Pal Benko – eleven twins

by Frederic Friedel
7/7/2018 – In problem chess "twins" are two or more problems, normally composed by a single author, that are slight variations of each other. This is usually brought about by moveing pieces slightly or subtly, or adding, removing or exchanging a piece. Sometimes the position is moved to another location on the board. The solutions should be different. Now our dear and faithful friend Pal Benkö has sent us a record-setting eleven twins. Have fun solving these unique problems. | Photo: Diana Mihajlova

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"S" as in Saturday

The following eleven twin problems by the great composer GM Pal Benkö, represents a record. Never to our knowledge have eleven problems been composed that have the same shape – an "S" for Sakk in Hungarian, Schach in German and also Soccer as in the currently running World Cup in Moscow. Each problem has a single change from the previous one. That Pal Benko was able to achieve this is nothing short of a miracle. Especially in view of the fact that in one week the author turns 90!! Congratulations, Pal — what a wonderful, creative life you have led!

In the following diagrams, as you probably know, you are able to move the pieces, retract moves and try alternate lines. They have a unique new feature: when you play a move an embedded engine will reply for the other side, after around three seconds. So you can play through the line you think will lead to success – and see it refuted if you have played a wrong move. Is there a better way to enjoy chess problems?


The solutions to the above problems will be added to this page in a week.

About the author

Pál Benkö, 88 (born July 15th, 1928), is a Hungarian-American chess grandmaster, openings theoretician, author and problemist. He became Hungarian champion when he was twenty and finished in first place (or tied for first place) in a record of eight US Championships: 1961, 1964 (in that year he also won the Canadian Open Chess Championship), 1965, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1974, 1975.

Benko's highest achievements were playing in the Candidates Tournament with eight of the world's top players in 1959 and 1962. He qualified for the 1970 Interzonal tournament, the leaders of which advance to the Candidates. However, he gave up his spot to Bobby Fischer, who went on to win the World Championship in 1972.

In addition to his success as a player, Benko is a noted authority on the chess endgame and a composer of endgame studies and chess problems. He is an over-the-board GM and also a FIDE IM of chess composition. The only other person we know who has these two titles is Jan Timman of the Netherlands. Pal Benko is also a dear friend who keeps in touch with us regularly, sending problems and puzzles for the ChessBase news page on special occasions.

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.


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