. Nf3 e6 10. Bc4 exd5 11. exd5 Re8+ 12. Be3 Ng4 13. O-O Nxe3 14. fxe3 d6 15.
    e4 Nd7 16. Qe2 Bc8 17. bxa6 Ne5 18. Nxe5 Bxe5 19. Rae1 Qh4 20. g3 Qg5 21. Kg2
    h5 22. Qf3 Re7 23. h4 Qd2+ 24. Re2 Qd4 25. Qd3 Qxd3 26. Bxd3 Bxa6 27. Nb5 Bc8
    28. b3 Rb8 29. Rb1 Reb7 30. Ra2 f6 31. Kf2 Rg7 32. b4 cxb4 33. Rxb4 g5 34. Be2
    gxh4 35. gxh4 Bg4 1/2-1/2



    I think both lines white is still getting nowhere right?


    Yes, 12. a4 is +=|+/- still.
    « Last Edit: 04/05/20 at 03:52:33 by trw »  
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    Re: Is there still hope in the King Walk variation ?
    Reply #5 - 04/03/20 at 14:42:33
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    nocteus wrote on 04/03/20 at 09:31:19:
    Lauri Torni wrote on 04/03/20 at 06:12:06:
    Glenn Flear: "Again we see the problem for Black in the Benko Gambit Accepted: If White is well-prepared, he can keep Black's dynamic activity in check and gradually make progress. This explains why top level players are reticent to play the Benko on a regular basis: Black's winning chances are perhaps not much better than in more 'solid' openings and he may have to play many moves with little to show for the pawn deficit."


    Where did this quote come from, please?



    https://www.chesspublishing.com/content/11/mar11.htm
      

    1.Nf3! -  beat your opponent by killing his zest for life.
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    Re: Is there still hope in the King Walk variation ?
    Reply #4 - 04/03/20 at 09:31:19
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    Lauri Torni wrote on 04/03/20 at 06:12:06:
    Glenn Flear: "Again we see the problem for Black in the Benko Gambit Accepted: If White is well-prepared, he can keep Black's dynamic activity in check and gradually make progress. This explains why top level players are reticent to play the Benko on a regular basis: Black's winning chances are perhaps not much better than in more 'solid' openings and he may have to play many moves with little to show for the pawn deficit."


    Where did this quote come from, please?
      
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    Lauri Torni
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    Re: Is there still hope in the King Walk variation ?
    Reply #3 - 04/03/20 at 06:12:43
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    1.Nf3! -  beat your opponent by killing his zest for life.
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    Lauri Torni
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    Re: Is there still hope in the King Walk variation ?
    Reply #2 - 04/03/20 at 06:12:06
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    I have played benko 35 years. In the good old days people took the pawn and I was winning almost every game. Many players avoided it against me and played e.g. 2.Nf3. Nowadays benko feels very different.

    How often does one nowadays meet comfortable benko-like positions, when white has so many nasty ideas such as 4.Qc2, 4.Nf3, 5.b6, 5.e3.  Moreover, even the "real classical benko" variations with 5.ba are better for white (e4: 12.a4, g3: 10.Rb1!)

    The modern benko (postpone -Bxa6) is complicated, but also definitely better for white.

    Glenn Flear: "Again we see the problem for Black in the Benko Gambit Accepted: If White is well-prepared, he can keep Black's dynamic activity in check and gradually make progress. This explains why top level players are reticent to play the Benko on a regular basis: Black's winning chances are perhaps not much better than in more 'solid' openings and he may have to play many moves with little to show for the pawn deficit."

    I agree. Often benko-activity makes it rather hard for white to win, so benko is presently best as a drawing machine  Grin

    Benko is also very committal. You cannot play fluent positional chess: at some point you often just sit and wait, or you decide to make a highly committal -c5-c4,  -e7-e6, -f7-f5 -move when you either get more activity or lose quickly.

      

    1.Nf3! -  beat your opponent by killing his zest for life.
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    Stigma
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    Re: Is there still hope in the King Walk variation ?
    Reply #1 - 04/02/20 at 02:48:32
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    I think you're right to point to these two variations as major challenges for Black. (I would personally include the 5.b6 lines too, but maybe that just a matter of taste and Black is OK theoretically.)

    I have to say I find your solution hard to believe though. I saw some GM analysis that tried to uphold Black's cause in the Benko Accepted main line with exactly such a setup - ...Na6 and ...Qb6. But there the move order was a bit more regular:

    1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 g6 6. Nc3 Bxa6 7. e4 Bxf1 8. Kxf1 d6 9. Nf3 Bg7 10. g3 O-O 11. Kg2 Qb6, obviously meant to make a2-a4 less attractive for White.

    This looks a lot like your line, but here Black gained the option of playing ...Qb6 before ...Na6. The knight could still go to d7 anyway, maybe if White does something that doesn't fit with the a4/Nb5 setup. I'm fairly sure there were some lines involving counterplay on the h1-a8-diagonal against White's king on g2, with a queen on b7 and an ...e6 break. And that's really the biggest difference - White's king is safer on g1 (as in your line) than on g2, so it's hard to believe White isn't better if he's allowed to castle the normal way.

    5.e3 is a bit of a headache. Both Perunovic in his book and Sielecki in his Chessable course mention that it's very dangerous for Black and give reasons why they think their recommendation is the only good line - but they disagree on which line that is (5...g6 Perunovic, 5...axb5 Sielecki). I've also played 5.e3 a bit as White with acceptable results. Surprisingly many Black players don't know the standard Benko setup with ...g6 and ...d6 is considered bad there.
      

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