Pal Benko
Number of games in database: 995
Years covered: 1945 to 2008
Last FIDE rating: 2408
Highest rating achieved in database: 2496
Overall record: +302 -220 =462 (54.2%)*
   * 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 (45) 
    B40 B27 B50 B91 B22
 King's Indian (44) 
    E61 E62 E99 E79 E60
 Reti System (31) 
    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 (151) 
    B32 B42 B84 B36 B57
 King's Indian (52) 
    E60 E80 E62 E81 E92
 Grunfeld (43) 
    D91 D94 D78 D75 D87
 Caro-Kann (24) 
    B17 B14 B18 B13 B10
 Sicilian Scheveningen (22) 
    B84 B81 B80 B82 B83
 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
   J Ragan vs Benko, 1974 0-1
   Bisguier vs Benko, 1963 0-1
   M Szigeti vs Benko, 1945 0-1
   Bronstein vs Benko, 1949 1/2-1/2
   Benko vs Fischer, 1962 1-0
   Benko vs Keres, 1962 1-0
   M Vukic vs Benko, 1967 0-1

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

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

   Huebner vs K Rogoff, 1972

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

(born Jul-15-1928) 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 40; games 1-25 of 995  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Feldman vs Benko 0-139 1945 BudapestA18 English, Mikenas-Carls
2. M Szigeti vs Benko 0-138 1945 BudapestD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
3. Benko vs V Toth 0-145 1946 HUN-chD43 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
4. Benko vs G Szilagyi 1-045 1946 Hungarian ChampionshipB14 Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack
5. G Barcza vs Benko 0-155 1946 Hungarian ChampionshipsA06 Reti Opening
6. B Tagmann vs Benko ½-½36 1947 CorrespondenceB03 Alekhine's Defense
7. Benko vs E Gereben ½-½42 1947 HUN-chD13 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Exchange Variation
8. Szily vs Benko ½-½36 1947 HUN-chB67 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...a6 Defense, 8...Bd7
9. G Barcza vs Benko  1-042 1947 HUN-chA22 English
10. Benko vs Szabo 1-046 1947 Hungarian ChampionshipE59 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line
11. Pirc vs Benko 1-020 1948 JugoslavienD28 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
12. E Gereben vs Benko  ½-½25 1948 Bad GasteinE08 Catalan, Closed
13. E Bakonyi vs Benko  ½-½31 1948 BudapestC20 King's Pawn Game
14. E Gereben vs Benko  ½-½28 1948 BudapestE60 King's Indian Defense
15. Benko vs S Toth  1-045 1948 Bad GasteinE01 Catalan, Closed
16. Gligoric vs Benko 1-034 1948 BudapestE28 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch Variation
17. Benko vs Szily  ½-½68 1948 BudapestD46 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
18. Benko vs G Barcza  ½-½43 1948 BudapestE00 Queen's Pawn Game
19. C Kottnauer vs Benko  ½-½37 1948 Bad GasteinE94 King's Indian, Orthodox
20. Benko vs Tartakower 0-155 1948 BudapestA53 Old Indian
21. Ragozin vs Benko  ½-½39 1949 Budapest (Hungary)B83 Sicilian
22. Bronstein vs Benko ½-½76 1949 Budapest (Hungary)B20 Sicilian
23. Benko vs Simagin  ½-½20 1949 Budapest (Hungary)A05 Reti Opening
24. Benko vs Flohr  ½-½33 1949 Budapest (Hungary)A22 English
25. Benko vs Ragozin 1-042 1949 Budapest (Hungary)A52 Budapest Gambit
 page 1 of 40; games 1-25 of 995  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Benko wins | Benko loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: He looks great, for sure. His book is a treasure, also.

Birthday Happy, Benko Pal. ;)

Jul-15-13  DoctorD: He is a great person too. My only attachment to him is that I wrote the anniversary article for 45 years of the Bafflers, and used to send him the occasional study; and he sent me a hearty reply to my birthday wishes to him per email in a few hours.

The latest CL articles he has been writing on 7 man tablebases are phenomenal stuff. I am sorry that non-USCF members miss out on them.

Jul-15-13  DoctorD: Here is my favorite problem by him:

Pal Benkö
Magyar Sakkelet 08/1968
Helpmate in 6

click for larger view

2 Variations:

a. 1.Rc3 bxc3 2. Rd4 cxd4 3. Be5 dxe5 4. Qf6 exf6 5. Ng7 fxg7 6.Nh8 gxh8=Q#

b. 1.Lc2+ Ke6 2. Rf4 b4 3. Kg7 b5 4. Kf8 b6 5. Ke8 b7 6. Kd8 b8=Q#

Consider the absolute beauty of two perfectly matched solutions; White minimal (just a pawn), double excelsior promotion to queen, once diagonally, eating through practically the entire black army, once down the file without a capture. To name just the high points.

And this was done perfectly in 1968, before any sort of computer help for this sort of problem was possible.

I am quite certain Benko is the best all-round chess player of all time (Opening, Middlegame, Endgame, and Problem Composition). Only Keres could be said to be above him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  brankat: Happy Birthday GM Benko!
Jul-16-13  DoctorD:
Aug-29-13  Penguincw: Quote of the Day

" Kibitzer's don't play, they kibitz; they always know what you should have played, and they will tell you without being asked... it's almost impossible to shut them up. "


Jan-07-14  ooda: Today's quote

<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>

I feel like this attitude can create a problem like Ivanchuk's with some players though, where it seems like one of the causes of him flagging more often than is healthy.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: Bill Wall in

<In March 1952, he played in a team match in Goerlitz, East Germany. He then went to East Berlin, and then took the subway to West Berlin. At the time, he was thinking of defecting to the West. Benko started running back to West Berlin but was caught, arrested and taken to prison. He was accused of being an American spy. The police thought that his correspondence game chess notation found in his letters and postcards was secret code. He was put in prison for a year and a half (until October, 1953). His friend, Geza Fuster, did defect during this time.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: He has recently retired from doing his endgame column in Chess Life after 45 years
Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: <plang: He has recently retired from doing his endgame column in Chess Life after 45 years.>

What would that leave of any value to an issue of Chess Life?

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <parisattack> Absolutely nothing. When my postman delivers my <Chess Life> to me, I just hang my head and walk away in shame.

What was once a great magazine isn't even worth reading now.

Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: <TheFocus> I haven't been inclined to purchase an issue in 4-5 years. Indeed, quite sad; national chess magazine (and association IMHO) total waste.

Congratulations on your Award!! Can I get a ride in your new Lamborghini Aventador when I come over in April? Wonder where Daniel gets the money for all those cool prizes; the kid must be loaded.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: I am going to be styling and profiling in Waikiki. Going to Morton's for steak and champagne tonight.
Jan-16-14  SChesshevsky: <plang: He has recently retired from doing his endgame column in Chess Life after 45 years>

By coincidence I just pulled out his "Pal Benko's Endgame Laboratory" book yesterday. A collection of his columns from the 80's. What's great about the book, besides being an excellent read, is that it looks like the publisher basically put it together with a copier machine. Making copies of the articles and semi-organizing them.

Reminds me of the pamphlets and monographs that made up a big part of chess theory a long time ago.

Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: <Schesshevsky By coincidence I just pulled out his "Pal Benko's Endgame Laboratory" book yesterday. A collection of his columns from the 80's. What's great about the book, besides being an excellent read, is that it looks like the publisher basically put it together with a copier machine. Making copies of the articles and semi-organizing them.>

If same as I have and thinking of two perfect-bind volumes? I paid about $100 for my set :( and was some disappointed to see how they were printed and that they were just reprints of his columns (as fantastic as those were, of course).

Chess Digest/Ken Smith famous for the monographs. But that was what we had to work with back then before the British Invasion.

Jan-16-14  SChesshevsky: <parisattack: If same as I have and thinking of two perfect-bind volumes? I paid about $100 for my set.>

You are fortunate to have the classic set. I came across a cheaper paperback version on Amazon. I was hoping to find a Benko book that resembled his old Chess Life & Review annotated games column and noticed the Endgame Lab book. How he made endgame study useful and entertaining was remarkable.

Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: Okay, since we are on this subject...

My last issue of Chess Life is from Nov. 2012, and looking at page 4, where contents are listed, I see this:

page 12 Looks at Books by Dr. & WIM A. Root

Page 16 Chess to Enjoy GM Soltis

Page 18 Solitaire Chess by Pandolfini

Page 40 Back to Basics (Reader Annotations) by GM Alburt

Page 42 Endgame Lab by GM Benko

In between are 'coverages' of tournaments, and what nots.

The whole 'magazine' is 44 pages, everything from page 45 to 71 are ads, local tournaments, national tournaments, chess sets for sale, clocks for sale, books, upcoming tournament ads, etc...

And then, on page 72, is the I. Krush article, "My Best Move"...

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I have often seen game headers give him as <Pal C Benko>. What does the C stand for?
Feb-24-14  torrefan: Most likely Chum, considering his given name.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Thank you for that datum. I have amended my records accordingly.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Karpova: <What does the C stand for?>

His full name is Pál Charles Benkő. Source for the middlename is Gaige's 'Chess Personalia', p. 32.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Charles. How delightfully western.

Over the coming weeks I shall discern between the opposing opinions of <torrefan> and <Jeremy Gaige> and make my decision accordingly.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: The following game was played in the 1963 Atlantic Open over Washington's Birthday ( whenever that is ) at New York. Benko shared 1st place with Ariel Mengarini each scoring 5 1/2 - 1/2. Don't know what the opponent's first name is either.

[Event "Atlantic Open"]
[Site "New York, USA"]
[Date "1963.??.??"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "?"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Benko, Pal Charles"]
[Black "Lilly"]
[ECO "C07"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "47"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. Ngf3 Nc6 5. exd5 Qxd5 6. Bc4 Qd8 7. O-O cxd4 8. Nb3 Nf6 9. Qe2 Be7 10. Rd1 O-O 11. Nbxd4 Nxd4 12. Nxd4 Qc7 13. Nb5 Qc6 14. Bf4 Bd7 15. Nd6 a6 16. Bb3 Rad8 17. Rd3 Bxd6 18. Bxd6 Rfe8 19. Be5 Nd5 20. Rad1 Ne7 21. Qd2 Ng6 22. Bc3 Re7 23. Bb4 Nh4 24. Qg5 1-0

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Paul> Here in the States, the birthdays of two presidents were long celebrated on their dates in February: Lincoln on 12 and Washington on 22.

Since the 1980s, the official holiday has become Presidents Day and never falls on either actual birthday, always being the third Monday of the month.

There are days I feel my age, as I got to play the two first-prize winners in that event, weeks apart in 1992.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <Alan> thanks. I'm afraid I've as much idea about holidays in America as I do about the holidays in Botswana.


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