Pal Benko: My Life, games and Compositions - Pal Benko & Jeremy Silman
An absolute monster of a book! Printed in hardback and running to 668 pages as one of my colleagues pointed out "that's not a book, that's a weapon!" Indeed, this new title from Siles Press (the company that brought you How to Reassess Your Chess) is impressive. 138 deeply annotated games, a survey of Benko's openings by John Watson, an interview with the man himself among others and 300 of Benko's chess compositions.
The games are split into thirteen chronologically ordered chapters charting Benko's entire chess career starting in Budapest in 1945 and ending in the States in the late eighties. The games have obviously been carefully chosen to both entertain and instruct with extensive annotations and commentary on each and every game. The beauty of this book is found in the little extras that abound throughout. Each of the thirteen chapters contain an introduction to events by Benko giving him ample opportunity to slip in previously unknown anecdotes about Fischer, Reshevsky, Larsen and many others. Photographs and mini biographies of Benko's contemporaries bring to light the characters described making it less like a collection of games and more like a documentary. There's also a massive survey of Benko's openings by John Watson showing the scope of Benko's theoretical contributions to the game. Split into two sections, 'Benko as White' and 'Benko as Black', and covering 131 pages this could have made a book all by itself.
If you ever get bored with the games, and trust me that isn't likely, than you can try to solve one of Benko's Bafflers!. 300 of his own compositions have been split into sections; 2-move mates, 3- (and more) move mates, letter problems, endgames, helpmates and puzzles. A truly amazing book (and weapon)!
Siles Press, 668 pages (hardback)