THE ZILBERMINTS BENONI: 1 d4 c5 2 b4!

 

PART TWO: 2...cxd4 3 Nf3
or 1 Nf3 c5 2 d4 cxd4 3 b4!

 

In Part One of my article I showed how the student of the unorthodox can gain the advantage with 1 d4 c5 2 b4!  against the Benoni Defense.  The psychological value of this line alone gives White good chances, for Black usually is flabbergasted by such an unexpected response.  Now we  will take a look at the 2...cxd4 3 Nf3 line, which I consider the main line here.
Another move order is: 1 Nf3 c5 2 d4 cxd4 3 b4!

 

After 2...cxd4 3 Nf3   (diagram) Black has tried B1) 3...e5; B2) 3...e6; B3) 3...d5; B4) 3...Nc6; B5) 3...Nf6; B6) 3...g6

 

B1) 3...e5 is an attempt to transpose to lines similar to the Sicilian Wing Gambit (1 e4 c5 2 b4 cxb4 3 a3 e5), where Black may have some chances.  However, as I stated in the previous article, the main difference between my opening and the Sicilian Wing Gambit is that the  e-pawn is still on its original square. This gives my opening independent significance.  The crazy game Zilbermints- NM Jerry Simon (2240), Marshall Chess Club G/60 Tournament, 7/2/1995, continued 4 a3 d6 5 e3 Be7 6 ed4 e4 7 Nfd2 Nf6 8 d5? 00 9 c4 a5 10 Bb2 ab 11 ab Rxa1 12 Bxa1 Na6 13 Bc3 Qb6 14 b5 Nc5 15 Be2 Bf5 16 Nb3 Nxb3 17 Qxb3 e3 18 f3 Nd7 19 00 Re8 20 Rd1 Nc5 21 Bd4 Bf6  22 Bxc5 Qxc5 23 Nc3 h5 24 Na4 Qa7 25 Nb2? Ra8 26 Re1 Qa2 27 Qxa2 Rxa2 28 Nd1 Bd4 29 g3 Rc2 30 Kf1 Bh3+ 31 Kg1 Bc5 32 Kh1 Rc1 33 g4 hg4 34 fg Bb4 35 Rg1 Rc2 36 Bf1! Bxf1 37 Nxe3! Bxc4! 38 Rb1 Bc5 39 Nxc4 Rxc4 40 h3 Rd4 41 Re1 b6 42 Kg2 Rxd5 43 Kf3 Re5 44 Rd1 Kf8 45 Ra1 Ke7 46 Ra7 Ke6 47 Ra8 Kd5 48 Rf8 Re7 49 h4 Kc4 50 g5 d5 51 h5 d4 52 h6 gh6 53 gh6 54 h7 Bd4 55 Rd8  Re3+ 56 Kg2 Re2+ 57 Kh1 d2 58 Rd4 Kxd4 59 h8/Q Kc5, Black overstepped the time limit. 1-0.

 

B2) 3...e6 is similar to B1) but is just a little bit more conservative, since Black does not try to grab the center outright.  Three examples:

 

B21)   3...e6 4 a3 a5 5 b5 d5

 

The position is probably equal to slightly better for White.

6 Bb2 Nf6 7 Bxd4 Be7 8 Nc3 Nbd7 9 Na4 00 10 e3 Bd6 11 Bb2 e5  12 Nc3 e4 13 Nd4 Ne5 14 Be2 h6 15 Qd2 a4 16 h3 Bd7 17 g4 Qc8 18 Rg1 Nc4 19 Bxc4 Qxc4 20 000 Rfc8 21 Nf5! White counter-attacks on the Kingside Bf8 22 g5! hg 23 Rxg5 g6 24  Rdg1 Kh7 25 Nb1 Bxf5 26 Bxf6 Bh6 27 h4! Giving up the Rook for the excellent Bf6 27... Qxb5  28 Nc3 Qc5 29 h5! Qxa3+ 30 Kd1 Bxg5 31 Rxg5!  Qd6 32 hg6 Bxg6?? 32... fg! is a permanent block. 33 Bxe5 Qe7 34 f4  Qf8 35 Nxd5 Rd8 36 Bd4 Rxd5 37 Rxd5 Qh6 38 Qg2 a3 39 f5 Bh5+ 40  Kd2 Rg8 41 Qxe4, Black overstepped the time limit, Zilbermints -Igor Dayen (2152), Marshall CC U2300 Tournament, 7/9/1995.

 

B212) 3...e6 4 a3 a5 5 b5 Nf6 (diagram) was seen in the game Zilbermints- NM Boris Privman (2307), 4 Rated Games Tonight!, Marshall Chess Club, New York, 12/10/1996.  That game continued 6 Qxd4 b6 7 e3 Bb7 8 Be2 Bc5 9 Qh4 Be7 10 Qd4 d6 11 00 Nbd7 12 c4 Rc8 13 Bb2 00 14 Qd1 Nc5 15 Nbd2 a4 16 Bd4 Ra8 17 Bxc5 dc5 18 Qc2 Here Privman touched his Bb7 and had to move it.  Bxf3 19 Bxf3 Ra7 20 Nb1 Nd7 21 Nc3 Bf6 22 Rad1 Qc7 23 Ne4 Ne5 24 Be2 Be7 25 f4 Nd7 26 Bd3 f5 27 Ng3 Bf6 28 Ne2 g6 29 e4 fxe4 30 Bxe4 Bg7 31 Qd3 Nf6 32 Bc6 Qe7 Here I blundered by playing 33 Ng3?? too early.  I should have played first 33 h3!  and only  then 34 Ng3.  Now Privman gets positional garbage.  33...Ng4! 34 Ne4 Bd4+ 35 Kh1 Ne3 36 Rde1 Nxf1 37 Rxf1 Kg7 38 Qh3 h6 39 Ng3 e5 40 f5 Qg5 41 Ne4 Rxf5 42 g4 Rxf1 43 Qxf1 Qxg4 44 Qf6+ Kh7 45 Qf1 Qf5 46 Qe2 Rf7 47 Kg2 Qf4 48 Bc4 Rf5 49 Be6 Rh5 50 h3 Rh4 51 Ng3 e4 52 Bd5 Be5 53 Qe1 Qf3 54 Kh2. The rest is unrecorded due to mutual time pressure.  Eventually 0-1.  The interesting thing is that from this point on, whenever we played, Privman never again played 1...c5 against me, preferring the chicken 1...d6 .  Obviously I must have scared him with my Zilbermints Benoni.

 

B213) 3...e6 4 a3 a5 5 b5 Bc5 (diagram) Black is trying to develop his Bishop and grab space at the same time.  Play resembles something out of the Orangutan (1 b4 c5 2 b5). The game continued 6 Nxd4 Qf6 7 c3 e5 8 Nf3 h6 9 Qd5 d6 10 e3 Ne7 11 Qd1 Bg4 12 Be2 Nd7 13 h3 Bh5? Oops.  Now comes the cheapo!  14 Nxe5! Bxe2 15 Nxd7 Kxd7 16 Qxe2 Rae8 17 Bb2 Qg6 18 00? This is a mistake, because 18 Qg4!  would have swapped Queens and left White with an extra pawn. Now Black tries to get counter-chances. 18...Nf5 19 Bc1 Kkc7 20 a4 Re5 21 Na3 Rhe8 22 Nc4 Re4 23 Ba3 Nh4 24 g3 Qe6 25 Kh2 Rxc4 26 Bxc5 dc5 27 gh4 Rxh4 28 Qf3 g5 29 Rg1 Kc8 30 Rad1 f5 31 Qd5 Qe5+ 32 Qxe5 Rxe5 33 Rd6 Ra4 34 Rh6 Rxa2 35 Kg3 a4 36 Kf3 g4 37 hg4 a3 38 Rh7!  Rd2 39 gf5 Re8 40 Rgg7! a2 41 Ra7 Kb8 42 b6 Rg8 43 Rhb7+, Black resigns, Zilbermints- Thomas  A.  Polese (1903/Quick Chess), Westfield (NJ) G/20 Tournament, 8/29/1999.

 

B22) 3...e6 4 a3 Qb6 is an attempt by Black to try  something on the Queenside.  The game Zilbermints-Schreiber (1945/Quick Chess), Marshall Chess Club G/10 Tournament, 10/4/1996, continued 5 Nxd4 Nc6 6 Bb2 Nf6 7 e3 d5 8 Bb5 Bd7 9 Be2 Nxd4 10 Bxd4 Qd8 11 00 Be7 12 Nd2 00 13 Nf3 Bd6 14 Ne5 Ba4 15 f3 Nd7 16 Nxd7 Qxd7 17 f4 Rfe8 18 Bf3 Rac8 19 Rc1 b6 20 g3 e5 21 Bb2 e4 22 Bg2 Bb5 23 Rf2 Bc4 24 Qd4 f6 25 Bf1 b5 26 Bxc4 bxc4? 27 Qxd5+  Qe6 28 Qxe6 Rxe6 29 Bd4 Bb8 30 c3 Ra6 31 Ra1 Ra4 32 Kg2 Bd6 33 R2a2 Rb8 34 Kf2 a5 35 Ke2 ab 36 ab Rxa2 37 Rxa2 The rest is unrecorded due to mutual time scramble.  Eventually 1-0.

B23) 3...e6 4 a3 Nf6 (diagram) This is pretty conservative play.  Black is adopting a wait-and-see attitude.  White has nothing to fear, so long as he plays accurately.  The game Zilbermints-NM Brian McCarthy (2285), Westfield (NJ) Grand Prix, 1/18/1999, continued 5 Bb2 Be7 6 Bxd4 b6 7 e3 Bb7 8 Nbd2 00 9 Bd3 d6 10 Bb2 Nbd7 11 00 a6 12 Re1 d5 13 Ne5 Nxe5 14 Bxe5 Nd7 15 Bb2 Bf6 16 Bxf6 Qxf6 17 Qf3 Qxf3 18 gf3 Maybe 18 Nxf3 is better. g6 19 f4 Rfd8 20 Kf1 Rac8 21 Ke2 Nf6 22 f3? Better is 22 Nf3 22...d4 23 e4 Nh4 24 f5 Nf4+ 25 Kf2 Rc3 26 Nc4 Rxd3 27 cd3 Nxd3+ 28 Ke2 Nxe1 29 Rxe1 ef5 30 e5 b5 31 Nd6 Bd5 32 Rc1 f6 33 f4 g5 34 Kd3 fg 35 Kxd4 Be4 36 Rf1 f3 37 Ke3 fe 38 Nxe5 fxe5 39 Kxe4 Rd4 40 Kf5?? This loses the game.  After 40 Kxe5!  Rd3 41 Ke4 Rxa3 42 Rxf3 Ra4  43 Rb3 Ra2 44 h3 White can still fight.  40...Rd3 41 Kxe5 Rxa3 41 Kf6 Rc3 43 Rd1 Rc6+ 44 Kf5 Kg7 45 Rd7+  The rest is unrecorded  due to time scramble.  Eventually 0-1.

B3) 3...d5 (diagram) Black is once again trying to grab the center here, but White has good chances. Three examples:

 

B31) 4 a3 a5 5 Bb2 ab4 6 ab4 Rxa1 7 Bxa1 e5 8 Nxe5 Bxb4  9 c3 dc??  10 Qa4+!  Nc6 11 Nxc6 c2+ 12 Nxb4+!  Bd7 13 Qxc2, Black resigns, Zilbermints - Dr. Richard Lewis, Westfield (NJ) Chess Club casual blitz, 2/4/1996.

B32) 4 a3 Nf6 5 Nxd4 e5 6 Nf3 e4 7 Nd4 a5 8 b5 9 e3 00 10 Be2 Be6 11 a4 Nbd7 12 00 Rc8 13 Ba3 Bxa3 14 Rxa3 Ne5 15 f4 ef3 16 Nxf3 Nc4 17 Bxc4 Rxc4 18 Nbd2 Rc8 19 Nd4 Qe7 20 Ra1 Bd7 21 Qf3 Rc3 22 Rfe1 Re8 23 Nf1 Qe5 24 Qf4 h6 25 h3 Ne4 26 Red1 Qh4 27 Qf3 Qg5 28 Rd3 Rc4 29 Rda3 Be6 30 Rad1 Nc3 31 Rda1 Ne4 32 Rd1 Qe7 33 Rda1 Qd6 34 Qe2 Rec8 35 Qe1 Qd8 36 Nd2 Nxd2 37 Qxd2 Bd7 38 R3a2 b6 39 Nb3 Qg5 40 Kh2 Qe5 41 Kg1 Re8 42 Rd1 Bf5 43 Nd4 Be4 The rest is unrecorded due to mutual time scramble. Eventually 0-1, Zilbermints-NM Ilijas Terzic (2339), 4 Rated Games Tonight!, Marshall Chess Club, New York, 5/1/1997.

B4)  3...Nc6 4 a3 (diagram) This is an attempt to stir up complications on the Queenside by attacking and developing at the same time. Three examples:

B411) 4...e5 5 e3?!  An interesting, if somewhat dubious gambit.  White sacrifices the e-pawn to accelerate development and get pressure in the center.  Is it sound?  Who knows?  I cannot make any evaluation based on one game alone!.  Be it as that may, the game Zilbermints - Christopher William, December Grand Prix Tournament, Marshall Chess Club, New York, 12/3/1995, continued 5...de3 6 Bxe3 Nf6? 7 b5! e4 8 bc ef 9 cd+ Bxd7 10 Qxf3 Be7? 11 Bd3 00 12 00 Bc6 13 Qh3 Qc8 14 Qh4 Qg4 15 Qg3 Bd6 16 f4 Qxg3 17 hg3 Rfe8 18 Bd4 Ng4 19 Nd2 Bf8 20 Nc4 Red8 21 c3 Bd5 22 Rfe1 f6 23 Ne3 Nxe3 24 Rxe3 Re8 25 Rxe8 Rxe8 26 Kf2 b6 27 a4 Rc8 28 a5 Bc5 29 ab Bxd4+ 30 cd ab 31 Rb1 Rb8 32 g4 h6 33 g3 Kf7 34 Rc1 Rb7 35 Rc8 Ke6 36 Ke3 b5 37 Rd8 Rb6?? 38 Bf5+!  Kf7 39 Rxd5 b4 40 Bd3 Re6+ 41 Kf3 Rc6 42 Rb5 Rc3 43 Ke4 b3 44 Rxb3, Black resigns.  1-0.

 

B412) 4...e5 5 c3! This is the correct way to undermine Black’s control of the center.  Once again, note that since since the e-pawn is on its original square, this is no longer a Sicilian Wing Gambit, but an independent variation.

The game Zilbermints - David Diamond (1980), North Jersey Team Championship, 9/22/1996, continued 5...Nf6 6 b5 e4 7 Nxd4 Nxd4 8 Qxd4 d5 9 a4 Be7 10 e3 00 11 Ba3 Bd7 12 Be2 Bxa3 13 Nxa3 Qc7 14 00 Rfc8 15 c4 Bg4 16 Bxg4 Nxg4 17 g3 Qc5 18 Rfd1 Qxd4 19 Rxd4 dc?  20 Rxe4! Nf6 21 Rxc4 Rxc4 22 Nxc4 Rc8 23 Nd6 Rc7 24 e4 Kf8 25 Re1 Rd7 26 e5 Nd5 27 Rc1 Nc7 28 Nxb7 Ne8 29 Na5 Rd4 30 Rc4 Rd1+ 31 Kg2 f6 32 ef6 Nxf6 33 Nc6 Rd7 34 Rd4 Rxd4 35 Nxd4 Nd5 36 a5 Ke8 37 Nc6 a6, Black overstepped, 1-0.  Winning this game helped my team take first place in the 1996 North Jersey Team Championship.

 

B42) 4...g6?  This is similar to my game against NM Ilan Kreitner, below.  The game Zilbermints-Bauer (2140 FIDE, 1750 USCF) Queens Futurity Tournament, continued 5 Nxd4 Bg7 6 Nxc6 bc6 7 c3 a5 8 Bb2 ab 9 ab Rxa1 10 Bxa1 Nf6 11 e3 Nd5 12 Qb3 00 13 Bc4 Bb7 14 00 Qa8 15 Nd2 Qa7 16 Bb2 Qb8 17 Nf3 Nf6 18 Be2 d6 19 c4 Bc8 20 Nd4 Bd7 21 Bf3 Rc8 22 Bc3 e5 23 Nc2 Be6 24 e4 Nd7 25 Ne3  h5 26 Qc2 Nf6 27 Rd1 g5 28 Be2 Rd8 29 b5 cb 30 cb g4 31 Qd3 Ne8 32 Bb4 Bf8 33 f3 Nf6 34 Bc3 gf 35 Bxf3 Ng4 36 Bxg4 Bxg4 37 Nxg4 hg4 38 Bxe5! Re8 39 Bd4 Qb7 40 Re1 d5 41 Qg3 f5??  42 ef5!  Rxe1+ 43 Qxe1 Bg7 44 Qe8+ Kh7 45 Qg6+ Kg8 46 f6 g3 47 Qxg7 Qxg7 48 fxg7 gh2+ 49 Kxh2 Kf7 50 b6, Black resigns, 1-0.

 

B5) 3...Nf6 (diagram) A solid, if somewhat passive, move. The game Zilbermints-Colin Bleak (1773) Marshall Chess Club G/30 Open, New York, 11/7/1998, continued    4  a3 a6 5 Bb2 Nc6 6 Nxd4 d5 7 e3 g6 8 Nd2 Bg7 9 Ndf3 00 10 Bd3 Re8 11 00  Bg4 12 Be2 Qc7 13 c4? Nxd4!  14 Bxd4 dc 15 Rc1 b5   16 h3 Bd7 17  Ne5 Rc8 18 Bf3 Bf5 19 a4 Be4 20 a5 Bxf3 21 Qxf3 Qd6 22 g4  Qd5 23 Rfd1 Qxf3 24 Nxf3 Rfd8 25 Bc5 Kf8 26 Nd4 Nd7 27 Ba7 Rc7 28 Bb6!  Nxb6 29 Ne6+!  fxe6 30 Rxd8+ Kf7 31 ab6 Rb7 32 Kf1 Be5 33 Ke2 Rxb6 34 Kd2 Rd6+?  Up to this point Colin played okay. But, with time pressure looming, he stumbles here. 35 Rxd6 ed6 36 Rc2 d5 37 Ra2 Bd6 38 Ke3 Bh2 39 Ra6 Bg1 40 Ra2 Kf6 41 Kd4 Kg5 42 f4 Kh4 43 Rg2 Bxe3 44 Kxe3 Kxh3 45 Kf3 Kh2 The rest is unrecorded due to time scramble.  Eventually 1-0.

B6) 3...g6?  This move pretty much lets White develop as he pleases. In some respects, it weakens the a1-g8 diagonal and the f6 and h6 squares, since the Bg7 is opposed by the Bb2 in this line.The game continued 4 Qxd4 Nf6 5 Bb2 Bg7 6 Qd1 00 7 e3 d6 8 a3 Bf5 9 Bd3 Qd7 10 00 h5 11 Nd4 Bxd3 12 cxd3 Nc6 13 Nxc6 bc 14 Nd2 d5?  15 Nf3 Rac8 16 Bxf6 Bxf6 17 d4 Rfe8 18 Ne5!  Bxe5 19 dxe5 e6 20 Qd4 Qb7 21 Rfd1 Re7 22 Rac1 Qb6 23 Rc5 R7c7 24 R1c1 Qb7 25 Qc3 a6 26 h3 Kg7 27 a4 Rb8 28 b5 ab 29 ab Qb6 30 Rxb6 Rxb6 31 bc6 Rc8 32 c7 Qb7 33 Qc5 Kg8 34 Qd6 Kg7 35 Kh2 Re8??  36 Qd8! Qc8 37 Qxe8!, Black resigns, Zilbermints- NM Ilan Kreitner (2200) Marshall Chess Club Game/30, New York, 5/24/1999.

Another game continued 4 Qxd4 Nf6 5 Bb2 Bg7 6 Qh4!?  Qb6 7 a3 00 8 Ng5 h6 9 Nf3 g5?!  10 Nxg5!?  hg5 11 Qxg5 d5 12 h4 d4 13 h5 Nh7 14 Qg3 Kh8 15 h6 Bf6 16 e3 e5 17 ed ed 18 c3 Re8+ 19 Kd1 Qe6 20 Bd3 Qg4+ 21 Kc1 Qxg3 22 fg3 dc 23 Nxc3 Bg5 24 Ne4+ f6 25 Nxg5 Nxg5 26 Bxf6 Kg8 27 h7+, Black resigns, Zilbermints-Irving Prus, Marshall Chess Club Friday Rapids, New York, 12/1/1995.

I think this pretty much establishes the value of 1 d4 c5 2 b4!  as an independent variation. Readers are invited to submit their games or comments with this line to me at ldz@pegasus.rutgers.edu  by e-mail.  In the third and last part, of this article, I will look at 1 d4 c5 2 b4! : other Black responses.

 

Till next time.

                                             LDZ