Before reading further, anyone unfamiliar with Benedict Chess should check out the
rules- either on this site or at http://www.chessvariants.com/difftaking.dir/benedict.html
In this article I use normal algebraic notation and place the locations of any flipped
pieces in brackets after each move.
Has anyone composed any Benedict Chess problems yet? Here's a good one:
[DIAGRAM SHOWING POSITION AFTER 1.e3]
Black to play and survive
The 1.e3 strategy is very single minded: get the White Queen into play and cut the
Black Queen out of the game. It seems to work well. Even against what, so far, have
been the three most popular defensive options, 1...e6, 1...c6 and 1...c5, White
gains a strategically won game very quickly.
[After 1.e3 e6/ 2.Qe2 Qe7/ 3.Qb5(b7 d7), the Black Queen is already restricted.
If 3...kd8(d7), then 4.Qc5(c7 e7) and now if 4...Ke8(e7)/ 5.Nc3 and wins.
After 1.e3 c5/ 2.Qf3(b7 f7) White is won:eg 2...Qa5(a2 d2)/ 3.Qd5(c5 d2 d7) & now
if 3...Kd8(d7), then 4.b4(a5) Nc6(a5 b4)/ 5.Qe6(c6 d7 e7) wins.
After 1.e3 c6/ 2.Qf3(c6 f7) Qb6(b2 c6 e3)/ 3.Qh3(d7 e3 h7)! and White has a winning
My thought was that it must be possible to limit this expansiveness of the White
Queen. It just seemed to good to be true that, whatever defence Black adopts, White,
can always keep the Black Queen from properly entering the game.
After a lot of experimentation I believe I have discovered a defence against 1.e3,
namely 1...b5. Of course, this will need more testing. A large part of the apparent
effectiveness of this defence is that it immediately sets out to limit the White
Queen. (It prevents both Qf3 and the manoeuvre Q-e2-b5.) This defence has been tried
a few times before, but never, it seems, by a player who has been committed to discovering
Here I will focus on only one of White's two best continuations (2 Qg4, leads, after
best play, only to a draw) namely 2.Qe2(b5).
The other strong response is 2.Nc3(b5). There is a lot to explore here. I shall
just give one continuation here, as an indication of the resources Black should
have: 2...e6/ 3.Nd5(c7) Nf6(d5)/ 4.Qf3(d5 f6) Bb4(d2)/ 5.Kd1(d2) Bc5(e3)! with ...Qe7
to follow at a suitable moment, should give Black an OK game.
...probably wins against any reply but 2...c5. After this there are two options
In a game I played against Ingemar Assarsjö ("Bridge"), Ingemar tried 3.Qc4(c5 f7)
but after 3...d5(c4) chances already seem roughly equal. This game continued:
- b3(c4) Nc6
- Qd4(d5 g7) e5(d4)
- c3(d4) Qd6(c5 d5)
[DIAGRAM SHOWING POSITION AFTER 6...Qd6(c5 d5)]
Already Black's strategic goal has been achieved. Each Queen limits the other
The game ended:
- b6(a7) Qc7(a7 b6 f7)
- Na3 b5
- Qf4(e5 f7)? [Better was Nc4(e5) with unclear complications]
- ...b4(a3 c3)
- Bb2(a3 c3) Qa5(a3)
- Bc1(a3)? Qa6(a3 f1)
The alternative to 3.Qc4 is Qd3. At first this looks better, but, whereas 3.Qc4
probably leads to a position with even chances and a lot of play, Qd3 possibly leads
merely to a draw. My game against "Rodantero" went:
- e3 b5
- Qe2(b5) c5
- Qd3(d7 h7) c4(d3)
- Be2(d3) Nc6 [better than 4...c3(b2 d2) 5.Nf3(d2)]
- Qg6(c6 f7 g7) [Best. Not 5.Qe4 (c6 e7) then f5, followed by Nf6 and Ng4
is good for Black]
- Qf6(c6 e7) Rc8(c6)
- Qe6(c4 c6) Ba8(c6)
- Qf6(c6) Bb7(c6)
[DIAGRAM SHOWING POSITION AFTER 8...Bb7(c6)]
White has the active Queen but it is hard to make progress. The Nc6 can do some
nasty things if the White Queen stops flipping it. Can anyone out there find a White
Some interesting variations show how tricky it is for White to try for a win here.
- b6(a7) and now all the pawns are White!
- ...Ne5(c4 d7) with a probable draw.
- Qf3(c6) Ba8(c6)
- Qd5(c6) aiming to continue flipping while infiltrating to b6
- e4(d5) this is forced as ne4 wins after Nc3
- ...Ng8(e7) and White has nothing better than Qe6, after which the
position is essentially unchanged.
- Nc3 White tries a different way.
- ...Ne4(c4 d7 f7)
- Qf4(c4 e5 f7) Not d4, f4 or Nf3 because of Rc6
- ...Qc7(c4 e5)
- Nf3(e5) d4 was an alternative, but not 12.Qf5(d7 e5), then 12...Qd6(d2
d7 e5 e7)! wins, because of the double threat of Nd3/f3+ and d1=Q+
- ...Qb8(b5 e5)
- Qf5(d7 e5) Qc7(d7 e5)
[DIAGRAM SHOWING POSITION AFTER 13...Qc7(d7 e5)]
After 13.....Qc7(d7 e5) The second key position. Can anyone analyse through
to a White win from here? I doubt it!
The only way I can see for White to even attempt a win is to manoeuvre into being
able to play Qf5, when the Black Queen is already at c7. It can't be tried immediately
because of Qd6! (see note to move 12). So d4 will be necessary. The game could go
14.Qf4(c4 e5) Qb8(e5)/ 15.d4(e5) Rc5(c4 e5)/ 16.Qg5(e5) At first I thought this
was winning for White as 16...Qc7(e5)/ 17.Qf5(e5 d7) Bc6 (d7 f3), for example, only
holds on for a while.
However, I then realized that Black can play 16...b4(c3)!!
Position after 16....b4(c3) Who is better here?
After this the position holds lots of surprises. One point is that 17 Nc6(b4 b8)
loses to ...Rb5(b8 g5). Beyond that I will say no more. Readers can make their own
assessment of this position! [It's worth noting here that White could had played
Nc3 at a different moment- with the B at b7, rather than a8. Then Black Qb8 would
not have flipped b5. However, this seems to make no difference. Certainly in the
line given above, b5 would then be flipped when Black played Rc5.
Rodantero did not find this or any other winning attempt an attractive option, and
the game ended
- Qf4(c4 e5) Qb8(e5)
- Qf5(d7 e5) DRAW AGREED
Readers may contact me at [email protected]
with any comments or analysis. I have written an introductory article on Benedict
for Variant Chess Magazine already. A second article, which will cover several opening
issues will appear in Issue 61.
So I would be very grateful for feedback to arrive within 6 weeks or so. In addition,
it would be great if some of you could try out this opening!