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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or great? (Read 47136 times)
kylemeister
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #23 - 10/02/07 at 08:32:47
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A few thoughts on the first game.

Ahh, computers.  White has a "tremendous advantage" after 5 moves.  Wow.

I would suspect that 8...Na6 is better than 8...Nbd7.  As in, 6. Bb5+ should be met by 6...Nbd7, but there the second-best placement of Black's knight is compensated by a concession by White (i.e. having to move his bishop again).      

I don't think 11...Bb7 is bad, though he could have avoided committing it so early (as Larsen has done in similar positions).  Of course White can prevent the bishop from getting to g4, or might aim to cause Black an issue with his a-pawn (with e.g. Bc4 and Qd3).

I don't know why White would play Bd2 anyway.  I do think 12...Re8 looks better.  The view that White would then "probably" have "at least" a +=/± advantage strikes me as highly doubtful.  One observation is that it's pretty close to that O'Kelly-Larsen game I mentioned (but since that arose via 6. Bb5+, White had a tempo less), which is considered equal in the books (and was eventually won by Black).  


I've barely glanced at the second game post; the first couple of things I notice are

1)  there is some garbled notation in the notes
2)  you call 6. Bb5+ "the traditional move"; if anything I would think that 6. Be2 is.


But more generally, it's as if you're trying to refute the consensus of modern opening theory by feeding a few games through Fritz.  As if the titled players who write/edit ECO, NCO, the Kasparov book etc. don't also have access to these games and aren't also capable of feeding them through engines.          
  
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Smyslov_Fan
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #22 - 10/02/07 at 06:28:48
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Here is a fairly classic example of 6.Bb5+.  I analysed this before I saw the Stamenkovic game and wondered how White could improve.  I think Stamenkovic has helped me see a way!

Rogers,I (2558) - Kengis,E (2589) [A43]
Bundesliga 0001 Germany (8.3), 17.02.2001

1.d4 e6 2.e4 c5 3.d5 exd5 4.exd5 d6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Bb5+ This is the traditional move.  Compared to the first game I showed (6.Be2), I'm not sure this is actually better.
6...Nbd7 7.a4 Be7 8.Nf3 0-0 9.0-0 a6

This comes with an obvious gain of tempo compared to 6.Be2.  However, the position still favors White.  So the question, which I can't answer right now, is whether 6.Bb5+ is really necessary or even an improvement over the immediate 6.Be2?

10.Be2 b6 11.Re1

[Here, Qd3 may be inaccurate.  Perhaps White should try 11.Bf4 11.Qd3 Ne5 12.Nxe5 dxe5 13.Re1 And White retains a small advantage as long as he can hold onto the d5 pawn or get sufficient play for it. 13...Qd6 14.Qg3!? Bf5! (14...Nxd5? 15.Nxd5 Qxd5 16.Bf3) 15.Bc4²;
11.Bf4 Qc7 12.Qd3 Ne5 13.Nxe5 dxe5 14.Bg3 Bd6 15.Rfe1 Re8 16.Bf3 c4!÷ I think this is approximately equal.  White has paid for his lost tempo and now stands to lose more.  However, he still has a very playable game.]


11...Bb7

Again, I wonder why Black played this move.  It seems blatantly inferior to Re8, Nf8 and Bg4 ideas.  At the very least, it seems to be a slow way to play on the Q-side.

12.Bf4 Re8 13.h3

And now, 13.Qd3 may be an improvement on 13.h3.  However, Fritz considers White to have at least a slight advantage with several candidate moves.

13...Nf8 14.Nh2 Ng6 15.Bg3 Bf8 16.Nf1 b5 17.axb5 axb5 18.Rxa8 Bxa8 19.Bxb5 Rxe1 20.Qxe1 Nxd5 21.Nxd5 Bxd5 22.Ne3 Bb7 23.Bc4

Only now does Fritz begin to understand White's plan for the last ten moves or so.  It considers White to have about the same advantage as if GM Rogers had played more obvious 14th moves such as 14.Bc4.

23...d5 24.Bxd5 Bxd5 25.Qd2 Qb6 26.Qxd5 Qxb2 27.c4

White has a slight, but lasting advantage.  I would consider the position to be +/= to =.  While I would not agree to a draw here as White, I would feel a bit disappointed that I couldn't have gained a greater advantage from the opening.

GM. Rogers goes on to win the endgame in instructive fashion.


27...Qa1+ 28.Kh2 Qf6 29.Qa8 Qe6 30.Nd5 h5 31.Qd8 f6 32.Ne3 h4 33.Bb8 Kf7 34.Kg1 Qe4 35.Kf1 Be7 36.Qd5+ Qxd5 37.cxd5 Bf8 38.Ke2 Ne7 39.Kd3 g6 40.Kc4 Nc8 41.Kb5 Bd6 42.Bxd6 Nxd6+ 43.Kxc5 Ke7 44.Kc6 g5 45.f3 f5 46.Nc2 Nc4 47.Nd4 Nd6 48.Nb5 Nc4 49.Kc7 g4 50.f4 1-0
  
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Smyslov_Fan
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #21 - 10/02/07 at 05:32:13
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Here's a very recent game in which White refrained from playing Bb5.



Stamenkovic,D (2423) - Santos,M (2401) [A43]
VI It Sao Jose do Rio Preto ARG (6), 24.04.2007

1.d4 c5 2.d5 e6 3.e4 exd5 4.exd5 d6

This looks like Black's best.  Sometimes Black plays 4...Nf6, but since d6 has to be played soon, this is the most flexible and it stops White from playing d6 himself. 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Be2
Fritz considers White to have a tremendous advantage already and prefers 6.Bb5+.  I'll try to show a few games with that continuation later. 6...Be7 7.Nf3 0-0 8.0-0 Nbd7 9.Bf4 a6 10.a4

Fritz is not so sure that this automatic move is necessary.  It recommends 10.Re1?! instead.  I prefer the human move.

10...b6 11.Re1 Bb7
Fritz considers this to be bad.  I think I agree.  If Black cannot demonstrate any tangible pressure on d5 and the long diagonal, then the light-squared Bishop probably belongs on the c8-g4 diagonal.  One way Black could accomplish this is: 11...Re8, 12..Nf8 and then Bg4.

12.Qd3! White has been taking notes from Morozevich!  White develops the Q to the center of the board, prepares his Bf4 to retreat to d2, and maintain harmonious development while pressuring Black to play active and accurate moves.  Fritz gives White a nice advantage already!

12...Nh5?!

This was Fritz' first choice move and the move played in the game, but it obliges White to play what he was going to do anyway.  Perhaps Black could have played 12...Re8 with the idea of hunkering down in a passive position.  In other words, White is probably already better (at least +/= to +).  

13.Bd2 f5?! 14.Qe3 Rf7 15.Ng5

Fritz prefers 15.Nh4 with a winning advantage for White.  The computer suggests that this is only "much better" (+.91).

15...f4 16.Nxf7 fxe3 17.Nxd8 exd2 18.Red1?

[18.Nxb7 dxe1Q+ 19.Rxe1 Nhf6 20.Bxa6!+-]
18...Rxd8 19.Bxh5 Bf6 20.Rxd2 Bd4 21.Rad1 g6 22.Bg4


Even in this variation, White is clearly winning.  The game continues to move 55, but it's over.  

Here are the rest of the moves:  

22...Nf6 23.Rxd4 cxd4 24.Rxd4 Re8 25.Be6+ Kg7 26.f3 Bc8 27.Bxc8 Rxc8 28.Rb4 Nd7 29.Kf2 Kf6 30.Ke3 a5 31.Rf4+ Ke7 32.Re4+ Kf8 33.Re6 Ne5 34.Kd2 Rc5 35.b3 Nf7 36.f4 g5 37.g3 h5 38.Kd3 h4 39.Kd4 Rc8 40.Kd3 Rc5 41.Re4 h3 42.Re2 g4 43.Re6 Kg7 44.Re7 Kf8 45.Rd7 Kg7 46.Rb7 Kf8 47.Rxb6 Ke7 48.Rb7+ Kf8 49.Rb5 Rc8 50.Ne4 Re8 51.Rxa5 Nh6 52.Ra7 Nf5 53.Rh7 Re7 54.Rh5 Ng7 55.Rg5 1-0

This is merely one example of play.  I'd like to stay on one variation at a time, but I understand that many people have ideas they want to try out.  Please let us know which variations you are discussing by giving us the starting position that you are analysing!

Cheers!

Smiley

PS: HgMan, Your wish, and all that.  We're getting to the meat of the position. Cool

  
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Smyslov_Fan
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #20 - 10/02/07 at 04:57:55
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I agree with TN that Bb5 is a main idea for White. 

I'm not sure that it's as good as its pedigree though.  I'll try to dig up some games which show White playing it and White avoiding it.  Perhaps White's best play is to defer the Bb5 check, and perhaps even avoid it completely.

Games to follow.
  
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #19 - 10/01/07 at 16:34:30
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That Bb5+ looks like an idea borrowed from the Schmid Benoni.  For what it's worth, though, I think the Kasparov book was rather dismissive of it.  ECO (and I think Kaspy too) quotes a couple of Larsen games (against Gligoric and O'Kelly), giving them as equal after about a dozen moves.
  
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #18 - 10/01/07 at 16:18:28
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Thanks, TN, for that excellent discussion.
  

The Great Oz has spoken!
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #17 - 09/29/07 at 09:01:27
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SF, I've gots to learn the side-scrolling text!

TopNotch has a good description of typical plans in this structure.  I consider myself more of a d4 player than e4 player, and I still think I would prefer leaving the pawn on c2.  A pawn on c4 can kind of get in the way.  Smiley
  

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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #16 - 09/29/07 at 06:36:27
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Smyslov_Fan wrote on 09/18/07 at 04:59:40:
Should we accept the position after 1.d4 c5 2.d5 e6 3.e4 ed 4.ed5 (or 1.e4 e6 2.d4 c5 3.d5 ed5 4.ed5)  to be the starting point of our analysis?  

There will be several important plans for both sides to check out, which is why I've been building this argument rather slowly.  


(Pace, HgMan, we're getting to the concrete stuff!)


I submit that the Franco-Benoni is primarily used as a psychological weapon. The move order from move one is already significant, since I suspect that if a player opens with 1.e4 and reaches the position given in the quote, then it is more than likely that he will not choose a plan involving c4 as many 1.e4 players often feel uncomfortable in this structure, while a 1.d4 player is more than 80% (guesstimate) likely to choose a plan involving c4.

To be honest I'm not sure if there is a refutation to this opening, it seems that the position is one of plans moreso than tactics and over the years strong White players have chosen many different setups to counter this system, this lack of consensus would seem to suggest that there is know clear refutation.   

Curiously many players overlook this system/moveorder in their preparation or refuse to take it seriously, and are forced to make it up as they go when surprised with it at the board. The Franco is a particularly tricky weapon against those 1.e4 players who have limited experience in Benoni type positions, although an alert 1.e4 player could duck this whole issue by choosing 1.e4 e6 2.d4 c5 3.Nf3.

For what its worth as a 1.e4 player I prefer not to transpose back into an Open sicilian, as the chances of a sizeable advantage are much better against the Franco in my estimation. I usually go for plans not involving a pawn on c4, instead reserving that square for a piece, usually a knight. Its also usually a good idea to toss in a Bb5 check as this creates awkward problems for Black since whatever piece he blocks with on d7 is met by a4 forcing a concession of some sort, for e.g., if he blocks with the bishop and trades on b5 he faces unpleasant pressure on the half open a file. However if he doesn't trade and plays for instance a6 then white retreats the bishop to e2 thus depriving Black of plans involving na6-c7, a common manoeuvre in the Franco. Blocking with the Knight often results in a very cramped game for Black.

Attempts to fianchetto on the Kingside often fail in the Franco, which means that Black has to settle for the miserable e7 square with a solid but very passive game in the offing where there is very little for him to undertake other than play for mass exchanges of pieces in hopes of a draw. White for his part should avoid excessive exchanges, prepare a b4 break on the Queenside and use his extra space to further suffocate Black and or force further concessions till Black pops. What White should not do is hurry, patience is required, as very often Black has absolutely zero counterplay and can do little more than sit and wait to see if White can make any progress.

Well enough of my blather, if I get around to it I will post some illustrative games.

Sayonara

Tops Smiley
  

The man who tries to do something and fails is infinitely better than he who tries to do nothing and succeeds - Lloyd Jones Smiley
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #15 - 09/29/07 at 04:44:17
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Nyoke,

Congratulations,

You've just become our Fall Fashion guru!  Cool
  
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #14 - 09/27/07 at 13:35:37
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Pace is important because it's much too early for benonilike openings to get back into fashion yet.
Now is the time for 'dull' things like catalans, slavs and four knights's and they're scheduled to last at least up to the end of next year.
  
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #13 - 09/26/07 at 15:56:09
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Smyslov_Fan wrote on 09/18/07 at 04:59:40:
MNb,

Thanks for the link to Harding's article on the Franco-Benoni (which, as he explains, is the most common name for the opening.  But that's a red herring of a digression).

Harding's link should probably be read by anyone who wants to contribute to the conversation because it will probably serve as the backbone of the discussion.

He shows that most authors don't have much respect for the opening, and then digs deeper to find some interesting plans for Black.

All,

Should we accept the position after 1.d4 c5 2.d5 e6 3.e4 ed 4.ed5 (or 1.e4 e6 2.d4 c5 3.d5 ed5 4.ed5)  to be the starting point of our analysis?  

There will be several important plans for both sides to check out, which is why I've been building this argument rather slowly.  


(Pace, HgMan, we're getting to the concrete stuff!)



I recently noticed that Kasparov has a brief discussion of the Barcza-Larsen in one of the Great Predecessors books.  In a position such as after 1. e4 e6 2. d4 c5 3. d5 ed 4. ed d6 5. Nf3 Nf6, he thinks that White should play c4 rather than Nc3, leading to "a slight advantage."

Maybe to be a true Franco-Benoni/Barcza-Larsen (if those are in fact the same, as I thought they were), the game needs to reach your suggested position after 4 moves.  (Or at least to "rejoin" it like after 1. d4 c5 2. d5 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 ed 6. ed.)
  
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #12 - 09/18/07 at 04:59:40
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MNb,

Thanks for the link to Harding's article on the Franco-Benoni (which, as he explains, is the most common name for the opening.  But that's a red herring of a digression).

Harding's link should probably be read by anyone who wants to contribute to the conversation because it will probably serve as the backbone of the discussion.

He shows that most authors don't have much respect for the opening, and then digs deeper to find some interesting plans for Black.

All,

Should we accept the position after 1.d4 c5 2.d5 e6 3.e4 ed 4.ed5 (or 1.e4 e6 2.d4 c5 3.d5 ed5 4.ed5)  to be the starting point of our analysis?  

There will be several important plans for both sides to check out, which is why I've been building this argument rather slowly.  


(Pace, HgMan, we're getting to the concrete stuff!)
  
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #11 - 09/17/07 at 23:19:15
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One of the very few books (Stoljar/Kondratjev, 1985) on the Franco-Benoni calls 1.d4 c5 2.d5 e6 3.e4 exd5 the Barcza-Larsen Variation indeed. Also Harding in his column at Chesscafe has written about it back in june 1997:

http://www.chesscafe.com/text/kibitz13.txt

SK's main line runs 4.exd5 d6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Nf3 Be7 7.Be2 0-0 8.Nd2 (8.0-0 Na6 9.Nd2 Nc7 10.Nc4 b5!, but I suppose 9.h3 is still +=) b6 (Na6 9.Nc3 Nc7 10.a4) 9.0-0 Na6 10.Re1 Nc7 11.Nc4 Corral-Fuller, Olympiade 1970, b5 12.Na5 b4 13.Nc6 Qd7 14.Nb5 with an advantage. But I have never bothered to check this.
  

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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #10 - 09/17/07 at 22:53:44
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HgMan,

I was going to get down to variations once those proponents of Black had shown a model variation.  Well, in lieu of one for Black, I've already shown one for White and here's another:

Let's choose a different move order:  1.d4 c5 2.d5 e6 (still a Franco-Benoni) 3.Nc3!? Nf6!? 4.e4 ed and now the recommended refutation (No quotation marks.  It's actually supposed to be a refutation.) is 5.e5!

I don't know if this is truly a refutation, but this line hasn't been tried by Black since the 1970s when this refutation was first published (somewhere in eastern Europe I believe, and Hartston reported it in an English language book on the Benoni).

Here are some lines I looked at with Fritz to confirm the old refutation:




1.d4 c5 2.d5 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e4 exd5 5.e5 Qe7 [5...d4 6.exf6 dxc3 7.Qe2+; 5...Ne4 6.Nxd5+-] 6.Qe2! [6.Nf3?! d6 7.Nxd5 Nxd5 8.Qxd5 Nc6=  White's advantage is mostly symbolic here I think.] 6...Ng8 7.Nxd5 Qd8 8.Bg5 Be7+- Line

You will see that in each case that I gave White a winning edge White was up much more than just a pawn in a comfortable position.  In most cases, Black is dropping heavy material.

Once we get past this, we'll move into some of the more critical lines.  But for the sake of being thorough, I want to make sure we agree on this much.
  
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #9 - 09/17/07 at 22:32:21
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This is getting silly.   Angry  Lots of good/great players have played lots of poor/bad openings to get a psychological edge or reach a particular kind of middlegame.  A lot of openings/variations played twenty years ago have since been found to be bad.  Let's forego the rhetoric and get down to variations.  How does White prove the Franco-Benoni is busted?
  

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