The son of sorrows,Benjamin becoming Benoni after death,all negative thoughts attributed with the defence made me more concerned after I have become a more mature player.When I was a kid things were different,the craze about Modern Benoni was evolving around me.We all wanted to play like Fischer did against Spassky on the 3rd game of their match.Alas later White was armed to his teeth with systems connected along f3 and f4 pushes ,Bf4 lines and even the main line with Gligoric refuting 11th world champion’s brainchild Nh5 made people to shy away from this active defence.Thus Serbian GM Ivan Ivanisevic takes the gauntlet and analyses especially each one of these systems very scientifically.The 300 pages book invites the reader who would like to have a journey within a maze of variations which aims to equalize with Black by very active play!

My journey with Benoni started somewhere around 1992. Until then, I mostly played the King’s Indian Defense. Of course, that was under the influence of my then-coach and one of the greatest Benoni experts, Draško Velimirović. I remember it was a big refreshment for me because the positions that arose were mostly full of dynamics and active counterplay. There were also some bitter experiences in games against Ilinčić, Damljanović, but there was also my first victory with the black pieces against my main rival of those days – Igor Miladinović, and many other interesting games.

Later, as I matured and realized that allowing White to occupy the center early in the opening with d5 and, for instance, the critical exchange of the central e-pawn for the c-pawn was a very responsible decision for Black, I started applying the Benoni with less enthusiasm and more of Nimzo and Queen’s Indians. However, looking back at the results, Benoni offered me more than, let’s say, Queen’s Indian did. Considering that I was mostly satisfied with Nimzo-Indian and not so much with Queen’s Indian, I applied Benoni against players who started with the move order 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 or 3.g3, and Nimzo-Indian against those who allowed 3…Bb4 after Nc3. This way, White is restricted and cannot play some of the most aggressive variations like the Four Pawns Variation, the Sämisch Variation, etc.

I had several key problems in the 7.Bf4 Variation, as well as in the Classical Variation with the early Nd2, and some problems in the Fianchetto Variation too. So, with great interest, I opened Ivan’s new book on the Benoni Defense and found out that Ivan has resolved many of these problems in this book and had analyzed them in detail! So, if you play or intend to play Benoni, I would definitely recommend studying this book! When you reach the counterplay in the Benoni, those are some of the most interesting positions that arise in modern chess practice after 1.d4!

At the recent Grenke Super Tournament , after a long break since the time of the legendary Gashimov, several Benoni positions appeared in games of Rapport and Carlsen. I justifiably suspect that Ivan’s new book had something to do with this!