Chess puzzle #30: Viktor the Terrible gets crushed

The Benkö (Volga) Gambit is a rare guest at grandmaster level. But on club level it is a populair opening. Black gets a lot of pressure for his pawn and his position almost plays itself whereas white has to be constant on his guard.

The problem for white is that it is difficult to develop his pieces in a harmonious way. These are the reasons why this gambit is so popular among club players.

On grandmaster level this opening is a less frequent guest because it’s not considered to be completely sound. Grandmasters mainly use the Benkö as a surprise weapon. Grandmaster Vladimir Baklan won games with this gambit against Artur Yusupov, Sergey Volkov and Viktor Korchnoi!

Although Viktor Korchnoi was clearly past his prime in 2000, he still was a very strong player. But even he had trouble to fight the Benkö. After 17 moves the combatants reached the diagram position. Viktor has just played 17. Nf4-g2. What on earth could be wrong with this move?

The knight development Ng1-h3-f4 is a rare sideline in the fianchetto variation and it seems not to be a great idea. What is the knight doing on f4? Not too much! Maybe that is what went through Korchnoi’s mind. Viktor decided to withdraw his knight from f4. What was his idea? Maybe to chase the strong black knight on e5 away with the pawn push f4? Who knows.

But Viktor the Terrible clearly missed a simple tactic. How can black obtain a winning advantage with one crushing blow? Answer…

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