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Thursday, April 28, 2016

An Amazing Benko Gambit by Lev Alburt

     Before arriving in the U.S. in 1979 Lev Alburt (born August 21, 1945 in Orenburg, Russia) was three-time Ukrainian Champion and subsequently won the U.S. Championship three times (1984, 1985 and 1990). Today he writes a popular column for Chess Life in which he annotates instructional games submitted by class players. Alburt is a long time advocate of Alekhine's Defense has a variation named after him and he did much to popularize the Benko (or Volga) Gambit. 
     His opponent in this game, Czech GM Vlastimil Hort, was one of the world's strongest players during the 1960s and 1970s he and qualified for the 1977–78 Candidates Tournament. "You know I am a chess entertainer. I want to entertain people. If they want to learn something I'm happy." 
     Writing about the Benko Gambit, Alburt stated that its lines do not require the intense study, exact and deep knowledge that is usually required of other openings. Understanding its underlying values and strategical considerations is much more important than memorizing specific lines. Albut became intrigued with it shortly after reading an article in Chess Life and Review by Walter Browne. He realized that the ending is better for black and was thus converted to a staunch supporter of the Benko. 
     In the following game, which I have been meaning to look at for a long time, Alburt developed a winning position with a timely Q-sacrifice. What makes the game remarkable is not only the Q-sac, but the position at move 29 where of Hort's own Q was “trapped” by its own pieces. It also demonstrates the importance of squares, diagonals, ranks and files and piece activity.

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