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Benoni Defense (A56)
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5

Number of games in database: 2752
Years covered: 1895 to 2020
Overall record:
   White wins 38.2%
   Black wins 31.1%
   Draws 30.7%

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 111; games 1-25 of 2,752  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 111; games 1-25 of 2,752  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 5 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Aug-31-06  euripides: <gansta> I think I've read that against the 'Hrodmaka' (nice to know he had something named after him) White can somtimes do well by playing exd5. I'm not quite sure why.
Sep-05-06  Stevens: <gangstaman> <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> yes, i think actually the line i meant to post originally was 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 and now if 3.Nc3 black declines playing the Benoni altogether and plays the Nimzo or the QGD / semi slav or similar. If however white continues 3.Nf3 then play ...c5 and continue as normal without the threat of the Taimanov.
Sep-10-06  yanez: To advoid the tamianov I play 3.d5 e6 4.♘c3 ♙xd5 5.♙xd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.f4 a6 to stop 8.♗b5+

click for larger view

Sep-10-06  siggemannen: i think 7...a6 allows the immediate 8.e5 which can be pretty dodgy for black. In my opinion a good way to avoid taimanov is to
1.learn nimzo the move-order:
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6! now white more often than not avoids the 3.Nc3, which allows nimzo, with 3.Nf3, and now you can play 3...c5 going back into the benoni but white doesn't have the possibility of the taimanov...
Sep-11-06  AgentRgent: or play the Benko Gambit.
Sep-23-06  yanez: I also like 7...♘a6 and anyway, 7...♗g7 8.♗b5+ ♘fd7 9.♘f3 ♘a6 10.0-0 ♘c7 11.♗c4 f5 then ...♘f6
Oct-22-06  soughzin: Can black avoid the taimanov by playing 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 g6 and castling before playing e6 or d6 or is there some way to punish this order as white?
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: <soughzin: Can black avoid the taimanov by playing 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 g6 and castling before playing e6 or d6 or is there some way to punish this order as white?>

From one of my above posts: <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.>

Opening Explorer

Oct-23-06  soughzin: Thanks ganstaman. I don't see why this isn't a popular choice. You see a lot of players covering the nimzo and the benoni to fill their reportoire but why not play this order of benoni only,or play the nimzo and QID or bogo which are much more consistent with the nimzo?
Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: <soughzin> I don't fully understand it either. I used to play a hybrid Nimzo-Queen's Indian, which was great because it worked out mostly the same regardless of white's move order (unless he played the ugly a3, which is probably better than I give it credit for). I thought it all made perfect sense.

From above: <euripides: <gansta> I think I've read that against the 'Hrodmaka' (nice to know he had something named after him) White can somtimes do well by playing exd5. I'm not quite sure why.> I don't quite know if/why exd5 is worse for black than cxd5, but I'm sure we could figure something out if we thought about it (or had more experience in this opening).

Perhaps this is just a way for players to give themselves variety without having to make a choice? They get to play the Benoni vs Nf3 and the Nimzo vs Nc3. The opening is chosen by white in a sense, so it keeps black from having to think too much or from getting bored of one opening. I don't know if many players actually think like this, but if I faced 1. d4 more often, I think I would.

Oct-23-06  refutor: <benoni v. Nc3>

this allows the taimanov attack

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

by playing it after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 it avoids the taimanov move order

Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: <refutor> Right, but why play the Benoni at all then? Assuming you (generic you, not actually you you) play the NI vs Nc3, wouldn't the QI vs Nf3 be more consistent? Or maybe the Bogo-Indian?

Or maybe you just really like playing the Benoni. But then, < 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.>

Or perhaps there are Benoni players that walk on eggshells?

Oct-23-06  refutor: lots of GMs play the benoni that way...consistency has nothing to do with it...

D Semcesen vs DeFirmian, 2006
D Zoler vs Gelfand, 2006
C Weiss vs T L Petrosian, 2006
Ra Mateo vs I Rogers, 2006
A Korotylev vs Akopian, 2006
P H Nielsen vs Nisipeanu, 2006
V Cmilyte vs Lahno, 2006
M Brodsky vs A Volokitin, 2006
Kiril Georgiev vs Nisipeanu, 2006
Bologan vs Nisipeanu, 2006
Koneru vs I Cheparinov, 2006
Kurajica vs Nisipeanu, 2006
Y Shulman vs Shabalov, 2006
P H Nielsen vs Topalov, 2006

obviously these are not all wins for Black, but it's a popular move order up to the super GM level

Premium Chessgames Member
  ganstaman: <refutor> I've never questioned that it's been done and continues to be done. I even think has a nimzo/benoni forum (same group of people play them, then). But re-read soughzin's and my posts. We only wonder why it's done, not if it's done.

The main point is that if black wants a Benoni but not the Taimanov, he can go with the Hromadka System, unless that is as flawed as euripides read it is.

Perhaps consistency isn't really worth much?

Oct-23-06  refutor: IMHO, it's done because the nimzo is strong v. 3.Nc3 and the taimanov is strong v. the benoni...hence playing 3.Nc3 Bb4 and 3.Nf3 c5 kills two birds
Oct-23-06  AgentRgent: <refutor: IMHO, it's done because the nimzo is strong v. 3.Nc3 and the taimanov is strong v. the benoni...hence playing 3.Nc3 Bb4 and 3.Nf3 c5 kills two birds> Nail hit on head! Film at 11!
Oct-24-06  soughzin: I suppose for the big time GMS having multiple defenses is doable(although I still see more QIDs than benoni's,and it "feels" more like a nimzo) but for the club player I just don't see the point in the nimzo/benoni combo unless to add variety or fun into your openings. Not that it's silly or unsound or something, just not what I would personally play.

Maybe a benoni-er will desperately want to play the benoni but dreads the taimanov so he/she Must play something else to Nc3. Or maybe someone Hates the QID,likes the benoni,and Loves the nimzo(not likely). Now IF one can play the Hromadka variation with no move order setback it you can kill 2 birds with 1 stone with the benoni instead of two and you always have the nimzo/QID option which is say 1.5 stones heh.

Perhaps we should try to delve into the Hromadka a little and see how well black can really avoid the taimanov without adverse side affects. I'm sure a few of you out there could educate me as I'm a little green on the benoni but I'm interested on both white and black sides.

Oct-25-06  soughzin: Ok here's my own feeble attempts at avoiding the Taimanov. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 g6 4.Nc3 d6 5.e4 e6! (It seemed that the longer black delayed e6 the more potent dxe became)

Now with 6.Nf3 exd5 7.cxd5 we're back to the mainlines with no Taimanov. White also has the option of 7.exd5 and Nxd5 but I'm not sure how to evaluate these. There are no immediate tactical problems but it's beyond me to know if they're positionally suspect.

White can try 6.f4 hoping for the Taimanov but black can play 6...Bg7 (7dxe doesn't look as strong as in other cases I'll get to later) and castle,transposing into the KID 4 pawns attack most likely, which is not to be feared if you know your stuff.

6.dxe6 Black has Bxe6 and fxe6. Bxe6 brings something like a strange hybrid sveshnikov type position. fxe6 white has 7. e5 dxe5 8.Qxd8 Kxd8 but that might not be best. Since 7.Nf3 is a pretty good move for white,maybe white should play 5.Nf3 instead of e4 and retain the option of 7.e4 or another move.

5.Nf3 e6! 6. dxe6 Bxe6 7.Ng5 or Qb3. Now can black afford to trade the bishop? I think I'll take the easy way out again and say "unclear".

Maybe I'll leave the computer on tonight and let it think about it because I don't know what to think about these positions even with a little computer help. My best guess so far would be that these aren't wonderful for black but they are playable, and less dangerous than the Taimanov.

Feb-23-08  Jim Bartle: Anyone know why it's called the Benoni? The only other Benoni I know is a town in South Africa (revered as the birthplace of Charlize Theron).
Premium Chessgames Member
  Open Defence: well I read that Benoni meant "Born from sadness
" (maybe in Yiddish?) and that the inventor of this opening suffered from depression...
Premium Chessgames Member
  biglo: For an answer read the very first post on page 1
Feb-20-09  Pyrrhus: Actually, Benoni means son of sorrow in Hebrew. It refers to the weak d6 pawn.
Feb-20-09  chessman95: The Czech Benoni Defense (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e5) is an interesting option for black. I like the pawn formation here: it reminds me of the feared Maroczy Bind in the Sicilian. Haven't seen it played much, and most players probably don't know how to play it correctly, so every once in a while I use it as my "anti-Benoni" opening.
Mar-14-09  Nuncle: I enjoy the benoni-style positions I sometimes get by transposition from the king's indian (i.e. in the saemisch if white meets ...c5 with d5), and was thinking about switching over to the Modern Benoni as my main defence, but the Taimanov just looks nasty to me.
Apr-08-09  parisattack: <Nuncle: I enjoy the benoni-style positions I sometimes get by transposition from the king's indian (i.e. in the saemisch if white meets ...c5 with d5), and was thinking about switching over to the Modern Benoni as my main defence, but the Taimanov just looks nasty to me.>

The Taimanov very tough to meet! I loved the Benoni formations but had no success playing them. Everytime I think about trying again, I play over Gligoric's games as White against it - he was a real Benoni killer!

The Franco-Benoni hybrids might have some unmined possibilities - avoiding an early ...Nf6.

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