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This month we take a look at some recent action in trendy Modern Benoni lines.

Download PGN of October ’16 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Modern Benoni 7 Bf4 a6 8 a4 Bg7 9 h3 0-0 10 e3 [A61]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 Nf3 g6 7 Bf4 a6 8 a4 Bg7 9 h3 0-0 10 e3:

The 7 Bf4 variation continues to be popular and to cause Black headaches. White’s set-up appears to be modest but is rock-solid and it’s not easy for Black to create counterplay.

It’s important for Black to know that after 10...Re8 11 Nd2 (11 Be2 and 11 Bd3 are the other options), he can play 11...Nbd7! without worrying about 12 Bxd6. In Nyback, T - Koehler, R Black gets a decent position and only later falters.

Another set-up for Black is 10...Ne8 11 Be2 Nd7 12 0-0 Qe7:

White’s plan in the recent game Hillarp Persson, T - Jackson, J is well worth noting, as it left Black very cramped and struggling for activity.

Modern Benoni: Fianchetto Variation with 9...Re8 10 Bf4 [A62]

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 Re8 10 Bf4:

The Fianchetto System against the Benoni continues to be highly popular, although this is at least partially due to fashionable move orders committing White to an early g3 (e.g. 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 g3 c5). In this update we look at three recent games in which White meets ...Re8 with the Bf4 plan rather than Nd2.

In Rahman, A - Marek, M we examine the critical line 10...Ne4 11 Nxe4 Rxe4 12 Nd2 Rxf4!? 13 gxf4 Bxb2 14 Rb1 Bg7:

This exchange sacrifice has overtaken 12...Rb4 as Black’s most popular choice. The resulting positions are very interesting Black’s results have been okay.

In Jumabayev, R-Ponkratov, P Black instead chooses 10...Na6 11 Re1 Bg4:

Black’s set-up is logical and easy to play. White can probably keep a small edge here with best play, but in the game he soon errs and Black takes over the initiative.

In Moroni, L - Urban, K Black played ...Ne4, but first with the insertion of ...a6 and a4: 10...a6 11 a4 Ne4 12 Nxe4 Rxe4 13 Nd2 Rb4 14 b3!?:

This time it’s White who sacs the exchange! 14 b3 is very logical and hardly a brave sac, as White is always going to gain a lot of dark-square compensation. Previously we’ve considered 14...Bxa1 15 Qxa1. In this game Black instead tried 14...Nd7!? 15 Bxd6 Qf6, but wasn’t able to fully solve his problems.

Modern Benoni: Nge2 Variation [A65]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 e6 4 Nc3 exd5 5 cxd5 d6 6 e4 g6 7 Nge2 Bg7 8 Ng3 0-0 9 Be2:

The Nge2 set-up against the Benoni often arises from the King’s Indian move order, as it did in Bocharov, D - Chigaev, M (so 7 Nge2 against the Benoni would be a logical choice for those who also play Ne2 against the King’s Indian and want to cut down on work).

The main line runs 9...a6 10 a4 Nbd7 11 0-0 Re8. In the game, after 12 Be3 Rb8 White played the novelty 13 Qc2:

However, Black’s response convincingly demonstrated why the white queen is poorly placed on this square and should prefer d2.

Modern Benoni: Taimanov Attack 8 Bb5+ Nfd7 9 Nf3 a6 10 Bd3 b5 [A67]

Finally this month, a resounding for Black in the Taimanov Attack:

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 Nf3 a6 10 Bd3 b5 11 0-0 0-0 12 Kh1 Re8:

9 Nf3 is a good alternative to 9 a4. It does allow Black to gain counterplay with ...b5, but White still gets excellent attacking chances on the kingside. L’Ami, A- Kiewra, K continued 13 a3 Ra7 and now 14 f5 (we’ve also covered 14 Qe1 here).

This pawn advance is direct and very tempting. On the other hand, it does give away the e5-square very quickly and Black’s defensive plan becomes obvious. Kiewra’s excellent defensive play demonstrates that perhaps 14 f5 is too early here.

Till next time, John

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