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nottop ♡ 60 ( +1 | -1 )
Benko Gambit (in crisis) Although I love the Benko gambit (and I think it is particularly effective against puters), I now believe it is in crisis. The move 10. Rb1 seems to allow of no good plan for black - always white seems to maintain the advantage (realize this is not the same thing as victory).
I used to play this opening often as black (and had many good results - in fact, never lost a game - always won or draw) - but I can't play it anymore. Now, if I see my opponent likes the Benko, I open d4 (generally I open e4).
It's a wonderful opening and I love it and I am so sorry to see this happen - but I think the Benko Gambit is refuted.

ganstaman ♡ 21 ( +1 | -1 )
Umm, can you be a little bit more specific? What's the move order, and why is it a refutation? I find it very hard to believe unless I see some proof, probably along with whatever game(s) led you to this conclusion.
kewms ♡ 16 ( +1 | -1 )
I'm with ganstaman. What led you to this conclusion? And in which line? I'd be very surprised to see a refutation at move 10 in an opening as respectable at the GM level as the Benko.

schnarre ♡ 14 ( +1 | -1 )
Whatever happened to the Nescappe-Frappe attack (not sure if I spelled that properly) with the Bishop at c4? I've not seen that for a while.
i_play_slowly ♡ 14 ( +1 | -1 )
Is this glass half empty or... According to, 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.Nf3 d6 8.g3 Nbd7 leads to a relatively sharp game with equal chances for Black.
jstack ♡ 2 ( +1 | -1 )
the theory hounds are waiting... where is the refutation??
danders ♡ 11 ( +1 | -1 )
The patzers are waiting too. Haven't started playing the Benko yet, but I'm planning to look into it soon. So... what gives here?
nottop ♡ 101 ( +1 | -1 )
ok ok - will post problem this weekend - too swamped at work right now. If anyone has any ideas for black I'd love to hear them - I really like the Benko and it is hilarious how the puters respond to it - but I think there are serious problems with it in the line I give.

By "refutation" I meant that white has clarified a definite advantage against best black play - I don't mean that the game is hopeless. I regard that as a refutation because with so many promising defenses for black where it is very hard for white to demonstrate a clear advantage, why would anyone play an opening that leaves no path to equality?

A line that Chess Publishing has given to revive this variation is flawed (I've stumbled across the flaw in an iccf that I can't discuss because the game is still in progress). I'll just mention the gist of the chess publishing analysis and state that it is flawed and if people are interested they'll have to figure it out - it's not that tricky.
ccmcacollister ♡ 19 ( +1 | -1 )
Often ... such information will not be given away; except perhaps at the 'cost' of a game !
(Trying to acquire a good line for the Benoni vs the Taimanov was like pulling teeth in the late 80's ! :)
jstack ♡ 154 ( +1 | -1 )
a quick search Okay I found 2 GM games with a 10. Rb1 hopefully it is the position Nottop is referring to. However, I don't see any big problem for black in these games. I must admit though I have not studied them thoroughly yet. I hope to find some time to do so soon. I figure a joint effort is better. So I am posting the games below. You may notice the games were not played in high quality events. One is some europeam championship played on the internet. The other is a game from a blita championship. I'm sorry but it was the best I could find. Maybe Nottop has access to better databases. I hope he will join the discussion later. I hope these will be enough to get the discussion started.
My impression of these games is that black lost the first game not because of the opening but because of employing a risky plan of sacrificing a piece for a few pawns. In the second game It did not seem to me anyone really had an advantage out of the opening. The battle was deferred to the middlegame and black emerged victorious.

Gustafsson,J (2614) - Dobrov,V (2515) [A58]
EU-ch Internet Gr-G 3rd INT (1), 22.01.2006

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.Nf3 d6 8.g3 Nbd7 9.Bg2 Bg7 10.Rb1 Nb6 11.b3 Bc8 12.Nh4 h6 13.Qc2 Qd7 14.Bb2 g5 15.Nf3 Qf5 16.e4 Qg6 17.0-0 Nbxd5 18.Nxd5 Nxd5 19.Bxg7 Nb4 20.Qc3 Rg8 21.Bd4 Nxa2 22.Qc2 Bb7 23.Ra1 Bxe4 24.Qd2 cxd4 25.Rxa2 Rxa2 26.Qxa2 Kf8 27.Re1 Bxf3 28.Bxf3 e5 29.b4 Kg7 30.b5 Qd3 31.Bc6 Qc3 32.Rb1 d3 33.Rd1 f5 34.Qd5 1-0

Bacrot,E (2707) - Carlsen,M (2675) [A58]
Wch Blitz Rishon Le Ziyyon (13), 07.09.2006

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.Nf3 d6 8.g3 Nbd7 9.Bg2 Bg7 10.Rb1 Nb6 11.b3 Bc8 12.Nd2 Bf5 13.e4 Bc8 14.0-0 Ba6 15.Re1 Nfd7 16.Bb2 0-0 17.Nf3 Ne5 18.Nxe5 Bxe5 19.Qd2 Nd7 20.Nd1 Qb6 21.Kh1 c4 22.bxc4 Bxc4 23.Ne3 Qa6 24.Bd4 Qxa2 25.Rb2 Qa6 26.Rc1 Rfc8 27.Ng4 Bxd4 28.Qxd4 f6 29.Rbc2 Bb3 30.Rxc8+ Rxc8 31.Rxc8+ Qxc8 32.Qb2 Nc5 33.Ne3 Qa6 34.h4 Qd3 35.h5 Nxe4 36.hxg6 hxg6 37.Kh2 Nc5 38.Qa3 Qa6 39.Qb4 Qb7 40.Qg4 Kf7 41.Qh4 Kg7 42.Qg4 Qd7 43.Qb4 Qa4 44.Qb8 Qd4 45.Qd8 Qe5 46.Bh3 f5 47.Bg2 Ne4 48.Bxe4 Qxe4 49.Qd7 Kf7 50.Qb5 Ba2 51.Qa5 Bb1 52.Ng2 Qf3 53.Qe1 Be4 54.Nh4 Qh5 55.f3 Bxd5 56.Qe3 g5 57.Qd3 Be6 0-1

kewms ♡ 180 ( +1 | -1 )
I found 105 games with the line 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.Nf3 d6 8.g3 Nbd7 9.Bg2 Bg7 10.Rb1, the most recent being a draw at the Women's Olympiad.

My database isn't comprehensive enough for me to really believe in the statistics, but these games don't look promising for black. (Games given are the most recent I have, not necessarily the best or the most recent games played. Database analysis courtesy of Chessbase.)

Overall, White scores about 69%. Common Black responses include:

10....0-0 Black scores 34% out of 49 games. The critical line is 11. 0-0 Qa5 12.Bd2 Rfb8 13.Qc2 Ng4

I Turova (2379) - N Pogonina (2409) [A58]
7th European Individual Championship w Kusadasi TUR (10), 14.04.2006
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.Nf3 d6 8.g3 Bg7 9.Bg2 Nbd7 10.Rb1 0-0 11.0-0 Qa5 12.Bd2 Rfb8 13.Qc2 Ng4 14.a4 Nge5 15.Nxe5 Bxe5 16.Rfe1 Qd8 17.b3 Rb7 18.h3 Rab8 19.Na2 Rc8 20.f4 Bg7 21.Kh2 Rbb8 22.e4 Ra8 23.Bc3 Bxc3 24.Qxc3 Bb7 25.e5 Nb6 26.Rbd1 dxe5 27.Qxe5 c4 28.Nb4 cxb3 29.Nc6 Bxc6 30.dxc6 Qc7 31.Qb5 e6 32.Qxb3 Rxa4 33.Rb1 Rb8 34.Re5 Ra6 35.Rb5 Qa7 36.Qe3 Qc7 37.R5b2 Qa7 38.Qf2 Kg7 39.Qd4+ Kg8 40.h4 h5 41.Rxb6 Raxb6 42.Rxb6 Rxb6 43.Qd8+ Kh7 44.c7 1-0

10 ... Nb6, black scores 24% out of 35 games. The critical line is 11.b3 Bb7 12.Nh4 0-0 13.0-0

Mir Medic (2239) - M Calzetta (2317) [A58]
37th Chess Olympiad: Women Turin ITA (13), 04.06.2006
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 Bxa6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Nf3 d6 8.g3 Bg7 9.Bg2 Nbd7 10.Rb1 Nb6 11.b3 Bb7 12.Nh4 0-0 13.0-0 Ra6 14.Bb2 Qa8 15.e4 Nfd7 16.Re1 Bxc3 17.Bxc3 Rxa2 18.Qc1 Ne5 19.Bxe5 dxe5 20.Qxc5 Nc8 21.Nf3 f6 22.Bh3 Nd6 23.Be6+ Kh8 24.Rbc1 Ba6 25.Qc7 Re8 26.Re3 Bc8 27.Bd7 Ra7 28.Qxa7 Qxa7 29.Bxe8 Bg4 30.Bc6 Bxf3 31.Rxf3 Nxe4 32.b4 Qa2 33.b5 Qb2 34.Re1 Nd6 35.Rd3 Nxb5 36.Bxb5 Qxb5 37.Red1 e4 38.Rd4 f5 39.h4 Qc5 40.Kg2 Kg7 41.d6 exd6 42.Rxd6 e3 43.Rd7+ Kh6 44.fxe3 Qxe3 45.R1d3 Qe2+ 46.Kg1 Qe1+ 47.Kg2 Qe2+ 48.Kg1 Kh5 49.Rd2 Qe3+ 50.Kg2 h6 51.R7d3 Qe4+ 52.Kh2 Qe1 53.Kg2 Qe4+ 54.Kh2 Qe1 55.Kg2 Qe4+ 1/2-1/2

10...Qa5, Black scores 40% out of 20 games. The critical line is 11.0-0 0-0 12.Bd2 Rfb8 13.Qc2 Ng4 14.b3

F Berkes (2617) - Cao Sang (2488) [A58]
Hungarian Championships Kazincbarcika HUN (7), 16.05.2005
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 Bxa6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Nf3 g6 8.g3 Bg7 9.Bg2 Nbd7 10.Rb1 0-0 11.b3 Qa5 12.Bd2 Rfb8 13.0-0 Ng4 14.Qc2 Qd8 15.h3 Ngf6 16.Rfe1 Ne8 17.a4 Nc7 18.e4 Ra7 19.Na2 e6 20.b4 exd5 21.b5 dxe4 22.Ng5 d5 23.bxa6 h6 24.Nxe4 dxe4 25.Nc3 Rxa6 26.Nxe4 Ne6 27.a5 Rxb1 28.Rxb1 Ra7 29.Kh1 Kh7 30.Be1 Nf6 31.Qc4 Nxe4 32.Bxe4 Qc8 33.h4 Nd4 34.Bg2 Qf5 35.Rc1 Re7 36.a6 g5 37.Qd5 Re5 38.Qxe5 Qxe5 39.a7 gxh4 40.a8Q f5 41.Qd5 Qe2 42.gxh4 c4 43.Qxc4 1-0

Again, no claim that these games are at all representative, but something for the theory hounds to chew on.

ccmcacollister ♡ 100 ( +1 | -1 )
It would be Nice tho, to know HOW WT is winning vs the Benko. With a strong a-pawn? Or K-side attack?
Or center domination. Well the latter usually only applies to the declined lines, as far as I know. The first could happen in either.
Since WT has to solve wt square problems, espcially c4-d3, and play vs open q-side lines in an opening where it is often difficult to simply liquidate pieces ... is it a K-side assault then for the nottop line? Wonder too if it is losing in Corr or GM play... or home analysis (last but certainly not least!)
My own corr efforts in the Benko always seemed to end up drawn on either side, (over a decade ago and vs players under 2100). Perhaps that's strange, or I don't play it rightly. Perhaps nottop has a nice recent corr example?
Point of interest; if one goes looking for corr games on d-bases online it can be a major job, since they often get listed under "ALL" for rating, so there can be 15 pages :(
nottop ♡ 541 ( +1 | -1 )
analysis of benko A -

The word "refutation" is an overstatement. It implies there is a clear and simple path to victory for white against the Benko. I don't mean that. What I should have said is that the Benko is now in a state of uncertainty. Many Benko players have switched to other openings - there is a feeling that black needs to find a new method against this white strategy. Perhaps a new method will be found by Khalifman (I think the world's greatest Benko player). Maybe it will be found by someone else. Maybe it isn't there to find.

I don't detest the Benko - I've played it five times in serious iccf correspondence games. Four times I played it as black and won two games and drew the other two. Once I played it as white and was unable to achieve any opening advantage.

B -

The pleasures of the Benko are many. It is an ususual gambit in that the pawn traded is not for the initiative but for permanent structural pressure. If pieces are traded down, that pressure does not go away.
This brings about another pleasure of the Benko. Puters are horrible with it. They think white has the material advantage and should go about trading down pieces. They think black is behind and think he must attack and avoid any simplification. I realize that here at Gameknot puter help is illegal, but it is legal at many correspondence sites and it is a great pleasure to use the Benko there.
Another pleasure is that playing the Benko one finally (for me it was finally - maybe someone else adapts more quickly) gets a sense of it. A feeling of where pieces belong without knowing quite why. A sense of when enough has been done on the queenside and it's now time to blow up the center. For me this only came with experience. My first Benko game was almost comical - I'd move a piece to one square and then, a few moves later decide it was the wrong square and move it back. This is horrible. Yet my opponent, as white, could not figure out anything either and made the same sort of corrections. The Benko is very hard for either side to play.

C -

The discouraging line has the beginning moves -

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5. bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7. g3 d6 8.Bg2 Nbd7 9.Nf3 Bg7 10.Rb1

This move lays out a simple strategy for white - and since finding a solid strategy for either side in the Benko is so difficult, this in itself is an advantage. The idea is that white will, given enough time, play b3 and Bb2 - will move a4 and possibly Nb5. If black does nothing concrete white will equalize on the queenside, and then, since he has an extra pawn and good possibilities in the center, it will be easy to play.

In the annotated games I've seen, the move has been referred to as "annoying" and "black's most difficult line."

It's not that black has no methods - it's just that none of the methods seem quite adequate - and aside from the assessment of the position - none of the methods are really "Benkoish."

My own database shows 423 games played with this variation - and white has a 68% score. This is, by itself, indicative but not sufficient to show a problem with the opening. But it is the quality of the games and the players and the analysis done later by fine chessplayers that has caused many (like Van Wely) to finally give up the Benko.

Two of the key games involved Kramnik as white (both in 2003).

The games continued
10. ... O-O 11. O-O Qa5 12.Bd2 Rfb8 13.Qc3 and here they differed -

Topalov played 13. ... Ne8 14.Rfe1 Nc7 15.a4 Qb6 16. b3 Bxc3 (restoring material but not positional equality) 17.Bxc3 Ncd5 18. Ne5 Nxe5 19.Bxd5 Bb7 20.Bxb7 Rxb7 21.Bxe5 dxd5 22.Rec1 (and Kramni won in 56 moves).

This game has been thoroughly analysed by many and although reasonable alternatives were foudn for black nobody has suggested anthing close to a path to equality.

Van Wely played differently.

13. ... Ng4 14.a4 Nge5 15.Nxe5 Nxe5 16.b3 Qd8 17.Rfe1 Ra7 18.h3 Rab7 19. Na2 Qc8 20.f4 (and Kramnik won in 40 moves).

Same story with analysis in this game.

It is absolutely discouraging to the Benko player to play these games out. Where is the hope for anything more than - "If I come up with a new move around here, maybe I can outplay my opponent all the way and fight my way to a draw?" That is not Benko language.

D -

This brings up my own recent experience in a (still ongoing) iccf game against a highly respected player. The game is now around move 38 but I think there can be no disservice if I speak about moves before 20.

Black players, not happy with the direction of the Kramnik games have been looking for alternatives. One such alternative dates back to a 2000 game Spraggett-Kogan which Kogan analysed thoroughly and this analysis has become generally known.

Kogan played 12. ... Bb7 - the idea being to move the queen to a6 and the knight to b6. In all of his analysis black achieves at least an equal game. I'm sure my opponent was following the Kogan analysis - but I think it is flawed. The game continued 13.Qc2 Qa6 14.e4 e6 15.dxe6 fxe6 16.b3! (the only move for white to equalize).

This is not the case. (I believe white has better with 16.Ng5 and I believ that Kogan's analysis of 16.Ng5 is flawed.)

My own game continued 16. ... Rfe8 17.b4 cxb4 18.Rxb4 Bc6 19.a4 h6 and that is as far as I should take a continuing game, but my oppoenent suddenly started taking lost of time after b4 and I don't think he is happy about the way the game has continued.

I don't think that alternative D is a viable alternative to the problems of C.

That is about as far as I'm going to take this.

greenrat777 ♡ 52 ( +1 | -1 )
Benko Gambit (in crises ) my local second hand book store gets some good chess books at reasonable prices . last summer i got a book called the complete benko gambit . it cost 10.00 dollars canadian . i took it out on the balcony and read it for about 2 hours . after that i decided that the opening was not for me and added it to my chess books collection . it could be a good defence for black against D 2 - D 4 but i dont have time to study every opening and prefer thr nimzo indian and the queens indian .