Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Good day folks! Today's feature is all about the Modern Benoni plus an annotated game from my good friend Engr. Jun Atmosfera.

Endre Vegh aptly said in the foreword of his Book " Starting Out - Modern Benoni " that:

" The Modern Benoni is a dynamic opening and offers black good chances of winning the game, probably more so than most other defenses against 1. d4, but at the cost of substantial risks, with a very low quantity of draws. But if you do not feel chicken, but want to play entertaining and dynamic chess, then the modern Benoni may be for you ".

It is also called the Son of Sorrow. The Modern Benoni grew in popularity when it was extensively used as a weapon by GM Mikhail Tal in his battle for the World Championship against the great champion GM Botvinnik. Among its adherent is another attacking genius and former world champ GM Garry Kasparov who used this defense in winning a beautiful game against GM Korchnoi in the 1982 Chess Olympiad.

Now let us turn-over to Engr. Jun Atmosfera.

" I started playing the Modern Benoni Defense sometime in 1973 ( that was a long time ago) when I came across and replayed the games of Mikhail Tal in his World Championship match with Botvinnik in 1960.It was also employed by Bobby Fischer in his first ever win against Boris Spassky in the third game of their world title match in Reykjavik, Iceland on July 17, 1972. Prior to their world title match, the two met five times and Fischer lost three times with the black pieces (one King’s Gambit and two Gruenfeld defense) and drew two times with white, both Ruy Lopez games.

I was fascinated by the defense against white's d4 or c4 opening as it is a fighting defense and tactical fireworks are abundant due to the imbalanced formation of both sides. Of course I now know that this defense has been somewhat refuted at the super-grandmaster level but still good and exciting for club players ".

( Engr. Jun Atmosfera vs. Atty. Jong Guevarra in 1st round action during the 1st IM Marlo Micayabas Toril Chess Challenge 2009 )

Here is an example of my game with this defense:

[Event "Toril Invitational Chess CLassic"]
[Site "Toril Chess Club, Davao City, Philipines"]
[Date "2007.2.17"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Henry Fajardo"]
[Black "Engr. Jun Atmosfera"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteELO "1960"]
[BlackELO "1900"]

Time control: 25 mins./game

( With brief annotation from Engr. Atmosfera and side comments
from Caissa's Father. )

Modern Benoni Defense

1. Nf3 Nf6 2.d4 c5 3. d5 d6 4. c4 e6 5. Nc3 exd5 6. cxd5 g6

7. h3 Bg7 8. e4 0-0 9. Bd3

This is the main line of the Modern variation.

Endre Vegh: The young chess players who started playing only recently can
identify the Modern Benoni line h2-h3, Bd3 because of its popularity.
However, it was not always so popular. It is the positional players approach
to the Modern Benoni these days. My evaluation of this variation is Black is
under slight pressure, but would be able to keep the balance.

9... a6 ?!

Endre Vegh: 9.. b5! The best way to meet White's loss of time with h2-h3.
Black exploits the fact that the White king is still in the centre.
Otherwise, Black will have problems facing 0-0, Bf4, Re1, and e4-e5.

10. a4 Re8 11. 0-0 Nbd7 12. Bf4 Qc7 13. Qe2!?

Caissa's Father: White's Queen is somewhat misplaced in e2 due to the
presence of Black's menacing rook on the opposite file. In the game
Bacrot-Nazar, Evry 2004, White essayed the move 13. Re1 Nh5 14. Bh2
Rb8 15. Be2 Nhf6 16. Nd2 Bf8 17. Kh1 Nb6 18. f4 Nfd7 19. Bf1 Bg7
20. Nf6 f6 21. Qd2 Qd8 1-0 32 moves.

13... Nh5 14. Bh2 Rb8 15. Rfe1 f5 16. Ng5! c4!?

Engr. Atmosfera: Sacrificing a pawn to gain a tempo.

17) Bxc4

Engr. Atmosfera: If 17.Ne6 cxd3 18.Nxc7 dxe2 19.Nxe8 winning the
exchange. However, Black can reply instead of cxd3,17... Rxe6
18.dxe6 cxd3 19.e7 dxe2 20.e8=Q+ Nf8 and has two minor pieces
for his rook.

17... Ne5 18. Ba2 f4 19. Ne6 Qe7 20. Nxf4 Nxf4 21. Bxf4 Rf8 22. Qe3

Bd7 23. Ne2 b5 24. a5 Nc4! 25. Bxc4 bxc4 26. Qg3 Rxf4! 27. Qxf4 Rxb2

28.e5 Qxe5!

Better than 28...Bxe5 when white has 29.Nd4

29. Qxe5 Bxe5 30. Rac1? (f4!)

30... Bb5 31. Nc3 Bd4 32. Ne4 Be5 33. g3 Ra2 34. Kh1 Rxa5 35.f4 Bb2

36. Nxd6 Bxc1 37. Rxc1 Bd7 38. Nxc4 Rxd5 39. Kg2?

39.Nb6 exchanging the knight for the Bishop is drawish. If 39.Kh2 Rc5
40.Rd1 Bxh3, Black is one pawn up.

39 ... Rc5 40. Rc2 Ba4 41) Rc3 Bb5

0 - 1
White resigns because he will lose his knight.

Time consumed: White-23 mins. Black-19 mins.

Engr. Atmosfera: Well, the game I've presented is not perfect model
of the Benoni and the game against Henry Fajardo could have resulted
in a draw, but it shows how resilient and full of tactical chances the
Benoni offers, especially for shorter time controls.

Replay the game below.