In the Know with the Benko
I've had time to reflect on my first encounter on the White side of a Benko. With business travel, I haven't had much chess time to write my blog, but aim to get back in the swing of things with a much needed short holiday.
I annotated my game (https://www.chess.com/blog/blohmoremoney/one-step-forward-two-steps-back) where I felt I made a bad positional decision in exchanging my Queen. This was supported by analysis that GM Bojkov undertook on my game.
He shed two excellent insights on the review of my game, which I believe I should document to help me consolidate my understanding of this position.
Development of the Light squared Bishop
On move 8, I considered the only possibility of developing White's light squared Bishop to be via g3 and Bg2. This is because if I move the e-pawn, Black would exchange Bishop's and I would lose the right to castle.
GM Bojkov made me aware that this isn't necessarily a bad thing. After say 8. e4 Bxf1 9. Kxf1, White then can follow up with g3 and Kg2. He is still a pawn up with light squared Bishops exchanged.
This really is a lesson for me in chess prejudice: believing that losing the right to castle is inherently bad. Nothing worse than prejudice in thinking:)
Illusion of Strength
In this critical position with White to move, I played 23. a4 with an attempt to mobilise my passed a-pawn. I called this "illusion of strength" or more so delusions of grandeur.
GM Bojkov highlighted to me that indeed White is playing on the wrong side of the board. Black has pressure on the Queenside, particularly the a- and b-files.
White's play should be a Kingside attack through the centre.
To that end, the possibility of 23. h4 g4 24. h5! Qxh5 25. Nh4 Bh7 26. Ne4 and suddenly White's pieces come alive in the centre of the board.
A lesson I'll take away in piece activity!