I play 1. d4 as White and I have success against almost all Black defences, except the Benko Gambit, where I score about 30%.

My style is that I like solid, closed, positional games if I can, but I can handle myself tactically too. However I find that I lag behind in development, and to make matters worse, even if I reach an endgame, the Benko structure is quite solid, so even here Black has good chances.

Can you suggest a variation for White that leads to a solid, positional game against the Benko Gambit?

My elo is 2050.

  • I believe the Benko Gambit is refuted at high level.
    – limits
    Jan 17, 2016 at 16:28
  • Are you FIDE 2050 and can't cope with Benko?
    – ferit
    Jan 17, 2016 at 16:57
  • Most of the lines where you decline the gambit (e.g. with 4. Nf3) lead to fairly closed positions.
    – Glorfindel
    Jan 17, 2016 at 17:40
  • 5
    Could you give some of your games where Benko went wrong?
    – user58697
    Jan 18, 2016 at 5:18
  • 1
    @ferit : is there anything surprising with that ?
    – Evargalo
    Mar 28, 2018 at 12:40

2 Answers 2


I play Benko as black and am a FM. The most trouble I have in quick games is with declined cxb5 a6 b6 line. Without the a line open I just do not have the play that Benko player craves.

Also, I noticed that stronger(IM+) players tend to go for the b6 line, while weaker players either take the pawn on a6 or decline the gambit with something else. For example allowing black to push to b4 has been good for me as black.

  • 1
    I agree about b6. The c4 square is wonderful for White to place a minor piece on, and the a4 push forces Black to pick poison...allowing a5 means cramps, and playing a5 gives White a nice hole at b5. You probably know this, being an FM, but if others are curious, there it is.
    – aschultz
    Apr 17, 2017 at 16:12

I didn't exactly take into account your style, but in your own interest you should be ready to play different position types. This isn't going to be so closed, but it will definitely be solid, positional, and you will need to be tactically astute in the moves that follow.

One of the best lines is the following.

  1. d4 Nf6
  2. c4 c5
  3. d5 b5
  4. cxb5 a6
  5. bxa6 Bxa6
  6. Nc3 d6
  7. Nf3 g6
  8. e4 Bxf1
  9. Kxf1 Bg7
  10. g3 0-0
  11. Kg2 Nbd7
  12. a4!

there are some move order wrinkles possible during this but you will manage to reach this tabiya 95% of the time. From here you just have a plan to regroup and neutralise the pressure black has on your queenside. knights on b5 and c4 for example are really nice and Qe2 or Qc2 are useful to protect b2, you can also regroup the darksquared bishop to c3. Sometimes you'll move the rook to a2 and then play b3 thought care should be taken. Also developing the hrook somewhere at some point. Subsequent to consolidating you then have good chances to slowly try to make the pawn count. This is vague but you should analyse from here yourself as it's already quite deep. Hope this helps.


Another option which I frequently use is to simply play 3. Nf3 when you can get some closed English/Maroczy bind position type... or if black insists on playing b5 then a6 you can take all of the pawns (including c5) and black is temporarily down two pawns and will be unlikely to recover them or get sufficient compensation.

  • 2
    I've been playing Benko for many years as a FM and I am generally happy to see such a tabiya, I have a lot of play as black (b line has to be protected c4 break is indicated). Maybe there is a high level refutation in this but it seems white has to sidestep a lot of pitfalls, which is what the OP wanted to avoid.
    – Sint
    Jan 18, 2016 at 14:11
  • Just out of curiosity, what continuation are you usually going for? I actually have some rather detailed notes on the most natural continuations from here. I only got to play it in a tournament game once though, against a pretty decent junior. The result was very nice though and I played a good game. I reached 23. Rxe7 (the last move in my notes for this Rxb2 variation) using around 15 minutes of time (I had to recall a few lines along the way) meanwhile my opponent was actually already down to below 6 or 7 minutes. viewchess.com/cbreader/2016/1/20/Game142162868.html Jan 20, 2016 at 0:36
  • That was a nice win although I think you dropped a rook to Nb3 fork at the end :) The 21. e5 was a nice shot.
    – Sint
    Jan 20, 2016 at 11:44
  • The 21. e5! is crucial to get rid of the bishop. I'd probably avoid the 12. ... Qa5 and play Qb6 (going with Nf6-d7(g4)-e5 possibly throwing in h5 and working to keep the bishop. White obviously has the edge due to the pawn, but has a lot of work ahead to convert.
    – Sint
    Jan 20, 2016 at 11:50
  • In the game as well, after the exchange sac, white had a lot of trouble converting and in fact it was not that clear, I think g4 was a mistake for black, one false move by white and those connected c/d passers become scary.
    – Sint
    Jan 20, 2016 at 11:53

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