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Pal Benko vs Israel Albert Horowitz
"Benko Bunco" (game of the day Sep-02-2020)
United States Championship (1968), New York, NY USA, rd 9, Jul-??
Reti Opening: Anglo-Slav. Bogoljubow Variation Stonewall Line (A12)  ·  1-0



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Given 41 times; par: 27 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jul-29-19  gambitfan: 1) +1.77 (21 ply) 17.♘xf7 ♖xf7 18.♗xd5 ♕f8 19.♖xa1 ♖d8 20.♗c4 b6 21.e3 ♗c5 22.♖c1 ♕e7 23.a4 ♖f8 24.♖d1 ♔h8 25.♗xf7 ♖xf7 26.♖d8+ ♖f8 27.♖xf8+ ♕xf8 28.♕d5 ♕d6 29.♕a8+ ♕f8 30.♕e4 ♕e7 31.♗e5 ♔g8 32.♔g2 ♔h8 33.♕a8+ ♕f8 34.♕xf8+ ♗xf8
Jul-29-19  King.Arthur.Brazil: Monday started well... Phillidor teached: ♕g8+ ♖xg8 ♘f7+... :-)
Jul-29-19  King.Arthur.Brazil: I don't know the reason why White has to be so passive <gambitfan: 17.♘xf7 ♖xf7 18.♗xd5 ♕f8 19.♖xa1 ♖d8> {20.Bxf7+ Qxf7 21.Qxa5 Qe6 22.Qe5 and White has 2♙ to win the game. It is not easy, but is best than proposed.
Jul-29-19  Damenlaeuferbauer: After long pondering, my old friend Pal finally found the smothered mate with 20.Qg8+!,Rxg8 21.Nf7#. This miniature against Al Horowitz is tactically as well as positionally impressive and will be remembered as one of Pal's masterpieces of the royal game!
Premium Chessgames Member
  gawain: The good old Monday smothered mate. Always gratifying.
Jul-29-19  erdogankilic: My 7 year old daughter saw it at first glance:))
Jul-29-19  PhilFeeley: I'm always glad to see strong players fall prey to stuff like this. It makes some of my losses seem not so bad.
Jul-30-19  andrewjsacks: Embarrassing.
Feb-04-20  Cheapo by the Dozen: This cries out for a GoTD pun.

Since there's swindling involved and also Pal Benko, there's Bunco or Benko Squad.

Sep-02-20  spingo: On <Dragnet>, Joe Friday worked on the Bunco Squad, which was set up to catch conmen. One of the conmen he caught was a fictionalised Norman Whitaker.
Sep-02-20  Phony Benoni: I am reminded of an opening I once thought up, the "Bunco Gambit"

<1.e4 Nc6 2.f4 f5 3.e5 g5!?>

A profound positional concept, but it has certain tactical weaknesses.

Sep-02-20  Infohunter: <Phony Benoni:

<1.e4 Nc6 2.f4 f5 3.e5 g5!?>

A profound positional concept, but it has certain tactical weaknesses.>

Yes, certain ones.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <spingo: On <Dragnet>, Joe Friday worked on the Bunco Squad, which was set up to catch conmen. One of the conmen he caught was a fictionalised Norman Whitaker.>

The episode is called The Big Grifter. Norman Tweed Whitaker 's name is changd to Wallace.

It can be found in many places on the internet, e.g.

Sep-02-20  Brenin: I needed a dictionary to understand the pun. Apparently "bunco" means "swindling" or "cheating", which hardly describes Benko's well-played win here. Horowitz could have avoided the smothered mate with 19 ... Qe8, but after 20 Bxa1 his position is hopeless, e.g. 20 ... Bxa3 21 Nf5.
Sep-02-20  Cheapo by the Dozen: I stand by the claim that Horowitz was basically trapped or swindled. If he'd resisted chasing the a1 rook he would have been at only a mild disadvantage, but every move he made from 14 onward just got him deeper into trouble.
Sep-02-20  Brenin: <Cheapo by the Dozen>: To me, a swindle in chess occurs when a player in a markedly superior position falls for some tactical trap, thus losing that superiority. I don't think Black was ever in a superior position in this game: in a fairly even position he simply made an unwise choice to go for the R on a1, and paid the price for it.
Sep-02-20  jith1207: I'm also of the opinion that's shared by <Brenin>.

For example, <Fusilli> talks about swindling in one of his games here :

C Polk vs M Sana, 2016 (kibitz #1)

<This was a last round game and I played in too much of a free-spirit style. I got a desperately lost position but swindled the game with the pretty trick at the end>

Sep-02-20  RookFile: I'm sure you guys all know that Horowitz was the co-author of a book called Chess Traps, Pitfalls and Swindles.
Sep-02-20  Brenin: Thanks for the reminder, <Rookfile>, I'd forgotten that book. Horowitz certainly pitfell in this game.
Sep-02-20  Shrinarayanan: Benko's winning games are generally rare.
Sep-02-20  TheBish: The pun would have been a bit better spelled "Benko Bunko". When you look up "bunco" in, it refers you to "bunko" (main spelling), so why not stay consistent with the k's? Then the two words differ by a single vowel.
Sep-02-20  Cheapo by the Dozen: <Brenin>,

In your preferred definitiion, there is almost no such thing as an opening trap. I disagree.


I'm surprised that so many dictionaries favor the "k" spelling, because common usage seems to be all on the "c" side. So it didn't occur to me to look. My bad.

Sep-02-20  TheBish: <Cheapo by the Dozen>,

Not a big deal. I just happen to be a perfectionist. And for that I blame my dad! If I brought home a report card with five A's and one B, he wanted to know what happened with that one B. And don't get me started on grammar! Let's just say "better than she" was a typical utterance. He had strict teachers growing up!

Sep-02-20  jith1207: <Cheapo by the Dozen>: swindling is, as I always have come across, as the player in worse position managing to find a tactic that the opponent misses to turn the tables for the former. I think that's why traps and pitfalls have different definitions.

Anyway, I think Bunco game is a type of bluffing, and not exactly swindling and the game could be fitting the pun in that sense, so didn't consider that as a mismatch, but just calling this game as swindle seems to be.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <jith1207: <Cheapo by the Dozen>: swindling is, as I always have come across, as the player in worse position managing to find a tactic that the opponent misses to turn the tables for the former. I think that's why traps and pitfalls have different definitions.>

I agree. I think the conditions for a swindle are:

a) Player A is lost.
b) Player A sets up a trap.
c) Player B falls for the trap.
d) As a consequence, Player A wins the game.

Notice, then, the following corollaries, if that's the correct word:

a) A trap that is set up in a not-lost position does not qualify. It's just a trap.

b) There has to be agency on the part of Player A--he/she intentionally sets up the trap... it doesn't just fall on his/her lap. If Player B blunders, without trap and without Player A's agency, and Player A wins, that's not a swindle, that's called blundering the game.

c) Player B cooperates by falling for the trap, while still having winning alternative moves.

d) Player A has to win. "Swindle" should be applied if it works to the end. Not if the evaluation of the position changes but Player A ends up not winning.

Makes sense? Feel free to refute or suggest improvements!

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