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5. Benko Gambit

5. Benko Gambit

Why the Benko Gambit against 1.d4?

With a simple question, our Grandmaster team stumbled on this opening. The question they asked was this:

"Against 1.d4 which opening is the easiest to learn, easiest to play, and most unpleasant for White?" 

The Benko Gambit fit the bill perfectly! The theory is simple to remember and Black has a clear plan of deploying their pieces.

And even if Black gambits a pawn, they always get active play along the Queenside, giving them more than enough compensation.

Because of these reasons, many GMs even avoid accepting this gambit, especially in blitz games.

Below are positions taken from the course:

Benko GambitBenko GambitBenko GambitBenko GambitBenko GambitBenko GambitBenko GambitBenko Gambit

Learning the Benko Gambit will give you a better understanding of the importance of active pieces, open and half-open lines and the strength of g7-bishop that occurs from many openings.
Let's get started!

What you'll learn

  • The complete guide to playing the Benko Gambit covering all crucial variations move-by-move and their ideas.
  • How to play with a pawn deficit but happy pieces. 
  • The power of happy pieces — how a Bishop on a long diagonal and Rooks on open files can stifle the enemy’s position. 
  • A strategy where Black offers to exchange Queens and go into an endgame, despite having less material!

Lesson Plan

48 episode(s) 3 hours 8 min
5

Students give this course an average of 5 out of 5 stars.

jirapak pitirotjirathon
jirapak pitirotjirathon
Deleted user
Deleted user
Martin Wittke
Martin Wittke
Marc Sicina
Marc Sicina
Well explained. What about other reason that white via other moves gets in be Bb2 a4!?
Well explained. What about other reason that white via other moves gets in be Bb2 a4!?
Franck steenbekkers
Franck steenbekkers
Why not 12 A4 which is recommend by avrukh
Why not 12 A4 which is recommend by avrukh
Deleted user
Deleted user
David Hakhinyan
David Hakhinyan
Aayush Shirodkar
Aayush Shirodkar
Gor Avetisyan
Gor Avetisyan
Wolfgang Weiler
Wolfgang Weiler
The best course about the Benko-Gambit I ever used with many novelties. The author, GM Grigoryan, is very competent in didactics and methodics. That means the whole course is outstanding concerning the contents and the way he presents the Benko. Every user will profit from this course - not only by learning and understanding the Benko but also improving his general abilities in chess.
The best course about the Benko-Gambit I ever used with many novelties. The author, GM Grigoryan, is very competent in didactics and methodics. That means the whole course is outstanding concerning the contents and the way he presents the Benko. Every user will profit from this course - not only by learning and understanding the Benko but also improving his general abilities in chess.
WIM_Susanna Gaboyan
WIM_Susanna Gaboyan
Devansh Shah
Devansh Shah
Simple yet very effective Easy to remember Gives practical problems to opponents Super!
Simple yet very effective Easy to remember Gives practical problems to opponents Super!
T K
T K
Sharan Sridhar
Sharan Sridhar
WIM_Siranush Ghukasyan
WIM_Siranush Ghukasyan
Artyom Manukyan
Artyom Manukyan
Mateo Jackson
Mateo Jackson
Pratham Lohakare
Pratham Lohakare
Great
Great
Captain Hook
Captain Hook
Great!
Great!
GM Avetik Grigoryan
GM Avetik Grigoryan

After having a successful playing career where he became the Armenian Champion in 2010, GM Avetik Grigoryan found his passion for chess coaching and switched to it full-time. 

Since then, he has guided many ambitious players to become Grandmasters and International Masters and has over 10 years of coaching experience.

He believes anyone can improve at chess, with the right mood and proper direction. And with that vision, he founded ChessMood in 2018.

After having a successful playing career where he became the Armenian Champion in 2010, GM Avetik Grigoryan found his passion for chess coaching and switched to it full-time. 

Since then, he has guided many ambitious players to become Grandmasters and International Masters and has over 10 years of coaching experience.

He believes anyone can improve at chess, with the right mood and proper direction. And with that vision, he founded ChessMood in 2018.

The Benko Gambit, also known as Volga Gambit, arises after the moves – 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5. This gambit is a serious opening alternative for Black against 1.d4 and is a part of the repertoires of many top grandmasters like Ivanchuk and Topalov.

History of the Benko Gambit

The first game in this opening was played between – Gideon Stahlberg vs Gosta Stoltz, in the Stockholm Championship in 1933. The game ended in a draw. 

Later a Hungarian-American player Pal Benko introduced new ideas and popularized them in the late 1960s. 

In 1974 he wrote a book named ‘The Benko Gambit’. 

Since then that name stuck with most of the world’s English-speaking countries.

In some countries, especially those in the Eastern bloc, the opening was known as the Volga Gambit, named after a river in Russia.

What is the Benko Gambit Accepted and Benko Gambit Declined?

As the name suggests, Benko Gambit Accepted is when White accepts the pawn sacrifice. It occurs after the moves – 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 and White now grabs the second pawn with 5.bxa6.

On the other hand, White can also refuse to accept the gambit with 5.b6 (instead of 5.bxa6). This opening variation is called the Benko Gambit Declined.

Black’s Opening Strategy in the Benko Gambit

Black has many strategies in this opening, here are some of the most important ones:

  • Opening Lines For Their Pieces: After White accepts the gambit in the opening, Black plays ...a6 to open the lines for their heavy pieces. 

Later Black fianchettos their Bishop to g7, castles and put the 2 rooks on the a-file and b-file. Because By doing so, they want to exert tremendous pressure on the queenside.

  • Exchange Queens: Despite being a pawn down, Black wants to exchange the queens. This strategy of going into an endgame goes against conventional wisdom. But in the Benko Gambit, there’s a deeper point behind it. 

By exchanging the Queens, White will have problems defending the light squares in their camp.

  • Jumping Knights: When White’s light squares are weakened, Black’s knights are ready to jump. The b8-knight often goes ...Na6-Nb4-Nd3, while the other goes ...Nf6-Nd7-Nb6-Nc4. 

Is the Benko a sound opening?

With many top players using the Benko Gambit with the Black pieces, it is safe to say that the opening is sound. Almost anyone will benefit by adding it to their chess opening repertoire.

If you enjoy playing active and dynamic positions with the Black pieces, where Black has decent practical chances, you’ll love the Benko. 

It will also help you understand certain concepts better. For instance, you’ll lose the fear of sacrificing a pawn for positional compensation, which is an important skill to improve your chess.

Course 48 episodes (3 hours 8 min)
Creators GM Avetik Grigoryan
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