Benko's Opening

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Not to be confused with Benko Gambit.
a b c d e f g h
8
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a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
g3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
f1 white bishop
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
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7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Moves 1.g3
ECO A00
Origin Pal Benko versus Bobby Fischer, 1962, Candidates Tournament, Curaçao
Named after Pal Benko
Parent Flank opening
Synonym(s) Hungarian Opening
Barcza Opening
Bilek Opening
King's Fianchetto Opening

Benko's Opening (also known as the Hungarian Opening, the Barcza Opening, the Bilek Opening, and the King's Fianchetto Opening), is a chess opening characterized by the move:

1. g3

White's 1.g3 is a fairly popular first move; of the twenty possible opening moves, it ranks fifth in popularity. It is usually followed by 2.Bg2, fianchettoing the bishop. Usually the game will transpose to another opening such as the Catalan Opening, King's Indian Attack or some variation of the English Opening. The move 1.g3 can also be followed by 1...e5 2.Bg2 d5 3.Nf3 followed by 4.0-0 in which White has development and king safety while Black has the pawn center with d- and e-pawns.

The opening is named after Pal Benko, who used 1.g3 to defeat Bobby Fischer and Mikhail Tal in rounds one and three of the 1962 Candidates Tournament in Curaçao, part of the 1963 World Championship cycle.[1] Benko used the opening the first eleven times he was White in the tournament.[2]

In spite of being among the more common first moves, the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings has no specific code devoted to 1.g3. The move is classified under A00,[3] and most games will transpose to some other opening with another code.


Black responses[edit]

1...d5[edit]

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a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
d5 black pawn
e5 black pawn
g3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white bishop
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
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7 7
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5 5
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1 1
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1.g3 d5 2.Bg2 e5

Perhaps the most common response is 1...d5.

  • White can continue 2.Nf3, which is usually reached by 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 (Barcza System). Then Black might play 2...Nf6 (King's Indian Attack, A07, see 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5), or 2...c6 (King's Indian Attack, A07, see 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 c6).
  • White can also continue 2.Bg2. Then Black might play 2...Nf6 (uncommon opening, see 1. g3 d5 2. Bg2 Nf6). This can lead to the King's Indian Attack (A07) or remain an uncommon opening. Or Black might play 2...e5 (uncommon opening, see 1. g3 d5 2. Bg2 e5). This can lead to other uncommon opening lines.

1...g6[edit]

a b c d e f g h
8
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a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
g8 black knight
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
e7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black bishop
h7 black pawn
g6 black pawn
g3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white bishop
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
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7 7
6 6
5 5
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3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
1. g3 g6 2. Bg2 Bg7

A symmetrical reply is 1...g6.

  • White can continue 2.c4, which is usually reached by 1.c4 g6 2.g3 (see English Opening). Then Black might play 2...Bg7 (English, A10, see 1. c4 g6 2. g3 Bg7), or Black might play 2...Nf6 (English, A15, see 1. c4 Nf6 2. g3 g6).
  • White can also continue 2.Bg2. Black almost always plays 2...Bg7 (uncommon opening, see 1. g3 g6 2. Bg2 Bg7); other moves are possible, but usually played on move one. Moves 3.c4 and 3.Nf3 transpose. This can lead to English (A36), English (A15), King's Indian Attack (A07), or Réti Opening (A04). Moves 3.d4 and 3.e4 are independent lines. This can lead to additional uncommon opening lines.

1...Nf6[edit]

This is Black's less strong move. White can transpose, but has no reason to. white can although still win.

  • White can play 2.Nf3, which is usually reached by 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 (Zukertort Opening). Then Black may play 2...d5 (given above). Or Black may play 2...g6 (Reti Opening, A06, see 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 g6). This can lead to King's Indian, Fianchetto without c4 (A49) or English (A15).
  • White can play 2.c4, which is usually reached by 1.c4 Nf6 2.g3 (see English Opening). Then Black may play 2...e5 (English, A20, see 1. c4 Nf6 2. g3 e5). This can lead to English (A22) or English (A20). Or Black may play 2...g6 (English, A15, see 1. c4 Nf6 2. g3 g6). This can lead to King's Indian Defense (E60) or English (A15).
  • White can play 2.Bg2. Then Black may play 2...d5 (given above). Or Black may play 2...e5.

1...e5[edit]

a b c d e f g h
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a8 black rook
b8 black knight
c8 black bishop
d8 black queen
e8 black king
f8 black bishop
h8 black rook
a7 black pawn
b7 black pawn
c7 black pawn
d7 black pawn
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
f6 black knight
e5 black pawn
g3 white pawn
a2 white pawn
b2 white pawn
c2 white pawn
d2 white pawn
e2 white pawn
f2 white pawn
g2 white bishop
h2 white pawn
a1 white rook
b1 white knight
c1 white bishop
d1 white queen
e1 white king
g1 white knight
h1 white rook
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7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
1.g3 e5 2.Bg2 Nf6

This is Black's more aggressive move. White may consider postponing the bishop move.

  • White can play 2.c4, which is usually reached by 1.c4 e5 2.g3 (see English Opening). Then Black may play 2...Nf6 (English, A20, see 1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nf6). This can lead to English (A22). Or Black may play 2...Nc6 (English, A20, see 1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nc6). This can lead to English (A20).
  • White can play 2.Bg2. Then Black may play 2...d5 (given above). Or Black may play 2...Nf6.

Example game[edit]

Larsen vs. Geller, 1960

1.g3 d5 2.Bg2 e5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.0-0 Nf6 5.c4 d4 6.d3 Bd6 7.Na3 0-0 8.Rb1 Re8 9.Nc2 a5 10.b3 h6 11.a3 Bf5 12.b4 axb4 13.axb4 Qd7 14.b5 Nd8 15.e3 dxe3 16.Nxe3 Bh7 17.Bb2 c6 18.Ra1 Rxa1 19.Qxa1 cxb5 20.Nxe5 Qc7 21.Nf3 Be7 22.Rc1 bxc4 23.dxc4 Qb6 24.Nd5 Nxd5 25.cxd5 Bf8 26.Bd4 Qb3 27.Ne5 b5 28.Nd7 Ba3 29.Bxg7 Bxc1 30.Nf6+ Kxg7 31.Nxe8+ Kf8 32.Qh8+ Ke7 33.d6+ Kd7 34.Nf6+ Kc8 35.Bh3+ Kb7 36.Qxd8 Qd1+ 37.Kg2 Bd3 38.Bc8+ Ka8 39.Qa5+ 1-0

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Mednis, Edmar (1994). How Karpov Wins. Courier Dover Publications. 
  2. ^ Timman, Jan (2005). Curaçao 1962: The Battle of Minds that Shook the Chess World. New in Chess. ISBN 978-90-5691-139-3. 
  3. ^ Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings, Volume A, Fourth Edition. Chess Informant. 

References[edit]