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
8
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

The Benko 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]

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
Chessboard480.svg
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
4 4
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 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]

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.

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]