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Pal Benko
Number of games in database: 1,012
Years covered: 1945 to 2008
Last FIDE rating: 2408
Highest rating achieved in database: 2496
Overall record: +314 -223 =464 (54.5%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      11 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 English (59) 
    A15 A16 A17 A10 A14
 Sicilian (47) 
    B40 B27 B28 B50 B91
 King's Indian (45) 
    E61 E62 E99 E79 E60
 Reti System (32) 
    A04 A05 A06
 Queen's Indian (25) 
    E17 E19 E14 E15 E12
 English, 1 c4 c5 (23) 
    A34 A36 A37 A30 A38
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (154) 
    B32 B42 B84 B36 B57
 King's Indian (53) 
    E60 E80 E62 E81 E92
 Grunfeld (44) 
    D78 D91 D94 D75 D87
 Sicilian Scheveningen (24) 
    B84 B81 B80 B82 B83
 Caro-Kann (24) 
    B17 B14 B18 B13 B10
 Pirc (21) 
    B09 B08 B07
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Benko vs I A Horowitz, 1968 1-0
   Benko vs Suttles, 1964 1-0
   Benko vs Sawayer, 1964 1-0
   M Szigeti vs Benko, 1945 0-1
   J Ragan vs Benko, 1974 0-1
   Bisguier vs Benko, 1963 0-1
   Bronstein vs Benko, 1949 1/2-1/2
   Benko vs Fischer, 1962 1-0
   Benko vs Keres, 1962 1-0
   Benko vs Taimanov, 1960 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   US Championship (1974)
   Portoroz Interzonal (1958)
   US Championship 1963/64 (1963)
   U.S. Championship (1966)
   Las Palmas (1972)
   Curacao Candidates (1962)
   Stockholm Interzonal (1962)
   First Piatigorsky Cup (1963)
   Palma de Mallorca (1968)
   Monte Carlo (1968)
   Palma de Mallorca (1971)
   Budapest (1952)
   Buenos Aires (1960)
   Lone Pine (1975)
   Lone Pine (1978)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Hastings 1973/74 by suenteus po 147
   Wijk aan Zee Hoogovens 1970 by suenteus po 147
   Palma de Mallorca 1971 by Tabanus
   Las Palmas 1972 by Tabanus
   Hoogovens 1972 by Tabanus
   Wijk aan Zee Hoogovens 1972 by suenteus po 147
   Wijk aan Zee Hoogovens 1969 by suenteus po 147
   Monte Carlo 1968 by Tabanus
   US Championship 1972 by Phony Benoni
   US Championship 1974 by Phony Benoni

   Huebner vs K Rogoff, 1972

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Pal Benko
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FIDE player card for Pal Benko

(born Jul-15-1928, 86 years old) France (citizen of United States of America)
[what is this?]
Pál Charles Benkő was born in Amiens, France in 1928. He learned chess from his father at the age of 10. He won the Hungarian Championship in 1948, took 3rd in 1950, took 6th in 1951, took 2nd in 1954, and took 3rd in 1955. He became an International Master in 1950. After beginning his chess career in Hungary, he defected to the United States on October 17, 1957. The following year, in 1958, he earned the International Grandmaster title by qualifying for the Bled Candidates Tournament. He also qualified in 1962, placing sixth with wins over both Mikhail Tal and Robert James Fischer. He might have qualified again in 1970, but he ceded his place in the Interzonal to Fischer, who went on to win the World Championship two years later. Benkő took 4th in the 1959 US Championship, 8th in the 1960 US Championship, 4th in the 1961 US Championship, 9th in the 1962 US Championship, 3rd in the 1963 US Championship, 7th in the 1965 US Championship, 3rd in the 1966/67 US Championship, 4th in the 1968 US Championship, 3rd in the 1969 US Championship, 5th in the 1972 US Championship, 5th in the 1973 US Championship, 2nd in the 1974 US Championship, 14th in the 1975 US Championship, and 9th in the 1978 US Championship. He won the US Open eight times. He was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in 1993.

In addition to over-the-board play, Benkő is also noted for having left his name on the Benoni variation called the Benkő Gambit. Today he still lives in the United States. He was married to the late WIM Ruth Cardoso.

Wikipedia article: Pal Benko

 page 1 of 41; games 1-25 of 1,012  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. M Szigeti vs Benko 0-138 1945 BudapestD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
2. Feldman vs Benko 0-139 1945 BudapestA18 English, Mikenas-Carls
3. Benko vs V Toth 0-145 1946 HUN-chD43 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
4. E Bakonyi vs Benko  1-040 1946 HUN-chA19 English, Mikenas-Carls, Sicilian Variation
5. Benko vs G Szilagyi 1-045 1946 Hungarian ChampionshipB14 Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack
6. G Barcza vs Benko 0-155 1946 Hungarian ChampionshipsA06 Reti Opening
7. B Tagmann vs Benko ½-½36 1947 CorrespondenceB03 Alekhine's Defense
8. Benko vs Szabo 1-046 1947 Hungarian ChampionshipE59 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line
9. Benko vs E Gereben ½-½42 1947 HUN-chD13 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Exchange Variation
10. Szily vs Benko ½-½36 1947 HUN-chB67 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...a6 Defense, 8...Bd7
11. G Barcza vs Benko  1-042 1947 HUN-chA22 English
12. C Kottnauer vs Benko  ½-½37 1948 Bad GasteinE94 King's Indian, Orthodox
13. E Gereben vs Benko  ½-½28 1948 BudapestE60 King's Indian Defense
14. Benko vs S Toth  1-045 1948 Bad GasteinE01 Catalan, Closed
15. Benko vs Szily  ½-½68 1948 BudapestD46 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
16. Benko vs Tartakower 0-155 1948 BudapestA53 Old Indian
17. Gligoric vs Benko 1-034 1948 BudapestE28 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch Variation
18. Pirc vs Benko 1-020 1948 JugoslavienD28 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
19. E Gereben vs Benko  ½-½25 1948 Bad GasteinE08 Catalan, Closed
20. Benko vs G Barcza  ½-½43 1948 BudapestE00 Queen's Pawn Game
21. E Bakonyi vs Benko  ½-½31 1948 BudapestC20 King's Pawn Game
22. Smyslov vs Benko  ½-½28 1949 06, BudapestE21 Nimzo-Indian, Three Knights
23. Kotov vs Benko  ½-½41 1949 BudapestE26 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch
24. Benko vs Lilienthal 1-072 1949 BudapestA55 Old Indian, Main line
25. Benko vs Flohr  ½-½33 1949 Budapest (Hungary)A22 English
 page 1 of 41; games 1-25 of 1,012  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Benko wins | Benko loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 10 OF 10 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jul-15-14  Lt.Surena: There were at least 5 other US players (ahead of Bobby) who were eligible to take Benko's place in 1971 Candidate's match when Benko mysteriously quit and refused to play.

* Flushed his chess ambitions down the toilet in a flash. What was Benko's real motivation?

What was USCF's (or its agents) role in the above shenanigans $$$? Did FIDE provide $$$ to Benko or others? Why was Euwe so willing to go along?

Jul-15-14  Granny O Doul: Benko earned a spot in the 1970 Interzonal, not the Candidates. And ceding one's place to another is different from "quitting and refusing to play".
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gregor Samsa Mendel: The story I heard was that after Benko gave up his spot in the 1970 Interzonal, all the other participants in that US Championship tournament were eligible for that spot, and all of them agreed that Fischer should go instead. Maybe they were all paid off, but somehow I doubt it.
Jul-15-14  Lt.Surena: The whole thing smells like a rat. Benko loses all his chess aspirations to pursue Wold championship series in 71 in a flash. Five people eligible to attend ahead of Bobby also lose interest in World Championship title pursuit. FIDE's chief does not even raise an eyebrow.

Was Benko payed off $$$ or otherwise under the table by the USCF or FIDE? How about the other 5 or so players who were eligible ahead of Bobby? Was their silence bought?

Jul-15-14  Jim Bartle: Once again, I'd be happy to look at any evidence you have.
Jul-15-14  zanzibar: <Lt.Surena> how about this...

Every single player in the US realized that, other than Fischer, they would be chewed up and spit out on the ground competing against the Russians (Soviets).

Only Fischer had a chance at winning, and they all knew it.

It would make sense to get out of the way, because, lo and behold, he did win it.

Imagine being known forever as the player that prevented Fischer from winning the WCC - how much is that legacy worth?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: It seems unlucky that American chess players would give up their own title aspirations in favour of Fischer, given his undoubted mediocrity; some sort of conspiracy must have been afoot.

The above is sarcasm.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <GSM: The story I heard was that after Benko gave up his spot in the 1970 Interzonal, all the other participants in that US Championship tournament were eligible for that spot, and all of them agreed that Fischer should go instead....>

This is correct--<all> other non-qualifiers in the 1969 Zonal had to relinquish their rights to Fischer in order for him to take a place at Palma.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Pal Benko's account

<Incidentally, I must point out here that a misconception exists as to how Fischer came to play in the Palma Interzonal in 1970 even though he had not qualified in the previous zonal. It has been widely and erroneously reported in the foreign press that I was paid a certain sum to give up my place in his favor (I had qualified in the 1969 U.S. Championship, which was the zonal and in which Fischer did not play). The idea for me to step down and give Fischer my place was my own; it was made voluntarily and without pressure from anyone. I felt that as one of the world's strongest players he should have the right to participate in that critical Interzonal. The U.S. Chess Federation had always treated me well; by my action I hoped to show my gratitude. (The USCF had given me the opportunity to qualify for the Interzonal in Amsterdam in 1964 by arranging a match between Bisguier, who had qualified, and me, who had not. And there have been many other things for which I am grateful to the USCF.)

The figure $2,000 is sometimes mentioned as the price I was paid for stepping down. Actually, that fee was paid, but it was for my services as second to Reshevsky and Addison at that tournament - and it is the same amount I would have received as an appearance fee had I actually played. The only condition I asked for stepping down was for Fischer to agree not to withdraw from the Interzonal or the ensuing matches should he qualify for them - and he fulfilled this condition. -- Chess Life & Review, July 1975>

Jul-15-14  Sally Simpson: Thank you Tamar.

Though you know and I know you will have to repeat this in about a years time.

Bookmark the post.

Jul-15-14  zanzibar: Second that.

You can do a right-click <Copy Link> on the date of any post to get a quick link directly now.

E.g. Pal Benko

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Sally Simpson> Oh, right, I forgot. I changed my mind anyway.

After all, Benko was a Hungarian, and Fischer had a Hungarian birth father. Supposedly.

In fact, Benko wore sunglasses to disguise his third eye. He was sent here to install Fischer as World Champion, and then play out the role of a problem composer.

Jul-15-14  Lt.Surena: Gotta be very naive to believe the childish explanation by Benko. There must have been big payoff(s) or favors to Benko and the 5 other eligible players (ahead of Bobby). No fool will pursue chess at the highest level (considering the time and energy involved) and then quit when its time for world championship candidates matches.

Scam concocted must have started at USCF with a nod and wink from the top dog (Euwe) at FIDE.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck ...

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Lt.Surena: Gotta be very naive to believe the childish explanation by Benko.>

We should plump for yours instead?

Who is displaying naivete of the first water here?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: <Lt Surena> Is it so unbelievable that, in the interests of American chess, five American players who had no serious title hopes would give up their place to a man who was (rightly) seen as an uncrowned king? Don't you think that they, like every other chess fan on the planet (non-Americans, too), were excited about the prospect of seeing a Spassky-Fischer World Championship Match?
Jul-15-14  zanzibar: <Lt.Surena>

You're entitled to your opinion, which has provoked some discussion here.

But you're starting to sound a bit redundant to my ears...

If it talks like a troll, and trollops like a troll...

Jul-15-14  zanzibar: Oh, yeah, in Mozilla you can do a right-click <Bookmark Link> too, to get a direct "perma-link" to a post bookmarked.

(I'm sure all the other browsers do the same)

Jul-15-14  NBAFan: Happy birthday Mr. Benko!
Jul-15-14  HeMateMe: But for Pal Benko, Bobby Fischer would not have become world champion of chess.
Jul-19-14  Howard: If one wanted to accurately summarize the story of how Fischer got a "free ticket" into the 1970 interzonal, it would go like this...

Fischer opted not to play in the 1969 U.S. championship with the main reason probably being that he had complained for the last few years that it ought to be a longer tournament---he felt that with only 12 players competing (as was the case back in the 1960's), there was too much of a luck element involved. In other words, he felt that a longer tournament would probably produce a more accurate result.

In fact, he had passed up the 1968 event too. The late Larry Evans won it, and it was his third time around.

So the 1969 championship went on without Bobby. Reshevsky, Benko, and Addison took the top three players, and they no doubt were looking forward to the Interzonal, the following year.

But there was this strong nagging feeling among many people--including at the USCF--that given the fact that Fischer was obviously the strongest player in the U.S. (by far !) and also that he was certainly one of the top 6-7 players in the world at the time (before anyone claims that he was #1, keep in mind that he'd not played in any super-tough events in 1968 or 1969---thus, his recent track record was thin, at best.

So the USCF--with Ed Edmondson probably being the leading advocate--contacted FIDE and after a lot of wrangling, debate etc, FIDE stated that if one of the three American qualifers would be willing to step aside and let Fischer go to the interzonal in his place, then FIDE would accept that arrangement.

Benko immediately offered to let Fischer take his place. However, the other nine players in the championship (who'd placed below the top three) had to waive any claims to that spot. In other words, any one of them could have said, in effect, "Well, if Benko doesn't want his spot, then why can't I(!) have it ??! I took part in the 1969 championship and tried hard to make it into the top three but didn't. Fischer opted not to play---that was his decision/fault." Why should he go to the interzonal instead of me or one of the players who took part?"

At any rate, the other players ceded their rights to Fischer, and so he thus "parachuted" into the interzonal.

The rest of the story is, of course, quite well known. Come 1972, Fischer became the 11th world chess championship.

Incidentally, Benko not only commented on the matter in 1975 (as stated above), but in 1981 he did so again in Chess Life (formerly Chess Life and Review). He briefly summarized why he gave his spot to Bobby, and then concluded by saying, "When Fischer became world champion, I was certainly pleased that he justified my decision. But after that..."

Well put, Mr. Benko !

Jul-20-14  Lt.Surena: God forbid the scam was not perpetrated by the the so-called 'Russians' or we would never hear the end of it. Clowns like Evans, Soltis, Browne and Timman would never stop talking/or pounding their chests about it.

Also, FIDE's chief stooge/puppet aka. Euwe would never agree to the scam unless western players benefited from it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Karposian: <Lt.Surena> <Also, FIDE's chief stooge/puppet aka. Euwe would never agree to the scam unless western players benefited from it.>

Utter nonsense. Max Euwe was well-liked and respected by almost everybody. As FIDE president, Euwe usually did what he considered morally right rather than what was politically expedient. An honorable person in every way.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Euwe was indeed a man of honour, quite unlike successors Campomanes and Ilyumzhinov.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Quote of the day:

<Under no circumstances should you play fast if you have a winning position. Forget the clock, Use all your time and make good moves.>

From a man who should know, and nearly always sound practical advice.

Mar-23-15  TheFocus: <According to such great attacking players as Bronstein and Tal, most combinations are inspired by the player's memories of earlier games> - Pal Benko.
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