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Benko Gambit (A57)
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 b5

Number of games in database: 4265
Years covered: 1895 to 2021
Overall record:
   White wins 40.9%
   Black wins 31.3%
   Draws 27.7%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Viktor Korchnoi  26 games
Ivan Sokolov  24 games
Boris Gulko  20 games
Lev Alburt  44 games
Jan Plachetka  40 games
Gerald Hertneck  39 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Shirov vs A Hauchard, 1990
Spassky vs Fischer, 1992
Mamedyarov vs B Galstian, 2002
B Lalic vs Khalifman, 1997
K Georgiev vs I Rogers, 1993
Spassky vs Fischer, 1992
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 page 1 of 171; games 1-25 of 4,265  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Steinitz vs Tinsley 1-0421895HastingsA57 Benko Gambit
2. Rubinstein vs Spielmann 1-0471922ViennaA57 Benko Gambit
3. Rubinstein vs J H Blake  1-0421923Hastings 1922/23A57 Benko Gambit
4. E Jacobsen vs Spielmann  ½-½761923CopenhagenA57 Benko Gambit
5. A Becker vs Opocensky  ½-½701923ViennaA57 Benko Gambit
6. R Grau vs A Guerra Boneo  1-0311924ARG-ch4 MayorA57 Benko Gambit
7. D Reca vs Reti 0-1321924MatchA57 Benko Gambit
8. P F Johner vs J Mieses 1-0351924BerlinA57 Benko Gambit
9. Euwe vs J H Blake  1-0671924WestonA57 Benko Gambit
10. H E Atkins vs J H Blake  1-0411924BCF-ch 17thA57 Benko Gambit
11. C Sherwood vs F H Warren  ½-½331927corrA57 Benko Gambit
12. Menchik vs H T Reeve  1-0281931BCF-ch 24th Major OpenA57 Benko Gambit
13. D Podhorzer vs Spielmann  0-1391933Trebitsch Memorial 16thA57 Benko Gambit
14. J Dobias vs Opocensky 0-1321934Kautsky mem 9thA57 Benko Gambit
15. Ragozin vs Menchik  1-0271935MoscowA57 Benko Gambit
16. J Balogh vs E Steiner  0-1661936BudapestA57 Benko Gambit
17. L Roedl vs L Engels  ½-½441936DresdenA57 Benko Gambit
18. E Zinner vs L Engels 1-0381936non-FIDE Munich OlympiadA57 Benko Gambit
19. E Thorvaldsson vs P Vaitonis 0-1201936non-FIDE Munich OlympiadA57 Benko Gambit
20. K Makarczyk vs L Engels 0-1621937Bad SaarowA57 Benko Gambit
21. Jacobo Bolbochan vs Keres 0-1621937Stockholm OlympiadA57 Benko Gambit
22. M Stolberg vs A Konstantinov  1-0321938ch SK SpartakA57 Benko Gambit
23. Botvinnik vs Bondarevsky ½-½22193811th USSR Championship SemifinalA57 Benko Gambit
24. V Makogonov vs Lisitsin  ½-½20193811th USSR Championship SemifinalA57 Benko Gambit
25. A Budo vs Lisitsin  1-046193811th USSR Championship SemifinalA57 Benko Gambit
 page 1 of 171; games 1-25 of 4,265  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 5 OF 5 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-13-07  whatthefat: In the last 2 rounds of the last tournament I went in, I had the rather strange experience of playing the f3 Benko as each colour, both times reaching the position after 1.d4 c5 2.d5 Nf6 3.c4 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.f3 e6 6.e4 exd5 7.e5 Qe7 8.Qe2 Ng8 9.Nc3 Bb7.

In the game I played as white, we followed theory to the 16th move! It later turned out we'd studied the same opening text. Unfortunately for me, I hadn't looked at it within the weeks before the tournament...

The game continued:
10.Nh3 c4 11.Be3 Qb4 (11...axb5 12.0-0-0 Qb4 is more usual) 12.0-0-0 axb5 13.Nf4 Ne7 14.Qf2!?

<<This avoids the deeply discussed queen sacrifice line: 14.Bb6 h5 15.Rxd5 Qxc3+!! 16.bxc3 Nxd5 with a very unclear game. White is probably objectively better, but it's easy for black to generate a dangerous attack on the black king. The classic example is B Lalic vs Khalifman, 1997;>

14...Qa5 15.Bb6 Qa6 16.Rxd5 (the rook can't be taken, otherwise a white knight will make it to c7) 16...Bc6

and to here we have been following Lim Chuin Hoong, Ronnie vs Wong Zi Jing, 2000 which continued 17.a3. I certainly considered the move, but I had to admit to myself that I couldn't remember any further, so I tried to look at the position completely afresh. This led to me playing the rather bizarre novelty 17.Rxb5?!?

click for larger view

The main idea being to free the d5 square for the knights. White gets some okay compensation, but not enough. Play continued 17...Bxb5 18.Nfd5 (Perhaps stronger would have been 18.Ne4) 18...Nxd5 19.Nxd5 Qxa2! (now I realised I was in some real trouble) 20.Nc7+ Kd8 21.Nxb5+ Kc8 22.Na7+ Kb7 23.Qd4 reaching this bizarre position:

click for larger view

Both sides are well behind in kingside development and have exposed kings, but it turns out white's is in more danger, and I should have been beaten fairly quickly from here. In the end I was lucky to struggle into an ending down a piece, but with an extra pawn and an initiative, and the game was eventually drawn.

Moral: A rook sacrifice as a novelty should usually be avoided!

Premium Chessgames Member
  FICSwoodpusher: Does anyone here play the blumenfeld countergambit. I think there are some good ideas behind this opening in theory but often I don't get the best reults with it in practice.
May-03-07  Marmot PFL: White will have a statistical edge in any respectable opening. These stats are not bad for black but this is not an opening to play for a draw. Probably too risky for matches or strong round robins but fine for swisses.
Jun-15-07  WarmasterKron: <Sneaky> Re, bringing Benko players out of their comfort zone by playing away from the main line. I sometimes play the Benko, and I get around this potential problem by having little to no working knowledge of the main line. I prefer to be flexible in my ignorance. ;)
Aug-20-07  Edwin Meyer: Statistics aren't that bad for Black when you take a look at them in ChessBase's MegaBase 2007;

1-0 9373 =39% total:52%
1/2-1/2 6450 =27%
0-1 8281 =34% total:48%

So by all means, play the Benko if that's what you like ;-)

Premium Chessgames Member


Mr. Ortner asks:

I usually don’t care to update the openings I play. That’s why my reference book for the Benko gambit is from 1991 (by Suetin).

Recently, I came across a review of Neil McDonald’s new book THE BENKO GAMBIT REVEALED, where I read the following:

“...he explains why you have to play g6 before taking on a6 with the bishop.”

I don’t know McDonald’s book and wondered what’s wrong with taking on a6 with the bishop immediately. Moreover, my book doesn’t see anything wrong with the line 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 Bxa6 either.

Is there really something like a refutation of this line? Should I think about buying a new opening book for the Benko?

Silman replies:

A lot of things change in theory in a very short time, but the need to get new books and keep up with those changes depends on the level of competition you face. If you’re a serious tournament competitor, you really should upgrade. If you just play for fun on-line or with friends, then there’s no reason to do so.

The view that an immediate 5…Bxa6 is inaccurate has been generally accepted for a couple decades. However, this is based on the assessment of the following line: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 Bxa6 6.g3 d6 7.Bg2 g6 8.b3! Bg7 9.Bb2 0-0 10.Nh3 Nbd7 11.0-0 and though Black has tried just about every possible move and idea, White seems to come out on top.

Because of this, 5…g6 became Black’s main choice. Now Black can meet 6.b3 Bg7 7.Bb2 0-0 8.g3 with 8…Nxa6 9.Bg2 Bb7 when Black is doing well due to the possibilities of …Nb4 and/or …e6.

In a nutshell, you lose nothing by choosing 5…g6, since you can always hack off the pawn later by …Bxa6. Since there’s no downside, why not use this move, which keeps your options open and guards against the double fianachetto line mentioned above?>

Dec-12-07  GeauxCool: <notyetagm> Thanks for this. It's strange how black had to struggle before finding g6 as an answer to a single sharp line.

As white I never accept that a6 pawn, then you're almost always stuck with hand castling, and what seems to be a lost endgame.

At the interactive is a rybka engine, on the hardest level it will allow the benko gambit, and sometimes play the handcastles version as white. It's fast, and good practice if you can't afford the real rybka/fritz set-up, or can't get to anything else otherwise.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Shams: I just started playing the Benko, and I notice a lot of blitz players meet 3...b5 with 4.b3. My book doesn't even mention this move (or it might and I haven't seen it.) What do you guys play against this as black?
Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: Dear <Shams>:

If you still have your prem. membership, you'd know the answer. =)

4...e6 2 games, all 0-1

4...bxc4 Christian Manley vs J Rosenberg, 2001 0-1

4...g6 C Aarnes vs J Lunnan Hjort, 2001 0-1

4...b4 Aldo Muradore vs L Nedimovic, 2002 0-1

Premium Chessgames Member
  Shams: thanks <WannaBe>. I probably should re-up. :)
Dec-13-07  whatthefat: <Shams>

4.b3 was discussed on page 3 of this thread. After 4...bxc4 White is pretty much struggling for equality.

Jan-28-08  bachwei: any comments on how to play, after ...a6 by black, against white's: b6 or a4 instead of white's traditional ba
Jun-18-08  mmmsplay10: random question
do any of you know the white response to
1.d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 Bxa6 6.Nc3 d6 7. e4 Bxf1 8. Kxf1 <H4!?> This move stops the typical g4 and Kg2 plan for white? WHAT TO DO?????
Jun-19-08  mmmsplay10: <backwei> a good line to consider against b6 is d6, followed by a later Nd7-b6. if he plays a4 after playing b6, you can either play a5, to stop him from play a5, so you can still take the b6 pawn with your knight, or you can play Qb6, and after a5, play either Qb8 or Qb4, and then just continue with normal benko strategy, fianchetto, castle kingside, and tear apart his queenside as fast as you can.
Jun-19-08  mmmsplay10: 1.d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 Bxa6 6.Nc3 d6

click for larger view

. e4 Bxf1 8. Kxf1 <H4!?> This move stops the typical g4 and Kg2 plan for white? WHAT TO DO?????

Premium Chessgames Member
  AgentRgent: <Shams: I just started playing the Benko, and I notice a lot of blitz players meet 3...b5 with 4.b3. What do you guys play against this as black?> I play 4...bxc4 5. bxc4 Qb6!? and have an pretty convincing score in this line.
Oct-28-08  Toastman: Can companies buy their own chess variation name these days?

Benko Gambit: Zaitsev Variation. Nescafe Frappe Attack

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: e.g. a BAT Variation. Lucky Strike Attack
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Opening of the Day

The Benko Gambit
1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Same opening today as the above post.
Jul-25-13  PhilFeeley: Interesting. No game here by Benko himself until 1969! Surely there must be some earlier ones?
Jul-25-13  Nerwal: <Interesting. No game here by Benko himself until 1969! Surely there must be some earlier ones?>

There are some games played by Benkö a bit earlier : M Vukic vs Benko, 1967, but essentially the modern Benkö gambit became a mainstream opening around 1969. Of course Benkö is by no means the first player to use the move-order 1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5, not even the first player to follow 4. cxb5 with the immediate 4... a6 : Szabo vs E R Lundin, 1948

Jul-27-13  waustad: Perhaps it is more that he wrote about it, publishing a book on the opening in '74. Going by this database, Geza Maroczy never played the c4 e4 pawn structure against the Sicilian, so the name for that one is a mystery too. Naming is also rather local and often political. During the Cold War Benko was a hot issue.
Jul-13-14  IFNB: Any Benko Gambiteers in the house?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Shams: <IFNB> I play it every chance I get!
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