ForumHelpSearchMy ProfileSite InfoGuests InfoRepertoireLinks
This month we will be looking at recent developments in the Benko Gambit and Dutch Defence.

Download PGN of June '15 Daring Defences games

>> Previous Update >>

Benko Gambit 4.Qc2 b4 [A57]

In Game One Ivan Sokolov refuses the pawn with 4.Qc2 and then, in reply, his opponent closed off the queenside with 4...b4:

Despite the fact that Caruana chose this in the World Blitz Championship, I don't consider it to be Black's best practical response. The danger is that White's central space advantage allows him to get things going on the kingside while Black lacks counterplay. If we compare the present set-up with the analogous variation 4.a4 b4, here White still has the option of playing with a2-a3, another plus for the first player. The game itself wasn't clear-cut by any means, but Sokolov could have maintained an edge with less risky options.

Benko Gambit 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bg7 [A58]

In Games 2-4 we shall be examining the latest developments in the Benko with a delayed ...d6:

In Game Two yours truly was rather outplayed and found himself in difficulties before the complications took over and I eventually salvaged a draw. As to the opening, Vaisser improved on previous experience with 10...Nxd6, but this was hardly a difficult one to find:

My analysis up to now suggests that Black is then already about equal, although a good look at possible ramifications in the note to move 12 might lead to new discoveries. My tentative conclusion is that 8.e5, (which may seem a logical way to try and punish someone who refuses to play ...d6!) isn't causing Black any real problems.

In Game Three White tried the pawn advance 8.a6-a7 instead. This has been played a few times recently, but hasn't been covered in my column before. The idea is to draw the rook out to the potentially exposed square on a7, and consequently Black has to change tack in order to avoid a timely Nc3-b5. I discussed this theme with a couple of my team mates in the French league. One felt that it offers White an edge, the other that Black has enough resources. In the featured game, Anish Giri correctly countered with a quick ...e6, Black's best plan. The high-flying Dutch GM is ultimately successful, but mainly because White left his bishop hanging on b5 for too long. White could have improved on move 16 and retained a solid edge, but before that I prefer Kovalevskaya's 13...Nc7 to Giri's 13...Re8.

In Game Four Sophie Milliet was able to hold-off the higher-rated Loek Van Wely with relative ease. Her tenth move 10...Qb4!? being particularly notable:

This attacks both the 'e' and 'b' pawns. White has tried leaving one of them en prise in previous games, but these counter-gambits aren't convincing. So the big Dutchman played the cautious 11.Qc2, when after 11...Bxe2, he had nothing better than capturing on e2 with his king. Not surprisingly, Milliet was able to exploit the exposed monarch to get her pawn back under reasonable circumstances and drew easily.

So the new revamped Benko is holding up well and becoming even more fashionable!

Dutch Stonewall with b2-b3 [A90]

In Game Five the way that Hansen was able to create winning chances in his game against Lenderman is instructive. The plan with g3-g4 is worth remembering:

As for the opening, the plan with Bb2, Qc1 and Ba3 trades dark-squared bishops, but Black shouldn't be worried by this prospect. Lenderman had a perfectly respectable position until he became confused and let things slip on move 25.

In Feller-Riazantsev, Game Six, the Russian GM interpreted the Stonewall in a slightly unusual way. He didn't commit himself to the usual ...c6 in the opening, and eventually developed with ...b6 and ...Bb7 on the long diagonal, only playing ...c6 quite late on. In the middlegame, the Russian rather lost his way and was somewhat worse. Feller tried to force matters with g3-g4, but this led to complications that were more or less balanced. The strategy started with ...b6 (on move seven, eight, or here, as late as move nine) is still quite rare, but looks promising.

Dutch Classical 5.Nh3 [A91]

The border between 'Classical' and 'Stonewall' in the Dutch is a bit fuzzy. In game 7, Black to all intents and purposes, wanted to play a 'Stonewall' but was persuaded to opt for a 'Classical' because of White's move order. On the other hand, in Game 8, Black's Iljin-Zhenevsky (another way of describing the Classical) eventually led to a Stonewall. I hope all that is clear! If not, please play through the games for further enlightenment!

Fressinet-Agdestein in Game Seven followed the critical moves of the 'Anti-Stonewall Classical' (!?) with 5.Nh3. Black reacted by switching to ...d6 and ...e5, whereupon White hits back with e2-e4. The following position is the critical one:

Black may have several ways to meet this advance, but which one is best? The most daring is 10...f4 and is perhaps the most tantalizing for those with an attacking bent. I also quite like the non-committal 10...Na6. In the game, Agdestein's 10...fxe4 is perhaps not bad, but his twelfth and thirteenth moves are questionable. A possible improvement (see the notes) being 12...Bf5.

Dutch Classical 7.b4 Ne4 [A96]

Game Eight demonstrates that the early b2-b4 system is well met by pushing the a-pawn, often as far as it can go! Stupak's 11.c4-c5 is new but not, in my opinion, an improvement over 11.Nxe4. Black obtained the advantage, but had better chances of winning if he had kept the queens on the board. Note that the timing of ...d6-d5 for Black is often a key moment in this important sideline.

Dutch Classical 7...Qe8 8.Qc2 Qh5 [A98]

In the last pair of games, White was able to play the thematic advance d4-d5 with a black knight on c6. The trade of the white d-pawn for Black's e-pawn tends to give White the slightly easier game.

In Game Nine the slow but relentless technique of Nguyen Huynh Minh Huy to grind out a win is impressive. Even if your computer gives the middlegame as equal, it turns out to be 'easier to play for White'. Maybe the bishop would have been better on the long-dark diagonal à la Leningrad, rather than on b6 and a7.

White was close to winning in Game Ten, but made a serious oversight right at the end.

Once again d4-d5 leads to a mini-edge to White (check out 13.Nd4), but Black's position was perfectly acceptable until it started to go wrong sometime after the opening. Perhaps Black should time ...c7-c6 a little differently, or even abandon the idea in favour of ...g5.

Till next month, Glenn Flear

>> Previous Update >>

If you have any questions, either leave a message on the Daring Defences Forum, or subscribers can email me at