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Pal Benko vs Samuel Reshevsky
USA-ch / Zonal (1975), Oberlin, OH USA, rd 13, Jun-26
English Opening: King's English. Two Knights' Variation General (A22)  ·  1/2-1/2
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-12-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: anecdote behind the game according to tournament organizer Paul Drummond..

in the adjourned position, Pal had good winning chances but very upset by Reshevsky's slamming down on his clock and other niceties. Finally, Benko had to settle for a draw.

Jul-14-11  Caissanist: Reshevsky was angry with Benko because he thought that Benko had agreed to draw the game the day before, but Benko wanted to win to get out of last place, despite repeated repeated repeated draw "offers" from Reshevsky. After the game concluded, both players supposedly rode back home with Bill Lombardy, which must have made for an interesting trip.
Jul-14-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: The only post-1968 effort between these players which lasted as long as twenty moves (eight games).

This was also the event in which Arthur Bisguier drew all thirteen games.

Jul-14-11  Petrosianic: Reshevsky had told Benko the day before that if Rogoff drew he'd take a draw too, because there would be no chance of getting into the Interzonal. But if Rogoff lost, he'd be playing for the win. Sammy somehow thought that this meant that he and only he had the right to play for a win. Benko said that he made no deal.

Benko also said Reshevsky also told him that if he qualified for the interzonal, he'd pick Benko as his second. So, if Rogoff had lost, Benko would have been in the position of knowing that if he lost too, he'd have a job waiting for him. While not quite an invitation to throw the game, it's a huge enticement. The whole thing was very dodgy, and reminiscent of the Grundy-Ware scandal in 1880.

Or it would have been, if anything had actually happened. In the end, Rogoff drew quickly, and sewed up the last Interzonal spot, so all that was left was Reshevsky behaving badly in one game, and complaining to the TD that Benko wasn't living up to an illegal deal he thought he'd made. (If you look up chutzpah in the dictionary, Reshevsky's picture is next to it.)

Jul-14-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: I never liked Reshevsky. Too many incidents like this happening.

The man had very little honor.

Apr-05-12  King Death: < Caissanist: ...After the game concluded, both players supposedly rode back home with Bill Lombardy, which must have made for an interesting trip.>

Cleveland to New York Express is heading out! Big Bill Lombardy is aboard to keep order and stay between little Sammy and his bosom buddy Pal Benko! (At least until they get home, then they can kill each other for all anybody cares)

Apr-06-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  SteinitzLives: I have always believed that Reshevsky was a typical smarmy chess-low-life, just with talent. If what I have read here is also true, then Benko was not much better either (BTW browsing his autobiography in a bookstore, I found it over-priced and uninspiring). I lump Walter Browne in with this duo of talented smarmy chess-low-lifes.

Behavior = Truth.

Apr-06-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Second last game between these two players.

Benko vs Reshevsky, 1984

May-10-14  Howard: Was just thinking about this infamous game the other night----but then I have all the 1975 issues of Chess Life and Review !

Mednis analyzed the endgame phase of this encounter in his excellent monthly endgame column back in a 1976 issue, and he pointed out where Benko threw away the win and thus had to settle for a draw....relegating him to dead last out of 14 players. Somewhat strangely, Mednis didn't mention the "unusual circumstances" surrounding this game, but perhaps that wasn't relevant to the column.

Both Reshevsky and Benko wrote letters to Chess Life and Review giving their sides to the story.

The moral of this matter is that making unethical agreements like this can sometimes backfire. The "deal" the two players made was obviously unenforceable, so if Benko allegedly welched on it, Reshevsky was SOL (surely out of luck).

May-10-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: There is a code of honour--at least with some people--I can tell you that those times I have agreed to a deal at the finish of a poker event that, had I ever tried to welch, my name would have been mud thereafter in professional circles.

Is it odd, really, that Mednis never went into detail on those 'unusual circumstances'? Whatever his personal feelings towards his colleagues--and I do not know what his relations were with either party in all this--he might have found himself out in the cold, had he gone into particulars. CL&R may well have killed, or at any rate ordered Mednis to tone down, any content which could have been construed as inflammatory or potentially libellous in nature.

May-10-14  Howard: On the other hand, CL & R may have simply felt that since the details had already been printed in the publication (fairly length description in the tournament article, plus letters to the editor from both of the players), then perhaps Mednis need not go any further into the matter.

But perhaps he still might have at least briefly alluded to the "deal" that was made. I doubt if CL & R would have objected to that.

May-11-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Do not recall the circumstances, as I have not read those back numbers in many years, though it seems plausible that with all the attention already devoted to the matter in CL&R, most likely they would see no need to rehash things.
Mar-03-15  RookFile: Despite all the melo-drama, I find it amazing that Benko didn't win this game anyway. Reshevsky's position was in wretched shape, down material. Maybe Benko rushed it and should have been more patient.
Mar-04-15  Howard: Benko did indeed make a huge mistake at one point. But Reshevsky's alleged banging on the clock and also whispering to Benko during the game, obviously didn't help matters any.
Mar-05-15  Howard: Benko's blunder was 53.Kg3 ?? according to Mednis. The win was gone after that.
Feb-12-17  Howard: Huh?! 53.Kg3 was obviously a big typo on MY part, because it ain't legal!

No one has caught that in almost two years?!

Does anybody out there read my illustrious posts? Remind me tonight to check that 1976 issue of CL&R to see what move threw away the win.

Feb-13-17  Howard: 53.Rxd6 would have won. Just checked that 1976 issue last night.
Apr-04-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <Howard: Huh?! 53.Kg3 was obviously a big typo on MY part, because it ain't legal! No one has caught that in almost two years?!

Does anybody out there read my illustrious posts? >

If you're lucky, they don't read the posts where you suggest ridiculous or illegal moves. Not that I'd know. :p

Feb-10-19  RandomVisitor: "Bottom dealing"
Feb-10-19  RandomVisitor: After the suggested 53.Rxd6:


click for larger view

Stockfish_19020810_x64_modern: <1 hour computer time>

<44/75 +4.09 53...Nf3+> 54.Kg2 Nh4+ 55.Kf1 Nf5 56.Rf6 Ra8 57.Kg2 Nh4+ 58.Kg3 Nf5+ 59.Kh2 Ke5 60.Kg2 Rg8+ 61.Kf1 Rb8 62.Ra6 Nh4 63.Rxh6 Rb1+ 64.Ke2 Rb2+

44/75 +4.85 53...Kf3 54.Rf6+ Ke2 55.Nf4+ Ke1 56.Rb6 Ra7 57.Rb1+ Kd2 58.Rb5 Nf3+ 59.Kg2 Ne1+ 60.Kf1 Nf3 61.Rd5+ Kc3 62.Rd6 Rh7 63.Kg2 Nh4+ 64.Kh2 Nf3+

43/66 +6.62 53...Nf7 54.Rf6 Ne5 55.Rxh6 Nd3 56.Ng3+ Ke5 57.Rh5+ Ke6 58.Ne4 Kf7 59.Rd5 Nb4 60.Rg5 Nc6 61.Kg2 Ra4 62.Kf3 Ne7 63.h4 Ra6 64.h5 Re6

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Featured in the Following Game Collection [what is this?]
Round Thirteen, June 26th
from US Championship 1975 by suenteus po 147


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