Pal Benko: RIP
15.7.1928 – 26.8.2019
The 2nd oldest Grandmaster in the world, Pal Benko, died today at age 91. Born on the 15th of July 1928 in France, brought up in Hungary and later emigrating to the USA in 1958, Benko soon became a leading player in the world and a force to reckon with by the Soviets.
Benko was the last surviving participant of the controversial 1962 Candidates Tournament, held in Curação, which saw Bobby Fischer begin his long and difficult relationship with FIDE.
The second half of Benko’s life saw him make great contributions to the field of chess composition, all of which have been published in the world’s leading chess magazines. Besides this, Benko has the honor(?) of having his name associated with the Volga Gambit because of his many theoretical discoveries in this sharp opening.
I met Benko only once, in the summer of 1976 at the World Open in NYC. Though we did not play, I had the honor of playing beside him in one of the rounds. I remember that he was playing on a miniature chess board about 1/3 the size of a normal tournament chess board. In those days in the US, players had to bring their own board and pieces, and that his opponent did not bring one!
Pal Benko was a true gentleman. My condolences to his family.