Pal Benko

My Life, Games and Compositions

Jeremy Silman, Pal Benko

Illustrated with B&W photos
668 pages
7x10, cloth

Pal Benko: My Life, Games, and Compositions is the only book to ever win all three major chess book awards. It walked away with the ChessCafe 2004 Book of the Year Award, the Cramer Book of the Year Award, and the most prestigious award of all, the British Chess Federation Book of the Year Award.

With an Opening Survey by John Watson. Foreword by Susan Polgar.

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 amazing collection of 138 deeply annotated games—carefully prepared to be entertaining, enlightening, and instructive—is brought to life by Pal Benko’s memoirs of his early years in war-torn Hungary where he takes the reader into a world of poverty, chaos, pain, and ultimately, personal triumph. His insights into famous grandmasters transform their names into real people with substance and personality, and his reminiscences of legendary tournaments take us on a journey of chess history unlike anything that’s been published before.

Pal Benko: My Life, Games and Compositions is a celebration of this great man’s creative legacy: Interviews with other players offer further insights into Benko’s nature. A massive survey of Benko’s openings (by famed author John Watson) shows us the scope of Benko’s 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

Pal Benko is a Grandmaster, a former World Championship Candidate, a winner of innumerable international competitions, the author of hundreds of articles and several chess books (including Winning with Chess Psychology and Chess Endgame Lessons), and the most dominating “open tournament” player in American history, Pal Benko’s name is entwined in virtually every modern area of chess mythology and chess theory.

Jeremy Silman is an International Master and a world-class teacher, writer, and player who won the American Open, the National Open, and the U.S. Open. Considered by many to be the game’s preeminent instructive writer, he is the author of over thirty-six highly popular books, including How to Reassess Your Chess (now universally accepted as a modern classic), The Amateur’s Mind, The Complete Book of Chess Strategy, The Reassess Your Chess Workbook, and Silman’s Complete Endgame Course. His website ( offers fans of the game free instruction, book reviews, theoretical articles, details of his work in the creation of the chess scene in the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and an easy way to keep up with chess news.

John Watson is an International Master whose groundbreaking four-volume study of the English Opening in the 1980s, followed by other opening treatises, have firmly established his reputation as one of the world’s great theoretical writers. His books Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy (winner of the 1999 British Chess Federation Book of the Year Award) and Chess Strategy in Action (2003) further catapulted his status to that of “chess philosopher,” with many experts now considering him to be one of the most profound thinker’s in the game’s history.