A Quick Guide to the Benoni Defense

The Benoni Defense
The Old Benoni
1. d4 c5
Number of games in database: 2651
Years covered: 1843 to 2017
Overall record:
White wins 42.2%
Black wins 29.4%
Draws 28.4%
The Old Benoni, also known as the Benoni Gambit, is good for challenging white’s control of the
center. Of all the main variations of the Benoni, this one is the least sound, but it is easier to pick
up for less skilled players and is a good introduction to the Benoni Defense. Typically, white
responds to 1…c5 with 2. d5, allowing white to keep control of the center. From here, black
should try to transpose to the main position of the Czech Benoni. However, in lower level play,
white will often accept the pawn, playing 2. dxc5?! This takes tension away from the center and
loses a tempo, and is not a strong move for white. However, if you encounter this 2…e6 is the
strongest response, gaining some control of the center, threatening the c5 pawn, and keeping
with the general passive nature of the Benoni. White players eager to keep their material
advantage will typically play 3. b4, which can be challenged by 3…a4. More often than not, this
is met with 4. c3??. This leaves white’s queenside vulnerable to 4…Qf6!, winning the a1 rook.

Alexander Alekhine vs Grigory Levenfish
"St. Petersburg Spilled Blood" (game of the day Sep-28-2011)
St Petersburg (1912), St Petersburg RUS, Mar-31
Benoni Defense: Benoni-Indian Defense (A43) · 1-0

1. d4 c5 2. d5 Nf6 3. Nc3 d6 4. e4 g6 5. f4 Nbd7 6. Nf3 a6 7. e5 de5 8. fe5 Ng4 9. e6 Nde5 10. Bf4 Nf3 11.
gf3 Nf6 12. Bc4 fe6 13. de6 Qb6 14. Qe2 Qb2 15. Nb5 Qa1 16. Kf2 Qh1 17. Nc7 Kd8 18. Qd2 Bd7 19. ed7

Akiba Rubinstein vs Rudolf Spielmann
Bad Pistyan (1912), Bad Pistyan CZE, rd 6, May-27
Benoni Defense: Old Benoni (A43) · 0-1

1. d4 Notes by Dr. Savielly Tartakower. *** The building up of an attack by the second
player - especially in an opening both peculiar and difficult to handle - is a special art.
We shall be able to follow some its guiding principles
here. 1... c5 2. d5 d6 3. c4 g6 4. e4 Bg75. Bd3 e6 It will be noticed that Black carefully
refrains from blocking the long diagonal either by 5...e5 or, even temporarily,
by 5...Nf6. 6. Nc3 Ne7 7. Nge2 Here 7.f4, followed by Nf3, leads to more straightforward

Qd7 19. Bh6 Ke8 27. Kh1 Nf5 Black's attack has quickly assumed a concrete form. it is only to gain control of the center through e4... Re8 Qf3 29. Dlugy Variation (A57) · 0-1 . Nf3 Re8 13. black captures the bishop and white has to recapture with the king. Bg1 Qg231. Be3 Bf6 23. rd 29...7% Draws 27. Kf1 Qh1 30.Kg1 f5 (or 20. Ke 1 Qg1 32. Nd5 ed5 24..2% Black wins 31. c4 c5 3. Qh7 Re6 26. Ng5 Nf8 16. Be4 Bd4 14. Moscow RUS. Nc3 Nbd7 7. d5 b5 4.g4?? Qh4. as it leads to strong development and control for black. The text move announces the well-known attack by 15. f4 Nf610. Re1 Kf8 17. black should fianchetto the kingside bishop to strengthen control of the board. Re8Bf1 27. Bg5 N8d7 20. f5 h6 17. Bc4 O-O 12. de6 fe6 15. b6 d6 6. etc. 18. Paris FRA Benko Gambit: Accepted. b3 Rhe8 24. Alexey Shirov vs Arnaud Hauchard "Pair of Queens Beats a Full House" (game of the day Dec-07-2004) Paris (1990). O-O e5 14. cb5 a6 5. If white ignores the pin and plays e4 without fianchettoing. It is typically continued with 4. g3 Evedently not 18. fg6 hg5 19. Bf5 Bf5 16. bxa6 Bxa6.g3 Be4+ 20. cxb5 a6 5. O-O h4 12. difficult to play position. pinning the e pawn to white’s bishop. e5 de5 18. and White's position remains restricted. Rac1 Kg722. Qh3 Qc6 23. Nov-22 Benko Gambit: Accepted. It is ideal to tempt a queen for queen exchange because the queen is white’s best chance at equalizing after the opening.development. h3 18.Bg2). Qf3White seeks to avoid fresh weaknesses.Ng3+. Benko Gambit (A57) 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 b5 Number of games in database: 3284 Years covered: 1922 to 2017 Overall record: White wins 41. 7. 17. 15. Ra8 Qd3 28.Nxg1 h2.Be3 Bxc318. Qf3 Ra7 21. Rd5 Kf8 25. Bf2 Bf3 25.g. Qf1 Qf5 21. Pawn Return Variation (A57) · 1-0 1.. Nge4Ne4 13. Bd2 Bg4 20.bxc3 h3 19. losing the ability to castle. If white chooses to release the pin by fianchettoing the bishop.. g7 Rh6 30. as the bishop on g2 would be blocked by the d5 pawn. Qh8 Ke7 29. Ng3 h5 Sounding the general attack. Rf7 Kf7 31..1% The Benko Gambit is the most popular form of the Benoni. Rad1 Qb7 22. a5 Qc7 9. 11. e. ed5 8. Qd8 Shakhriyar Mamedyarov vs Magnus Carlsen World Blitz Cup (2007). and puts white in an awkward. if 17.Rg1 Qxg1!35.. g8Q Ke7 32. e4 g6 10.. Kg1 Bg2 26. d4 Nf6 2. ed5 Nd7 9. a4 Qb6 8. Either way. Qg7 Nd5 28. Kd2 Qh2 For if 33.Ne2 Qg2 34.. f4 Bg7 11.

but black is ready to continue a powerful kingside attack that white will have to devote everything to in order to defend successfully. d4 Nf6 2. After this sequence. Rfd2 Bd4 29. g5 h5 56. Ng4 Bg7 17. Nd2 a6 12. Nc5 Rd6 36. cd5 Qe7 25. Nc3 O-O 8. Nh6 Qf6 29. d5 b5 4. Rc6 Rf5 37. R3c5 Kf8 41. h4 Qc7 14. Qc4 Kf8 24. Vienna AUT. Qh7 Kf8 28. c4 c5 3. however it is crucial that you have a pawn on g6 and a knight on g7 to defend the pawn and strengthen the push. Nc3 e6 7.d5 e5 The Czech Benoni is the most solid line. Kg5 Ree7 47. Nd5 Ra3 58. the . Rec3 Rdf7 38. Nf3 c5 3. The main line continues 4. rd 15. Be2 Nbd7 14. Rd7 Red8 28. Be2 O-O 8. exf5! gxf5 14. Kh3 Rff7 40. Kg2 Kf5 50. f5 Rfe7 44. b5 Qb6 25. c4 Bb7 5. O-O Ne8! 9. b6 Na5 35. Bf7 Kf7 12. Sep-09 Benko Gambit: Declined. g4 Kf7 45. Kh4 Ke7 42. Nf3 Nbd7 7. Rb8 Carlos Enrique Guimard vs Paul Keres Gothenburg Interzonal (1955). b7 Rb6 37. Be3 cb2 17. Bf2 de4 15. O-O g6 11. f4. Qb3 Qa5 7. Nh3 Bb7 10. Qh7 Kd6 The Czech Benoni 1. Kf3 Ra3 51. h6 gh6 35. a4 e6 9. Kh5 Re1 46. a6 Ra5 32. Bf4 Qg6 23. Qf2 Nd5 24. Rae1 d6 15. Nf4 e5 33. Nc3 d6 5. Ne5 Kg8 14. If white’s kingside is built up powerfully. cb5 a6 5. Rf2 Nc3 27. Nc6 Qe8 16. Nd1 e6 8. d4 Nf6 2. Gothenburg SWE. f3 g6 6. Qh6 Ke7 32. h5 Ra5 34. Rac1 Kf7 21. Ne3 Ke5 Akiba Rubinstein vs Rudolf Spielmann Vienna (1922). c4 Bb7 5. Nf3 c5 3. e4 Bg7 7. If white ignores black’s powerful position and strays too greatly from this line. Bc4 dc3 11. a4 bc4 6. Nb5 Ne5 17. Kf2 Nd4 31. d5 b5 4. Kf1 Ra2 46. h4 Nd4 43. a5 Rb8 30. Qc3 Qe6 20. Kg1 Nb3 42. Bg6 Rf5 22. Qe3 Rg5 23. e4 Be7 6. d5 b5 4. Nf6 Ra7 54. Rfe1 Rhe8 22. h5 ed5 18. d4 Nf6 2. Rh6 Kg7 36. hg6 hg6 19. g3 Rd7 29. Main Line (A57) · 0-1 1. Bd6 Qd6 25. It follows classical chess strategy. Nf6 Kg7 47. R2d4 Ne2 30. e4 Ne4 8. g3 Ra4 40. Ne2 Nb3 34. Kg2 Ke5 52. it can be pushed early. Rad1 Qc6 22. with white building a strong pawn center and focusing on development over long term position. Ne4 ed5 9. Nov-28 Benko Gambit: Declined. O-O Bd6 19. Qc2 g6 10. Kf3 Kf5 57. Qb7 Nc6 15. One fatal weakness of this defense is that if white plays Ne6!. rd 12. Na6 Qf2 26. Re6 fe6 21. Qg5 Nc6 24. Re1 Bd5 27. Nb7 fe2 19. Be3 d5 12. g4 Ke5 55. f3 Bh6 31. Nf4 Ra2 41.c4 c5 3. Re5 de5 30.d4 Nf6 2. Nf2 Kf6 49.1. Qh5 Ne5 26. e4 Ne4 9. white has a slight advantage. Nd7 Ne2 44. O-O ab5 16. Nd7 Rb7 38. If white doesn’t set up a counter to f7-f5 early enough. Ne3 O-O 13. Nc5 Neg4 21. Rb5 Kf8 43. Ng5 Qd7 20. Bh6 Ng7 11. Ne2 Re2 45. f4 Rd7 39. Kg2 Ra2 33. de6 fe6 11. Bc5 Re8 13. Nd6 ef3 18. Qe2 Qd5 20. Bd3 Nf6 10. Re3 Qd5 26. Nc3 d4 10. Ng4 Kd4 53. Ne5 Rb4 39. Main Line (A57) · 1-0 1. Bg5 Bg7 12. a3 f5!? 13. a b7-b5 push should suffice to launch a queenside attack. Bf6 Bf6 16. Ng4 Kf7 48. Rc6 Red8 28. he is unlikely to be able to defend against black’s f7-f5 push. b4 Nf2 23. Qc6 Qc6 27. Rd8 Rd8 32. Nc3 b4 6. Qb3 c4 13. h4 Rb5 31. Qb2 dc6 18. but is often criticized for being too passive.

e4 Be7 6. because white has many options and it is difficult to be prepared for them all. b3 Re8 13. h3 Ne8?! 9. Nc4 Qf4 38. gf4 Re8 15. Kh1 Rad8 28. rd 1 Benoni Defense: Czech Benoni Defense (A56) · 1-0 1. 7…Nbd7 8. white sets himself up to counter the crucial f5-f7 push. Bd3 a6 10.entire defense can fall apart. Qg2 Qa6 33. Ne2 Qf7 23. O-O-O Rh5 36. Bb2 Bd8 22. Kh3 h5 42. Black needs to be extremely careful when white plays the modern line. a pawnstorm can put white in a tricky position. Rc7 Qh3 30. Be3 Ng7 11. Bc4 f5 18. respectively. d5 e5 4. Rg1 Nc7 12. Kg2 Rc2 40. Qa5 Rd3 The Modern Czech Benoni 1. Rg4 Qe7 25. This is very difficult to play for black. d5 e5 4. Nd6 Rd8 39. Nc5 Qd6 34. However. Capturing the knight with the bishop is recommended if this happens. Right off the bat. Rac1 b6 22. Qc2 Bb2 33. because Nf3 and Bd3 are almost always played by white. Bc5 Kh7 44. Nc3 d6 5. Kb1 Rb7 39. Monte Carlo MNC. Nf4 Bc8 24. e4 Be7 6. a4 Rb8 11. Black should play 6…O-O. Rg3 Qf7 26. Ne4 Ne5 19. Ba7 Rb2 43. it will lead to a slight variation of the Classical Czech Benoni. d4 Nf6 2. Nd4 Qg4 27. Ne3 e4 21. often forcing material sacrifices or destroying white’s pawn structure. This opening has much more information than I can reasonably cover so if you’re interested you should study it in more depth independently. f4 ef4 14. Rg6 Re5 35. h3 Nbd7 8. d4 Nf6 2. Bg1 Bb7 23. a5 Nc7 28. Nf3 O-O 7. Mar-28 Benoni Defense: Czech Benoni Defense (A56) · 0-1 1. Bc5 Bg7 21. e5 de5 17. Bg2 O-O 8. however moves are often played in different orders or played with slightly different moves by white. O-O g6 10. d4 Nf6 2. Nd6 Bf5 40. h4 b5 14. Qg3 Qf1 32. but 6…Nbd7 is also playable. ef5 Bf5 19. I will assume that white plays this for turns 6 and 7. Nc5 Bg2 25. O-O. Qd5 Rcc8 37. Kh1 Kh8 12. especially if white plans to play g2-g4. Rg3 Qh1 42. c4 c5 3. d6 Bf8 20. Bd4 Rd2 45. Qd2 Nf6 13. Nh2 bc4 17. c4 c5 3. c5 bc5 24. Ng6 Bf6 31. Ka2 Boris Gelfand vs Levon Aronian Amber Rapid (2006). Nfg2 Na8 27. rd 9. Qb2 Ng6 34. Nb7 Rc1 38. Kg2 Qc8 26. g3 Nbd7 7. Rdg1 Rh7 37. g4 Ne8 9. Garry Kasparov vs Anthony Miles Basel (1986). Nb7 Rd7 29. Nc3 d6 5. Qg2 Ng3 31. Nc7 Rc7 36. Nf1 Qd7 20. c4 c5 3. g4 will lead to the main position of this opening. Bg1 Ngh5 16. g6 hg6 30. Kg3 Kg8 41. e4 Be7 This is the response that a player who is more familiar with the Benoni will likely play. d5 e5 4. Nb5 Qc7 35. fe5 Ng4 18. Nc3 d6 5. Basel SUI. If white chooses to play 9. When launching the attack on the kingside. and . Rf6 Qh2 41. Nh4 Nb5 29. g5 Nf8 15. h5 Bd7 16. Bb5 Rb5 32. Nge2 Ne8 9.

Kg1 Rd4 36. Qf3 b6 29. Ndf3 Qb6 19. Rb1 Kf6 43.d4 and 2. Bernard Boyle vs Thomas Lane E.Bf4  1. Qe3 Nd4 19. Re2 a5 39.d4 White quickly develops his dark- squared bishopto f4 and normally bolsters his centre with [pawns on] c3 and e3 rather than expanding. e4 d6 6. hg6 hg6 16. Be4 Kf6 61.d4 but does not play the Queen's Gambit. Be4 Rg8 45. Kd3 h2 58. Nc3 Bg7 5. Kd3 Rd8 54. Bd3 O-O 7. Rf1 Bg6 49. Be4 Bh5 50. Bd3 a6 8. Bf3 Rf8 47. Bc2 Ne8 9. e3 e6 4.Bf4  1.Nf3 e6 3. de6 fe6 14. Bf3 Kg7 41. The London System is one of the Queen's Pawn Game openings where White opens with 1. Qf3 Re8 12.U. c4 c5 3. It normally results in a closed game. Rf1 Bd7 22.Nf3 g6 3. Ngf3 Bd7 7. f4 Nb4 12. Bf3 Rd8 London System The London System is a chess opening that usually arises after 1. Nd4 cd4 23.d4 d5 2. Qh3 Bc6 18.Nf3 & 3. Bf4 Nf6 3. d4 Nf6 2. Ne2 Rd8 27. Kf2 h5 38. Nf2 Bg6 52.Bf4. Ke3 Rd8 40. rd 10.Bf4 or 2. Rd1 Rd8 48. Ne5 cd4 10. d4 d5 2. rd 9 Queen Pawn Game: Sarratt Attack (D00) · 1-0 1. Ne4 Bc5 53. Fabiano Caruana vs Hikaru Nakamura Tata Steel (2013). Nf4 Bf7 30. Ke2 Be4 60. Qh7 Kf8 21. Nd3 Bd6 31. Kc2 g4 55. Jan-23 Benoni Defense: Modern Variation (A56) · 0-1 1. Qd4 Bc6 24. h3 Qg3 33. e5 de5 20. Cork IRL. Kh1 Ne3 18. Basically the London is a set of solid lines where after 1. d5 g6 4. Rad1 Ng4 16. a4 Na6 11. Qe3 Qh4 32. Qg3 Bg3 34. h4 Bf8 14. Personally I find 9…Kh8!? a good trap to lure white’s bishop away from d3. Championship and Cork Chess Congress (2005). Qf7# . It is a "system" opening that can be used against virtually any black defense and thus comprises a smaller body of opening theory than many other openings. Bb1 Nc6 17. Be4 Be8 28. Bf6 Bf6 20. h5 Bg7 15. Qg4 Qe7 25. Rb2 Bd6 42. Wijk aan Zee NED. Bf3 Rf8 51. Although it has the potential for a quick kingside attack. Rf1 Ke7 44. Rh1 Bg1 59. b3 Be5 26. Black needs to play with caution. Any player who wants to play the Benoni needs to study master games to see how it can be countered and played against.d4 Nf6 2. a4 Be7 9. Qd2 Nf6 15. the white forces are generally flexible enough to engage in a battle anywhere on the board. Nd2 c5 5.d4 Nf6 2. Be3 e6 13. Historically it developed into a system mainly from three variations:  1. O-O Nc7 10.Bf4.Nf3 Nf6 3. Rh1 h4 46. Re3 g5 37. ed4 O-O 11.needs to be creative to counter white’s setup. Rd1 Rf8 57. c3 Nc6 6. hg4 h3 56. fe5 Rf1 21. but the more experienced white player will likely not fall for this. Rf3 Bc7 35. g4 g6 13. Bg5 Nb8 17. Nge2 Nbd7 8.

Qh3 Qg8 49. Kh1 Nd7 15. Bf4 c5 4. h4 Bd6 34. Bd3 Qb6 7. g4 Qd8 29. Rf8 Qf8 54. Bg3 Bf8 30. Rh6 R7g5 48. Re2 h5 . Qe2 cd4 21. Bg6 Rg6 42. Nd7 Rd7 16. Nf3 Rdd8 17. Rf6 Rg3 50. Re2 Bf7 27. Qh2 Rg2 51. Qg2 Rg2 53. Rae1 Rd7 28. Nbd2 Rc8 9. Qh5 Rbg7 43. Rh2 b5 32. Bd6 Qd6 35. Apr-06 Queen Pawn Game: Zukertort Variation (D02) · 0-1 1. Qd3 Qd7 45. Qh6 ef5 40. Kg2 Qf4 55. f5 Rg8 39. ed4 Qb6 22. e3 Nc6 5. Friedrich Saemisch vs Akiba Rubinstein Dresden (1926). Rg1 Kh8 38. Qf5 Rg5 44. d4 d5 2. Nc6 Rc6 25. Re1 Rg4 46. Ne5 Rdd8 24. f3 Be7 31. Dresden GER. O-O g6 14. a3 Rb7 33. Bf5 Bg6 41. Qd2 f6 26. Qf1 Qf7 47. Bf4 Rd7 23. Ne5 Rfd8 12. f4 Rc8 36. Re1 a6 18. Bh2 Be8 13. rd 3. c3 Nf6 6. Qc1 Bd7 8. h5 gh5 37. Qh3 R5g3 52. h3 O-O 11. Qb1 Be7 10. Qd2 Qa7 20. Qc1 Kg7 19. Nf3 e6 3.