We lost our Pal

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lkaufman
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We lost our Pal

Post by lkaufman » Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:01 pm

Pal Benko has died at age 91. I knew him fairly well. He was the captain of the U.S. Student Team when I played on it in 1971, I recall how he helped me with the last adjourned game of the tournament, which I won giving the U.S. fourth place. In Kasparov's book on the opening revolution of the 1970s, he has a chapter on the Benko Gambit, starting with one of the first games (from the 1960s actually) in which Benko played his gambit and won. I was the loser of that game! We also played in one or two other events. His contribution to chess was substantial.
Komodo rules!

mwyoung
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Re: We lost our Pal

Post by mwyoung » Tue Aug 27, 2019 11:03 pm

lkaufman wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:01 pm
Pal Benko has died at age 91. I knew him fairly well. He was the captain of the U.S. Student Team when I played on it in 1971, I recall how he helped me with the last adjourned game of the tournament, which I won giving the U.S. fourth place. In Kasparov's book on the opening revolution of the 1970s, he has a chapter on the Benko Gambit, starting with one of the first games (from the 1960s actually) in which Benko played his gambit and won. I was the loser of that game! We also played in one or two other events. His contribution to chess was substantial.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
Take on me. foes 0

Leo
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Re: We lost our Pal

Post by Leo » Tue Aug 27, 2019 11:55 pm

I remember in the early 90s in a chess magazine always seeing his puzzles and articles. He was a big contributor to chess magazines. He must have been very good. He was in a lot of candidate matches and of course gave up his place in one for Fischer.
Advanced Micro Devices fan.

MikeB
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Re: We lost our Pal

Post by MikeB » Wed Aug 28, 2019 2:16 am

lkaufman wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:01 pm
Pal Benko has died at age 91. I knew him fairly well. He was the captain of the U.S. Student Team when I played on it in 1971, I recall how he helped me with the last adjourned game of the tournament, which I won giving the U.S. fourth place. In Kasparov's book on the opening revolution of the 1970s, he has a chapter on the Benko Gambit, starting with one of the first games (from the 1960s actually) in which Benko played his gambit and won. I was the loser of that game! We also played in one or two other events. His contribution to chess was substantial.
A very visible GM, always talking / teaching chess to anyone who came across his path, Would see him at at the World Open in Philadelphia where for years he would give endgame lectures. He gave up his candidate spot in the 69-72 world championship cycle to Bobby Fischer, paving the way for Bobby to become world champion.
At the time of his passing at 91 , he was the second oldest living Grandmaster, with 61 of those years as a Grandmaster. Yuri Averbakh is the current oldest at 97, Aleksandar Matanović ( think Chess Informants) is now second oldest living GM at the relatively young age of 89. Yuri has held his GM title for 67 years.

corres
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Re: We lost our Pal

Post by corres » Wed Aug 28, 2019 7:51 am

Pal Benko is a member of World Chess Hall of Fame from 1993 - together with Arpad Elo an another Hungarian from 1988.
https://worldchesshof.org
He abandoned Hungary 1957. in rather adventurous and dangerous circumstances.
His wife was also a chess player Hungarian Gizella Nagy an university teacher of mathematics.
From 1964 he lived alternately in US and in Hungary.
I often met him in the Hungarian Chess Federation. He was a very friendly and helpful man.
He did not like computers and he asked help from his son to handle the machine.
Uncle Paul was proud of himself because he was able to solve chess problems without chess engines - even in his old age also. But in general he was a very modest and unaffected people.
Rest in peace!

supersharp77
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Re: We lost our Pal

Post by supersharp77 » Wed Aug 28, 2019 8:39 pm

lkaufman wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:01 pm
Pal Benko has died at age 91. I knew him fairly well. He was the captain of the U.S. Student Team when I played on it in 1971, I recall how he helped me with the last adjourned game of the tournament, which I won giving the U.S. fourth place. In Kasparov's book on the opening revolution of the 1970s, he has a chapter on the Benko Gambit, starting with one of the first games (from the 1960s actually) in which Benko played his gambit and won. I was the loser of that game! We also played in one or two other events. His contribution to chess was substantial.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pal_Benko

"Benko was born in Amiens, France on July 28, 1928, but was raised in Hungary.[1] He dug ditches for the Hungarian army before being captured by the Russian army, which forced him to be a laborer. He eventually escaped to his home, only to find that his brother and father had been sent to Russia as slaves. During a chess tournament in East Berlin, Benko tried to defect to the American embassy in West Berlin, but he was captured and sent to a concentration camp for a year and a half. He starved and saw others around him die.[2]

Benko became Hungarian champion by age 20. He emigrated to the United States in 1958 after defecting following the World Student Team Championship in Reykjavík, Iceland, in 1957. FIDE awarded him the Grandmaster title in 1958.

World title candidate
Benko's highest achievement was qualifying and competing in the Candidates Tournament—the tournament to decide the challenger for the World Championship—in 1959 and 1962. Both tournaments had eight of the world's top players. He finished eighth in 1959 and sixth in 1962. Benko qualified for the 1970 Interzonal tournament, the leaders of which advance to the Candidates. He gave up his spot in the Interzonal to Bobby Fischer, however, who went on to win the World Championship in 1972

Other achievements
Benko finished in first place (or tied for first place) in eight U.S. Open Chess Championships, a record. His titles were: 1961, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1974, 1975. He won the 1964 Canadian Open Chess Championship. He represented Hungary at the 1957 Student Olympiad in Reykjavík on board one, scoring 7½/12, and Hungary was fourth as a team. He had earlier played for the national Hungarian team at the Moscow 1956 Olympiad, on board three, scoring 10/15, and helping Hungary to team bronze. He moved to the United States, but it was not until 1962 that he appeared on the U.S. team. He would wind up on six teams in a row. At Varna 1962, Benko played board two, scored 8/12 for the silver medal on his board, and the U.S. finished fourth. At Tel Aviv 1964, he was again on board two, scored 9½/14, and the U.S. ended up sixth. At Havana 1966, Benko was on board three, scored 8/12, and the Americans won team silver. At Lugano 1968, he made 6/12 on board three, and the U.S. finished fourth. At Siegen 1970, Benko was on board four, scoring 8½/12, and the Americans again finished fourth. His last Olympiad was Skopje 1972, where he played on board three, made 9½/16, and the U.S. ended up ninth.[4]

Benko defeated four players who held the World Champion title at some time. They are Bobby Fischer,[5] Mikhail Tal,[6] Tigran Petrosian,[7] and Vassily Smyslov.[8] His career score against Fischer was three wins, eight losses and seven draws.

Some chess openings he pioneered are named for him:

The Benko Gambit (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5), which he popularised, and played with great success from the mid-1960s.
Benko's Opening (1.g3), which he introduced at the 1962 Candidates Tournament, defeating Bobby Fischer and Mikhail Tal with it.
He wrote a book on the Benko Gambit for RHM Publishing in the early 1970s.

Benko had a column on chess endgames in Chess Life magazine, which is published by the United States Chess Federation, for decades: "In the Arena" (1972–1981), "Endgame Lab" (1981–2013), and chess problem column "Benko's Bafflers". In 2003 he revised the book Basic Chess Endings, by Reuben Fine. He was awarded the title of International Master of Chess Composition by FIDE. Benko was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in 1993.[1] He died on August 26, 2019 in Budapest at the age of 91"

Benko will live on as his Benko Gambit (or Volga Gambit) has become a dangerous weapon vs whites 1. D4 opening ex..
1.d4 c5 2. c4 c5 3.d5 b5!! 4.cxb5 a6!! RIP Chess Legend!! 8-)

[Event "Sarajevo"]
[Site "Sarajevo"]
[Date "1967.??.??"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Vukic, Milan"]
[Black "Benko, Pal"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A58"]
[PlyCount "78"]


IanO
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Re: We lost our Pal

Post by IanO » Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:20 pm

I remember being impressed that an engine "discovered" the Benko Gambit in one of the bookless or 4-ply book TCEC sections, but I can't for the life of me remember which season and section that was. If anyone has the TCEC archives downloaded, I'd be grateful for a reminder.

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Ovyron
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Re: We lost our Pal

Post by Ovyron » Thu Sep 05, 2019 12:08 pm

IanO wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:20 pm
I remember being impressed that an engine "discovered" the Benko Gambit in one of the bookless or 4-ply book TCEC sections, but I can't for the life of me remember which season and section that was. If anyone has the TCEC archives downloaded, I'd be grateful for a reminder.
It seems it was Chiron 3.01 in TCEC Season 9. 2...c5 was the last book move, Chiron "discovers" the Benko Gambit by itself at depth 31:

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

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