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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or great? (Read 43809 times)
Smyslov_Fan
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #8 - 09/17/07 at 19:31:39
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Nyoke,

I can't think of any major openings in which White wins more than he draws.  The population group (93 games) is a bit small for my taste, but if there was a larger pool with the same stats, I would say the stats are convincing.
  
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Smyslov_Fan
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #7 - 09/17/07 at 19:28:48
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Kyle,

I was focusing on recent games between strong opponents.  When did Rogers last play this as Black?  I agree that Larsen's endorsement is important.  In fact, I find the fact that he played it several times far more impressive than Kasparov's playing it in 1979. I guess that when Larsen played it he was probably a better player than when Kasparov played it!

I guess we will need to look at the older games to as well as recent ones to come to conclusions on its playability.  It doesn't strengthen your claim that its been used recently by GMs, but it will help us to figure out the proper evaluation.

Do you have a game or two that you want to suggest as models of Black's play?
  
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kylemeister
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #6 - 09/17/07 at 19:06:06
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It looks like Rogers has offered (as Black) to play the position after 1. e4 e6 2. d4 c5 3. d5 (at least) six times.  Several of his opponents (including Ivan Sokolov) played a deviating 3rd move; in the games that actually reached that position, Rogers won against a 2275 player and drew with (GM) Peter Wells.

I've never seen anyone claim that White can force a clear advantage (±) against the Franco-Benoni; I mean, these categories are imperfect, but ± is the kind of advantage White is generally reckoned to get only against defenses like the Latvian.

It might be mentioned that this thing is also called the Barcza-Larsen defense, after the Hungarian and Danish grandmasters.  The latter (who is of course a former Candidate, like the earlier-mentioned Yudasin) has played it against at least a half-dozen GMs.  I reckon the best player who ever played it is Kasparov, who played it a few times (incl. against GM Yuri Balashov) in 1979 (the year Kasparov burst upon the chess scene).
  
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nyoke
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #5 - 09/17/07 at 18:07:41
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I understand your point S_F, but the stats you cite are not very impressive to me, due to the 35% draws. I'd expect an 'inferior' or 'suboptimal' opening to have a lesser drawing potential.
  
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Smyslov_Fan
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #4 - 09/17/07 at 17:11:02
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Kyle,

Here's a jumbled, but hopefully useful answer to your first comments.

As far as I can tell, Rogers played the WHITE side of the line (and won).   I haven't looked up the other players.

I'm sorry if I misquoted/misrepresented your opinions.
Quote:
... "opening books give White a very small edge" is tweaking what I said; I reported that they consider it slightly better for White, i.e. plus-over-equals.


I didn't mean to tweak what you said.  I read +/= as White having a very small edge.  I also read it as "slightly better for White".  I'm going to argue that White has a larger edge (+).  This will be difficult to prove in part because there are so few games that are available and the evaluations will be highly subjective.

Stronger players than myself have lost to this variation, so my analysis will have to be pretty darned good to persuade you.  I look forward to the challenge.

I agree that the stats alone don't prove whether the line is playable, but that it hasn't been played much by strong players (against each other) is important.

FYI:

The official designation of the position according to ECO is "A43", and the move order they give is 1.d4 c5 2.d5 e6 3.e4 ed5 4.ed5.  When I analyse the lines, I'll try to point out some of the transpositional possibilities for both sides and I will also try to include a few complete games.
  
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kylemeister
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #3 - 09/17/07 at 15:23:06
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Objection, Your Honor.  I didn't say that "numerous high-level players (or "several top IMs and GMs") play it regularly," I said that "a number of GMs and IMs have played it in recent years."  I had just glanced at some recent games from a database and noticed several of them playing it in about the last 3 years.  For instance, David Navara, Ian Rogers, Leonid Yudasin, Nenad Sulava, Jan Smeets and Cyril Marzolo (a couple of times).  Also "opening books give White a very small edge" is tweaking what I said; I reported that they consider it slightly better for White, i.e. plus-over-equals.   

There are no doubt numerous variations where White scores a few percentage points above his benchmark 55% or so.  What that has to do with "completely busted," "comes very close to losing by force" and the like, I don't know.

I would think that it belongs in the Benoni section; as far as I know that's how it's generally classified (i.e. the "standard" move order is considered to be 1. d4 c5 2. d5 e6 3. e4).
  
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Smyslov_Fan
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #2 - 09/17/07 at 07:48:15
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I'll shoot down the easiest argument first.

I just ran a ChessBase search of games played using my usual parameters (over 2300 elo for both players and played since 1990).

This is what I found:  I found only 93 games had been played, with White winning 60% of the points (39 wins, 33 draws and 21 losses).  Despite the surprise factor of the opening, White has shown a consistent edge over the years.  

The popularity of this opening has actually declined, which is remarkable.  The trend is for more and more games to be played in any opening every year because there are so many more games that are recorded and downloaded.

Kylemeister said that numerous high level players played it regularly.  The only name I recognised who played it more than twice was Igor Kengis (about 2550 elo).  The highest rated player I found who played it as Black was Ulf Andersson, who won his sole encounter against Ivan Sokolov in 1995.  The highest rated player to face the Franco-Benoni, Ivanchuk, beat Kengis.  

I submit that Kenghis playing an unusual opening a few times does not mean that this has been played by numerous high-level IM's and GMs.  

The scoreline, lack of games in the database and lack of recognizable names who play this all suggest that the claim that it's played at the highest levels is just wrong.  

Here's the game the one game played by Ivanchuk:



Ivanchuk,V (2709) - Kengis,E (2570) [A43]
Warsaw AIG Life rapid Warsaw (5), 21.12.2002

1.d4 e6 2.e4 c5 3.d5 exd5 4.exd5 d6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Be7 7.Bd3 0-0 8.Nge2 Na6 9.0-0 Nc7 10.Ng3 Rb8 11.Qc2 g6 12.f4 b5 13.b3 bxc4 14.bxc4 Nce8 15.h3 Ng7 16.f5 Nfe8 17.Bd2 Bf6 18.Rae1 Bd4+ 19.Kh1 Qh4 20.Rf3 Nf6 21.Qc1 Ngh5 22.Nge2 Ng4 23.Bg5 Nf2+ 24.Rxf2 Qxf2 25.Ne4 Qxf5 26.Nxd4 cxd4 27.Nf6+ Qxf6 28.Bxf6 Nxf6 29.Qf4 Ne8 30.Re7 Ng7 31.g4 a5 32.c5 Rb4 33.c6 h5 34.Kg2 hxg4 35.hxg4 a4 36.Kf3 Rb2 37.Qf6 Rxa2 38.Bxg6 Bxg4+ 39.Kxg4 Rg2+ 40.Kf3 Rxg6 41.Qf4 d3 42.Ra7 Nh5 43.Qd4 Rg3+ 44.Kf2 Rg6 1-0


Oh yeah, it was a rapid game!
  
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Smyslov_Fan
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #1 - 09/17/07 at 07:08:20
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Aside:  I didn't put in a poll on purpose.  Chess isn't democratic.  Votes on which opening is best are irrelevant to me.  Polls about which lines are more popular make sense, but hopefully we can prove whether some openings are playable. 


I know, there are ChessPublicans who will never be convinced that their pet line is bad, but I like to believe that most of us can change our mind in the face of overwhelming evidence!
  
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Smyslov_Fan
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Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or great?
09/17/07 at 07:04:39
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I have stated in another thread that the Franco-Benoni (1.e4 e6 2.d4 c5 3.d5) is all but busted.

Two excellent contributors, kylemeister and Viking, have stated that I'm wrong. Kylemeister has said that opening books give White a very small edge and that several top IMs and GMs play it regularly.  

I've decided to open a new thread to discuss this opening.  While it properly belongs in the French section due to the move order, the discussion started here so I think this is the best place for it.

I'll put in some of my own thoughts but I hope this will be a lively discussion in which we can actually reach some sort of truth about the line that I discarded about 15 years ago.  

Could I actually be wrong about an opening???   Shocked
  
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