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Benoni (A61)
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 Nf3 g6

Number of games in database: 1331
Years covered: 1927 to 2023
Overall record:
   White wins 45.7%
   Black wins 25.8%
   Draws 28.5%

Popularity graph, by decade

Explore this opening  |  Search for sacrifices in this opening.
With the White Pieces With the Black Pieces
Ivan Farago  31 games
Lubomir Ftacnik  13 games
Peter Lukacs  12 games
Mihai Suba  25 games
Miso Cebalo  13 games
Eric Lobron  12 games
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
White Wins Black Wins
Nimzowitsch vs Marshall, 1927
Petrosian vs Nunn, 1978
E Magerramov vs Kasparov, 1979
Spassky vs Fischer, 1972
Gheorghiu vs W Liu, 1982
J H Donner vs A Planinc, 1973
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 page 1 of 54; games 1-25 of 1,331  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Nimzowitsch vs Marshall 1-0301927New YorkA61 Benoni
2. Furman vs R Nezhmetdinov  ½-½481950URS-ch sf GorkyA61 Benoni
3. Petrosian vs Tolush ½-½441953Training TournamentA61 Benoni
4. Gligoric vs Petrosian ½-½411953Zuerich CandidatesA61 Benoni
5. Furman vs V Dommes  1-0241954Leningrad ChampionshipA61 Benoni
6. Sokolsky vs S Khalilbeili  1-0421954URS-ch sf YerevanA61 Benoni
7. V Saigin vs Tal ½-½471954Match for USSR Master titleA61 Benoni
8. G Borisenko vs Sokolsky  1-0641954USSR ChampionshipA61 Benoni
9. Kholmov vs Petrosian  ½-½271954USSR ChampionshipA61 Benoni
10. Lilienthal vs Suetin  1-0501954USSR ChampionshipA61 Benoni
11. V Borisenko-Belova vs K Zvorykina  ½-½5619542nd Soviet Team CupA61 Benoni
12. Gligoric vs M Czerniak  1-0421954Amsterdam Olympiad qual-3A61 Benoni
13. K Darga vs E Gereben  ½-½401954Amsterdam Olympiad Final-AA61 Benoni
14. B Starck vs B Malich  ½-½291955Zittau-C 5thA61 Benoni
15. Averbakh vs V Shcherbakov  1-0361955URS-ch sf MoscowA61 Benoni
16. G Borisenko vs Tal 1-0411955URS-ch sf RigaA61 Benoni
17. B Lebedev vs Tal 0-1441955URS-ch sf RigaA61 Benoni
18. G Kluger vs J Pogats  1-0781955BudapestA61 Benoni
19. V Zurakhov vs Polugaevsky  ½-½301955RSFSR ChampionshipA61 Benoni
20. J H Donner vs Petrosian 0-1411955Gothenburg InterzonalA61 Benoni
21. J Kozma vs A Zaruba  ½-½411955Czechoslovak ChampionshipA61 Benoni
22. V Stulik vs A Zaruba  1-0341955Czechoslovak ChampionshipA61 Benoni
23. K Darga vs J A Fuller  ½-½671955Hastings 1955/56A61 Benoni
24. Suetin vs Kagan  1-0311956URS-ch qf TallinnA61 Benoni
25. Shamkovich vs V Tarasov  1-041195616th Ch RSFSRA61 Benoni
 page 1 of 54; games 1-25 of 1,331  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-15-06  blingice: Interesting opening. Seems to give black an advantage because of the weak d pawn because it is distant from all your pieces. It does restrict a lot of black's close movement, though. Does anyone play it here?
Jan-15-06  hintza: The d-pawn isn't weak.
Jan-15-06  Ludamad: the d pawn is a strong point
Jan-15-06  blingice: It, superficially at least, seems weak because it has two supporting pieces, which both can't move naturally because they have to support that one pawn. The fact that the d-pawn is indeed strong drags down the mobility of all the other pieces because they have to worry about it.
Jan-15-06  EnglishOpeningc4: e4 and the knight can move, the d pawn is not whites problem, the black b pawn is
Aug-29-06  yanez: <blingice> I play it but with an early ...a6 to stop the tamianov attack(7. Bb5+)
Sep-01-06  blingice: Hahah, I appear to be wrong on many levels about this opening.
May-31-08  Xeroxx: Blacks backward d-pawn can become weak though.
Jul-27-09  visayanbraindoctor: The Case for the Capablanca Benoni

The Modern Benoni, which, is quite different from the Old Benoni strategically speaking and thus represents a totally new opening, should be re-named into the Capablanca Benoni (or the Capablanca System or the Capablanca Opening or the Capablanca Game) in recognition of his role in its founding and development from both sides of the board.

Capablanca vs Janowski, 1924 (New York 1924)

This is the first known Modern Benoni game, although it is with colors in reverse. Capablanca plays it perfectly, advancing his pawn to his QB5 square, from his point of view as the Benoni player, and posting his Knight on his QB4 square. Once he has a stranglehold on the Queenside, he attacks the Kingside, taking advantage of the holes in his opponent's position. This is precisely the textbook way of playing the Modern Benoni.

Alekhine vs Capablanca, 1927 (Round 5 New York 1927)

This is often classified as a Queen's Indian Defense because it initially began that way. However, it transposes to a Modern Benoni set-up wherein White does not push e4. In fact Capablanca treats it as a Modern Benoni. As in the first known Modern Benoni game above, Capablanca pushes his pawn to his QB5 square from his point of view as Black, and posts Knight on his QB4 square.

Capablanca vs Marshall, 1927 (Round 11 New York 1927)

Marshall was apparently impressed by Capablanca's Benoni games. Since Marshall also participated in New York 1924, he certainly saw Capablanca crushing Janowski. He again saw Capablanca demolishing Alekhine in Round 5, using the same opening set-up. Probably hoping for success by employing some reverse psychology, that Capa would be uncomfortable in playing against the same opening system that he pioneered, Marshall must have studied and prepared the same opening against its founder. This was already in Round 11, and Capa had employed the Benoni against Alekhine back in round 5, giving Marshall ample time to study it. Perhaps Marshall was already intrigued by it even way back in New York 1924. Good for Marshall as he managed to draw Capablanca with the Benoni in this game, the only game he managed to draw against the Cuban. He lost his other three games to Capa in New York 1927. In this game Capa introduces the idea of occupying the c4 square with his Knight before his opponent occupies it with his pawn (the Knight maneuver Nf3 - Nd2 - Nc4).

Nimzowitsch vs Marshall, 1927 (Round 17 New York)

Marshall, probably buoyed with his success with the Benoni against Capa himself, once again uses it, against Nimzowitsch this time in Round 17. Unfortunately for Marshall, and the Benoni, Nimzo came in prepared as well. Nimzo copied Capa's strategy of occupying the c4 square with his Knight in his previous Round 11 game with Marshall, but completely surprised Marshall by doing so immediately early in the opening, thus inaugurating the so-called Knight's Tour. Even in the 1920s, a game played among top masters would frequently end in a massacre whenever one of the contestants got out-prepared. In brief, Nimzo out-prepped Marshall and consequently blew him off the board. Unfortunately, for the Benoni, Nimzo's total squashing of Marshall in this game utterly destroyed the Benoni's reputation for decades.

Notwithstanding the above, the Benoni still remains a viable opening and can still be seen in the games of top level masters, and even in World Championship Matches, the most notable recent game being Leko vs Kramnik, 2004. Another notable World Championship game that employed the Modern Benoni is Spassky vs Fischer, 1972. It can be quite deadly at chess club levels.

Note that Capablanca not only founded the Benoni, he was also instrumental in introducing an accepted way to play against it, the Knight maneuver Nd2 later followed by Nc4. He was in the cutting edge of the Benoni opening technology at its founding on both sides of the board in the 1920s; and in the most important tournaments at that time and against the strongest of players.

In conclusion the Modern Benoni should properly be re-named the Capablanca System or the Capablanca Opening or the Capablanca Game or the Capablanca Benoni.

(As an addendum, the Modern Benoni's most important offshoot, the Benko Gambit, has a pawn structure that was first employed by none other than Capablanca himself, ironically against the very master who first squashed the Modern Benoni in a tournament game, Nimzowitsch. The following is the first known Benko-type game, again played with textbook perfection by Capablanca: Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca, 1914)

Jul-27-09  visayanbraindoctor: Here is a summary of the important Modern/ Capablanca Benoni wars of the 1920s.

Capablanca vs Janowski, 1924 (Round 15, New York 1924)

Alekhine vs Capablanca, 1927 (Round 5, New York 1927)

Capablanca vs Marshall, 1927 (Round 11, New York 1927)

Nimzowitsch vs Marshall, 1927 (Round 17, New York)

Capablanca vs Marshall, 1928 (Round 11, Tageblatt Berlin 1928)

Capablanca figured in four out of these five games, on both sides of the board. Marshall figured in three out of these five games, all on the Black Benoni side.

Jul-21-10  rapidcitychess: <Visa> I like your idea, but doesn't that make the Benoni, the Janowski?

Any way, I wanted to discuss the important white plan of the Benoni. As a Benoni player myself, I am discussing with an equal mind to all chances for black, as well as white. Now the important point of white's plan in the Nf3 Benoni is a early e5. Now in the 20's when the Benoni was founded in higher levels of play, the main plan was O-O,Re1, Nf3-d2-c4,sometimes Bf4, a4, f4, and e5. of course this is a large investment of time, and black has counter measures, such as: ...b5, ....f5, ...g5(in order to stop f4), and ...Ne5. But there is always an alternetive.
In a Benoni experiment, several Grand masters in the 80's started to omit a4,Nf3-d2-c4, f4, and Bf4. This horrendous idea some how worked, and 5 tempi was saved, but black can play ...b5 easily, and there is no pressure on d6. but these days playing h3 is popular due to the chance of ...Bg4. With the developments of a quick e5, the control of e5 is more important than before. ...Nbd7, ...Ng5,...Re8, and ...Qe7 exerting pressure on the e4 pawn, and controlling the e5 square. After completing the control, .. g5 is played in order to consolidate the grip on e5 by preventing f4.

In closing, the plans of black is to play on the wings, and white, the center. That makes it diffucult to keep black under control, and black can go absoulutely wild with his queenside majority.


Oct-26-10  rapidcitychess: Oops, never looked a the actual game.


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