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Endgame Lab 45 Years


Looking back over 45 years of GM Pal Benko’s magnificent Bafflers. By GM Pal Benko


The April issue of Chess Life commem-


orated 45 years of “Benko’s Bafflers” in a retrospective by Dr. Steven Dowd. I thank Steven and the many contributors. The late Burt Hochberg, the longest-serving Chess Life editor, had asked me for a new column with the title recommended by Ed Edmondson. It started as a column devoted to problems and endgames, only later becoming specialized to be the latter.


Sam Loyd (1841-1911) I had dedicated my first column to American Sam Loyd, known world-wide as a chess-problem author. Though he created only about 20 endgame studies (and hundreds of problems), their influ- ence was, and remains, great. In that first column I presented two


Loyd problems. One of them can be found with my refinements in the February 2012 Chess Life; here is the second:


Sam Loyd, 1868


-+-+-+-+ +-+-+K+- -+-+rsN-mk +-+-+-tR- -+-+L+q+ +-+-zpl+- -+-+p+-+ +-+-vL-+-


White to play and win


1. Rxg4 Rxf6+ 2. Ke7 Re6+ 3. Kxe6 Bxg4+ 4. Kf6 It begins with a rather sudden key


move and then unexpectedly develops into a mutual Zugzwang. Neither side has a useful move but it is Black to play. After 4. ... Bd7 5. Bg6 wins.


4. ... Bh5 5. Bh4 Be8 6. Bg5+ Kh5 7. Bf3 mate.


46 Chess Life — July 2012 As often occurred in Loyd’s works, he


was careless about placing his great idea into a proper framework. My try for improving on it is presented here—an attempt to forge virtue from sin.


Pal Benko—version


-+-+-+-+ +-+-mK-+N -+-+-snlmk +-+-+-+N -+-+L+nvl +-+-zp-tR- -+-+p+-+ +-+-vL-+-


White to play and win There is chaos on the board and we


have to find a way to clear it up. There are no less then 14 capture possibilities on move 1!


1. N7xf6! Thus 1. N5xf6? Bxg3! 2. Nxg4+ (2. Bxg3


Nf2 is equal) 2. ... Kh5 3. Nhf6+ Kh4 4. Nxe3 Bxe1 5. Ng2+ Kg3 6. Nxe1 Bxe4 7. Nxe4+ but the two knights are not enough to checkmate.


1. ... Bxh5 After 1. ... Bxe4 either 2. Rxg4 or 2. Rg1


wins. 2. Rxg4! Bxf6+


After 2. ... Bxe1 3. Ng8 is mate.


3. Ke6!! Bxg4+ 4. Kxf6 And this way the previously dia-


grammed position has been reached, winning for White.


“Chameleon Echo” Sam Loyd, 1859 (Correction by Pal Benko)


-+-+-trr+ +-+-+-+k -+p+p+-+ +-+-mK-+- -+-+-+-+ zp-+-+-+- -tR-+-+-+ +-+R+-+-


White to play and win


1. Rh1+ Kg7 2. Rg1+ Kf7 3. Rf1+ Ke8 4. Rb8+ Ke7 5. Rb7+ Ke8 6. Rxf8+ Rxf8 No better is 6. ... Kxf8 7. Kf6.


7. Kxe6 wins. In the original study the a3-pawn was


placed on a4 but in that case a “cook” is possible. Then after 3. Rb7+ (instead of 3. Rf1+) 3. ... Ke8 4. Rgb1 with the threat of 5. Kd6 would also win, while with the pawn on a3 after 4. Rgb1 4. ... a2 would save the position. Henri Rinck later published 61 problem


studies from Loyd with four rooks on, including this example. (720 Endgames, 1913.)


Zig-zag Sam Loyd 1859


q+-+-+-+ +pvl-+-+- p+-+-+-+ +-+-zP-+p -+-zP-+-+ zp-+-+-+- p+-+R+K+ sn-mkr+-wQr


White to play and win 1. Qe3+ Kb1 2. Qe4+ Kc1 3. Qf4+ Kb1 4.


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