Volga-Benko Gambit

by Vidya

Black plays the Benko Gambit

Black plays the Benko Gambit

The Benko Gambit is also known as the Volga Gambit. It is a type of chess opening characterized by the move 3…b5. It arises by way of 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5. This opening is found in the Benoni Defense. In 1936, Karel Opocensky applied this technique against Gideon Stahlberg instead of sacrificing pawn with …b5 and …a6. Then a lot of famous Grandmasters followed this technique.

In the 1960’s this gambit was promoted by Pal Benko, a Hungarian-American Grandmaster. He published a book called The Benko Gambit. So the Volga Gambit then became the Benko Gambit. In my opinion, Benko Gambit is a brilliant opening and it gives a quality game. The following is an annotated Benko Gambit game:

Loomis vs. Black
2007, October

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

The Benko Gambit

4.cxb5 a6 5.bxa6

Fully Accepted

d6 6.Nc3 Bxa6

Taking control of the a6-f1 diagonal.


White opts for the King Walk Variation

Bxf1 8.Kxf1 g6 9.g3

Making room for the king.

Bg7 10.Nf3 Qb6 11.Kg2 O-O 12.a4 Nbd7 13.h4 h5 14.Qc2 Rfb8

Black's Benko Gambit setup is fully realized. His minor pieces are perfectly placed and the heavy hitters, queen and rooks, have siezed total control of the open a and b files.


White sets up a blockade.

Ng4 16.Ra2

(16.Bg5 was also possible)

16...c4 17.Ra3

(17.Rf1 would have defended the pawn.)


Both of Black's knights have taken up great posts and the Black bishop controls the long diagonal, restricting White's maneuverability on the queenside.

18.Nfd4 Nd3

(18...Nxa4 was a tactical possibility. 19.Nc6 (or 19.Rxa4 Rxa4 20.Qxa4 Bxd4 21.Nxd4 Qxd4 22.Qc2) 19...Rb7 20.Nc3)

19.Qxc4 Ndxf2

The knights connect and take away some of the king's cover.

20.Rf1 Nxe4 21.Nc6 f5 22.Nxe7+ Kh7 23.Nxf5

White tries some tactics hoping to turn the tables in the confusion.

gxf5 24.Rxf5 Re8 25.Qc7 Qxc7 26.Nxc7 Rf8 27.Raf3 Rxf5 28.Rxf5 Rc8

Black will have the upperhand after the dust has settled.

29.Ne6 Rxc1 30.Rf7 Rc2+ 31.Kg1

(31.Kf3 Ne5+ 32.Kxe4 Nxf7 would have seen the fight continue a little longer.)

31...Ne3 32.Rxg7+

(32.Rf3 would have prolonged things. 32...Rg2+ 33.Kh1 Nxg3+ 34.Rxg3 Rxg3)


White's final punch has been thrown and now Black's forces will close in on the White king.


Loses in two.

(33.Rg6 wouldn't have saved it either. 33...Rg2+ 34.Kh1 Nf2#)

33...Rg2+ 34.Kh1 Nxg3#



Play through this brilliant Volga-Benko Gambit encounter to see the fine play.

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