2006 U.S. Open, Round 7

by Michael Goeller

I watched most of this game live on the Internet Chess Club, where they not only boradcast the moves but showed a portion of the game on a live video feed. Whereas Benjamin was always seated and working hard at the board, Kaidanov paced the floor almost continuously. It was a fascinating game in all three of its stages: the opening (a Spanish with d3, in a line originated by Bronstein), the middlegame (with White attacking the kingside and Black defending), and the endgame (which was a textbook illustration of the Bishop's superiority over a Knight with pawns on both sides of the board).

Joel Benjamin - Gregory Kaidanov [C77]

107th Annual 2006 US Open/Chicago (7) 2006

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. c3 g6 7. Bg5

A move origi nated by Bronstein. The idea is to develop the Knight to e3 (via Nb1-d2-f1-e3) . The Bishop can then retreat to h4 in case of ...h6, which it could not do if the Knight headed to g3. White often begins an attack along the h-file with h4-h5 followed by O-O-O.


7... Bg7

Black's alternatives are not much better:

a) 7... b5 8. Bb3 Bg7 9. Nbd2 O-O 10. Nf1 Na5 11. Bc2 c5 12. Ne3 Nc6 13. h4 h6 14. Bxf6 Bxf6 15. h5 g5 16. Nh2 Bg7 17. Bb3 Be6 18. Nhg4 Ne7 19. Qf3 Qc8? (19... Qd7! 20. Nf6+ Bxf6 21. Qxf6 Bxb3 (21... Kh7) 22. axb3 (22. Qxh6!?) 22... Qe6 23. Qxe6 fxe6) 20. Nxh6+! Bxh6 21. Qf6 Kh7 (21... Bxb3 22. Qxh6!) 22. Qxe7 Qd8 23. Qxd8 Rfxd8 24. Bd5 1-0 Milosevic,G-Zindel,E/Zuerich 2005 (53)


b) 7... h6 8. Bh4 Bd7 9. Nbd2 Bg7 10. Nf1 Ne7 11. Bb3 c6 12. Ne3 Qc7 13. Qc2!? O-O 14. d4 Rfe8?! 15. dxe5 dxe5 16. Bxf6 Bxf6 17. h4 Nc8 18. h5 Bronstein - Dely, Moscow 1962

8. Nbd2 O-O 9. Nf1 Bd7

This is not a move likely to be played again at the GM level.


Best is 9... h6 10. Bh4 when the best scheme for Black (approved by Nigel Davies in "Play 1.e4 e5!") is 10... b5!

(10... Ne7 leads to play similar to Benjamin-Kaidanov after 11. Bb3 c6 12. Ne3 Qc7 13. h3 b5 14. g4 Bb7 15. Bxf6 Bxf6 16. g5 hxg5 17. Ng4 Kg7?! (17... Bg7 18. h4!? gxh4 19. Qd2!) 18. Qd2 Ng8 19. h4 Qd7 20. Rg1 (20. Nxf6 Nxf6 21. hxg5 Nh5 22. O-O-O Qg4) 20... gxh4 21. Nxf6 Nxf6 22. Nxh4 Rh8 23. Qg5 Rxh4? (23... Rh5 24. Nf5+ Qxf5 25. exf5 Rxg5 26. Rxg5) 24. Qxh4 Rh8 25. Qg5 Rh5 26. Qd2 c5 27. O-O-O c4 28. dxc4 Nxe4 29. Qe3 Rh3 30. f3 Nf6 31. c5! Rxf3 32. Qe1 a5 33. cxd6 a4 34. Bc2 Qe6 35. a3 Bd5 36. Qe2 e4 37. Qxb5 Qxd6 38. Qxa4 Qf4+ 39. Kb1 g5 40. Rxd5 Nxd5 41. Qxe4 Rf1+ 42. Rxf1 Qxf1+ 43. Ka2 Nf6 44. Qe5 g4 45. a4 Qf2 46. Qf5 Qe3 47. Bd1 g3 48. Bf3 Nd7 49. a5 Ne5 50. Bd5 f6 51. Qc8 Qf4 52. Qb7+ Kh6 53. Qb4 Qf2 54. Qd4 1-0 Morozevich,A-Khalifman,A/Moscow 2005)

11. Bb3 (11. Bc2!?) 11... Na5

(a) 11... Be6!? 12. Ne3 Qd7 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14. h4 h5 15. Ng5 Bxb3 16. axb3 Bxg5 17. hxg5 Qe7 18. g4 h4 19. Rxh4 Qxg5 20. Rh1 Kg7= Volokitin,A-Levin,F/Lvov,2001(1/2-1/2)(29))


(b) Davies suggests instead 11... Nb8 with the idea of Bb7 and Nbd7.)

12. Bc2 c5 (12... d5!?) 13. Ne3 Bb7

(a) 13... Be6 14. d4 exd4 15. cxd4 g5 16. Bg3 d5 17. exd5 (17. e5!?) 17... Nxd5 18. O-O Nb4 Bitansky,I-Mikhalevski,A/Tel-Aviv,2002(0-1)(40))


(b) 13... Nc6 14. h3 Be6 15. Nh2 Qd7 16. g4 Nh7 17. Qf3= Smyslov,V-Konstantinopolsky,A/Sverdlovsk,1943(1-0)(61))

14. b4 (perhaps better 14. g4 d5! or 14. O-O!? Golod) 14... cxb4 15. cxb4 Nc6 16. a3 Ne7 17. O-O Rc8 18. Bb3 Qd7 19. Qd2 Nh5 20. Bxe7 Qxe7 21. Nd5 Bxd5 22. Bxd5 Nf4 23. Bb3 Qd7 24. h3 Rc3 25. Bc2 Rfc8 26. Ra2 h5 27. Kh2 Bh6 28. Bb1 Kg7 29. Qd1 Rc1 30. Qxc1 Rxc1 31. Rxc1 Nxg2 32. Rc3 Nf4 33. Ng1 d5 34. Rac2 dxe4 35. dxe4 Qd1 36. Rc1 Qd2 37. R3c2 Qd4 38. Nf3 Qxe4 39. Rc3 Qe2 40. Kg3 h4+ 41. Nxh4 Qh5 0-1 Schneider,D-Golod,V/New York 2003


10. Ne3

Traditionally, the Knight went to g3, but as we see from the games noted above, Ne3 is more flexible, allowing the Bishop to retreat to h4 and checking Black's ...d5 advance.


10... Ne7 11. Bb3

Keeping a strong attacking piece on the board. The Bishop is well positioned here to stop ...d5 and to put pressure on Black's King.


11... c6 12. Bxf6!

Removing Black's best piece, which supported a potential ...d5 advance and was critical for defending the King.


12... Bxf6 13. h4! h5

Without the Knight at f6, this move may be forced to stop the opening of the h-file.


14. g4!

Blowing open the kingside, which will create a challenging defensive task for Black.


14... hxg4

14... Bxg4 15. Nxg4 hxg4 16. Nh2


15. Nd2

Watching the game live, I had expected 15. Nh2 but perhaps then 15... g3!?


15... Kg7

No better are 15... g3 16. Qf3! or 15... Qc8 16. h5 g5?! 17. Ndc4!


16. Nxg4 Ng8 17. Qf3!?

17. h5 g5?! 18. h6+ Kh7 19. Qf3


17... Bxh4!

If Back is going to come under attack, at least he can have a pawn for his troubles. White will, however, now have an open h-file.


18. O-O-O Bg5 19. Rdg1 Nf6

Black has replaced the Knight at f6, but White's pieces have assumed powerful attacking positions in the meantime.


20. Ne3! Bxe3 21. Qxe3 Rh8 22. f4!

Threatening f5!


22... Ng4 23. Qf3

More natural seems 23. Qg3 Qf6! 24. f5 Rxh1 25. Rxh1 gxf5 26. exf5 Bxf5 27. Bd1 Rg8! 28. Bxg4 Kf8 29. Rf1 Qg6 30. Rxf5 Qxf5 31. Bxf5 Rxg3 32. Bc8


23... Rxh1

More forcing and stronger may have been 23... Qf6! 24. Rxh8 (24. f5 Rxh1 25. Rxh1 gxf5) 24... Rxh8 25. Rxg4 Bxg4 26. Qxg4 Rh1+ 27. Kc2 Qxf4


24. Rxh1 exf4

24... Qf6 25. Qh3!


25. Qh3

25. Qxf4 Qf6 26. Qg3 Be6


25... Qh8 26. Qf3 Qd8! 27. Qxf4 Qe7

Better seems 27... Qf6


28. Nc4 d5 29. exd5 cxd5 30. Nb6!

Gaining the advantage of Bishop for Knight, which will prove central to White's winning strategy in the ending.


30... Rh8 31. Qd4+ f6 32. Rxh8 Kxh8 33. Nxd7 Qxd7 34. Qxd5 Qxd5 35. Bxd5 b6

A fascinating endgame has now arisen. As GM Susan Polgar suggests at her blog, this is a wonderful training position, ideal for playing from both sides against a study partner or a computer, since it teaches a tremendous amount about the relative advantages of Knights and Bishops. Generally, the Bishop is better than the Knight with passed pawns on both sides of the board. His King is also a little closer to the center. These two advantages definitely give White the edge, but it is not clear that they are sufficient to force the win against best play, especially considering that Black's passed pawns are already free to advance.


36. Kd2 Kg7?!

My gut says Black must throw his pawns forward at any cost: 36... f5! incidentally creating a good retreat square for the Knight at f6, when Black's pawns get more mobile to keep the White King on the kingside while the Black King and Knight prepare to wage battle on the queenside against the Bishop and pawns. For example: 37. c4 Nf6 38. Bb7 a5 39. Ke3 g5 40. d4 Kg7 41. c5 f4+ 42. Kf3 bxc5 43. dxc5 Kf7 44. c6 Nd5 45. Kg4 Nc7! 46. b3 Ke7 47. Kxg5 f3 48. Bc8 f2 49. Bh3 Kd6 50. Kf4 (50. Bg2?? Nd5!!) 50... Nd5+ 51. Kg3 Nc3 52. Kxf2 Nxa2 starts to look like a draw.


37. c4 Kf8 38. d4 Ke7 39. Bf3! Nh6 40. b4 Nf5 41. Kd3 Nh4 42. Bb7 a5 43. bxa5 bxa5 44. c5 f5

Suddenly the position has been transformed and White's passers completely mobilized and triumphant. Black's pawns, in the meantime, have barely advanced as his Knight has wasted time hopping from place to place only to end up on the grim rim. If a defense could have been offered, this was not it.


45. d5 f4 46. d6+ Kd7 47. Ke4

Black resigns. White either wins the f-pawn or gets his King to e5 when his own pawns will queen after 47...f3 48.Ke5! f2 49.c6+ Ke8 (49...Kd8?? 50.c7+!) 50.Ba6 and White will soon Queen while Black will not. The superiority of the Bishop over the Knight is very clear here.



Copyright © 2006 by Michael Goeller

Game in PGN