Posts Tagged ‘Bobby Fischer’

Benko’s Great Sacrifice

August 29, 2019

Chess has a rich history full of stories that I share with my students to add extra colour to our lesson material. Below is the tale of Pal Benko’s incredible life’s journey and his great sacrifice which allowed Bobby Fischer to make history.

Pal Benko was born while his Hungarian parents were vacationing in Amiens, France, on July 15, 1928. After learning how to play chess from his father at the age of eight, Pal improved quickly and impressed many during a time when the horrors of war and famine came to Hungary. At the age of twenty, Pal Benko became the Hungarian National Champion and with his chess success came the opportunity to eat and travel. At the 1952 chess tournament, Pal made his attempt to escape the suffering and defect to the West. However, Pal Benko escape was unsuccessful and he was imprisoned in a concentration camp for a grueling 16 months. After Joseph Stalin’s death, Benko was offered clemency and immediately returned to competitive chess as a means to earn food. At the 1957 Reykjavik World Student Chess Championship, Benko made his second attempt at defecting to the United States and this time he was successful.

Pal Benko in 1964.

In the decades that followed, the name Pal Benko was synonymous with chess creativity both in his opening discoveries and his artful puzzles. During the height of his career he was, easily, the most successful open tournament player in the United States winning the U.S. Open Chess Championship a record 8 times! Ironically, the most famous sacrificial move in Pal Benko’s chess career didn’t destroy his adversary but rather elevated him.

In 1970 Benko placed third in the US Championship which guaranteed him a seat in the Interzonal tournament. (Interzonal chess tournaments were tournaments organized by FIDE from the 1950s to the 1990s as a qualifying stage for the World Chess Championship.) Bobby Fischer, who at the time was taking a break from tournament chess, suddenly decided that he wanted to make a serious attempt at the World Championship. However, because of his absence from the US Championship he did not qualify for the Interzonal. In order for Fischer to enter the World Championship cycle, someone else who qualified from the United States would have to give up his seat. The US Chess Federation asked Pal Benko if he would be willing to make this sacrifice for Bobby. Pal Benko realistically knew that Fischer had much better chances than he did at the Interzonal and thus gave up his spot for the benefit of American chess. Bobby Fischer went on to win the Interzonal, the Candidates and the 1972 World Championship Match. None of this would have been possible without Pal Benko’s Great Sacrifice.

Below is a puzzle that Pal Benko stumped Bobby Fischer with in 1968. Can you solve it?

White to move and mate in 3! (Puzzle by Pal Benko)

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Shelby Lyman (1936-2019)

August 21, 2019

On Sunday August 11th, famous chess educator Shelby Lyman passed away. You didn’t have to know Shelby to be impressed by his impact on American chess. Through his students, newspaper columns and television appearances, Shelby Lyman has left us with a deep and enduring legacy.

Shelby Lyman on television in 1972.

Older chess enthusiasts will remember Shelby as the chess teacher who captivated a surprisingly large audience with his televised analysis of the 1972 Fischer-Spassky World Championship. Using the initiative he gained from this newfound fame, Shelby Lyman focused his energy toward authoring a syndicated chess column that was read in newspapers across the nation until his death. “This will be the last set of chess quizzes,” wrote Michele Merrell last week in an email addressed to all the publications that still printed her husband’s column. “It was his great pleasure to be part of your papers for all these years.”

As a chess teacher, I feel a special duty to share the legacy and history of those who came before me. Below are some special homework assignments I created for this purpose from Shelby Lyman’s long running newspaper column. Enjoy and share…

Shelby Lyman homework 1

Shelby Lyman homework 2

#Chess History Worth Sharing 

October 17, 2017

The “Game of the Century!”

The “Game of the Century!”

Spassky vs Fischer Chess Puzzle from Allan Beardsworth

April 10, 2016

Part of my chess education: 1…Ba4! and if 2 Qa4, Qe4 is a double attack on e1 and g2: 0-1…

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Harold Dondis, 93; Globe chess columnist beat Bobby Fischer

January 9, 2016

In March 1964, Harold Dondis was carried out of the Wachusett Chess Club in Fitchburg on the shoulders of his peers after he defeated future world champion Bobby Fischer. At the time, Mr….

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It’s Your Move: daily chess puzzle # 153

November 21, 2015

Finding that nothing ‘clicked’ after 1 Nf6+, my first thoughts were to exploit Black’s near zugzwang, improve the rooks, and then ‘do something’. But I couldn’t see what to do here either, until, back to ever reliable Examine All Biffs, I saw 1 Na5! and its point….

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Pawn Sacrifice: Bobby Fischer Chess Puzzle 2

October 8, 2015

In today’s puzzle, we try to find an improvement over Fischer’s Qd6+. The unplayed improvement is actually a forced mate in 3 that Bobby Fischer missed over the board. I imagine that the then 15-year-old Fischer was so caught up in the excitement of slaying the dragon that he failed to search for a better move once he had already discovered a winning one. The inaccurate play on Fischer’s part had no effect on the outcome of the game. Immediately following Fischer’s Qd6+, his opponent, Bent Larsen, resigned.

 

What is Bobby Fischer's (white's) best continuation?

White to move, mate in 3.

 

Here is the source game for your further enjoyment:

 

[Event "Portoroz Interzonal"]
[Site "Portoroz SVN"]
[Date "1958.08.16"]
[EventDate "1958.08.05"]
[Round "8"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Robert James Fischer"]
[Black "Bent Larsen"]
[ECO "B77"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "61"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7
7. f3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. Bc4 Nxd4 10. Bxd4 Be6 11. Bb3 Qa5
12. O-O-O b5 13. Kb1 b4 14. Nd5 Bxd5 15. Bxd5 Rac8 16. Bb3 Rc7
17. h4 Qb5 18. h5 Rfc8 19. hxg6 hxg6 20. g4 a5 21. g5 Nh5
22. Rxh5 gxh5 23. g6 e5 24. gxf7+ Kf8 25. Be3 d5 26. exd5 Rxf7
27. d6 Rf6 28. Bg5 Qb7 29. Bxf6 Bxf6 30. d7 Rd8 31. Qd6+ 1-0

Review: ‘Pawn Sacrifice’ ably follows Bobby Fischer’s unraveling, move by move

October 8, 2015

LOS ANGELES – No sports fan need be reminded of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, but what about the agony of victory, the unraveling that can occur when your triumph is so complete there are no more worlds to conquer?…

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Pawn Sacrifice: Bobby Fischer Chess Puzzle 1

October 7, 2015

The movie Pawn Sacrifice has put the games of Bobby Fischer back into the spotlight. Below is a puzzle from one of Bobby’s games. Can you spot the winning combination?

 

What did Bobby Fischer(white) play here?

What did Bobby Fischer(white) play here?

 

Here is the complete game for your further enjoyment:

 

[Event "Curacao Candidates"]
[Site "Willemstad CURACAO"]
[Date "1962.06.14"]
[EventDate "1962.05.02"]
[Round "22"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Robert James Fischer"]
[Black "Pal Benko"]
[ECO "C11"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "61"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. dxc5 Bxc5
7. Qg4 O-O 8. Bd3 f5 9. Qh3 Bxg1 10. Rxg1 Nc5 11. Bd2 Nc6
12. Nb5 Qb6 13. O-O-O Bd7 14. Nd6 Na4 15. Bb5 Nd4 16. Be3 Ne2+
17. Bxe2 Qxb2+ 18. Kd2 Qb4+ 19. Kc1 Nc3 20. Rde1 Nxa2+ 21. Kd1
Nc3+ 22. Kc1 d4 23. Bf2 Rfc8 24. Bd3 Na2+ 25. Kd1 Nc3+ 26. Kc1
Rc5 27. Qh4 Ra5 28. Kd2 h6 29. g4 fxg4 30. Rxg4 Kh8 31. Qxh6+
1-0

‘Pawn Sacrifice’: the genius & madness of Bobby Fischer

October 6, 2015

The new biodrama “Pawn Sacrifice” about the chess champion Bobby Fischer, doesn’t seem to be attracting much attention from U.S. movie audiences….

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