- Chess success : planning after the opening / Neil McDonald - Details - Trove
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The quality of competition for this prestigious award can be gauged from the fact that the other contender for the coveted prize, Garry Kasparov On My Great Predecessors II, came an honorable second. Apart from a gripping personal narrative and interviews with Benko and his close friends like GM Larry Evans and IM Ronald Gross, this book includes well-annotated games and compositions. The career graph of Benko makes curious reading. He won the Hungarian Championship way back in when he was just 20 years old.
On the flipside he has never won the US Championship title. Benko contested the US Championship more frequently during s with varying success, occupying no higher than Third Place. Fischer and Reshevsky dominated the US chess scene during s. Benko was a fine performer in international tournaments. Although Benko was not rated as a super-GM even in his best days, he was a dangerous adversary over the board. At the autobiographical level this book is both moving and disappointing especially, the account of Curacao Benko was born in , to Hungarian parents in Amiens, France, where his father worked as an engineer.
The family returned to Hungary in Unfortunately, his native land was ravaged by the Second World War, and suffered enormously under occupation by the Nazis and the Soviets in succession. Young Benko and his family became victims of history. At the age of sixteen Benko was drafted and assigned to a regiment. He escaped from the regiment and was caught by the Russians.
He escaped from them and returned to Budapest only to find that their apartment had been bombed and his father and brother had been shipped to Russia as slave labor. The lack of shelter, the cold winter, the scarcity of food, and the loss of her husband and eldest son proved too much for her. How can I describe my state of mind at that time? Depression is far too mild a word, while an emotion like anger demanded a lot more energy than I possessed. When I arrived in Szeged, I was starving and penniless. My result impressed the chess aficionados there, and I was invited to teach them and was given a place in the local chess team.
In turn, this new relatively safe environment allowed me to finish secondary school.
Benko was able to complete his graduation and take up a job as a bookkeeper. Chess, however, continued to hold him in its thrall. He won his spurs by winning the Hungarian Championship when he was twenty. If only he had reconciled himself to living under the Communist regime, life would have been easy and tolerable.
He was caught and brought back to Budapest and put behind the bars without a trial for more than a year. One can only mourn the privation, suffering, and degradation of the human spirit.
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It is to the credit of Benko that he survived this ordeal through hope, courage and fortitude. After his release from prison Benko was under surveillance for quite some time by the secret police and became a persona non grata in the Hungarian chess circuit. It took years for his rehabilitation. The passionate quest for freedom was begun in earnest all over again. This time he knew that the price for failure would be death or incarceration for life. Opportunity presented itself when he had to qualify for an out-of the country zonal.
The problem was a bit humorous: If I came in first, I would qualify for a zonal that was going to be held in a Soviet-led country. This was not acceptable, and my sights were set on the zonal in Ireland, which required a second-place finish. Ironically I was winning the qualifier and desperately went out of my way to draw the last the last three games avoiding victory like the plague! In the end everything worked out well and I did get sent to Ireland. Ironically enough, Fischer today is seeking refuge at the same Reykjavik, the scene of his triumph, even as he is being hounded out by the US Government.
In July he walked into the American embassy in Reykjavik and asked for asylum. Three months later he landed in New York. He was broke. But he made friends and after a stint on Wall Street became a chess professional. Much later, following a thaw in the US-Soviet relationship, he was able to visit Budapest, and in recent years he has divided time between the USA and Hungary. What happened in Curacao ? This autobiography is not without its share of controversies. The Estonian had beaten Benko !
Chess success : planning after the opening / Neil McDonald - Details - Trove
Then came the dramatic 20th round. He got away with the point - in a mutual time scramble Benko knocked over a couple of men and exceeded the time limit while putting them back in place! And at that instant Black still had a draw by perpetual check as you can see for yourself. The great Paul Keres also had some experiences that prove to be traumatic. In the hunt for first place throughout, his demise effectively began during our third game, with him white against my Sicilian.
I got the better game, but I spoiled my chances by incorrectly sacrificing a piece in horrible time pressure. This left me with nothing better than a perpetual check. With only seconds to spare, I made the move that forced the perpetual, but it was slightly off square. He punched my clock and said. Then I desperately reached out to fix the position of the piece, glanced at the clock, and watched in horror as my flag fell and I was forfeited. Benko writes: "In this all-important game, I was a bit better, and adjourned.
A while later, Petrosian and Geller came to me in secret and offered to help me beat their own countryman! I was disgusted. Telling them that it would be a draw with best play, I demanded that they leave. However, when we resumed, Keres made an error and I won. Benko, already a good endgame expert then, had only given them written notes. These showed that he would only be able to win if Keres made a mistake. Geller and Petrosian had nothing to add to this. Keres eventually did make a mistake and lost.
Now the Armenian GM had everything in his favour. As it happened, Petrosian drew with Filip. Keres was forced to follow suit with Fischer. He tried his hardest to do so, but he overreached himself and adjourned in a lost position. But the play in the adjourned session the following day took a dramatic course.
Benko having to make three moves before the time control, just forgot what was happening and lost on time! And what must Keres have thought of it!
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Benko had ruined everything for him. One can understand his feelings - losing that one game against me influenced chess history in a big way: Petrosian got the match against Botvinnik, won, and became the new champion. And poor Keres did not get to play the World Championship match that meant so much to him. To be fair to Benko, he did make a lasting contribution to chess history by conceding his place at the Interzonal to Fischer in , and enabling him to play in the World Championship cycle.
Read as an autobiography alone, this is an absorbing account of an extraordinary chess career. But the book has much else to offer.
Benko was a virtuoso in the treatment of flank openings with White. He managed to beat Tal, Keres, and Fischer with the same opening: 1. Equally noteworthy is his treatment of the English Opening. As an acknowledged author of the standard work on the English Opening, Watson is well-qualified to comment on the subject. The last part of the book features a remarkable array of compositions, including studies, two-movers, three-movers, help-mates, and an assortment of puzzles.
The Benko Gambit The Benko Variation in Sozin Sicilian: 1. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Grandmaster Motwani continues to explain his easy-to-use approach to chess thinking, and shows how Creative Original Opening Lines can bring astonishing over-the-board success. The many brilliant games in this book includes victories by Motwani over some of the world's leading players, whom he has outwitted in the early stages of the game.