Benko Gambit (A57-59)

The Benko Gambit (or Volga Gambit) is a chess opening characterised by the move 3...b5 in the Benoni Defense arising after: 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5

The Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings (ECO) has three codes for the Benko Gambit:

A57 3...b5
A58 3...b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6
A59 3...b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 Bxa6 6.Nc3 d6 7.e4

The idea of sacrificing a pawn with ...b5 and ...a6 is quite old. Karel Opočenský applied the idea against, among others, Gideon Ståhlberg at Poděbrady 1936, Paul Keres at Pärnu 1937, and Erich Eliskases at Prague 1937. Later the Mark Taimanov versus David Bronstein game at the Candidates Tournament, Zürich 1953, drew attention. Most of these games began as a King's Indian, with Black only later playing ...c5 and ...b5. Possibly the first to use the now-standard move order 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 was Thorvaldsson–Vaitonis, Munich Olympiad 1936.

In many countries, particularly in the Eastern Bloc, the opening is known as the Volga Gambit. This name is derived from the Volga River after an article about 3...b5!? by B. Argunow written in Kuibyshev (Samara since 1991), Russia, that was published in the second 1946 issue of the magazine Schachmaty in USSR.

Beginning in the late 1960s, this opening idea was also promoted by Pal Benko, a Hungarian-American Grandmaster, who provided many new suggestions and published his book The Benko Gambit in 1974. The name Benko Gambit stuck and is particularly used in English-speaking countries.

In his 1974 book, Benko drew a distinction between the Benko Gambit and the Volga Gambit: "Volga Gambit" referred to the move 3...b5 (sometimes followed by an early ...e6), while the "Benko Gambit" consisted of the moves 3...b5 4.cxb5 a6, which is now considered the main line. Now the terms are synonyms and are used interchangeably or joined together with a hyphen (Volga–Benko Gambit).

 

A57

Benko Gambit 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5

Benko Gambit

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5

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Study Games for A57

A57

A58

Benko Gambit Accepted 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6

Benko Gambit Accepted

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5 4. cxb5 a6 5. bxa6

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Study Games for A58

A58

A59

Benko Gambit 7.e4 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 Bxa6 6.Nc3 d6 7.e4

Benko Gambit 7.e4

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6 Bxa6 6.Nc3 d6 7.e4

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Puzzels

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Study Games for A59

A59