I like to play the h3 line against the Benoni specifically when they play the a6 line like this one:

[FEN ""] 
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Bd3 Bg7 8.h3 O-O 9.Nf3 a6 10. a4

But when they play the b5 line I reply with Nxb5

[FEN ""] 
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Bd3 Bg7 8.h3 O-O 9.Nf3 b5 10.Nxb5 Re8 (10...Nxe4)

And from here I start struggling because my opponent knows where to put his pieces right away, and the position feels very sharp, and I can't find a plan how to improve my position. Like I feel I'm spending time preventing Black's plan's all the time like the c4 push, etc. I would really appreciate some feedback about how you proceed from this position because this is the only variation in the h3 line that makes me uncomfortable. If you have a reference to a book or youtube video also is appreciated. I don't want an engine line that goes deep to 20 moves and with no understanding please. I can open my engine and see all of these top engine lines but from the White side it's very hard to remember them and some of them are very hard to play even after memorizing them.

  • Well you could always try the 10 Bxb5 line
    – Ian Bush
    Commented Jul 9 at 7:30
  • I used to play it 3 years ago and it also suffers from the same problem.
    – Guess601
    Commented Jul 9 at 13:40
  • Well I only play the black side, and I don't play this line. If you could expand with some examples of where you ran into problems it would help. If 10 ... Nxe4 is the problem my main book on the Benoni (qualitychess.co.uk/products/1/186/…) describes it as "inferior", recommending 10 ... Re8 instead, so what you tried might help.
    – Ian Bush
    Commented Jul 9 at 14:03
  • 1
    My experiece is that practically this setup is good for black. It is difficult to acheive all of the moves h3, Bd3, Nf3, castle, etc and at the same time keep all of Black’s (sacrificial) counterblows at bay. Look at other setups. In a serious play I would probably go with Bf4-e3 setup. Must annoy Benoni players to not have a target on e4. I know it is not super mainline but why fight their fight when you can choose your battles. Commented Jul 10 at 1:58
  • I try to delay Nf3 to keep Nf2 option and play Bg5. But Black still gets to have nice play for a pawn if they like. Commented Jul 10 at 21:24

2 Answers 2


Some ideas:

  • 7.h3 Bg7 8.Nf3 O-O 9.Be3. On 9...b5?! you can now play 10.e5! dxe5 11.Bxb5 +=. Better is 9...Re8 10.Nd2 a6 11.a4 Nxe4! 12.Ncxe4 f5 13.Be2 fxe4 14.Nc4 with compensation. If black does not know that line (50% of games) they quickly are in positional trouble.

  • 7.f4 Bg7 8.Bb5 Nfd7 and now the underrated 9.Be2!, instead of the more often played 9.a4. The idea is that white still has a2-a3, should black play Na6-b4.

  • 7.Be2 Bg7 8.Be3. If now 8...O-O then 9.Nf3 and on 9...Re8 or 9...Bg4 white plays 10.Nd2 with a good piece setup, and on 9...b5 white has 10.e5 again. Better is 8...Qa5 which prevents the Nf3-d2 idea. Then white can try 9.f3!? (or 9.Qd2) followed by Qd2, Bh6, h4 etc. White allows b5-b4, moving the knight to d1.

  • Things in the classical 7.Nf3 Bg7 Be2 Bg4 Nd2 are also not so clear.


After 10.Nxb5 Re8 11.0-0 Nxe4 12.Re1 a6, instead of the main line 13.Na3, you can try the gambit 13.Nc3!? that was bothering me when I was playing that line as Black.

13...Nf6 14.Rxe8 Nxe8 15.Bg5 is pretty sad for Black so they usually take the pawn :

13...Nxc3 14.bc3 Bxc3 15.Rxe8 Qxe8 16.Rb1

But White's advance in development is felt after both

16...Bg7 17.Bf4 Qd8 18.Qe2!?N

or 16...Nd7 17.Qa4 Nf6 18.Qc4

With a strong initiative for White in both cases.

[FEN ""] 
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Bd3 Bg7 8.h3 O-O 9.Nf3 b5 10.Nxb5 Re8 (10...Nxe4) 11.O-O Nxe4 12.Re1 a6 13.Nc3!? (13.Na3) Nxc3 14.bxc3 Bxc3 15.Rxe8 Qxe8 16.Rb1 Nd7 (16...Bg7 17.Bf4 Qd8 18.Qe2!?) 17.Qa4 Nf6 18.Qc4 Ba5 19.Bg5

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