Cornell chess photo

Welcome to my chess page.


I am a FIDE master (FM) and have been both writer on chess and coach.

I don’t compete actively in tournaments anymore, but I follow the major international competitions, I still play blitz games online for fun to experiment with styles and openings, and I judge articles for Chess Journalists of America.

“Chess is the touchstone of the intellect.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A bad day at chess is better than any good day of chasing some silly little dimpled ball all over somebody’s cow pasture.” – Mitchell White (Fellow golfers, take note!)

“Chess is not a whit inferior to the violin.” – Mikhail Botvinnik

“A chess tournament is not a horse race. Besides official results, it leaves something much more important: games, products of human intellect.” – Mikhail Krasenkov (New In Chess 1998/6)


My rating, title and ambition


Current title: FM. Likely to remain retired from tournament play, unless our kids show interest.

Current USCF rating: 2244. My peak hit 2376 but this took a deep dip in my last year of competition.

Current FIDE rating: 2265.


Tournament Highlights


2003 Eastern Open, Washington, DC.
tied 4th place, just missing 1st in a last-round time scramble with GM Alex Sherzer.

2002 Midland Open, Kenilworth, England.
solo first place, defeating GM Mark Hebden.

1999 Eastern Open, Washington, DC.
tied 4th place, defeating two IM’s in the tournament.

1996 Mass Open, Boston, MA.
tied 2nd place.

1995 US Amateur Team East, Somerset, NJ.
5.5/6 on second board, unfortunately not good enough for a prize!

1994 Pan Ams, Providence, RI.
first board prize with 5.5/6, defeating the first two GM’s I played over the board, probably my career highlight.

1994 World Open, Philadelphia, PA.
shared 1st place with 7.5/9, Under 2200 Section, certainly my most lucrative day as a chessplayer.

1992 Harvard Freshman Intramural Chess Tournament, Cambridge, MA.
I won in a very long and memorable elimination playoff over Jeremy Martin and Oliver Tai.

1992 US Junior Open, Bradford, PA.
tied for 3rd place.

1992 World Open, Philadelphia, PA.
tied for 3rd place with 7/9, Under 2000 Section.



Strong players I’ve beaten in tournament play


GM Mark Hebden (Midland Open, 2002).

GM Gennady Zaitchik (World Open, 2001).

IM Igor Khmelnitsky (US Amateur Team East, 2001).

IM Rico Mascarinas (Liberty Bell Open, 2001).

IM Eugene Meyer (Eastern Open, 1998).

IM Ed Formanek (Eastern Open, 1998).

GM Gennady Sagalchick (Pan-Ams, 1994).

GM Ilya Gurevich (Pan-Ams, 1994).


Other chess-related achievements


2001 “Chess Braintwisters” by Burt Hochberg (an unorthodox problem I composed was published in this book).

2000 Chess Life. CJA (Chess Journalists of America) Award.

“Best Analysis” prize in the “general” category went to my article “A most memorable game,” originally published in the March-April 2000 edition of Chess Horizons. This article is available elsewhere on this website.

1996 “M21” Masters of the 21st Century.
Chess teacher and WWW consultant. The organization was devoted to teaching chess for talented children, since studies have shown this can be instrumental in developing young minds in a variety of important ways.

1995-96 Chess Horizons (MA).
I annotated numerous games for this publication, which can be found elsewhere on this website.

1995 Chess Horizons (MA).
In an article on college chess tournaments, I was named “Undoubtedly the collegiate chess player of the year [1994].”

1994-96 H3 Publications, Cambridge, MA.
I served as an editorial assistant for the American Chess Journal and for Patrick Wolff’s book on Kasparov-Anand 1995, and acted as web consultant for H3. I also wrote an article on Karpov, which was unfortunately never published, but is now available on this website.

1991 American School of Chess.
A training ground for “top 50 list” players at the Marshall Chess Club. We had lectures with the late GM Edmar Mednis and various training activities.


A Most Memorable Game

This extremely detailed analysis of a dramatic win over Antoine Hutchinson was originally published in Chess Horizons and the Maryland Chess Newsletter in 2000, and won the award for that year from Chess Journalists of America (CJA) for best analysis (general).

Karpov’s Cosmic Connection (COMING SOON)

A review of “Anatoly Karpov’s Best Games,” which also contains some remarks on Karpov’s career, playing style, and other books.

Bizarre Events in my Chess Experience (COMING SOON)


Some entertaining displays of ineptitude, and other amusing situations!

A Discussion of Chess Variants (COMING SOON!)

A collection of the weird and wonderful, from odds chess to Crazyhouse.

Alekhine-Euwe Analysis (COMING SOON!)

An in-depth analysis of a very tactical rook endgame, given shoddy analysis in Alekhine’s manual of his own games.

Chess is a game of knowledge and skill. As your coach, of course I can hope to enhance your knowledge, but I especially hope to improve your skill in applying it to practical situations. My primary emphasis is on analytical technique. I will pose problems appropriate to your level, and help you to practice it both with puzzles and in game scenarios. I will ask you questions about your games as we review them, and give you problems to solve about the endgames especially, since they are the clearest.

Capablanca taught us that the game should be studied from the endgame first. That is the most solid foundation to build your understanding of chess. The famous Russian school of chess taught this way too, from the end backwards. Unfortunately, without a coach, it can be difficult to learn the endgame, since unlike the opening, you won’t encounter the situations immediately in your games. But then when you do, it may already be too late! ‘Book’ study can be dry; it is difficult to really assimilate understanding just by playing through examples. Often times the best learning comes from hard experience and learning from one’s mistakes, so I have collected instructive positions that serve as good analytical exercises, and scenarios that you can practice playing against me under time limits. This way you will improve your analytical skill, learn how you react to these positions under tournament conditions, and thus remember the essential positions better when they occur in your games.

I strongly believe that by going through this endgame course, your endgame foundation will be laid, your theoretical understanding firmed up, and your opponents will begin to fear you more and more as the game progresses. You will know what positions to aim for and how to win them when you arrive. The analytical approach to our study will help your thought process throughout the middlegame as well. The limited material of endgames makes both sides’ objectives clearer and makes it easier to clearly visualize the resulting positions in analysis, focusing instead on making branches of an analytical tree, evaluating them, and drawing a conclusion about what is the best move to play.

My own coaching specialties are the endgame course and the development of an opening repertoire: both knowledge of specific opening moves and having a strategic sense about the kinds of positions that result from them. I like to divide a lesson into equal parts of endgame study, game review (usually focused on middlegames), and opening analysis. I have numerous repertoires prepared and enjoy tailoring your repertoire to your chess interests and talents, to your skill level and your amount of studying time.

In order to avoid difficult choices of preferring one game over another, I’ve simply presented them in chronological order, with a
brief synopsis of each. Thanks to ChessBase 8.0 software it is now possible to play over the games and variations conveniently online, without having to set up a board! I have split the material into groups of years, and provided brief synopses of each game on this page. Perhaps these selections will give the reader a nicely inflated sense of my playing ability (as should all “best games” collections).

1. Ferrero (1953) – Bengtson, Somerset Quads (3), 1990
A good positional performance from my A-player days, marked by psychological perceptiveness. Also a good example of play with one open file.

2. Bengtson – Lee (2062), U.S. Open (9), 1993
A tense, double-edged middlegame leads to an interesting endgame, definitely one of my best, in which the bishop pair shows its power to the fullest.

3. Bengtson – Weerakoon (2185), Pan Ams (5), 1993
A game memorable for its circumstances (a crucial team match), and also for its remarkable sequence of punches and ripostes in the middlegame.

4. Trubman (2145) – Bengtson, World Open “Expert” (8), 1994
My best game from one of my best tournaments: a clear-cut Nimzovichian positional conception highlighted by some crisp, energetic maneuvers.

5. Bengtson – Giacobbé (1958), Pan Ams (2), 1994
A “brilliancy” in which I sacrifice a piece to break through to his king, and then spurn several easy wins in order to chase his king all the way to the queenside to be mated.

6. GM Sagalchik (2568) – Bengtson, Pan Ams (6), 1994
The second of my GM scalps; White plays a sharp variation of the Grunfeld but misses a key point, after which his position abruptly falls apart at the seams.

7. Bengtson – Fuhro (2000), Boylston G/60 (3), 1995
White gains an advantage in development and space from the opening, and he refutes his opponent’s freeing attempt with some sharp and elegant tactics.

Best Games 1996-1999

8. Bengtson – Capallo (2172), Mass Open (3), 1996
Black chooses an doubtful opening variation; one more slip and White unleashes a ferocious sacrificial attack on his king, stranded in the center.

9. NM Cherniack (2366) – Bengtson, Mass Open (5), 1996
Against a slow English formation, Black plays aggressively on both sides of the board, and finally crashes through on the kingside.

10. FM Jensson(2220) – Bengtson, World Open (9), 1996
White misplays a sharp opening; when Black finally coordinates his army the opposite bishops help him to take dead aim at White’s king.

11. Bengtson – FM Ippolito (2441), World Open (8), 1998
Black makes some mistakes in the opening, and is soon denied the right to castle. White proceeds steadily and manages to paralyze the whole Black position.

12. NM J. Meyer (2330) – Bengtson, Free State Chess League (1), 1999
In this complex league match game I was compelled by match standings to play for a win. I sacked a pawn, gained tremendous pressure and converted in the endgame.

13. NM Collier (2230) – Bengtson, Free State Chess League (4), 1999
A charming miniature. Black grabs a pawn in the opening, and when White misplays his attack Black suddenly seizes the initiative and launches an amusing mating combination.

14. Bengtson – NM Hoekstra (2247), Eastern Open (5), 1999
Another charming quickie. Black gets too ambitious at the end of the opening; the two kingsides are weakened, but in White’s favor.

Best games 2000-present

15. Bengtson – IM Khmelnitsky (2172), US Amateur Team (3), 2001
Black is insufficiently prepared for a sharp opening and finds himself down material. However, the endgame has some pleasing moments and concludes with the famous bishop-knight mate.

16. Bengtson – GM Zaitshik (2570), World Open (2), 2001
Black misplays the opening and finds his queenside torn to shreds. White’s attack nets a pawn; then he consolidates and takes full control of the position.

17. Bengtson – M. Garcia (2137), U.S. Open (3), 2001
In a theoretical King’s Indian, White lets Black win a piece and chase his king to the center, banking on two dangerous passers and aggressive heavy pieces. The gamble pays off. Was it luck or intuition?

18. Yanayt (2058) – Bengtson, U.S. Open (8), 2001
An M21 student of mine allows a dangerous countergambit in the Sicilian. One more error and he’s on the ropes, but Black must calculate well to drive home the attack. The conclusion is aesthetically pleasing.

19. Passell (2045) – Bengtson, Free State Chess League (2), 2001
A USATE teammate of mine wins a pawn in the opening but concedes powerful positional pressure for it. When he tries to break free of the bind, his king finds itself under a violent sacrificial attack.

20. Bengtson – Kleiman (2190), Vermont CCA International (3), 2003
In an Anti-Moscow Gambit that was new at the time, I attacked directly through the center; after some exciting fireworks I emerged the exchange ahead but still had to work to convert in the endgame.