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Pal Benko

Number of games in database: 1,395
Years covered: 1945 to 2008
Last FIDE rating: 2408
Highest rating achieved in database: 2496
Overall record: +488 -255 =642 (58.4%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 10 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 English (86) 
    A15 A16 A17 A13 A14
 King's Indian (63) 
    E61 E62 E60 E80 E99
 Sicilian (61) 
    B27 B36 B40 B52 B53
 Reti System (43) 
    A04 A05 A06
 King's Indian Attack (38) 
    A07 A08
 English, 1 c4 c5 (34) 
    A36 A34 A30 A37 A38
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (216) 
    B32 B84 B42 B57 B81
 King's Indian (63) 
    E60 E80 E62 E81 E75
 Grunfeld (56) 
    D78 D75 D97 D91 D94
 Sicilian Scheveningen (38) 
    B84 B81 B80 B83 B82
 Pirc (32) 
    B09 B08 B07
 Caro-Kann (29) 
    B17 B14 B18 B12 B15
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Benko vs I A Horowitz, 1968 1-0
   Benko vs Sawyer, 1964 1-0
   A 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
   J Ragan vs Benko, 1974 0-1
   Benko vs Najdorf, 1963 1-0
   M Vukic vs Benko, 1967 0-1
   Benko vs Taimanov, 1960 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   62nd US Open (1961)
   10th Costa del Sol (1970)
   Hungarian Championship (1954)
   67th US Open (1966)
   Reggio Emilia 1970/71 (1971)
   Hungarian Championship (1950)
   Dublin Zonal (1957)
   Sarajevo (1984)
   Hungarian Championship (1955)
   Portoroz Interzonal (1958)
   Caracas (1970)
   Hungarian Championship (1951)
   Stockholm Interzonal (1962)
   Palma de Mallorca (1968)
   Buenos Aires (1960)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   0ZeR0's Favorite Games Volume 12 by 0ZeR0
   Benko plays the Benko Gambit by webbing1947
   Benko plays the Benko Gambit by takchess
   Las Palmas 1972 by Tabanus
   Wijk aan Zee Hoogovens 1972 by suenteus po 147
   Palma de Mallorca 1971 by Tabanus
   Wijk aan Zee Hoogovens 1969 by suenteus po 147
   Hastings 1973/74 by suenteus po 147
   Hoogovens 1972 by Tabanus
   Wijk aan Zee Hoogovens 1970 by suenteus po 147

   Huebner vs K Rogoff, 1972

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Pal Benko
Search Google for Pal Benko

(born Jul-15-1928, died Aug-26-2019, 91 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.

The Benko Gambit (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5) and Benko's Opening (1.g3) are named for him. He lived in the United States until his death on August 26, 2019.

Wikipedia article: Pal Benko

Last updated: 2022-01-31 09:18:13

 page 1 of 56; games 1-25 of 1,395  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. M Szigeti vs Benko 0-1381945BudapestD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
2. Feldman vs Benko 0-1391945BudapestA18 English, Mikenas-Carls
3. E Bakonyi vs Benko  1-0401946HUN-chA19 English, Mikenas-Carls, Sicilian Variation
4. Benko vs V L Szentkiralyi Toth 0-1451946HUN-chD43 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
5. Barcza vs Benko 0-1551946HUN-chA06 Reti Opening
6. Benko vs G Szilagyi 1-0451946HUN-chB14 Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack
7. Benko vs E Gereben ½-½421947HUN-chD13 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Exchange Variation
8. Barcza vs Benko  1-0421947HUN-chA22 English
9. J Szily vs Benko ½-½361947HUN-chB67 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...a6 Defense, 8...Bd7
10. B Tagmann vs Benko ½-½361947olm1 qual GP6 B5 corrB03 Alekhine's Defense
11. Benko vs Szabo 1-0461947HUN-chE59 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line
12. K Piskov vs Benko  ½-½5519472nd Balkaniad (men)A15 English
13. V Urseanu vs Benko  0-12919472nd Balkaniad (men)D97 Grunfeld, Russian
14. Benko vs S Puc  ½-½3519472nd Balkaniad (men)A08 King's Indian Attack
15. Pirc vs Benko 1-0201948JugoslavienD28 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
16. Benko vs J Szily  ½-½681948BudapestD46 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
17. Benko vs Pachman  ½-½411948BudapestE09 Catalan, Closed
18. B H Wood vs Benko  0-1301948BudapestD97 Grunfeld, Russian
19. Benko vs Tartakower 0-1551948BudapestA53 Old Indian
20. E Bakonyi vs Benko  ½-½311948BudapestC20 King's Pawn Game
21. Foltys vs Benko  0-1561948BudapestB83 Sicilian
22. Gligoric vs Benko 1-0341948BudapestE28 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch Variation
23. Szabo vs Benko  1-0401948BudapestD97 Grunfeld, Russian
24. E Gereben vs Benko  ½-½281948BudapestE60 King's Indian Defense
25. Benko vs Barcza  ½-½431948BudapestE00 Queen's Pawn Game
 page 1 of 56; games 1-25 of 1,395  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 13 OF 13 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Aug-27-19  Joshka: Bobby was always enamored with Benko. He looked up to him, liked his style...the way he handled women, his fashion for clothes, all around tough guy...he just had a tremendous respect for the man. Benko I'm sure always let Bobby know when he was out of line that's for sure.
Aug-28-19  parisattack: Rest well, Benko Pal! Your games and especially your compositions will continue to bring joy and instruction to many.
Aug-28-19  morfishine: Benko was a great chess player who loved the game, who loved his chosen profession, who loved everything about chess and life

What more could one want or aspire to do?

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <the way he handled women> Benko always portrayed himself as a player - I always took it with a pinch of salt.
Aug-28-19  ewan14: Never mind his endgame compositions he popularised the dreaded ( for me at least ) Benko Gambit. RIP
Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: Sadly few of the GMs remain from Pal Benko's chess era. I had the privilege of meeting many of them. Pal Benko I had the opportunity to meet several times at NY area tournaments, but particularly at Danny Kopec's summer chess camp where he was the GM instructor at the Lawrenceville School in NJ in 2002. I liked Pal Benko's endgame columns and was fascinated by his expertise on endgame studies. I have his highly instructive, self published endgame book. May he rest in peace.
Aug-29-19  Chessmusings: Benko’s Greatest Sacrifice:
Sep-06-19  mckmac: <"The End of the Golden Era of Chess"

The recent passing of Pal Benko and Shelby Lyman draws the curtain on an American period that produced some of the game’s most sparkling play.>

Sep-06-19  Granny O Doul: I'll admit I'm always chuffed when chess makes the "culture" section of anything. The late William Lombardy though lamented the long-ago migration of the New York Times chess column (RIP) from "sports" to "arts & leisure", which he thought made the game seem esoteric and artsy-fartsy.
Premium Chessgames Member
  wwall: I updated Benko's bio at

I tried to add as much information as I can without taking away anything from Benko & Silman's book on Benko and his life. Very good book.

Oct-26-19  Caissanist: Jeremy Silman wrote a two-part obituary of Benko for that includes many games annotated by Benko: .
Aug-14-20  pazzed paun: An odd player
Much stronger with white than black
Never really get the hang of American style tournaments ..just bled rating points for years
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <pazzed paun....Never really get [sic] the hang of American style tournaments ..just bled rating points for years>

I call this poster's attention to the following excerpt from the bio above:

<....(Benko) won the US Open eight times....>

By no means bad for someone who 'never got the hang' of Swiss events.

Aug-14-20  pazzed paun: Trivial tournament to play in the us opens ..time pressure addict Underperformed every u.s. championship he played in. A strong finish at Hastings would have given him invites to good European tournaments
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Trivial tournament to play in the us opens....>

How many US Opens have you won? More than Benko did? Ten?

Aug-14-20  pazzed paun: If you limit yourself to a us open ,you become no better than Walter Browne not finishing in the top half of an Interzonal never making the candidates. If Nakamura Caruana So had limited themselves to the us open they would have never made FIDE top 60
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <pazzed paun>, I'll make this nice and simple so even you understand it: Benko and Browne were professionals playing mostly here in USA (though Benko spent much of each year in Europe).

If you bother looking at Browne's tournament record, you will notice that he often played in Europe.

Would have become even stronger had he lived in Europe? We shall never know.

As for Benko, he was nearly thirty when he escaped the Hungarian Revolution, yet still managed to qualify for consecutive Candidates tournaments. There were few opportunities for professionals in this country pre-Fischer, and even with larger fields and more prize money, everything was fiercely contested.

Aug-15-20  pazzed paun: It is funny that you compare Benko play and average opponent in the Interzonal and his severe underperforming at the us Championship looks like two different players Fischer was not impressed with Benkos chess ..Fischer’s repotoire is a carbon copy of Boleslavsky whose best games book he praised ..Benko repotoire is not used by Fischer ,and Fischer ignored benkos games
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: In the 1960's Pal Benko put his name to a range of chess clocks - has anyone used one of these clocks?

Premium Chessgames Member
  technical draw: Benko gave up his spot in the interzonal to Fischer. He was a real Pal.
Jan-31-22  jerseybob: <pazzed paun: Fischer was not impressed with Benkos chess ..Fischer’s repotoire is a carbon copy of Boleslavsky whose best games book he praised ..Benko repotoire is not used by Fischer ,and Fischer ignored Benkos games> Fischer's opening repertoire and style were much closer to Boleslavsky than to Benko, that much is true, but about him ignoring Benko's games, I doubt it. Bobby obsessively studied everybody's games. And later in his career he often took a Benko-like approach to playing white.
Jan-31-22  SChesshevsky: <Fischer was not impressed with Benkos chess...>

Benko was a chess innovator and artist. With lots of ideas that were interesting but probably many that were marginally sound. Fischer mostly had contempt for any chess that might be even slightly unsound no matter how interesting. So the two were like apples and oranges.

Think lots of Benko's ideas have aged pretty well. WC Magnus not shy about the Benko Gambit and think Pal's chess compositions still hold up.

Have a book that compiles all his old endgame columns from USCF chess magazine. Very useful info in a relatively concise format. Can recommend, though ashamed to admit I haven't studied it nearly enough.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Fischer was not impressed with Benkos chess...>

Benko's right hander left a mark.

Jun-26-22  lonchaney: Chess composer

Published works list

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Today's <QOTD>: <Bobby was afraid that if he had defended against Karpov in 1975, the Russians would have had him murdered.> --- Pal Benko

I assume this means before the match would take place. Murdering him during the match would surely look highly suspicious. After the match would either be too late or unnecessary.

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