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This month's update is devoted to the Modern Benoni, and entirely to a key line in the Taimanov Attack.

Download PGN of April '13 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Modern Benoni: Flick-Knife Attack 8 Bb5+ Nfd7 9 a4 [A67]

I'm indebted to Michael Jendrian for reminding me of a line that would certainly benefit from an update, the 9 a4 variation of the Taimanov Attack. In particular, I was inspired to look at an ambitious option for Black that hadn't been covered here before, 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 f4 Bg7 8 Bb5+ Nfd7 9 a4 0-0 10 Nf3 Na6 11 0-0 Nb4:

Putting the knight on the b4-outpost is clearly very tempting, and anyone new to the Modern Benoni might wonder why there was any debate about where this knight should go. But there are many examples in the Benoni where the knight on b4 is only superficially active and becomes isolated from where the main action is taking place. Nevertheless, Black really desires at least some activity in this line, and it's noticeable that in recent years grandmasters (including Topalov and Gashimov) have tended to favour 11...Nb4 over the alternative 11...Nc7.

The key development is that Black is now choosing a quick ...f5 to blow away White's centre, rather than ...Nf6. As you might expect, there are some extremely sharp lines, and in this mini-survey I've tried to work out the most promising options for both sides.

Here's a walk through the variations

12 Re1

White prepares to drop the bishop right back to f1, where it is out of harm's way.

12 Be3 is covered in Ajrapetjan - Maze, Moscow 2009.

12...a6 13 Bf1 Re8 14 h3

For 14 Bd2 and 14 Be3, see Kantsler - Uritzky, Israel 2008.


Black is willing to weaken his kingside, including the e6-square, in order to dismantle White's strong centre. In a way ...f5 is the logical and consistent follow-up to ... Nb4, because:

1) Black continues to play actively; and

2) The knight on b4 will always be in the game if the d5-pawn becomes isolated.

Black can also play 14...b6 15 Be3 and only now 15...f5 - see Al Sayed-Iturrizaga, Gibraltar Masters 2013.

15 Qb3

White gets ready to connect rooks with Bd2 and anticipates ...fxe4. There are a number of alternatives:

15 Bd2 is covered in Gokerman - Kusmierek, ICCF email 2009;

15 e5 and 15 Ng5 are covered in Rain - Eiben, ICCF email 2004; and finally

15 exf5 is covered in Gual Pascual-Rivas Garcia, Barbera del Valles 2000.

15...fxe4 16 Nxe4

Now Black usually chooses between two knight moves: 16...Nf8 (Tate - Golizadeh, Istanbul Olympiad 2012) and 16...Nf6 (Borwell - Mueller, ICCF email 2006).

Until next time, John

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