The Velimirovic's Guide to the Modern Benoni, Part Two

  • GM Gserper
  • | Jun 10, 2014

Today we'll continue learning typical ideas of the Modern Benoni using Velimirovic's games. But first, I would like to address the concern of one of our readers who, in his comments, expressed disappointment that none of Velimirovic's opponents played fashionable modern lines. He even adds: "I wish my opponent was so 'ignorant' about white's plans in the Modern Benoni." Please remember that the most intense period of Velimirovic's chess activity, as well as his creativity, lasted from approximately the beginning of the 1970s till the mid 1980s. And his opponents (most of them were GMs, so I wouldn't call them ignorant) played the most modern and fashionable lines of that time. It sort of reminds me the of funny remarks my kids make when they watch old movies. I have to explain them that the guy on the screen didn't look something up on the internet or use a cell phone because these things didn't exist at that time. 

Yes, opening theory moves forward every day, especially in such a sharp, tactical opening like the Modern Benoni! So, if you want to see how to deal with the lines popular today, then you probably should check the games of the modern wizards of this opening (the late GM Vugar Gashimov should be your first choice in this case). But I still believe that you should analyze the games of GM Dragoljub Velimirovic in order to understand the fundamental ideas of the Modern Benoni.

Dragoljub Velimirovic | Image from the Dutch National Archives & Spaarnestad Photo / Wikipedia

And so, without further ado, let me present the next typical and useful idea of the Modern Benoni:

4. The c5-c4 push. In many cases the c4 square is securely guarded by the White pieces and therefore this move is a pawn sacrifice. The main benefit in most cases is that the Black knight gets access to the very important c5 square from where it attacks the central e4 pawn. Also, the c5-c4 move sometimes attacks White's bishop on d3 and deflects it from the protection of the e4 pawn. 

5. The Nf6-g4 jump. This is probably Black's most dangerous idea! The move has four points:

  • To open the diagonal for Bg7.
  • To move the knight to the very important e5 square.
  • To open a path for the f-pawn to attack White's center by f7-f5.
  • To attack the f2 and h2 squares close to White's King.

While the first three strategic benefits are very important, it is the last tactical threat that can decide the game instantly. 

Black's attack came completely out of the blue which shows how dangerous the Nf6-g4 jump can be. I have no doubt that Velimirovic knew the following famous game of Mikhail Tal where the "Magician from Riga" executed one of his famous combinations.

Mikhail Tal | Image from the Dutch National Archives & Spaarnestad Photo / Wikipedia

This sharp Ng4 idea perfectly fit Velimirovic's style and therefore happened in many of his games:

I hope you enjoyed our little journey to the planet Velimirovic and learned some useful opening ideas!



  • 2 years ago


    Benoni Counter-Blast is scanning for Benoni players.
  • 2 years ago


    This article was great. Hope to see more articles like these! Smile

  • 2 years ago


    A wonderful and inspirational article!  Please keep writing -- your articles are excellent!

  • 2 years ago


    Tough games and very sharp themes.  I wonder how many players sub-master would be able to play the Benoni properly as indicated here?

  • 2 years ago


    I admire your article,  in the 70s when I was learning chess in Belgrade,  Serbia, at the time capital of Yugoslavia, GM Velimirovic here  was very popular player, because of his outstanding attacking style and undisputable creativity.

    So  for that  reason ,   it was  intriguing to me to see your GM's view   and your evaluation of his game, now after so many years .  

    However your "gurneys to the planet Velimirovic" goes beyond  it, it provides to the readers not only some   useful opening ideas, but also shows   the sing of the times, when everything was not that efficient as today, but we  had more time to enjoy ourselves, and play longer games  at least. The progress is inevitable in many things,  in chess in particular, but the progress takes its  casualties  also. 

    The present   is always modern, it is ease to sneer on yesterday fashion,  however  everything should  be put in retrospective, even  today's moves for 40 years from now will be considered naive, I am sure. 

    For those who  are truly talented  and earned  our admiration ,  articles such as yours ,  are   truly nice way  to pay the tribute they deserve. 

     Thanks for the   grate article. 

  • 2 years ago


    Thepawndidit, after 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 e6, 4. dxe6 makes absolutely no sense. How can you justify moving a pawn three times just to trade it for Black's less-valuable f-pawn?

  • 2 years ago


    Riedermann wrote:

    In the Dusan Rajkovic vs. Dragoljub Velimirovic  example, why not 18. f4?! I wonder if the e5 Knight goes to d3+, but after BxN, cxB ...what would be the continuation for black?

    Regards, and thnx!

    I think after all of the captures there is knight to c5 again and all kinds of tactics are in the air - the White Queen has no good square to go to.

    For example Queen c4, ...b7-b5! Queen f3, ...Knight takes e4! etc

  • 2 years ago


    After 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6, 4.dxe6 seems logical for White... is it okay to let the Queen trade happen  4...dxe6, 5.Qxd8+ Kxd8, leaving the King in the open, or should Black just move 4.. d6, offering the f7-pawn 5.exf7+ Kxf7.. to place the King on that square..?

  • 2 years ago


    Brilliant games and another great article GM Serper.  The guy was a tactical monster for sure.  The Benoni's double-edged and watching Velimirovic, Tal , and Gashimov play the black side at times looks like a Rembrandt.  Great stuff sir.  Best Regards, EddieB

  • 2 years ago


    The present does not exist, because when we named is over, the future is hypothetical, the only thing that fills our minds is the past.Thanks Mr. Serper for showing us those beautiful examples where tactics and strategy come together, to cherish in our brains. 

  • 2 years ago


    In the Dusan Rajkovic vs. Dragoljub Velimirovic  example, why not 18. f4?! I wonder if the e5 Knight goes to d3+, but after BxN, cxB ...what would be the continuation for black?

    Regards, and thnx!

  • 2 years ago


     One correction. The picture at the end of this article is of Mikhail Tal, not of Dragoljub Velimirovic.

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