Last saturday I had my second OTB game. The boss from the local chess club didn’t tell me that she didn’t need me for the lower league but one higher, for the Carinthian county league. My opponent was a young and talented ELO 1760 player and I had Black.
I tried again to play the Benko Gambit and to my surprise my opponent used 5 minutes of his time to decide if he should accept it or not. After the game he told me that he didn’t like it so we played a Benoni. I was out of preparation very early and thought that the position was more or less equal. The computer engines (as usual) strongly disagree and give +0.6 and more advantage for White. After some weaker moves from White everything was completely equal, an endgame with rook + bishop + 4 pawns vs rook + bishop + 3 pawns was reached and I decided to accept the draw. My endgame technique is almost non-existing and chances were high that I would completely mess it up. My only advantage was that I had more time on the clock but with 30sec increment per move a blunder was not very likely.
I was satisfied with the result but need to study the position more (Soltis has one whole chapter about the pawn structures in the Benoni). After move 10 I had absolutely no plan how to proceed and wasted 2 moves playing my knight back and forth. Fortunately my opponent also had no feeling for the position and couldn’t find a way to break through. These closed games are not easy to play.
You can replay the game here.
Tonight is the final round of the STTourney, another chance for me to prove that the systematic training bears fruits.