Benko: a belated Christmas present

1/15/2011 – Grandmaster, openings theorist, author and brilliantly imaginative problem composer – Hungarian GM Pal Benko has always been interested in our Christmas puzzles. For the 2010 edition he sent us a set of positions, but his message got lost in the Christmas mail. Here they are now for your pleasure. In addition we are extending the deadline for our puzzle contest by one day.

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A Belated Christmas Present

By Pal Benko

He is a legendary grandmaster, friend to Bobby Fischer, and creator of many theoretical innovations in the opening (see "My Life, Games and Compositions" below). He also has a special connection to our Christmas puzzles. As in the past year Pal once again sent us a batch of problems for our 2010 edition – unfortunately it got lost in the Christmas mail. We bring you the problems here as a bonus gift. The first would have been most appropriate on Christmas day – but on the other hand: better late than never!

Pal Benko, Christmas Tree Puzzles 2010

White to play and mate in two

Knightmares

How can the following two positions arise after White’s fifth move in a normal game of chess:

Pal Benko, ChessBase Christmas Puzzles 2010

Position after White's fifth move

Pal Benko, ChessBase Christmas Puzzles 2010

Position after White's fifth move

These three puzzles are not part of our Christmas Puzzle contest (see below), so do not include them in your submissions. We will provide the solutions and three additional – harder – puzzles next week.


Grandmaster Pal Benko is a chess legend: A challenger for the World Championship, an innovator of many modern opening systems, a problem composer par excellence, and a father figure to his close friend Bobby Fischer, Benko has played and defeated most of the top players of the last fifty years.

This biography is a celebration of a great man's creative legacy. Its amazing collection of 138 deeply annotated games which have been carefully prepared to be entertaining, enlightening, and instructive is brought to life by Benko's memoirs of his early years in war-torn Hungary, a world of poverty, chaos, pain, and ultimately, personal triumph. His insights into famous grandmasters transform legends into real people with substance and personality, and his reminiscences of famous tournaments take us on a journey through chess history unlike anything that's been published before. Interviews with note players offer insights into Benko's nature. A massive survey of Benko's openings shows us the scope of his theoretical contributions to the game. Photos abound, and 300 of Benko's chess compositions allow lovers of the game to become intimately acquainted with a strikingly beautiful aspect of chess that most have overlooked.

This highly entertaining and instructive book gives competitors who wish to improve their playing strength a dynamic, fun way to deepen their knowledge and understanding. Available at the London Chess Center

The 2010 Christmas Puzzle competition

We have decided to extend our 2010 Christmas Puzzle contest by one day. You can submit your solutions until midnight of Sunday, January 16th, 2010. That is midnight anywhere in the world – Hawaii, Tahiti or any other time zone challenged place. Please use this feedback form to do so. It is important that you include your full name, your place of residence and a return email address (which will NEVER be published or given to a third party). The following prizes are up for grabs:

Full solutions and the names of the winners will be published after the next week.

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