Benko Gambit

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #1


    Recently I got interesed into the benko gambit.Could someone explain me the ideas behind it?An example game would be most welcome.

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #2


    i dont have any of my games to show you cus not a paid member, so i cant search them. if you are paid memeber you can search my games and find them. i have about 15 benko games i play in OTB tournements. i have had great games with the benko. the idea is to open the queen side of the board and play for attack on that side of the board. the A and B files are the main lines that open 

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #3


    Pretty much the idea is to open up the a and b files and pressure the queenside.  Black can sometimes put enough pressure on the queenside to force White to surrender a pawn and still leave Black the initiative.  Even if Black can't win the pawn back, he has excellent drawing chances in a rook ending because his pawn structure is so solid.  Here's an example

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #4


    Benko Gambit Eco A57/A58: 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6

    Black offers the 2nd pawn knowing full well that he will regain the pawn with initiative. Black wants both the A and B files cleared for his pieces in order to invade the Queen side and come up underneath White's pawn front (if anyWink). Whites "a" and "b" pawns are exposed to a powerful attack and it takes very careful defending to hold onto to one of them let alone both. For this reason you often see White decline the 2nd pawn as he doesn't want to spend the next 15/20 moves baby sitting his extra material. 


    Black fianchettos his DS Bishop to g7 controlling the a1/h8 diagonal and together with his Rooks begins to menace White's queen side position. White has to be constantly alert for possible sacs as with just one mistake the queen side can collapse. 


    The Benko prize is White's "b" pawn because then Black's "c" pawn becomes an absolute monster! There are also central options for Black should White be even just a little tardy in supporting his lonely "d" pawn with e4. The problem for White is that having played e4, squares like d3 are sometimes difficult to defend and become a major target for Black's pieces. The 3 major pawn pushes in the Benko (for Black) are c5>c4, e7>e6, and f7>f5.


    You should be aware that White is under no obligation to try and hold onto the pawn or even enter the gambit. As always, a little research and study goes a longway.





    I'll give the final word to GM McDonald:


    From Neil McDonald's "The Benko Gambit Revealed":

    "When you play the Benko Gambit you set White the astonishingly difficult task of exploiting the extra pawn: it is so difficult in fact as to be virtually impossible, and for this reason many players hand back the pawn as quickly as possible in return for a positional, rather than a material, plus.  You will need patience, endurance and fighting spirit no matter what form the game takes. It is a great consolation to know that Black is acting from a sound positional base - the endgame is normally good for him and the onus is therefore on White to "do something". This is too much pressure for most players, even Grandmasters, and the thing they "do" is often horrendous."

    My emphasis.

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #5


    Thanks for the game, Benkobaby

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #6


    Kasparov is so violent with that thing.

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #7


    AnthonyCG wrote:

    Kasparov is so violent with that thing.

     Kasparov is so violent with EVERYTHING Smile

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #8


    AnthonyCG wrote:

    Kasparov is so violent with that thing.

    ... and to make it even more impressive; Bareev is considered a Benko expert. You often see him playing the black side of the gambit. I think it was IM Pinski who suggested that the Benko suited Kasparov's active style and that it was a pity he didn't play it more often.

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #9


    However, you have to watch out for White's e5 move. If he can get that in at the appropriate time, it can cause havoc for Black.


  • 5 years ago · Quote · #10


    Kasparov is filthy.  That was some Benko mastery right there.  My god, dude is ferocious.

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #11


    This looks very good! One of these days I'll try it!

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #12


    Interesting to hear what a book based from whites perspective thinks about the opening to give some ideas what benko gambit players should be looking at.

    Here is the conclusion by Boris Avrukh in hes book Grandmaster repertoire: 1. d4 volume 2:

    "In general Black cannot rely on the sidelines
    in the Benko Gambit (or perhaps just for one
    game as a surprise weapon) as White has clearcut
    routes to an advantage in almost every case.
    The only exception might be 9...Nfd7, where
    further investigation is definitely required.
    In the main lines of the Benko, I hope that
    I have managed to find some good ideas and
    at this point the situation looks promising for
    White in the 10. Rb1 line. In my opinion the
    13... Ng4 variation is a critical test for White.
    According to my analysis the final evaluation
    is rather favourable for White; nevertheless it
    would be interesting to see a practical test."

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #13


    @ Conzipe - I'm always interested in any article or book that covers the Benko Gambit from White's perspective. When I'm asked for a book recommendation on the Benko I always suggest Neil McDonald's "The Benko Gambit Revealed" (2004). It provides an excellent strategic overview for Black but doesn't shy away from the difficulties that white can pose and covers the opening (at least in part) from both sides of the board. 

    The line that Boris Avrukh is referring to is the Epishin Variation: 

    1. d4 Nf6 2. c c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 g6 6. Nc3 Bxa6 7. Nf3 d6 8. g3 Bg7 9. Bg2 Nbd7 10. Rb1! - (note that many of the moves between 7 and 9 are interchangeable).

    After it gained popularity in the mid 90s it sort of put the Benko on ice at the top levels as it was scoring so well. According to recent articles I've read on chessbase et al its teeth have been drawn somewhat - which is why there is a slight resurgence of the Benko at master+ levels.

    It's also one thing to play the Epishin as White but quite another to follow through as it requires playing almost perfect defense for 20+ moves and then slowly transfer into an attacking posture. Not so easy in practice. Here's what McDonald had to say:

    "The fianchetto variation (Epishin) doesn't win by force for White, but at the highest echelons of chess it has been scoring well. This is because players of that level know how to play perfect defensive chess as White for 20 or so moves (the word grovel comes to mind) and then suddenly switch to scintillating attacking play. Very few players can copy this style of play without going wrong at some point - they will either get the balance of attacking and defensive moves wrong, or lose control by making tactical oversights or strategical errors. Therefore, unless you are playing Kramnik at Linares you don't have to be afraid of ... (the Epishin)"

    The Benko Gambit Revealed" - Neil McDonald - 2004

    My emphasis.

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #14


    There is a good DVD on the Benko by IM Andrew Martin that goes into the ideas from both Black and Whit'es point of view.


  • 5 years ago · Quote · #15


    I have to say that I very much disagree with McDonald here. I have been playing this variation for a long time with great success as white and I'm certainly not even near Kramnik level. 

    Whites defensive task is not as difficult as McDonald make it sound like, whites plan is in fact pretty straight forward and black has to be very careful in order to not end up in a position without any sort of counter-play with white trying to completely shut down the play on the queenside then start focusing on hes own play in the center. I would certainly be more scared playing this variation as black since most of the natural looking moves ends up in a position without much counter-play and you have to play very creative chess in order to keep some fight in the position.

    The defensive ideas for white are very thematic and easy to remember as they occur repeatedly against various tries for activity as black so it's certainly a variation to be concerned about.

    The defensive task would probably be difficult if you know absolutely 0 about the variation but just if you study it a bit and learn some standard defensive ideas the task becomes a lot more simple.

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #16


    I agree with a some of what you say Conzipe - the Epishin is certainly hard to break down for Black and has been for over a decade. As a Benko player I find the Epishin and the Pawn Return variation the most difficult to deal with. But given recent theory I think you're being a tad sanguine about White's chances and the ease with which White can play out his strategic ideas.

    I'm not suggesting the Epishin has had its teeth removed - just blunted somewhat.


  • 5 years ago · Quote · #17


    Quoting avrukh:

    "One minor option is 10...Qa5. White should
    simply react with 11. Bd2 (11. 0-0 Nb6)
    and now best for Black would be 11...0-0,
    transposing to the main line, since 11...Nb6
    runs into 12. b3 Qa3 13. 0-0 0-0 14. Ne1!.
    White's queen is still on d1, so White has the
    opportunity to play a Ne1-c2 manoeuvre,
    chasing Black's queen from a3. 14...Bb7
    15. Nc2 Ba6 16. e4 Ne8 17. a4 gave White a
    clear advantage in Van Wely - Carlsen, Wijk
    aan Zee 2008."

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #19


    after 25... Bc8 in the Calrsen game, isn't white just totally winning?

  • 5 years ago · Quote · #20


    ah, the delayed benko and the reluctant benoni where black delays e7-e6 are both two quite underestimated weapons and especially dangerous if combined together.

    I'm actually considering putting this into my repertoire as I usually play King's indian with c7-c5 which often leads to benoni positions. The only thing I have been a bit concerned about however is the Nf3, Bd3, h3 setup.

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