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The Benko Gambit is a very eccentric opening as black sacrifices a wing pawn very early in the game to achieve long-lasting positional pressure. This gambit is very unique as black is not really trying to gain immediate pressure and counterplay in the center, but rather wants to play for static pressure on the queenside via the open A and B files. GM Lev Alburt proceeds to explain that even though black has sacrificed a pawn, it’s OK to trade pieces! While black definitely wants to keep the rooks on the board, trading certain minor pieces (notably the knights and the light-squared bishop) can actually help black increase his pressure on the open A and B files. Another very interesting discovery and contribution GM Alburt has made to the Benko Gambit is that black can actually benefit from trading queens. When the Benko Gambit was beginning to develop as a serious opening tool for the black pieces against 1. d4, many players simply could not believe that trading queens while down a pawn could help black. However GM Alburt’s objective analysis and practical successes have shown that with active piece-play, black has very good chances of winning these types of endgames even though he is down material!
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