Pal Benko

My Life, Games and Compositions

Hardbound edition currently Out-of-Stock

Trade paper edition due in 2023

668 Pages
7x10 Hardbound
B&W Photos throughout
Siles Press

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

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.

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

About Pal Benko

Pal Benko (1928-2019) was a Grandmaster, a 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

About Jeremy Silman

Jeremy Silman is an International Master and a world-class teacher, writer, and player who has 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-seven books, including Silman’s Complete Endgame Course, The Amateur’s Mind, The Complete Book of Chess Strategy, and The Reassess Your Chess Workbook. His website ( offers fans of the game instruction, book reviews, theoretical articles, and details of his work in the creation of the chess scene in the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

“Pal Benko’s love of chess is an inspiration. A most impressive autobiography!”
– GM Lubomir Kavalek, three-time U.S. Champion, chess columnist for The Washington Post

“GM Pal Benko is one of the greatest composers and endgame specialists of the 20th century. He gives us 300 of these compositions in this book, and if all those gems weren’t enough, he intrigues us with the story of his life, while revealing in-depth notes with world-class competition. A real chess renaissance man, his contributions to the royal game are immense.”
– GM Walter Browne, six-time U.S. Champion

“I’ve always had a great deal of respect for Benko’s endgame compositions. Whenever I see a Benko endgame I always try to solve it – but first I make sure that I won’t be disturbed for the rest of the day.”
– GM John Nunn, 1980 British Chess Champion, four-time gold medal winner at Chess Olympiads, author of Nunn’s Chess Openings and many other popular chess titles

“When Benko arrived, I saw that he was one of the finest positional and endgame players in the world. We enjoyed many battles together. If you removed the king and queen (and the clock) from the board, no one could beat him.”
– GM Arthur Bisguier, 1954 U.S. Champion, author of The Art of Bisguier

“From out of the land of Reti to the Wild West came a subtle positional stylist. He gave me lessons – over the board. If not for his clock, or daring 1e4!? against me, I could never have won a game. Reincarnated as an endgame composer without peer, Pal Benko now has his monument.”
– IM Anthony Saidy, author of The Battle of Chess Ideas and The World of Chess

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