Chess Notes

Weekly chess column

The “4NCL”  ( is the English team league played across the British Isles each October to May. It is basically their “German Bundesliga” or “French Nationale.” It is a quasi-professional league with $10,000 in prizes offered this year. “4NCL” stands for the “Four Nations Chess League” with the four members being England, Ireland, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, but these days it is a truly international league attracting some of the best players in the world. Today’s game is an energetic one between veteran player Mark Hebden and the relatively young and always entertaining Simon Williams, where as Black, Williams, gives the Benoni a go and Hebden, seemingly caught somewhat off guard, responds poorly.


2013-2014 4NCL Division 1a

Hinckley Island, England

Mark L. Hebden (2549)
vs. Simon K. Williams



1.d4 Nf6! 2.c4 c5! The Benoni is a great choice by the always enterprising “Ginger GM,” as Simon Williams bills himself. Benoni comes from the Hebrew “Ben-noni," meaning “son of my sorrow.” And, at times, playing it can be very sorrowful! This aggressive opening is well suited to Williams’s style. 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nf3 g6 7.Bf4 One of the quieter and more offbeat choices for White. It tries to target Black’s weak d-pawn and to generally discombobulate Black. 7...a6 8.Nd2 Heading for the very important c4 square and more pressure on d6. 8...Nh5 9.Qa4+?! A dubious move if he doesn’t play the obvious next. 9… b5!? A bluff or something new. The normal is 9…Qd7 but after 10.Qe4+ Black has not scored well. Just wondering but what was Black going to do after the obvious 10.Nxb5? The computer just thinks White winning after axN 11.QxR but the computer softens its opinion after a few moves: 11.Qxa8 Qb6 12.Bg3 Bd7 13.Qa3 Bg7 14.Qe3+ Kf8 15.0–0–0 Bd4 16.Qf3 Nxg3 17.hxg3 h5 18.Ne4 Bg4 where Black is better. I was able to find only game where 10.Nxb5 was tried: 10…axN 11.QxR Qb6 12.Qa3Nxf4 13.Qe3+ Ne6 14.dxe6 Bxe6 15.Qc3 Rg8 16.e3 Bg7 17.Qc2 Nc6 18.a4 Nb4 19.Qc1 bxa4 20.Nc4 Bxc4 21.Qxc4 d5 22.Qb5+ Qxb5 23.Bxb5+; Walter – Berelowitsch, 2012, 0-1, 31, even though it is more or less equal now. 10.Qe4+10...Be7 11.Bg5 Ra7 12.Bxe7? A serious error in judgment by the veteran Hebden. 12.Bh6 was required. Now, White’s queen gets buffered to and fro, his king never finds a safe home and his bishop is long forgotten. 12...Rxe7 13.Qf3 Nd7 14.e3 Ne5 15.Qd1 Bg4 16.Qc2 Bad is 16.Be2 as after 16...BxB 17.KxB is forced due to 17.QxB Nf4!. White has a dim future with his king on e2. If 16.f3 then 16…Bc8 and there will be problems on the e-file. 16...c4 17.Nce4 0–0 18.h3 Bf5 19.Qc3 Qb6 20.a3 Nd7 21.g4 Bxe4 22.Nxe4 Nf4 23.Qc2 If 23.exf4 Rxe4+ 24.Be2 (24.Kd1 Qxf2) 24...Rfe8 wins 23...Rfe8 24.0–0–0 Rxe4 25.exf4 Rxf4 26.Rh2 Ne5 27.Qd2 Re4 28.Rg2 a5 Black has a huge advantage here. He is up a pawn, his pieces are flying, and White’s king is in a precarious situation and why is White’s rook on g2? 29.f4 Nf3 30.Qf2 Re3 No queen exchange right now, thank you! 31.Kb1 Qc5 32.Rc1 Qxd5 Now, two pawns up. 33.a4 c3 34.bxc3 If 34.Qc2 Ne1 or if 34.Rxc3 Rxc3 35.bxc3 Qb3+ 36.Kc1 Qxc3+ both winning 34...b4 35.Bb5 Finally. 35...bxc3 36.Qa2 Qe4+ 37.Rgc2 Rc8 38.f5 Nd4 38…Re1 seems to be better. For example: 38...Re1 39.Qa3 Nd4 40.Ka2 Nxc2 41.Bc6 Rxc1 42.Qxc1 Qc4+ 43.Kb1 Qb3+ 44.Qb2 Qxb2# 39.Rd1 Re1 40.Rxe1 Qxe1+ 41.Rc1 c2+:0–1 there is no saving either his king or his material.