Everyone that studies chess seriously, knows that building a reliable repertoire against 1.d4 is a long-term process. Unfortunately, the majority of the chess lovers do not have enough time to dedicate to this meticulous and hard work. Here, comes to help Grandmaster Boris Chatalbashev (on the picture below). In the present database, he shares with our readers his main weapon that served him loyally during his long chess career – the so-called Late Benoni. The good news is that in this opening, the plans and strategical nuances are much more important than the concrete moves.
When bulding an opening repertoire many players (myself included) prefer slightly off-beat and rare variations. Especially when they do not have time to study the latest novelties in modern lines. As our opponent is expected not to have enough knowledge and experience in those rare openings, such an approach gives us some practical advantages. But what to choose? Most gambits do not have good reputation and rightly so. On the other hand rare openings like Classic Benoni, for example, are known to lead to a passive play.
To our readers I offer a variation that had served me well during many years, it is solid enough, but far from being passive. It has no official name, but in chess literature is often called "Reluctant Benoni" or "Late Benoni". You should not be disturbed by the rather unimpressive name. Just try to achieve impressive results with it.
The main position arises after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 g6 4.Nc3 Bg7
This is the normal set-up and move order, though other move orders are also possible. It might depend what you expect from your opponent. If he likes to play 3.Nf3 aiming for transposition into English Opening, then even 1...c5 might be good move to start with. Also, 2.Nf3 g6 3.c4 c5 4.d5 is common enough, but here White has the option of going for Maroczy with 4.Nc3. Within the framework of the current database, different transpositions and move orderes are covered in detail.
On the diagram position, you can see the way in which Black develops his pieces in Late Benoni. In general, he goes for fianchetto, then d7-d6 and castles, leaving e7-e6 and eventual e6xd5 (sometimes it is even e6-e5) for last.
At this point, White's only reasonable alternative to 5.e4 is 5.Nf3 followed by g2-g3 . In his repertoire book for 1.d4, the remarkable theoretician GM Boris Avrukh advocated this approach for White. Here my recommendation is:
5...d6 6.g3 0-0 7.Bg2 Na6 8.0-0 Nc7
With his last move Black is trying to prepare the advance b7-b5. Generally, at certain moment, White prevents Black from carrying out this typical break by means of a2-a4. As I have proved in my analysis to this structure, when white pawn is on "a4", Black should consider closing the center by e7-e5. As you will find out in the database, the diagram position is not particularly dangerous for Black.
The critical position of the variation is reached after 5.e4 d6
This is very important position in which White has a variety of options. In the database, I examine the following moves:
6.f4, 6.f3, 6.Be2 followed by 7.Bg5, 6.Bd3 followed by 7.Nge2 and the main move 6.Nf3
1) White plays 6.f4
Four pawns' attack is not as dangerous here, especially compared to Modern Benoni, where White has the possibility of early Bb5+.
After 6.f4 0-0 7.Nf3 e6 8.Be2 exd5 9.cxd5 , I recommend the rare 9...Nbd7
This original attempt is regularly used by Teimour Radjabov ( on the picture below ). According to my analysis, Black not only equalizes but in some cases, he can even overtake the initiative.
2) White plays 6.f3
By playing 6.f3, White transposes to Saemisch Variation in King's Indian Defence. In this line, systems based on the move c7-c5 are considered as favourable for Black.
Here my suggestion is 6...e6 7.Bg5 exd5 8.cxd5 0-0 9.Qd2 h6 10.Be3 h5
Note that the diagram position could arise via different move orders which are discussed in my analysis. For example, White could have played 7.Be3 instead of 7.Bg5 but in general he tries to provoke the move h7-h6 as the weak h6-pawn allows him to play the move 9.Qd2 with tempo.
In this variation the most important thing for Black to know is that he must never play Nbd7 before the opponents knight had already gone to e2. Otherwise White plays Nh3-f2 with better prospects. My analysis shows that Black is in a perfect shape in this line.
3) White plays 6.Be2 followed by 7.Bg5
White is already prepared to enter Averbach Variation. Here I recommend the following position:
7...0-0 8.Bg5 e6 9.Qd2 exd5 10.exd5 Qb6
I like this move - now the knight on f6 is not pinned and we prepare the standart Bf5-Ne4 which will put pressure on b2 pawn.
4) White plays 6.Bd3 followed by 7.Nge2
In this variation, White develops his knight on "e2" because he wants to play f2-f4 in a suitable moment (mostly after Bg5). In long-term, his plan consists in creating a kingside attack.
In this position, I recommend the natural 6...0-0 7.Nge2 e6 8.0-0 exd5 9.cxd5 Nbd7
We have reached a complex position which is extensively covered in the database. In my comments, I also provide the reader with detailed explanations concerning the difference between the moves 9...Nbd7, 9...a6 and 9...Re8.
5) White plays the main move 6.Nf3
This is by far the most popular move for White. In this position, White has two main approaches: 7.Be2 and 7.h3 followed by 8.Bd3
Actually, in the beginning of my database I deal with these options. Of course, there are is a theoretical part dedicated to each one of them. Nevertheless, I am convinced that in order to play well in the main line, Black should know 4 basic structures:
All these structures are explained in the Model games I provide you with in my database. I am sure that after studying these games, you will improve your general chess understanding.
In order to demonstrate how dangerous my weapon can be, I would like to bring one of the model games which is taken from the database.