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Benoni Defense (A56)
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5

Number of games in database: 2745
Years covered: 1895 to 2020
Overall record:
   White wins 38.2%
   Black wins 31.0%
   Draws 30.8%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Svetozar Gligoric  38 games
Viktor Korchnoi  21 games
Vladimir Antoshin  15 games
Dragoljub Velimirovic  83 games
Florin Gheorghiu  30 games
Alexey Suetin  28 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
I Nei vs Petrosian, 1960
Spassky vs Ghitescu, 1967
Spassky vs Fischer, 1992
Timman vs Tal, 1973
Spassky vs Fischer, 1992
L Spassov vs Adorjan, 1977
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 page 1 of 110; games 1-25 of 2,745  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. W Rutherford / A Rutherford vs Lasker 1-0341895Consultation game, 2bA56 Benoni Defense
2. Burn vs Blackburne ½-½481898ViennaA56 Benoni Defense
3. W Gibson vs Blackburne  0-1331910BCF-ch 7thA56 Benoni Defense
4. Marshall vs Schlechter ½-½681911San SebastianA56 Benoni Defense
5. M Lowcki vs Duras 1-0271912Bad PistyanA56 Benoni Defense
6. L Gans vs Blackburne  1-0591914ENG-NED mA56 Benoni Defense
7. A Becker vs Gruenfeld 1-0421922Grünfeld - BeckerA56 Benoni Defense
8. Alekhine vs D H Mugridge 1-0211924Simul, 44bA56 Benoni Defense
9. Capablanca vs Marshall 1-0461928BerlinA56 Benoni Defense
10. H Steiner vs Kupchik  ½-½411929Manhattan Chess Club-chA56 Benoni Defense
11. E Klein vs L Reich 1-0651930GyorA56 Benoni Defense
12. G A Thomas vs Menchik 1-0461935Hastings 1934/35A56 Benoni Defense
13. G A Thomas vs Menchik  1-0461935Hastings 3435A56 Benoni Defense
14. F Bohatirchuk vs Menchik ½-½311935MoscowA56 Benoni Defense
15. Lilienthal vs Riumin ½-½321936MoscowA56 Benoni Defense
16. Fine vs Stahlberg 1-0281937MatchA56 Benoni Defense
17. Keres vs Hromadka 1-0361937PragueA56 Benoni Defense
18. Gilg vs Hromadka  1-0471938Praag Kautsky MemorialA56 Benoni Defense
19. Keres vs Panov  ½-½201939Leningrad/Moscow trainingA56 Benoni Defense
20. R Grau vs M Czerniak  ½-½411939Buenos AiresA56 Benoni Defense
21. Vladimir Petrov vs Panov  ½-½321940USSR ChampionshipA56 Benoni Defense
22. R Keller vs Hromadka  ½-½511942ChocenA56 Benoni Defense
23. K Petrik vs Hromadka  0-1471943ZlinA56 Benoni Defense
24. J Holas vs Hromadka  0-1471943ZlinA56 Benoni Defense
25. B Verlinsky vs V Liublinsky  ½-½511945URS-sfA56 Benoni Defense
 page 1 of 110; games 1-25 of 2,745  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 5 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-06-06  Caissanist: <ganstaman>: thanks a lot for clearing that up. It does seem that there's no real difference between "Old" and "Modern" most of the time, since black almost always winds up playing Nf6 anyway. Interesting opening, but I guess that's all it is.
Apr-06-06  jamesmaskell: <Agent Rgent> Wheres the errors in the notation? I cant see them.
Apr-06-06  who: 5.Bd6, 12.Bxc3
Apr-07-06  alicefujimori: <refutor><sure you can! 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 and only then ...c5 ;)>But what if White plays 3.Nc3 (ver common) and you want to play the Benoni? :)

<or tranpose by 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 c5 instead of the King's Indian-esque 6. ...e5>If I rememeber correctly, that line is not very good for Black in the KID.

Apr-07-06  refutor: <alicefujimori> if 3.Nc3 then you unleash the Nimzo ;)

as for the "not very good for Black in the KID line" after 7.d5 e6 it's a very good benoni

if he avoids it with 7.O-O Nc6 8.d5 Na5 looks awkward, but it's been played by a bunch of players at the GM level (yanofsky, velimirovic, fedorowicz, cheparinov) with good success

Apr-07-06  Zebra: There was also something called the Czech Benoni, which if I remember rightly involved ...e5 and a completely blocked centre. I can't remember the exact move order.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Open Defence: <Could anyone tell me what they consider to be the "Modern Benoni", and what is the "Old Benoni/Classical Benoni"?> The modern Benoni does not give White the chance to play an early e4 (not really as most of the popular lines go) but that was the idea anyway .. the traditional "Old" Benoni has typical variations in which White does often play an early e4 .. Black seeks to pressure the e4 square with Nf6 ... e.g. 1d4 Nf6 2c4 e6 3Nf3 c5 .... a typical modern Benoni line .. the Old Benoni can often transpose into some KID lines such as the Averbakh .. Four Pawns, etc
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Zebra: There was also something called the Czech Benoni, which if I remember rightly involved ...e5 and a completely blocked centre. I can't remember the exact move order. >

This puzzles. I can not quite figure out the pedigree of that variation. Pachman's "Modern Chess Theory" (1950's) coins the term <Hromadka Indian> for Modern Benoni buildups -- see Repertoire Explorer: Karel Hromadka (black) -- and since Pachman was a well regarded encyklopedist, especially of opening theory, one needs to assume that this strong Czech master, Hromadka, indeed played a key role in the early days of 'Modern Benoni'. But Hromadka and other Czech masters played either the 'Modern' brand and/or Benko/Volga-like variations (early sac with b7-b5). The only disciple of note of the 'Czech school' that I see to have played the <e5> variation was Vera Menchik; and she has had a rather uninspired record with it.

Apr-11-06  Zebra: <Gypsy> Right, I have looked up the position after 1 d4 Nf6, 2 c4 c5, 3 d5 e5 on this site, and found exactly as you say (though at least it is listed as "Czech Benoni"). No idea to be honest. Seeing positions like this put me off the Benoni altogether until Kasparov's games with the Modern Benoni got me interested.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Zebra: ... No idea to be honest. Seeing positions like this put me off the Benoni altogether until Kasparov's games with the Modern Benoni got me interested.> It was also a Black favorite of Tal, of course.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: I was surprised to see that there were so many Czech Benonis in the database:

I got a draw against a 2450 with it once. I am sure it's no good, but you can't help but have a warm feeling for an opening that gets you a result like that.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: As <gypsy> says, the pedigree is a puzzle, especially of what I think of as the pure Czech Benoni, 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e5 4 Nc3 d6 5 e4 Be7. Blackburne played it in 1898(!); after that most of the early examples seem to be Soviet.
Jun-02-06  Marmot PFL: I found an interesting Benoni game <Goldin vs A J Goldsby, 1998;, but when I tried to post they said the kibitzing area was locked!
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: Above, <Gypsy> mentions Hromadka. I noticed that there is what's known as the Hromadka System of the Benoni, which goes 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 d6 4. Nc3 g6 5. e4 Bg7 etc., with plans to play ...e6 and enter a normal looking Benoni. Black's ...d6 and ...g6 are interchangeable, but them occuring before black plays e6 seems to me to be what classifies this as the Hromadka system. Black can play ...e5 and enter the Czech Benoni, as discussed above, or play ...e6 and get the usual Benoni without having to face the Taimanov (no Bb5+ with white's pawn still on c4 :) ).

Anyone use this move order (for the purpose of avoiding the Taimanov or for any other reason)? Are there any major drawbacks to this move order that makes it not the main line? I'm starting to like the look of the Benoni again (after complaining about the lack of space, I'm starting to see how to appreciate the position anyway), and would like to avoid the Taimanov without having to have something like the Nimzo as a backup. The Hromadka System looks perfect as long as there's not some major glitch in it.

Jun-13-06  Bartleby: I'm an enthusiastic Benoni player. Sometimes I get mauled badly (same with the Dutch), but other times I get very dynamic counterplay of the likes that black can't get out of stolid, boring stuff like the Orthodox Defence and the Slav.

I'm not afraid of facing The Flick-Knife variation. The Benoni isn't for chessplayers who walk on eggshells in the opening. After Bb5+ Nfd7, black continues with customary castling and Re8, then ...Na6 ...Nc7 ...a6 ...Rb8 & a ...b5 push.

Sometimes I'll employ the Old Benoni without the trading off of e-pawns. Some of these positions can take a Benko-like favor at an opportune moment. In one tournament I had the good fortune to meet (and play in the final round) Emory Tate. In an early round I played one of Tate's pupils as black and he employed the Czech Benoni. I was shocked at how much trouble I got into from such a locked and cramped Houdini-looking opening and was lucky to draw.

Later when I spoke to Tate he revealed that he'd been employing the Czech Benoni in his games and teaching its finer points to its students!

"The Czech Benoni?!?! Who on earth *plays* that anymore?"

"Exactly! They never expect it while they're slowly being crushed!"

Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: So as exciting as the Benoni can be, some players with the white pieces get this idea of just boring their opponents into resignation. 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. e3/Nf3

:( Why won't they push their d-pawn?!?! I basically just continued developing with ...g6 and ...Bg7 and O-O, giving my opponent as many chances as possible to play d5. But at some point, I have to take action. So do I play ...cxd4, or ...e6 and ...d5, or something else?

Also, I recently played the black side of 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Bf4. Does that move change anything, or can I still just play the Benoni as if nothing was different?

Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: Hmmm, so it was tried once, but things get weird soon. Y Grodzensky vs J Vetter, 1999
Aug-30-06  Stevens: <ganstaman> i play the Benoni as black and discovered that often people play the move order :

Opening Explorer

to avoid the Taimanov. The Taimanov involves white playing f4 right? In this line (above) white normally plays Nf3 which prevents this move. It is also very rare for white to play Bb5 in this line.

Aug-30-06  yanez: <ganstaman> against 3.Nf3 try 3...cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 Bc5
Aug-30-06  sixfeetunder: <yanez>What about 6. Nd6+?. It is better to play 5...d5 Bc5, thats an interesting gambit.
Aug-30-06  AgentRgent: <ganstaman: 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. e3/Nf3>

If 3. Nf3 then I play 3...cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 (Hoping for the foolish 5. Nxc6) then proceed with g6, Bg7 and white will eventually lose a tempo with the knight or play Nxc6 bxc6 which is positionally good for black.

vs. 3. e3 this usually indicates they want to play the Colle. I play b6 in case of a later dxc5, but also preparing Ba6 after the f1 bishop moves (often waiting till white plays 0-0 so the bishop can't retreat to c2), trading off this important piece of the Colle attack.

Aug-30-06  RookFile: So, agent, 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nf3 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 g6 6. e4 d6 7. Be2 Bg7 8. Be3 is the Maroczy bind Sicilian. I like to play it from either color. Sometimes white plays a move like Nc2, but he is under no obligation to do so. And he never plays Nxc6 allowing bxc6.
Aug-30-06  AgentRgent: <RookFile: So, agent, 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nf3 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 g6 6. e4 d6 7. Be2 Bg7 8. Be3 is the Maroczy bind Sicilian.> Indeed it is, though I like 6...Bg7 more than ...d6 <I like to play it from either color.> This is likely not true for very many players who open 1.d4 however!
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: <Stevens> In that line, black doesn't avoid the Taimanov at all. White can simply play 6.e4 instead of 6.Nf3, and then follow up with f4 and Bb5+. If black actually wants to avoid the Taimanov, he either can't play the Benoni against 3.Nc3, or has to play something like the Hromadka System, or has to play an early a6 or Nd7 or Bd7 (all of which don't seem to work so well and just invite a difficult position).

I'd like it if white played 6.Nf3, but without mind control it's not exactly something you can force.

Aug-31-06  Stevens: <gangstaman> you're absolutely right. that line doesn't "force" white not to play the Taimanov. Let me dig around for the book that gave the line and see what it says. I'm sure it was MCO actually.
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