ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
It's a return to the Benoni this month, with some Modern Benoni action from the recent European Championship in Aix-les-Bains, and also a mini-survey on the Schmid Benoni.

Feel free to share your ideas and opinions on the Forum (the link above on the right), while subscribers with any questions can email me at

Download PGN of April '11 Nimzo and Benoni games

>> Previous Update >>

Schmid Benoni: Main Line with 7...Bg4!? [A43]

The Schmid Benoni has suffered somewhat in the past from having a reputation of being solid but rather passive. I feel also that people tend to remember famous games, and Karpov's win against the Schmid Benoni in the final, decisive world championship game against Korchnoi way back in 1978 clearly didn't do it any favours!

However, if Black can get the Schmid Benoni to work, it does give him an extra string to his bow, in particular against the move order 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 c5 3 d5. The good news is that recently a few strong grandmasters have been willing to try the Schmid Benoni. For example, leading Modern Benoni player Vugar Gashimov has played it against 2 Nf3.

In this mini-survey I want to look at the main line position after 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 c5 3 d5 g6 4 Nc3 Bg7 5 e4 d6 6 Be2 0-0 7 0-0, and now 7...Bg4!?:

Exchanging the light-squared bishop is of course a logical idea, and one seen many times in Benonis. Indeed, in the Modern Benoni Classical Variation ...Bg4 is the main choice for Black, while in the Modern Main Line White prevents it with h2-h3. Interestingly, though, in the Schmid Benoni, 7...Bg4 is less popular than both 7...Na6 (the commonest choice) and 7...e6.

We begin with Chuchelov - Gashimov, Bundesliga 2011, where White forces the exchange with 8 h3. This excellent game from Gashimov provides a strong antidote for those worried about Black's apparent lack of activity in the Schmid Benoni.

White's main choice against 7...Bg4 has been 8 Nd2:

Theory likes this move, which exchanges light-squared bishops and prepares Nc4. However, after 8...Bxe2 9 Qxe2, I feel that the rare 9...Nfd7!? is a clever move, at least judging from the games Swiercz - Kempinski, Warsaw 2010, and Baburin - Rustemov, Bad Wiessee 1999. In both of these games Black solves his problems and gains excellent counterplay.

9...Na6 is the usual move, but Black has always struggled to gain equality with it, and nothing much has changed recently. In Yevseev - Efimenko, Moscow 2006, Black tries to resurrect the line, but without success. I also cover 8 Bf4 in the notes.

Modern Benoni: Classical Variation [A77]

After 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 c5 4 d5 d6 5 Nc3 exd5 6 cxd5 g6 7 Nd2 Nbd7 8 e4 Bg7 9 Be2 0-0 10 0-0 Re8 White normally plays 11 a4 Ne5 12 Qc2 (or 12 Ra3) but he can also try the more aggressive 11 f4!?:

Attack: 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 f4 0-0 6 Nf3 c5 7 d5 e6 8 Be2 exd5 9 cxd5 and now 9...Nbd7!? (instead of the more usual 9...Re8 10 e5, 9...Bg4 or 9...b5) 10 0-0 Re8 11 Nd2. Black's main choice here is either 11...c4 or 11...a6, but in Tregubov - Akopian, Aix-les-Bains 2011, Black came up with a fascinating positional idea beginning with 11...Nb6!?. After 12 a4, can you guess what Akopian played?

Modern Benoni: Fianchetto Variation [A63-64]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 Nf3 g6 7 g3 Bg7 8 Bg2 0-0 9 0-0 a6 10 a4 Nbd7

Finally this month, two new ideas in the Fianchetto Variation. Smeets - Anisimov, Aix-les-Bains 2011, travels all the way down the main line with 11 Nd2 Re8 12 h3 Rb8 13 Nc4 Ne5 14 Na3 Nh5 15 e4 Bd7 16 a5 and here Black chose 16...b5 (instead of 16...Qxa5) 17 axb6 Bb5!?:

Black sacrifices a pawn, Benko-style. At a stroke he eliminates the perennial problem of finding a safe square for the e5-knight. But does he get enough compensation?

In Mikhalevski - Kurmann, Aix-les-Bains 2011, the Chess Publishing contributor repeats Wang Hao's key novelty from last year: 11 Bf4 Qe7 12 h3 Nh5 13 Bg5 f6 14 Bd2 f5 15 e4!?:

For many years it was believed that 14...f5 prevented the double advance of White's e-pawn, but Wang Hao saw deeper and showed that 15 e4 is a promising pawn sac for White. In this more recent game Black chose to decline the pawn by playing 15...f4, but White soon gained a significant advantage. Black needs something in this line.

Till next time, John

>> Previous Update >>