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Pal Benko
Number of games in database: 1,039
Years covered: 1945 to 2008
Last FIDE rating: 2408
Highest rating achieved in database: 2496

Overall record: +333 -226 =469 (55.2%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 11 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 English (64) 
    A15 A10 A13 A17 A16
 Sicilian (49) 
    B40 B27 B28 B36 B50
 King's Indian (45) 
    E62 E61 E80 E60 E99
 Reti System (33) 
    A04 A05 A06
 Queen's Gambit Declined (24) 
    D37 D35 D30 D31 D38
 Queen's Indian (24) 
    E17 E19 E14 E15 E12
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (159) 
    B32 B42 B84 B36 B57
 King's Indian (52) 
    E60 E80 E62 E81 E98
 Grunfeld (46) 
    D91 D78 D94 D75 D87
 Caro-Kann (25) 
    B17 B14 B18 B13 B11
 Sicilian Scheveningen (25) 
    B84 B80 B81 B82 B83
 Pirc (21) 
    B09 B08 B07
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Benko vs I A Horowitz, 1968 1-0
   Benko vs Sawyer, 1964 1-0
   Bisguier vs Benko, 1963 0-1
   Benko vs Suttles, 1964 1-0
   Benko vs Fischer, 1962 1-0
   M Szigeti vs Benko, 1945 0-1
   M Vukic vs Benko, 1967 0-1
   J Ragan vs Benko, 1974 0-1
   Bronstein vs Benko, 1949 1/2-1/2
   Benko vs Taimanov, 1960 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   US Championship 1963/64 (1963)
   US Championship (1966)
   Portoroz Interzonal (1958)
   Las Palmas (1972)
   Curacao Candidates (1962)
   Palma de Mallorca (1968)
   First Piatigorsky Cup (1963)
   Stockholm Interzonal (1962)
   US Championship 1958/59 (1958)
   Hastings 1973/74 (1973)
   Budapest (1952)
   Lone Pine (1977)
   Buenos Aires (1960)
   Lone Pine (1978)
   Lone Pine (1979)

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

   Huebner vs K Rogoff, 1972

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FIDE player card for Pal Benko

(born Jul-15-1928, 89 years old) France (federation/nationality 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 42; games 1-25 of 1,039  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Feldman vs Benko 0-1391945BudapestA18 English, Mikenas-Carls
2. M Szigeti vs Benko 0-1381945BudapestD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
3. E Bakonyi vs Benko  1-0401946HUN-chA19 English, Mikenas-Carls, Sicilian Variation
4. Benko vs G Szilagyi 1-0451946Hungarian ChampionshipB14 Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack
5. Benko vs V Toth 0-1451946HUN-chD43 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
6. G Barcza vs Benko 0-1551946Hungarian ChampionshipsA06 Reti Opening
7. G Barcza vs Benko  1-0421947HUN-chA22 English
8. B Tagmann vs Benko ½-½361947CorrespondenceB03 Alekhine's Defense
9. Szily vs Benko ½-½361947HUN-chB67 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...a6 Defense, 8...Bd7
10. Benko vs Szabo 1-0461947Hungarian ChampionshipE59 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line
11. Benko vs E Gereben ½-½421947HUN-chD13 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Exchange Variation
12. E Bakonyi vs Benko  ½-½311948BudapestC20 King's Pawn Game
13. Gligoric vs Benko 1-0341948BudapestE28 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch Variation
14. Benko vs Szily  ½-½681948BudapestD46 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
15. Pirc vs Benko 1-0201948JugoslavienD28 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
16. E Gereben vs Benko  ½-½281948BudapestE60 King's Indian Defense
17. Benko vs G Barcza  ½-½431948BudapestE00 Queen's Pawn Game
18. Benko vs Tartakower 0-1551948BudapestA53 Old Indian
19. E Gereben vs Benko  ½-½251948Bad GasteinE08 Catalan, Closed
20. C Kottnauer vs Benko  ½-½371948Bad GasteinE95 King's Indian, Orthodox, 7...Nbd7, 8.Re1
21. Benko vs S Toth 1-0451948Bad GasteinE01 Catalan, Closed
22. Benko vs Kotov  ½-½511949?A54 Old Indian, Ukrainian Variation, 4.Nf3
23. Benko vs Lilienthal 1-0721949Budapest-MoscowA55 Old Indian, Main line
24. Benko vs Bronstein ½-½1061949Budapest-MoscowD75 Neo-Grunfeld, Nxd5, 7.O-O c5, 8.dxc5
25. Benko vs Flohr  ½-½331949Budapest-MoscowA22 English
 page 1 of 42; games 1-25 of 1,039  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 11 OF 11 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <When you defend, try not to worry or become upset. Keep your cool and trust your position - it's all you've got> - Pal Benko.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <I always urge players to study composed problems and endgames> - Pal Benko.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Under no circumstances should you play fast if you have a winning position. Forget the clock, use all your time and make good moves> - Pal Benko.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <As to me, to be quite honest I feel rather ill at ease because against me Benko plays calmly and clearly> - Tigran Petrosian.
Jun-30-15  Xeroxx: nice quotes.
Premium Chessgames Member
  hansj: Happy Birthday Grandmaster Benko! I absolutely love your birthday problem compositions this year! Fascinating!
Jul-17-15  NBAFan: Puzzles from 4th of July:

I really enjoyed the first one.

Aug-19-15  wrap99: I note that Benko played Tartakower and T. is arguably of Lasker's generation of players (although much younger, he was active as early as 1905). Would Averbakh have played someone from that "generation" -- a quick look at his games indicates that he did not. Of course until recently there was Lilienthal but perhaps Benko inherited that torch.
Aug-19-15  Retireborn: <wrap99> Ossip Bernstein and Hans Johner were still playing in 1961(!), but they were around 10 and 20 years younger than Lasker; I don't think they ever played Benko or Averbakh, sadly.
Aug-19-15  wrap99: <Retireborn> And so it does look like Benko may be the last to have played such a person. I think Benko and Bisguier are also the last GMs who played in the US championships of the 1960s.
Aug-19-15  Caissanist: Averbakh played Levenfish, who was only two years younger than Tartakower. Levenfish was the only leading pre-revolutionary player who stayed in the Soviet Union for very long, so he was the oldest player that many top Soviet GMs played. He stayed strong and active for quite some time--Korchnoi played him in a Soviet championship.
Aug-20-15  wrap99: Looks like Barden, the player of the day also played Tartokower and Mieses -- the latter is really of Lasker's generation.
Mar-26-16  Howard: Excellent article about Benko in the most recent issue of New in Chess !
Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: This bio says he resides in the states. I was under the impression he stayed in Hungary? Does the NEW IN CHESS article shed any light? thanks in advance!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: He stayed in Hungary. 58 years ago. Maybe this helps.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: It would be nice to know exactly when he returned to Hungary.

This 2008 NYT article mentions that he stayed in the US for decades...

<He was allowed to leave Hungary in 1958 and settled in the United States, where he lived for decades before returning to his homeland.>

Although I thought he wasn't "allowed to leave", but rather defected. Hmmm... McClain should have that more accurate I would think.

Anywho, here's pictures of Benko at 85 in his homeland, styling as only he can...

(Check out part 2 as well)

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Right, <CB> agrees with <CG> as for 1957 being the year of his defection:

< In 1957 the US Embassy in Reykjavik welcomed his request to defect to the USA. They even arranged a press conference for him to explain why he did not want to return to Hungary. Obviously, he served their political agenda. In October of the same year, he reached New York.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: His USCF bio gives the year as 1958, hmmm....

<After this experience he was determined to escape to the West. In 1958, he played in a chess tournament in Rejkjavik. He waltzed right into the American embassy in Iceland, asked for and received a visa.>

Sep-18-16  Granny O Doul: I don't know about right now, but for years and years, before and after all the '89 stuff, Benko spent about half the year in America and half in Hungary.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Yes, the USCF link I gave above had this bio in a sidebar:


Rating: 2525
Birthdate: 7-15-1928
Birthplace: Budapest
Residence: New York/Budapest


But again, don't know how current it is. And it would be nice to know what is the correct year for his move to the US (1957 or 1958?).

Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: <zanzibar> He also was in Europe during the early to mid 90's.....he probably just shuttles back and forth. But just about any articles on him from say the last 25 years place him in Hungary. thanks for responding!
Jul-15-17  Ironmanth: Happy birthday, Grandmaster! Always appreciate to this day your analyses at the World Opens I have attended over the years. Blessings to you, sir, for your unmatched contributions to endgame understanding.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ketchuplover: HBD young man :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingfu: Happy Birthday. Great quotes from you about Chess. Thank you Focus. I like the one about Viktor.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ColeTrane: Legacy
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