In memory of Pal Benko

The Chess Artistry Competition of Judit Polgar’s 2021 Global Chess Festival was held in memory of Pal Benko (1928-2019). Pal Benko grew up in Hungary, where he became national chess champion in 1948, and emigrated to the United States in 1958. Pal was a world-class player who twice was a Candidate for the World Championship, in 1959 in Yugoslavia, and in 1962 in Curaçao. Eight times he won the Open US Championship and many times he crossed swords with Bobby Fischer, defeating him three times.
All through his life Pal Benko was a gifted and productive composer of chess studies, a passion that he remained loyal to till his very last years.

You can view the award winning studies HERE.

Here you can download the PGN file of the prize winner compositions.

Chess Artistry Competition 2021

The Chess Artistry Competition was organized as part of Judit Polgar's 2021 Global Chess Festival. The contest was held in memory of Pal Benko (1928-2019), who was a world-class chess player in the 1960s and 70s ,competing with the best players of his time, including Bobby Fischer. Pal was also a friend and trainer of Judit. And all his life he remained a composer of exceptional studies. Sometimes his endgame studies were so difficult that even the very best players had to struggle to solve them. With this competition, Judit Polgar wants to preserve his legacy and keep the memory of his greatness alive.
Nearly all world champions and grandmasters of composition participated, in total close to 50 compositions were sent in. Out of these 20 received prizes, honourable mentions and commendations.

In this talk, Judit Polgar invites Juhn Nunn, who was the Judge of the Artistry Competition, to explain some on the studies, including – in detail - the winning study by Sergeu Didukh. They also discuss what it takes to be a good judge, and look at the process of sorting out the best ones. John is a true lover of endgame studies. 'If I would have to give a name to this study, I would call it a Stalemate Party.’


Vladimir Kramnik: Chess endgame studies give joy and happiness

In this episode about chess endgame studies, former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik reveals that he composed a study himself when was just 10 years old. He also explains why he loves endgame studies. Together with Judit, Vladimir was the Patron of the Chess Artistry Competition that was part of Judit Polgar's 2021 Global Chess Festival. The contest was held in memory of Pal Benko, one of the most famous chess composers of all time.
Together with Judit, Vladimir takes a close look at the study by Yuri Bazlov that won 2nd prize, and at the amazing joint study by world-class composers Minski and Nielsen which won 7th prize. This study was special as it was inspired by a spectacular game won by one of the biggest talents of today, Daniil Dubov,  against Rasmus Svane:
Says Vladimir Kramnik: ‘I really appreciate those chess composers.’

Beauty and Perfection in chess = endgame study

In this episode on the Chess Artistry Competition, which was part of Judit Polgar's 2021 Global Chess Festival, Judit talks to John Nunn, the Judge of the contest. What is the influence of studies on practical play? How and why do chess endgame studies help chess players to improve their skills of defence? And how and what revolutionized chess endgames in the 1990s.
They also show in a detailed explanation the Minski and Avni study which received the 2nd Honourable Mention, revealing some of the most exciting ideas of the study.

Chess Study Composer Jan Timman

In the 1980s and 90s, Jan Timman was one of the top chess players in the world. But the Dutch grandmaster is also the strongest chess player to be successful – and very productive – as a chess endgame composer. Jan is a highly artistic personality, which he not only showed in his games but also in the many exceptional studies he composed. Jan won 6th place in the Chess Artistry Competition that was organized in memory of the famous chess grandmaster and chess composer Pal Benko.

Jan’s endgame study is 23 moves long and he implemented some of the most shocking moves you can see in a chess position. A wonderful study full of unexpected moments that show his great talent as a composer. The endgame study is shown by John Nunn together with Judit Polgar.

Yochanan Afek: 55 years of composing

Most likely Yochanan Afek is the only person in the world who played over-the-board chess for 55 years while having a parallel career as a study composer. Yochanan was born in Israel, but lives in the Netherlands. He won the 3rd prize of the Chess Artistry Competition organized as part of the Global Chess Festival in memory of Pal Benko, the world-famous chess player and study composer.

Yochanan explains to Judit what it takes to compose a study with a partner and how the study developed. He also speaks about the different themes they implemented in the study, one of them being called the Round Trip...

Mentor and Student composing chess endgame studies

In this episode, Judit Polgar introduces a very special composer pair consisting of a Mentor and his 15-year-old Student, as they reveal the process of working together. Marjan is the Mentor, who composed more than 600 compositions, but only 15 of them are endgame studies.

Together they won the 4th prize in the Chess Artistry Competition which was held in memory of Pal Benko, the world-famous chess player from the 1960s who was also famous for his extremely artistic compositions that were often very hard to solve. Ben, the Student gives us a little insight why he loves composing. Their study is very rich in ideas and gives a good idea of how many details count. An inspiring pair.


Grandfather inspires grandson to compose chess studies.

Fifteen-year-old Ben Richardson from Israel is Judit Polgar’s guest in this episode. Ben was inspired by the famous endgame composer Yehuda Hoch. He tells Judit that whenever he has an idea he shares it with his grandfather, who inspires him to go on and have the perseverance to compose something exceptional. Ben would be happy to inspire his own age group of teenagers by showing them chess studies.
He received the 5th Honourable Mention at the Chess Artistry Competition in memory of Pal Benko, which was part of the program of the 2021 Global Chess Festival. Ben Richardson says he is very passionate about ‘ideas that don't stop bumping into my head.’


Collector of 90.000 chess endgame studies

Harold van der Heijden is a passionate collector. What does he collect? He has been collecting chess endgame studies for decades and has now brought together the breath-taking number of 90.000! Harold talks about the journey how he built his collection. But he is also a composer himself and shares one of his nicest studies. The endgame study he presents impresses by its seeming simplicity, as it vividly demonstrates that sometimes our intuition and logic can mislead us when solving a chess study.

More information about his database you can find here:


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