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Karl Burger vs Pal Benko
USA-ch / Zonal (1969), New York, NY USA, rd 4, Dec-04
Benoni Defense: Modern Variation (A56)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  varishnakov: I think one reason it was so difficult is that it's a Monday puzzle, and people know what to expect from Monday puzzles. This one doesn't fit that archetype.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: I think the difficulty here stems from having the B+Q battery on the diagonal: it's counterintuitive to give that up. Had the initial position been:

click for larger view

<27...Ba6> would have been Monday-obvious.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Rock hard for a Monday puzzle.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: I stared at it, thought it was a spoiler, then went back to doing something else.
Aug-22-16  BOSTER: The first feeling is the shame of wrong or foolish behavior the black queen to sacr. No solution for Monday Puzzle.?
Only than I recalled that queen with bishop are better when bishop doesn't support the queen.
Aug-22-16  WorstPlayerEver: 'It's nothing to be ashamed of. There comes a time in everything when you don't know something.'

~ Bryce Courtenay

Aug-22-16  cunctatorg: Definitely it isn't a Monday puzzle!...

It is a Tuesday-Wednesday puzzle and my only excuse is certain negative consequences of a "certain hungover"...

Aug-22-16  Sally Simpson: I think YouRang & P.B. are correct.

click for larger view

The lads seemed to be reluctant to take the Bishop off the critical diagonal. Add that to that the fact there are two Knight checks in the position which with the correct reply do not mate. The lads would have been looking at those first to make them work.

They need to remember, ignoring the King, the Queen is the weakest piece on the board. All the other pieces will work for you but the Queen as a defender is hopeless. She is game losing a liability.

Here she is stopping a mate one. Just nudge her. Game over.

Premium Chessgames Member
  drollere: with material equal, there's advantage just to busting up white's Kside pawns, which 27. ... Qxg2+, 28. Qxg2, Bxg2 achieves.

then i saw 27. ... Nxh3+ 28. Kh1 Nxf2+ which seems even better, but Nxh3+ Kh2 requires retreating the N.

there's also 27. ... Ne2+ 28. Kh1 (the queen can't capture).

finally i realized g2 is twice attacked, so

27. ... Ba6
28. Ne3 Bxf1
29. Kxf1 Qb5+
30. Kg1 Qxb2

but the next move is resigns. so 3/3

Aug-22-16  Coriolis: How does 27. ... Nxg2 followed by 28. ... Ne3 (threatening the Q AND 29. ... Qh1#) compare to the game line?
Premium Chessgames Member
  transpose: <YouRang> Yes, the puzzle would be easier to solve for me. I too spent too much time trying to sac my knight.
Aug-22-16  MaczynskiPratten: It is a Monday puzzle because it's a one-mover, but it's fascinating how hard it was to spot, for me and others. It seems to be pattern recognition, normally beneficial, working against us, as YR, PB and SS point out. I would have missed it if I hadn't said "it's Monday, there MUST be something decisive here".

I like <morfishine>'s neat way of saving the Queen. Unfortunately after Ba6 28 Bd5 Qxd5 29 Ne3 Bxf1 30 Nxd5 Nxd5 31 Kxf1 the ending is trivially lost against Black's unopposed Knight.

Aug-22-16  morfishine: <MaczynskiPratten> Thank you sir! Of course White is lost, but he avoids an immediate forced mate

<Sally Simpson> White has <28.Bd5> which avoids the embarrassment of an immediate forced mate; instead opting for a piece-down lost position, which I would take any day of the week, especially Monday lol :)


Aug-22-16  King.Arthur.Brazil: Maybe as everybody, I tried to sac my N on h3 or a check on e2... it's "easier", but it only win a P and WK move safely... what "easie" is this? lgs. Well, but as I recognized that the N also make possible Qg2#, the only defeder was the Qf1, and Sa6 comes quickly... I come to check but I was just sure about the answer... Did you like Olimpiades in Rio (Brazil)? I hope so! congratullations for so much medals for England, this time!
Aug-22-16  thegoodanarchist: OK I may get some blowback for saying this, but I thought it was fine for a Monday puzzle.

And this is coming from a guy who missed a Tuesday just not long ago.

Look, Black could mate if only he could draw the White queen from protecting the mating square. And since she has no move which keeps her on guard, then any deflection will do.

And with beast knight on f4, the Black Bishop is not needed. Voila! ...Ba6 and zugzwang!

Aug-22-16  thegoodanarchist: And clearly any GOTD pun should be "Chuck Burger"
Aug-22-16  Stalwart: I like it!

Aug-22-16  Sally Simpson: Hi GoodAnarchist,

Yes it is a good Monday puzzle, if it was up to me I'd mix up the puzzles (and no clues with a difficulty rating).

It's how they come around in games, sometimes hard sometimes easy.

But I understand the tradition.


Right at the start of this thread Kingcrusher mentions he thinks this is the last round game that enabled Benko to finish 3rd thus qualifying for the Interzonal, a place which he gave up for Fischer. (the rest is, as they say, history.)

I did a wee bit or research and sadly this is not it. Benko's last round win was.

Robert E Byrne vs Benko, 1969

(there is no kibitzing there, might as add something to it. It does have some kind of Historic merit.)

Back to the Burger-Benko game and Benko writing in the March 1970 Chess Life and Review (page 130) states that this position after Black has just played 17...Qd7

click for larger view

Is the exact same position Benko had in the previous round except he was White and against Evans.

Benko vs Larry Evans, 1969

That game ended in draw with Benko admitting he was in difficulties as White so he was rather pleased to be on the other side of the board in this game.

They got to the above position in a slightly round-about way and apparently, according to Benko, when it appeared on the board White realised this as well. (OOPS!).


Hi Morf,

click for larger view

I don't mind plodding on a piece down if I have a piece down to plod on with. But after 28.Bd5 Qxd5 29.Ne3 Bxf1 30.Nxd5 exd5.31.Kxf1.

I do not have a piece to plod on with. Black on the other hand has...and a passed pawn. Even on a Monday I'd tender my resignation. :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  steinitzfan: The queen save is amazing. It reminds me of Marshall's "gold coin" move. And no, Marshall's move didn't change the result either. White sets his bishop down where it can be captured in one of three ways. If Black takes with knight or pawn, then he withdraws the mate threat and White can take the bishop at a6. If he takes with the queen, then we're treated to Ne3 -- a zchwizenzug (attacks queen for tempo) that also defends the mating square at g2. Quite a lot going on in those few moves.
Aug-23-16  thegoodanarchist: < Sally Simpson: Hi GoodAnarchist,

Yes it is a good Monday puzzle, if it was up to me I'd mix up the puzzles>

I get that. I prefer the current system, but that's just my opinion.

The problem with the high failure rate at attempting to solve the puzzle is tunnel vision. How many folks were determined to sac the knight, and failed to solve the puzzle because of it?

But Black has more than just 1 piece, and the knight also can guard the queen on g2 just as well as the bishop can. Folks need to take a moment to absorb the entire position, but didn't do so, I'm guessing.

Your proposal would actually make this puzzle easier for those people, I expect.

Aug-23-16  morfishine: <Sally Simpson> I love this comment: <I don't mind plodding on a piece down if I have a piece down to plod on with> Of course the only point I was making is White need not resign immediately, what with the ignominious situation of losing one's Queen or being mated: He has another route to take, one more honorable: with both of our Queens being removed, then I will resign, and thats that


Aug-24-16  Sally Simpson: Hi Morf,

Some lad seems to think going into an ending a pawn and a piece down with a bare King is akin to S Levitsky vs Marshall, 1912.

Beauty is in the eye of beholder. If that what he thinks then no argument from me.

(are you going to tell him the gold coin thing never happened or have I just done that?)

Premium Chessgames Member
  steinitzfan: I put "gold coin" in quotes. My point was that neither move really accomplished anything but the appeal is in the intricacy of the tactics. Marshall's move was made in a completely won position and so contributed nothing to the result. This move also leaves the result unchanged although it definitely gives the opponent a better chance to go wrong. The move Ne3 alone is a feast for the eye.
Aug-24-16  Sally Simpson: Hi Steinitzfan.

Missed the 'quotes'.

But if defensive moves is your thing how about some that actually work. :)

Some lad has gathered a whole load here.

Game Collection: Defensive Combinations

Now we can debate which one is the most beautiful.

Up there amongst the 'Gold Coins' is

L Gutman vs A Vitolinsh, 1979

White botches a clear won game to reach a position thinking his opponent would resign. Players have resigned in easier positions to defend. This one looks hopeless.

Black to play.

click for larger view

White has the simple threat of Qh5+ and Rg1+ mate. Note Qe7 does not help because then Qg6+ Qh7 picks up the f8 Rook with check.

Yet Black won.

Oct-26-16  kingfu: I will have a karl burger with a side of three losing moves!

How many quickly got 27...Ba6? I did not. Pal Benko did! This is the guy who played 1.g3 against Fischer and won. In a Candidates Tournament.

The rest of us were looking at 27...Nxg2 and 27...Nxh3. These win, too, for the rest of us. Just slower.

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