The Modern Benoni

John Doknjas

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Everyman Chess
448 pages

Ten years ago, if you asked me if it was possible for a 2200 FIDE rated player to write a good opening book, I would have been skeptical. Times have changed thanks to better computer engines and those who are able to access their secrets. Add in the ability to organize and explain the material and you have a fresh and accessible new guide to the Modern Benoni by the hard-working young FIDE Master from British Columbia.

His latest book covers the Modern Benoni via the move-order 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 with one line given against each of White’s major systems excepting The Modern Variation (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.h3 0-0 9.Bd3) where 9…b5 is the first choice, but the more combative 9…Re8 10.0-0 Nbd7 is given as a backup as the former can lead to major simplification.

The Modern Benoni is not as heavily analyzed as the more popular King’s Indian and Grunfeld, but there is still a fair amount to learn and Doknjas does a good job balancing the need to cover the essentials with not overwhelming the reader. One way he does this is by posing questions to the reader at key junctures. An example of this can be found in his coverage of the Mikenas Attack (4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.f4 Bg7 8.e5) in chapter two. You will find the author is equally skilled at engaging the reader and selecting strong but less popular lines.

Players from 1800-2400 thinking of taking up or improving their knowledge of this dynamic opening will find The Modern Benoni helpful.