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Benoni Defense

The Benoni Defense is a group of chess openings generally characterized by the opening moves 1. d4 c5 2. d5, although Black's ...c5 and White's answer d5 are often delayed. The most usual opening sequence for the Benoni is 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5. Black can then sacrifice a pawn by 3...b5 (the Benko Gambit), but if Black does not elect this line then 3...e6 is the most common move (though 3...d6 or 3...g6 are also seen, typically leading to main lines).

Contents


Etymology

"Benoni" is a Hebrew term meaning "son of my sorrow" (cf. Genesis 35:18) – the name of an 1825 Manuscript about this opening.[1]

Old Benoni

The Old Benoni starts with 1.d4 c5. The Old Benoni may transpose to the Czech Benoni, but there are a few independent variations. This form has never attracted serious interest in high-level play, though Alexander Alekhine defeated Efim Bogoljubow with it in one game of their second match, in 1934. The Old Benoni is sometimes called the Blackburne Defense, after Englishman Joseph Henry Blackburne, the first player known to have used it successfully.[2]

Czech Benoni

In the Czech Benoni, also sometimes known as the Hromadka Benoni, after Karel Hrom dka, Black plays 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e5. The Czech Benoni is much more solid than the Modern Benoni, but it is also more passive. The middlegames arising from this line are characterised by much manoeuvring, as White will, in most lines, play to gain space in the center and kingside, while Black looks to break with ...b7 b5 or ...f7 f5 after due preparation.

Asa Hoffman has played the line throughout his career, and produced an instructive game versus Zaderman.[3]

Modern Benoni

The Modern Benoni usually begins after the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 (or Nf3) c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 or 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 (or Nf3) exd5 5.cxd5 d6. Then follows 6.e4 g6 7.Nf3 or 6.Nc3 g6 7.e4 (if Nf3 was played earlier). Obviously many transpositions are possible. The Modern Benoni is a risky attempt by Black to unbalance the position and gain active piece play, at the cost of allowing White a pawn wedge at d5 and a central majority. White usually plays for a central break with e5, while Black tries to effect ...b5. Black will fianchetto his king's bishop and castle on the kingside, playing for attack on the queenside with ...b7 b5 and in the semi-open e-file. Although it is not unknown for Black to play also on the kingside with, for example, a breakout with Nh5 in conjunction with f5, Fischer and Kasparov won famous games with this strategy against Spassky and Korchnoi respectively. White will play for a central initiative and simultaneously try to muzzle Black's counterplay.

Compared to the usual lines of the King's Indian Defense, Black's fianchettoed bishop is far more active, as it is not blocked by a black pawn on e5. However, not having the pawn on e5 makes White's center more fluid; and some of the sharpest ideas for White are based on a central breakthrough with e5. The Modern Benoni is thus a very combative and double-edged opening; indeed, it is one of the most risky defences to 1.d4. Some White players who prefer to steer clear of the highly theoretical main line's sharp battles decide to avoid the Benoni altogether; after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 they play 3.Nf3, which may lead to a quiet symmetrical variation of the English Opening.

Tal popularized the defense in the late 1950s and early 1960s by winning several brilliant games (notably against Botvinnik in a World Championship game), though he largely gave it up after a shattering defeat inflicted by Viktor Korchnoi in the 1962 Soviet Championship at Erevan. Bobby Fischer occasionally adopted it, with good results, including a win in the significant third game of the 1972 world championship match against Boris Spassky.

The Taimanov Variation, or 'Flick-Knife Attack',[4] is a dangerous line arising from the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.f4 Bg7 8 Bb5+. 8...Nfd7 is considered the safest response to the check; 8...Nbd7 is also playable but more risky as, inevitably, Black will have to sacrifice material of some sort after 9.e5. Garry Kasparov, Jo l Lautier and Vlastimil Hort have favored the Taimanov. To avoid the Taimanov, Black often plays 2...e6 and waits until White plays 3.Nf3 before entering the Benoni with 3...c5. If White refuses to play 3.Nf3, and plays 3.Nc3 instead, Black may opt for the Nimzo-Indian (3...Bb4) instead of the Benoni. When using this move order, the white knight on f3 rules out the Taimanov.[5]

Encyclopedia of Chess Openings

The Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings has many codes for the Benoni Defense.

Old Benoni Defense:

  • A43 1.d4 c5

Czech Benoni:

  • A44 1.d4 c5 2.d5 e5

Benoni Defense:

  • A56 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5
  • A60 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6
  • A61 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nf3 g6

Fianchetto Variation:

  • A62 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nf3 g6 7.g3 Bg7 8.Bg2 0-0
  • A63 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nf3 g6 7.g3 Bg7 8.Bg2 0-0 9.0-0 Nbd7
  • A64 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nf3 g6 7.g3 Bg7 8.Bg2 0-0 9.0-0 Nbd7 10.Nd2 a6 11.a4 Re8

Modern Benoni:

  • A65 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4
  • A66 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.f4

Taimanov Variation:

  • A67 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.f4 Bg7 8.Bb5+

Four Pawns Attack:

  • A68 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.f4 Bg7 8.Nf3 0-0
  • A69 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.f4 Bg7 8.Nf3 0-0 9.Be2 Re8

Classical Benoni:

  • A70 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Nf3
  • A71 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Bg5
  • A72 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Be2 0-0
  • A73 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Be2 0-0 9.0-0
  • A74 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Be2 0-0 9.0-0 a6
  • A75 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Be2 0-0 9.0-0 a6 10.a4 Bg4
  • A76 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Be2 0-0 9.0-0 Re8
  • A77 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Be2 0-0 9.0-0 Re8 10.Nd2
  • A78 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Be2 0-0 9.0-0 Re8 10.Nd2 Na6
  • A79 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Be2 0-0 9.0-0 Re8 10.Nd2 Na6 11.f3

See also

  • Franco-Benoni (1.e4 e6 2.d4 c5)

References

Further reading

ca:Defensa Benoni cs:Obrana Benoni de:Benoni-Verteidigung es:Defensa Benoni fr:D fense Benoni it:Difesa Benoni he: kk: lb:Benoni-Verdeedegung nl:Ben-Oni (schaakopening) ja: no:Benoni (sjakk pning) pl:Obrona Benoni pt:Defesa Benoni ru: fi:Benoni-puolustus zh:






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