Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sawyer Gambit 7.g4!? in Benko

Paul Norton played the Benko Gambit vs me in 1981 at Allentown, Pennsylvania. Inspiration of the moment led me to a wild sacrifice that was a picture of my future gambit self. The Sawyer Gambit vs the Benko Gambit is the enterprising idea 7.g4!? that I invented on the spot. The idea is to gain time by quickly attacking the center and Black's kingside before he could attack my queenside.

The concept of deflecting Black's Nf6 away from e4 makes sense on some level. There is the Shirov-Shabalov Gambit in the Semi-Slav after 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.g4!? which is a hot topic nowadays. In our Benko, my 7.g4!? gambit worked in the sense that I took my opponent out of opening theory that he probably knew better than me. I got enough play to survive over the board in the final round while his clock was ticking. And yes, clocks actually did tick tock back then.

At some point in the year 1981 my rating was 1887. I use that rating for all my USCF games in 1981, though I was rapidly moving into the 1900s. All my opponents in this tournament were rated above me and I scored 2-3.

Loss vs David Kistler in Benoni Defence
Draw vs David Kushner in Gruenfeld Defence
Win vs Bruce Davis in Caro-Kann Defence
Loss vs William Dempler in Nimzo-Indian Defence
Draw vs Paul Norton in Benko Gambit (below)

Sawyer (1887) - Norton (1915), Allentown,PA (5), 14.06.1981 begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 Bxa6 6.Nc3 d6 7.g4!? [7.e4 Bxf1 8.Kxf1+/=] 7...Nxg4 8.e4 Ne5 [8...Bxf1 9.Kxf1 Nf6=/+] 9.f4 Bxf1 [Or 9...Ned7=] 10.Kxf1 Ned7 11.Nf3 g6 12.h4 Bg7 13.h5 Qa5 14.hxg6 hxg6 15.Rxh8+ Bxh8 16.Bd2 Qa6+ 17.Qe2 Qxe2+ 18.Kxe2 Na6 19.a3 c4 20.Be3 Rb8 21.Bd4 Bxd4 22.Nxd4 Rxb2+ 23.Ke3 Rg2 24.Nde2 g5 25.Kf3 Rh2 26.fxg5 Ne5+ 27.Ke3 Nc5 28.a4 Ned3 29.Kf3 Ne5+ 30.Kg3 Rh5 31.a5 Rxg5+ [Probably Black offered a draw here. He has an extra pawn and seems to stand slightly better. However, White has a passed pawn and his knights are in a solid position. Black cannot easily make progress and our ratings were close enough so that a draw will hardly move them. We were both out of the running for any prizes.] 1/2-1/2


You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Sicilian (1.e4 c5)
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