Benko's Revenge: Symmetry + Equality = No Draw

Benko's Revenge: Symmetry + Equality = No Draw‎

NM GreenLaser
13 | Chess Players


Pal Benko was born July 14, 1928 in Amiens, France to Hungarian parents and raised in Hungary. In 1948, he won the Hungarian Championship. He was an international master playing board one for Hungary in the World Student Team Championship of 1957 in Reykjavik, Iceland when he escaped to the U.S. embassy. In the United States, he became an international grandmaster and was a candidate for the world championship in 1959 and 1962.

Efim Geller (March 8, 1925-November 17, 1998) was a top grandmaster. He won the Ukrainian Championship four times and the Soviet Championship twice. He tied for first in the World Seniors’ Championship in 1991 and was clear first in 1992.

A topic that keeps arising in chess discussions is the draw. Many want to restrict punish draws. Some want incentives to avoid draws and encourage fighting chess. In this game, after move fourteen, the position was symmetrical and equal. It was only round two of fifteen in the Hoogovens at Wijk aan Zee 1969. Geller, playing black, offered a draw. Benko needed no incentive to refuse. He was self-motivated. Geller had refused Benko’s draw offer a few months earlier and won. Benko wanted the satisfaction of refusing the draw and not recognizing Geller as the one to decide between them when a draw was appropriate. How the players feel during a game, in general, and about each other, in particular, is not often accounted for when others have discussions of the draw. How players feel they have been treated does play a role in their decisions. Benko has written that the symmetry of the position after move fourteen did not completely exist beyond a temporary status, because somebody had to move. In fact, in a symmetrical position, these players had asymmetrical aims.

The extra half point obtained by Benko helped him to score 9/15 for clear 6th place. The half point dropped by Geller, or perhaps returned from their earlier encounter, resulted in his tie for first with Botvinnik at 10.5/15.

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