Dangerous Weapons — The Benoni and Benko

Chris Ward, John Emms, Richard Palliser

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Everyman Chess
270 pages

The latest book (late summer 2008) in the Everyman Chess Dangerous Weapons series is on the Benoni and Benko and authored by the team of GMs John Emms, Chris Ward and Gawain Jones and IM Richard Palliser. True to the Dangerous Weapons spirit, this 270 page paperback is aimed at both those who play and face the Benoni and Benko with an emphasis on slightly offbeat but aggressive lines that are not associated with overwhelming amounts of theory.

The book breaks down as follows:

Modern Benoni:

Sosonko-Kramnik Gambit in the Catalan-Benoni (6.e4)
Radjabov’s Extended Queenside Fianchetto (10…b6 against g3 system)
10… Nf6-h5 in the Modern Classical
Epishin’s Deadly 8.Qe2


Paradoxical Bishop Retreat (11…Bc8 in Main Line)
Tromping the Benko (4.Bg5)
Central Control (5.e3)
Dark-Square Magic (5.f3 e6 6.e4 c4)

Odds And Ends:

Benoni with ...Ne7 (7.Bd3 and 8.h4)
Killing the Snake (7.g4)
Super Extended Fianchetto (6.g3 and 7.h4)
Blumenfeld Accepted (4…b5 5.dxe6)
Pseudo-Blumenfeld Gambit (2.Nf3 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 b5!?)

One thing that distinguishes this book from others in the Dangerous Weapons series is how brutally the less theoretical lines are dealt with. There is no misguided romance with the Snake Benoni (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 Bd6 6.Nf3 Bc7 7.g4! or sadly the sequence 1.d4 e6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 exd5 4.cxd5 d6 5.Nc3 g6 6.e4 Bg7 7.Bd3 Ne7– which can also arise from 1…g6 or even 1.e4 c5 (2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.d5 e6 5.c4 exd5 6.cxd5 d6 7.e4 Ne7) – which is strongly met by 8.h4!

The one dodgy and unknown line that appears to be better than its reputation is the Pseudo-Blumenfeld Gambit (2.Nf3 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 b5!?) which solves the problem of what to do if White chooses to delay playing c4 with 2.Nf3. This is an important chapter and is critical for those who want to play the Benoni or Benko as their sole weapon against 1.d4.

Benoni and Benko practitioners will want this book. Those looking for a practical way to meet these openings will also find it useful.