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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or great? (Read 47124 times)
kylemeister
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or great?
Reply #38 - 04/19/11 at 15:22:40
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For what it's worth, here's another (GM vs. GM) game I've long had in my "memory bank" concerning this opening.


[Event "San Antonio"]
[Site ""]
[Date "1972.??.??"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Browne, Walter Shawn"]
[Black "Evans, Larry Melvyn"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[NIC "OI 8.4"]
[ECO "A43"]
[PlyCount "49"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 c5 3. d5 exd5 4. exd5 d6 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. Nf3 Be7 7. Be2 O-O 8. Nd2 Na6
9. Nc4 Nc7 10. a4 b6 11. O-O Bb7 12. Bf3 Qd7 13. Bf4 Rfe8 14. Qd3 h6 15. Bg3 Bf8
16. Rfd1 Ba6 17. b3 Ng4 18. Re1 Rxe1  19. Rxe1 Re8 20. Rxe8 Qxe8 21. Qe4 Nf6 22.
Qxe8 Nfxe8 23. Ne3 g6 24. h4 h5 25. Ne4 1/2-1/2
  
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or great?
Reply #37 - 04/19/11 at 12:14:36
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I looked up the Avrukh recommendation, and if I'm not missing anything he assumes the move order 1.d4 c5 2.d5 e6 3.Nc3, where White can and often will recapture with the knight on d5. This is not available if White has played 1.d4 e6 2.e4 (Avrukh goes 2.c4 here instead of course) 2...c5 3.d5 since Black can now capture immediately with 3...exd5.

So the main lines of the Franco-Benoni can't actually arise from Avrukh's lines. He even seems determined to avoid them, for example meeting 1.d4 c5 2.d5 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e4 a6 (4...exd5 5.e5!, 4...d6 5.Bb5+) 5.a4 d6 with 6.Bc4!?, again to avoid having to recapture with the pawn on d5.
  

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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or great?
Reply #36 - 04/19/11 at 11:09:12
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Good question actually. The F-B is on my list of "rare but tricky defences I should prepare something against" so if there is some great line for White I want to know which it is!

Edit: I think my first step in that direction will be actually reading the whole thread  Grin

The F-B could also be the solution for a desperate 1.d4 e6 (English Defence or Dutch) player who wanted imbalance and after 1.d4 e6 2.e4 fears that 2...d5 3.exd5 is coming. 1.d4 e6 2.e4 c5 may be weaker, but also more fun!?
  

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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or great?
Reply #35 - 04/19/11 at 10:39:54
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Anyone here playing the "Barcza-Larsen" (or Franco-Benoni) as Black?
1.e4 e6 2.d4 c5 3.d5
I also don't think this is good as a main weapon (on account of its passivity) but it might be playable for me in open tournaments against certain players who would otherwise be contented with a draw, or are not prepared.
What to study, apart from this thread, which I have printed out for reading, if one wants to master this dubious-looking Semi-Benoni position? (My aim is to reach the open Sicilian/Kan--or a 3.c3 Nf6 Sicilian/Alapin--without having to deal with certain anti-Sicilians, as I have just started to learn the open variations.)
  

as
*W 1d4) Torre/Barry/Pirc/Philidor/ early _d5:early c4(QGD/Slav/QGD/etc)
*B) 1e4:e6 [+1_c5 2Nf3 a6]| 1d4:e6 2c4 Bb4+ BID/pseudoNID [+1_Nf6 NID]| 1c4:c5,_Nc6,_e5,_g6| 1Nf3:c5
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or great?
Reply #34 - 08/04/10 at 23:40:26
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I dabbled with the Franco-Benoni in the early 1990s. Should still have my old game scores available.
  
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or great?
Reply #33 - 08/02/10 at 11:16:45
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Hi TN,

I've nae improvements prepared 'cos I'm afraid I don't even know what it is!  Embarrassed Look forward to seeing 'n' getting to grips with it! (Not that it wouldn't surprise me at all if White could obtain a clear advantage ...)
  
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or great?
Reply #32 - 08/02/10 at 11:07:11
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@Michael Ayton

What is your view on Avrukh's recommendation against the F-B? Do you have any improvements prepared over Avrukh's analysis or is his recommendation still holding up as a clear route to an advantage?
  

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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or great?
Reply #31 - 12/19/09 at 18:37:40
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A fascinating thread, whatever one thinks of the opening! Undecided Summarising the discussion thus far, several major tabiyas have been highlighted (each reachable by the usual mind-bending variety of move orders):

TABIYA 1 -- 5 Nc3 Nf6 6 Nf3 Be7 7 Be2 0-0 8 0-0 Na6 9 Re1 Nc7 10 a4 b6 11 Rb1 Re8 12 h3 h6 13 Bc4 a6 (Bohm-Konikowski)

TABIYA 2 -- 5 Nc3 Nf6 6 Nf3 Be7 7 Be2 0-0 8 0-0 Na6 9 h3 Nc7 10 a4 b6 11 Bc4 a6 12 Rb1 Qd7 13 Re1 (NCO)

TABIYA 3 -- 5 Nc3 Nf6 6 Nf3 Be7 7 Be2 0-0 8 0-0 Bg4!? (Hoi-Ksieski)

TABIYA 4 -- 5 Bb5 Nd7 (5 …Bd7 is +/=?) 6 Nf3 Nf6 7 0-0 Be7 8 a4 0-0 9 Nc3, and now 9 …a6 (Rogers-Kengis) or 9 …Re8 10 Re1 a6 (Gligoric-Larsen)

There’s no firm consensus as to the respective merits of these lines, though T4 (which Franco-Benoni fanciers need to know White can effectively force, unless 5 …Bd7 is good) is sometimes considered inferior to TT 1--2. TopNotch (Reply 26) thinks all of these give White a good edge on the basis of Black being rather cramped and passive; but there’s evidence Kasparov thinks none of them offers White the best chance of a real advantage (on the basis of possible Black counterplay against d5); kylemeister (Reply 28) has suggested some possible ways forward for Black in T4, and it would be very interesting to know how Kasparov thinks Black should defend in T2! T3 meanwhile is more often noted than analysed; it might be +/=, but certainly isn’t bound to transpose to T5 below.

There are also the two Barcza variations of course (the second inferior to the first?):

TABIYA 5 -- 5 Nc3 Nf6 6 Nf3 Bg4 7 Be2 Bf3 8 Bf3 Be7 9 0-0 0-0 (Filip-Barcza)

TABIYA 6 -- 5 Nf3 Bg4 6 Be2 Bf3 7 Bf3 Be7 8 0-0 Nf6 9 Na3!? (9 Nc3 is T5) 0-0 10 Nc4 Nbd7 11 a4 Ne5 (Gligoric-Barcza)

Most sources accord White some edge, the interesting question being, how much edge is it?


There is, though, another plan for Black, which is mentioned in Harding’s article and Fields’ 1991 book but hasn’t been discussed here – that of strongpointing e5:

TABIYA 7 -- 5 Nc3 a6 6 a4 (Fields suggests 6 Bf4!? with no analysis) Nd7!?

TABIYA 8 -- 5 Nf3 Nd7!?

I can’t find any games stemming from T8 where Black implemented the plan. But T7 has led to:

(a) 7 Nf3 g6 and:

(i) 8 Bf4 Ndf6 (8 …f6 is b(ii) below) 9 Bc4 Bg7 10 0-0 Ne7 11 Qd2 (Muller-Stummer (corr.)), when Fields recommends 11 …h6 (12 Re1 g5).

(ii) 8 Bd3 Bg7 9 0-0 Ne7; here Harding-Steiner (corr.) went 10 Ne4!? Ne5 11 Bg5 0-0.

(b) 7 Bf4 and:

(i) 7 …g6 8 Qd2 (8 Nf3 see a(i) above) and now Fields suggests 8 …Ndf6!? 9 Nf3 Bg7 10 Bc4 Ne7 11 0-0 h6 12 Re1 g5, idea …0-0/ …Ng6.

(ii) 7 …f6!? (principled, if nothing else!) 8 Nf3 g6, when Wiedenhofer-Kerinnis (corr.) continued 9 Bd3 (9 Be2 Nh6 10 Qd2 Nf7 11 0-0 Bg7, Emanon-Fields) 10 0-0 (10 h4!?) Nf7.

What do folk think of these latter plans? Maybe TT7 and 8 are a recipe for hanging on rather than for fighting chess, but some would say that’s true of the F-B as a whole!

Finally a couple of move-order wrinkles. After 5 Nc3 Nf6, White can choose 6 Be2 in order to prevent T5, but then according to Fields Black can try 6 …g6, e.g. 7 Nf3 Bg7 8 0-0 0-0 9 Bf4 Bg4 10 Nd2 Be2 11 Qe2 Nh5 12 Be3 f5 (Maksimovic-Hulak). And after 6 Bb5 Nbd7 7 a4 here, Suba has tried 7 …g6!? (7 …Be7 8 Nf3 0-0 9 0-0 is T4). Of course there are many other move-order nuances, according to what one wants. For example, 5 Nf3 Nf6 6 h3!? Be7 7 Bd3 0-0, and now 8 c4 might be tedious for Black (8 Nc3 is a possible route to T2).
  
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #30 - 10/26/07 at 10:47:35
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I agree with TopNotch. White has a solid advantage, based on his space advantage. The problem for black is that he does not have any active counterplay. It is a completely different opening then the modern Benoni. Black does not have a queenside pawn majority, no pressure on the e-file and he does not have time to fianchetto his f8 bisschop. It is not much fun playing the franco-benoni as black.
  
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #29 - 10/10/07 at 21:18:26
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I don't think the Franco is busted or unplayable, I simply consider it passive and don't see any attraction for it.

Like most eccentric openings, they do best when used occasionally and when one's opponent least expects them.

My contention is that White armed with just a few key ideas as to where to put his pieces and what plan to adopt is enough to maintain a pleasant plus against this opening.

Tops Smiley
  

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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #28 - 10/10/07 at 19:22:38
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Smyslov_Fan,

Yes, I can follow your annotations.  There are a few bits (like extraneous symbols and the repetition of the move 11. Bf4) that made it unclear to me (on my preliminary glance) what was going on.

I think I could be forgiven for thinking that you were at least somewhat endorsing your computer's view of a "tremendous advantage," in light of your initial claims.

You mention again that this defense is generally not seen at the highest echelons.  You initially contrasted it with the Schmid Benoni, which is not exactly a common guest there either.  (I recall being rather surprised at seeing it played a while back in a game of, I think, Ivanchuk.)  It also makes me think again of a comparison to the Steinitz Defense in the Ruy/Spanish, perhaps a typical += (I mean plus-over-equals) defense.  The Steinitz seems to be invisible at top level, and is played much less often by GMs than the Franco-Benoni is.  But I don't think anybody would claim that it is busted/unplayable, and I would think that the Franco-Benoni is at least not worse than the Steinitz.

You asked my opinion about 8...Nbd7.  I don't think it's the most natural move, because I would think that Black's general preference in such positions would be to play ...Na6 with the idea of  ...Nc7, so as to put more pressure on d5 and help promote ...b5.  And while the Topster might be relieved to hear that I don’t think books should be taken as gospel, I might mention that most of the books I’m aware of give 8...Na6 as the main line, while none that I am aware of mentions 8...Nbd7.  There's also the (trade-oriented) possibility of ...Bg4 before …Nbd7.  That was played by the eponymous (Hungarian GM) Barcza against (Czech GM) Filip in the game below, and was evaluated by (Romanian GM) Ciocaltea in ECO as, you guessed it, +=. 


[Event "Sofia"]
[Site ""]
[Date "1957.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Filip, Miroslav"]
[Black "Barcza, Gedeon"]
[Result "0-1"]
[NIC "OI 14.6"]
[ECO "A43"]
[PlyCount "82"]

1. d4 c5 2. d5 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e4 d6 5. Nf3 exd5 6. exd5 Bg4 7. Be2 Bxf3 8. Bxf3
Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. Bf4 Nbd7 11. Re1 Ne8 12. Be2 a6 13. a4 Bg5 14. Bg3 Bf6 15. Bf1
Be5 16. Bxe5 Nxe5 17. a5 Nf6 18. Qd2 Qc7 19. Na4 Rae8 20. Nb6 Qd8 21. h3 Nfd7 22.
Nxd7 Nxd7 23. Rxe8 Rxe8 24. Re1 Nf6 25. Bd3 g6 26. c4 Nd7 27. Rxe8  Qxe8 28. Qc3
Qe5 29. Qxe5 Nxe5 30. Be2 Kf8 31. f4 Nd7 32. Bd1 Ke7 33. Ba4 b6 34. Bxd7 Kxd7 35.
axb6 Kc8 36. Kf2 Kb7 37. Ke3 Kxb6 38. Kd3 Ka5 39. Kc3 Ka4 40. g3 f5 41. g4 h5 0-1


TopNotch,

The Kasparov reference was to volume 4 (the Fischer book) of “My Great Predecessors.”  I’m not saying that he condemns Bb5+; he gives it “!?” in the course of citing some Larsen games (and giving Black a “!”); then, as mentioned, he says (with some detail) that he thinks White should prefer a line with early c4, leading to a slight advantage.

NCO considers the N to e3 maneuver in this guise: 1. e4 e6 2. d4 c5 3. d5 ed 4. ed d6 5. Nc3 Be7 6. Bd3 Nf6 7. h3 0-0 8. Nf3 Na6 9. 0-0 Nc7 10. Bc4 a6 11. a4 b6 12. Rb1 Qd7 13. Re1! Re8 14. b4 b5 15. ab ab 16. Be2 c4 17. Nh2 Bf8 18. Nf1 Bb7 19. Ne3, with a slight advantage.

It looks like Kengis could have aimed to hinder that maneuver (as Larsen might have started doing with an earlier ...Bb7) with 12…Nh5 or (even if White precedes Bf4 with h3) 13...Nh5 (idea 14. Bh2 Nhf6), with the idea that Bc4 looks likely to lead to a rook exchange unlike in NCO's line.  I’d also wonder about a later …Ne4 in some of those positions; after all, O’Kelly’s 15. Bd3 invites one kind of exchange, but the Rogerian type of play invites another.  But even the way the Rogers game went, it looks as though White was left (say at move 27) with just the slightest of advantages.   

The Kasparov book observes that “Black’s strategy in this line involves surrounding the d-pawn with pieces.”  I’m not sure how broadly/strongly to construe your comments, but one might get the idea that you think this idea is practically worthless (despite that it perhaps came within a hair’s breadth of equalizing in the Rogers game).

It might be noted that Rogers played this defense with Black, against a fellow GM, after the Kengis game.  (Yes, he met Bb5+ with …Bd7, which seems interesting.)  Also over 40 other GMs have played (or offered to play) it in the last decade, some of them repeatedly.

If you’re saying that Bb5+ should be assessed as leading to “+=” rather than “=”, that’s one thing (and seems plausible to me).  But again, that wasn’t really the issue.  The issue was whether White can force the kind of advantage (as in ±) which could justify describing the Franco-Benoni/Barcza-Larsen with terms like “busted” and “unplayable.”
  
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #27 - 10/03/07 at 21:03:35
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Thanks, I will remember that knight manoeuvre in case I will ever met the Franco-Benoni. This is better than memorizing several lines from Black probably will deviate anyway.  Smiley
  

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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #26 - 10/03/07 at 03:21:59
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kylemeister wrote on 10/01/07 at 16:34:30:
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.


Which Kasparov book are we talking about here, as I find it highly suspicious that Kasparov himself would be dismissive of this 6.Bb5+ variation. While it is not clear that 6.Bb5 is more accurate than 6.Be2 (Though I have a feeling it is), what is clear is that White can maintain an advantage after either move, the only question being the size of that advantage.

The examples chosen by SF are excellent in that they highlight the ideal piece placement and typical plans for White that prove the most challenging for Franco advocates to face. As I stated in my description of the Franco, the variation is one of plans moreso than a concrete sequence of moves. The ECO reference is worthless and the assessment incorrect in my opinion, why, its very simple, less space combined with passively placed pieces and a lack of meaningful counterplay equal worse position in my book. Just because you see a line given in a text as equal doesn't mean you have to accept it, especially when it goes against decades of accumalated chess wisdom and logic.

Lets take a look at the ECO referrenced game that has been referred to more than once in this thread:

[Site Palma de Mallorca]
[Date 1967.10.02]
[White O'Kelly,A]
[Black Larsen,B]
[Result 0-1]
[ECO A43]

1. d4 e6 2. e4 c5 3. d5 exd5 4. exd5 d6 5. Nf3 Nf6 6. Nc3 Be7 7. Bb5+?!
[Larsen's annotation in Informator, and probably an attempt by the winner to bluff others into not repeating this line]
Nbd7 8. a4 O-O 9. O-O a6 10. Be2 b6 11. Re1 Re8 12. Bf4 Nf8 13. h3 Ng6
[ECO stops here superficially claiming equality for Black]
14. Bh2 Bf8 15. Bd3?

[I don't like this, White should avoid unneccesary exchanges if he can so as not to ease Black's cramped position, and to that end 15.Nd2! was better intending 15...Ne5 16.Nf1 to e3 followed by a later f4 or Rb1 b4 depending on circumstances. After 15.Nd2! the Knight re-routes to its ideal post on e3 and White maintains his advantage thus.]

Rxe1+ [Exchanging a pair of rooks eases Black's defensive task]
16. Qxe1 Bb7 17. Qd2 Qd7 18. Bc4 Qf5 19. Re1 Re8 20. Rxe8 Nxe8 [Every exchange is a minor victory for Black]
21. Qe2 Nc7 22. Qe4 Qf6 23. h4 Bc8 24. Bd3 h5 25. Nd1 b5 26. axb5 axb5 [The rest of this game needs no further comment]
27. c3 c4 28. Bc2 Bd7 29. Ne3 Na6 30. Bg3 Nc5 31. Qd4 Qd8 32. Ng5 Be7 33. f4 Bf6 34. Qd2 Qe7 35. Nf5 Bxf5 36. Bxf5 Nf8 37. Bf2 Na4 38. g3 g6 39. Bb1 Nd7 40. Nf3 Ndc5 41. Bxc5 Nxc5 42. Kg2 Qa7 43. f5 Qa1 44. Bc2 Qxb2 45. fxg6 fxg6 46. Qe2 Kg7 47. Nd4 Be5 48. Qe3 Nd3 49. Qg5 Bxd4  0-1


Later games such as Rogers - Kengis served to confirm what White should be aiming for in this variation, and what SF neglected to emphasise in his otherwise instructive post was the importance of the Knight manoeuvre to e3. This Knight manoeuvre represents a typical and key strategy for White against the Franco and some other Benoni structures as well, and one would do well to take special note of it.

Toppy Smiley  
  

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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #25 - 10/02/07 at 23:55:21
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Kylemeister,

I'm disappointed by the tone of your response.  I never once claimed to be as good as ECO or Kasparov.  I am trying to fill a void where they simply leave off with a +/= assessment and some rather useless notes.

I included Fritz' general evaluations to show the computer's bias, not to persuade anyone that it is correct.  In fact, I pointed out that it probably isn't correct.

I do appreciate that Black doesn't have to play 8...Nbd7.  Do your own comments mean that Black shouldn't play the natural move and that I should look at 8...Na6 next?  Which move do you consider to be Black's best move, and why?

I'm not Kasparov, but I'm not a slouch either.  I will respect you when you post analysis, all I ask is the same in return.  Now, as for attacking the quality of my analysis, go for it!

Cool

Regarding the second game, you stated that my notes are garbled.  They aren't really garbled, but I could have used more punctuation in one or two places to make the comment read more fluidly.  

There are several lines that I look at, but if you follow the analysis with a board, I think you will find that the lines do make sense.  Otherwise, please be specific and I will gladly try to make sense of my own comments!

Btw,

I don't hide that I use the computer, but I will point out where the computer and I disagree.  Again, I pointed out that Fritz already had made up its "mind" about the variation by move 6.  I'm not so convinced, but there are plenty of good reasons why the highest echelons of players don't go into this line as Black.
  
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Re: Is the Franco-Benoni playable, "busted" or gre
Reply #24 - 10/02/07 at 21:37:52
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Smyslov_Fan wrote on 10/02/07 at 06:28:48:
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?


Neither do I have an answer, but I know where to find it. Everything depends on the question if Black has to play 8...Nbd7 like Santos did. If yes, 6.Bb5+ is a superfluous demonstration. If Black has better, like 8...Na6 or 8...Bg4 or 8...Re8 first, then 6.Bb5+ must be more precise. Alas I don't know how to evaluate these setups. To make things more complicated, White sometimes plays x.h3 somewhere to keep that queen's bishop passive.
So my humble opinion is, that White might be better against the Franco-Benoni, but a clear-cut way to prove it is not established yet.  Undecided
  

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