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Pal Benko
Number of games in database: 1,109
Years covered: 1945 to 2008
Last FIDE rating: 2408
Highest rating achieved in database: 2496

Overall record: +366 -233 =499 (56.1%)*
   * 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 (66) 
    A15 A16 A10 A17 A13
 King's Indian (49) 
    E62 E61 E99 E79 E70
 Sicilian (46) 
    B40 B27 B30 B36 B50
 Reti System (36) 
    A04 A05 A06
 King's Indian Attack (30) 
    A07 A08
 English, 1 c4 c5 (26) 
    A36 A34 A30 A38 A37
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (170) 
    B32 B42 B84 B36 B57
 King's Indian (56) 
    E60 E80 E62 E81 E95
 Grunfeld (48) 
    D78 D91 D94 D75 D87
 Sicilian Scheveningen (29) 
    B84 B80 B81 B83 B82
 Caro-Kann (25) 
    B17 B14 B18 B13 B12
 Pirc (23) 
    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
   M Szigeti vs Benko, 1945 0-1
   J Ragan vs Benko, 1974 0-1
   Benko vs Fischer, 1962 1-0
   M Vukic vs Benko, 1967 0-1
   Benko vs Taimanov, 1960 1-0
   Bronstein vs Benko, 1949 1/2-1/2

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Dublin Zonal (1957)
   US Championship 1961/62 (1961)
   US Championship 1963/64 (1963)
   US Championship (1966)
   Portoroz Interzonal (1958)
   Las Palmas (1972)
   US Championship (1972)
   Curacao Candidates (1962)
   Stockholm Interzonal (1962)
   First Piatigorsky Cup (1963)
   Palma de Mallorca (1968)
   Budapest (1952)
   Buenos Aires (1960)
   Lone Pine (1975)
   Lone Pine (1978)

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

   Huebner vs K Rogoff, 1972

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FIDE player card 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 openings 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. He was married to the late WIM Ruth Cardoso.

Wikipedia article: Pal Benko

Last updated: 2019-08-26 23:48:03

 page 1 of 45; games 1-25 of 1,112  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. Benko vs G Szilagyi 1-0451946HUN-chB14 Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack
4. E Bakonyi vs Benko  1-0401946HUN-chA19 English, Mikenas-Carls, Sicilian Variation
5. G Barcza vs Benko 0-1551946HUN-chA06 Reti Opening
6. Benko vs S T V Lukas 0-1451946HUN-chD43 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
7. Benko vs E Gereben ½-½421947HUN-chD13 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Exchange Variation
8. G Barcza vs Benko  1-0421947HUN-chA22 English
9. Benko vs Szabo 1-0461947HUN-chE59 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line
10. Szily vs Benko ½-½361947HUN-chB67 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...a6 Defense, 8...Bd7
11. B Tagmann vs Benko ½-½361947CorrespondenceB03 Alekhine's Defense
12. Pirc vs Benko 1-0201948JugoslavienD28 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
13. E Gereben vs Benko  ½-½281948BudapestE60 King's Indian Defense
14. E Bakonyi vs Benko  ½-½311948BudapestC20 King's Pawn Game
15. Benko vs G Barcza  ½-½431948BudapestE00 Queen's Pawn Game
16. Gligoric vs Benko 1-0341948BudapestE28 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch Variation
17. Benko vs Tartakower 0-1551948BudapestA53 Old Indian
18. Benko vs Szily  ½-½681948BudapestD46 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
19. C Kottnauer vs Benko  ½-½371948Bad GasteinE95 King's Indian, Orthodox, 7...Nbd7, 8.Re1
20. Benko vs S T V Lukas 1-0451948Bad GasteinE01 Catalan, Closed
21. E R Lundin vs Benko  1-0171948Bad GasteinE02 Catalan, Open, 5.Qa4
22. E Gereben vs Benko  ½-½251948Bad GasteinE08 Catalan, Closed
23. Benko vs Kotov  ½-½511949?A54 Old Indian, Ukrainian Variation, 4.Nf3
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 45; games 1-25 of 1,112  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
  Diademas: Sad indeed. RIP Pal Benko.
Premium Chessgames Member
  gezafan: Benko wrote an excellent endgame column for the US chess magazine Chess Life. He also did a revision of Reuben Fine's Basic Chess Endings.

RIP Pal Benko

Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: At death Benko was the second oldest living chess grandmaster and second oldest living Candidate.

The new top 3 for grandmasters is Averbakh, Matanovic, Krogius.

The new top 3 for Candidates is Averbakh, Ivkov, Olafsson.

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: It's always sad to post this, especially here: May he rest in peace!
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: If Benko doesn't let Bob have his place in the '71 Candidates, Fischer never becomes world champion.

Botvinnik, on Benko's magnus opus Endgame book: "GM Benko has completed a remarkable achievement."

Benko v. Botvinnik <Benko vs Botvinnik, 1968>

Aug-27-19  Eastfrisian: Rest in peace, Master Benkö.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: RIP, maestro.
Aug-27-19  SaitamaSeason2: here is one of the news about his death Very sad to hear about his death. RIP Pal Benko. A true gentleman.
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: The first GM I ever met.

RIP GM Pal Benko.

Aug-27-19  Justin Flint:
Premium Chessgames Member
  Parachessus: Very sad news, we lose yet another of the few remaining chess greats of the so-called "Silent Generation" (born 1925-1945). He's moved beyond life's endgame but is now one of Caissa's immortals.
Premium Chessgames Member
  0ZeR0: Rest in peace to the great Pal Benko
Premium Chessgames Member
  saffuna: The Lord: "Angels! Why aren't you playing your heavenly harps?"

Angels: "As soon as we solve this heavenly endgame puzzle!"

Premium Chessgames Member
  carpetshark: Sit tibi terra levis, maestro! RIP, condolences from Hungary!
Premium Chessgames Member
  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.
Premium Chessgames Member
  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:
Premium Chessgames Member
  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: .
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