Welcome to my Benko’s Opening (A00) game with Slowstar9!

On this page I have posted one my chess games in which I played the White side of the Benko’s Opening.

I tried to transpose into a Catalan but Black avoided that by playing 4… Bb4+. If I played 5. Nc3 I would have transposed into a Nimzo Indian and by playing 5. Bd2 I transposed into an off line of the Bogo Indian. I was using MCO 14 to guide me through the opening but my opponent got me out of “book” rather quickly. When I got done winning two pawns in the Center I realized that by trading off my fianchettoed Bishop I left light-squared weaknesses around my King. I had to give back a pawn in order to avoid checkmate on h1. After that my king was open to a series of checks by the Black Queen. I pointed out to my opponent that he could draw by perpetual check if he wanted to because I wanted a draw at that point. If Black had ignored my draw suggestion and played for a win I might have lost that endgame. The ratings listed below are for each player at the conclusion of this game.

[Event “Game 415561”]
[Site “Stan’s NetChess”]
[Date “2007.11.29”]
[White “mserovey”]
[Black “slowstar9”]
[Result “1/2-1/2”]

1.g3 e6 2. Bg2 d5 3. c4 Nf6 4. d4 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bxd2+ 6. Qxd2 O-O 7. Nf3 dxc4 8. a4 Ne4 9. Qe3 Nd6 10. O-O Nc6 11. Na3 Nb4 12. Rfc1 a6 13. Nxc4 Nxc4 14. Rxc4 a5 15. Qc3 Nd5 16. Qc1 c6 17. e3 f6 18. Ne1 b6 19. Rxc6 Bd7 20. Rd6 Qe7 21. Rxd5 exd5 22. Bxd5+ Kh8 23. Bxa8 Rxa8 24. Qc7 Rc8 25. Qxb6 Qe4 26. b4 axb4 27. Qxb4 Bc6 28. f3 Qxe3+ 29. Kg2 1/2-1/2

Online Game
Stan’s Net Chess

Game Played 29 November 2007 to 7 January 2008
White: Mike Serovey
(2162) Black: Slowstar9 (2146)


1. g3 e6 2. Bg2 d5 3. c4 Nf6 4. d4

Benko's opening after 4. d4.

Benko’s opening after 4. d4.

The position right now is a typical Catalan opening. Black can play 4… c6, 4… c5, 4… Be7 and 4… dxc4 and remain in the Catalan. However, by playing 4… Bb4+ Black avoids Catalan lines and transposes into Indian lines. I chose to go into an off line of the Bogo Indian defense because I believed that doing so gave me the most play as White.

Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bxd2+ 6. Qxd2 O-O 7. Nf3 dxc4

Benko's opening after 7... dxc4.

Benko’s opening after 7… dxc4.

I was a little surprised and annoyed when Black captured the pawn on c4 because that took my out of the “book” line that I was trying to transpose into. I knew that I could get the pawn back eventually so I wasn’t worried about that. My next move was played in order to discourage b5 supporting the Black pawn at c4.

8. a4 Ne4 9. Qe3 Nd6

Benko's opening after 9... Nd6.

Benko’s opening after 9… Nd6.

I’m guessing that Black’s last 2 moves were played in order to protect the Black pawn at c4. White gets the pawn back anyways.

10. O-O Nc6 11. Na3 Nb4 12. Rfc1

Benko's opening after 12. Rfc1.

Benko’s opening after 12. Rfc1.

Black can’t save the pawn at c4 but he prepares to play b5 anyways. After 12… Nd5 13. Qd2 Black still can’t defend c4 adequately.

a6 13. Nxc4 Nxc4 14. Rxc4 a5

Benko's opening after 14... a5.

Benko’s opening after 14… a5.

The Black Knight is anchored at b4. The only way to get rid of it is to maneuver my knight to d3 or c2. But first I decided to double up on the c file and attack the Black pawn at c7.

15. Qc3 Nd5 16. Qc1 c6 17. e3 f6

Benko's opening after 17... f6.

Benko’s opening after 17… f6.

Black’s last move takes a good square away from his Knight and Queen and slightly weakens the pawn structure around his King. I guess that he really didn’t want my knight going to e5. I played to Knight to e1 in order to move it to d3 supporting the pawn push to b4. However, the Knight stayed at e1 for the remainder of this game.

18. Ne1 b6? (Drops the c pawn.) 19. Rxc6 Bd7

Benko's opening after 19... Bd7.

Benko’s opening after 19… Bd7.

Playing 19… Bb7 would have dropped the pawn at e6. I looked at this position for a while before deciding on my next move. The Rook only has 3 squares that it can safely go to, c4, c2 and d6. The Rook is easily attacked on both c4 and c2. White is up a pawn and now sees a way to win another one if Black falls into his trap. Black does fall into the trap and White ends up 2 pawns in the Center. One of those pawns is passed.

20. Rd6 Qe7 21. Rxd5 exd5 22. Bxd5+ Kh8 23. Bxa8 Rxa8

Benko's opening after 23... Rxa8.

Benko’s opening after 23… Rxa8.

When the smoke had cleared and I got a good look at this position I realized something. Although White is up 2 pawns, and one of them is passed, he is not winning! By exchanging off his light-squared Bishop White has left a light-squared weakness around his King. All Black has to do is put both his Queen and Bishop on the a8 to h1 diagonal and he is threatening checkmate on h1! I had 2 choices here. One plan was to clog that diagonal with pawns and thereby prevent the checkmate on h1. I rejected that plan because I didn’t like the idea of those pawns on that diagonal
becoming targets for Black to attack. I chose to leave them on dark squares instead. The other plan is the one that I chose. I figured that the worst that I got out of it was a draw and I could win if Black misstepped in this line.

24. Qc7 Rc8 25. Qxb6 Qe4

Benko's opening after 25... Qe4.

Benko’s opening after 25… Qe4.

Here is where I miscalculated! In my analysis Black plays 25… Bc6 and then 26… Qe4. I never looked at what happens if Black plays the Queen on that diagonal first! After 25… Bc6 26. Rc1 Qe4 27. Rxc6 Black must recapture on c6 with his Queen because pulling his Rook off the back rank allows Qd8+ leading to checkmate. After 27… Qxc6 28. Qxc6 Rxc6 White has a Knight and 2 pawns for his Rook and can draw this game. I was OK with a draw because our ratings are almost even. White’s next move doesn’t really threaten anything and I was surprised when Black chose to capture on b4  instead of immediately playing Bc6. Having my Queen on b4 allows the Queen to protect the pawns at a4 and d4 as well as the Knight at e1. It also keeps the Black Queen off b2. Also, if the Black Rook ever comes off the back rank Qf6 checkmates unless Black moves his h pawn first.

26. b4 axb4 27. Qxb4 Bc6 28. f3 Qxe3+ 29. Kg2 1/2-1/2

Benko's opening after 29. Kg2 (Final position).

Benko’s opening after 29. Kg2 (Final position).

After completing my last move I told Black that he had a draw by perpetual check if he wanted it. He saw that and offered a draw, which I accepted. White is still up 2 passed pawns here, but he can’t hang onto the pawn at f3. After 29… Qe2+ the King has to go back to g1 because playing the King to a3 leads to the King being chased around and possible checkmate. Playing to h1 allows Black to capture on f3 with a check. I accepted the draw because I didn’t like my position after 29… Qe2+ 30. Kg1 Bxf3 31. Nxf3 Qxf3. If Black ever doubles his Queen and Rook on my second rank I will  not be able to prevent checkmate. After taking another look at that position I realized that White can win if Black does take that pawn at f3.

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