Chess Opening Theory/1. d4/1...Nf6/2. c4/2...c5/3. d5

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Benoni Defence
a b c d e f g h
8 a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 2
1 a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position in Forsyth-Edwards Notation (FEN)
Moves: 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5
Parent: Indian Defence

Benoni Defence[edit | edit source]

Here the most popular opening is the Modern Benoni: 3...e6. This will surrender some space to White, and invariably create a weakness on d6, but in return Black gets excellent play on central dark squares, a queenside majority, and use of e5. The Modern Benoni was a favorite of counterattacking players in the 1970s and 1980s, and World Champions Tal, Fischer, and Kasparov used it in their repertoire. Black's main ideas are to advance the queenside majority, create a support point on e5, and to pressure the queenside in general. White, meanwhile, is trying to effect e4-e5, target d6, kingside attack, and sometimes simply squashing Black with his extra space. The Modern Benoni, however, suffered a large defeat with the arrival of the Taimanov Variation, 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.f4 Bg7 8.Bb5+!, which rendered the Benoni all but unplayable. Thus, most players will choose to play a different move-order to reach the Benoni, by going to the Nimzo-Indian first, 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6, and if White plays 3.Nc3, then Black satisfies himself with 3...Bb4, but if White avoids this with 3.Nf3, then 3...c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nc3 g6, and White will have to satisfy himself with either the old main line, 7.e4 Bg7 8.Be2, the current main line, 7.h3 Bg7 8.e4 O-O 9.Bd3, or the Fianchetto Variation, 7.g3 Bg7 8.Bg2.

The Benko or Volga Gambit was revived by Hungarian-American GM Pal Benko in the early 1970s (it enjoyed a brief period of popularity in the mid-1950s). This usually runs 3...b5 4.cxb5 a6. Black's development speeds up and obtains a more compact pawn structure: one pawn island vs. two. They also gain strong queenside pressure using a kingside fianchetto and his two open files on the queenside. This pressure may last into the endgame. However, today it is judged as +/= because Black has no tactical chances, and practice has shown that White can weather the storm, keeping his extra pawn. Alternatively, the Zaitsev line is very sharp and complicated, when White plays 5.Nc3 axb5 6.e4 b4 7.Nb5.

Alternatively, ...e5 and ...d6 are played together in order to close the center and keep it solid. The idea is to build up a solid wall that both players will have trouble breaking. The problem is that White has a huge space advantage and can play for pawn breaks on either side of the board.

Theory table[edit | edit source]

For explanation of theory tables, see theory table and for notation, see algebraic notation..

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5

3 4 5 6 7
Modern Benoni d5
Benko Gambit ...
Czech Benoni ...


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References[edit | edit source]