Benoni is a Hebrew word meaning 'son of my sorrows.' In chess, the Modern Benoni is an opening sequence of moves used by the player of the black pieces. For centuries, people of all kinds have met over the chessboard to battle for spoils, and Reed Connor is no different. He is a young, erudite chess player living on the fringe of society. He and his girlfriend Madeline are consumed by a desire for base pleasure while Vassily is a Soviet grandmaster living in seclusion in West Philadelphia. Their lives intertwine when the chess World Open offers a large cash purse. A Modern Benoni is a realistic examination of how opportunities can emerge when all seems lost and redemption may come, but not as expected.