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Every Russian Schoolboy Knows: The Modern Benko - Part 1

Opening: A59:

Player(s): Atalik, Scetinin, Gurevich, Georgiev, Salmensuu

Sometimes the new is a long-forgotten old. This well applies to the topic of my new video series.

For years I have struggled with accepting the Benko Gambit as White. Somehow the nature of resulting positions disagreed with my vision of what White should be doing in the opening. The mounting pressure of the Queenside cannot be resolved by the usual method of exchanging pieces. On the contrary, Black seems to be doing better, as pieces leave the board. The lack of a coherent plan plagues White.

I ended up turning to a variety of sideline responses to the Benko, the best of which seemed giving back the pawn with 5.b6. While my results with it were more of less OK, I had experienced a certain sense of dissatisfaction, almost as if I was chickening out.

The change came thanks to my old friend, GM Suat Atalik. Suat is a tireless researcher of opening ideas, and it's not the first time I benefit from his generosity. This time it was his new idea in the mainline Benko.

In order to understand how this move, 12.a2-a4, came about, I think it would be best to go back some 20 years ago and study Atalik's games with 12.Rf1-e1. The first video features four games that should convince the viewer that White will greatly benefit on economizing on the standard move 12.h2-h3.

In vodeos 2 and 3 I move on to studying the critical response, 12...Nf6-g4.

Teacher's library (684) A59 Atalik Scetinin Gurevich Georgiev Salmensuu opening

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