- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 20, 2002

David R. Sands is on vacation. The following is a reprint of a column first published Dec. 29, 2001.

With Ukrainian GMs Vassily Ivanchuk and Ruslan Ponomariov reaching the FIDE world-title match in Moscow, now doesn't seem a bad time to honor the achievements of another Ukrainian who fell just short of the goal 50 years ago this year, also in Moscow.
Kiev-born GM David Bronstein came within a whisker of seizing the title from champion Mikhail Botvinnik in the first formal title match since the end of World War II. The incandescent Bronstein led the sturdy, logical Botvinnik by a point with two games to go in the 24-game match but lost an epic ending in Game 23 to allow the champion to tie the score and retain his title.
Among the first-rank players through history, Bronstein may have loved the game more than anyone ever has. He loved coffeehouse chess, all-nighters at the club and tournament and match play at the highest level.
The lengthy, tortuous Botvinnik-Bronstein match only underscores the unsatisfactory nature of the modern FIDE title affair, a brisk eight-game match played at an accelerated time control.
Down 5-4 after the first 10 games, Bronstein turned in his most powerful performance of the match to knot the score again from the Black side of a Queen's Indian Defense. Bronstein invites his opponent to make an attractive positional pawn sacrifice, holds a shaky game together and smashes through on the counterattack.
After 15. Bxf6 gxf6 16. e4 (b4 c6 17. Nd4 is another way, aiming for an eventual disruptive b4-b5), Black's setup isn't pretty, but White still has to prove he has enough for the pawn.
White might have tried 21. Bh3 Bxd4 22. Rxd4 Be6 23. Rxc7!, with at least a draw on 23…Qg7 (Rxc7?! 24. Qg5+ Qg7 25. Rd8+ Rxd8 26. Qxd8+ Qf8 27. Qxc7 and White's slightly better) 24. Rxa7! Rexa7 25. Rd8+ Rxd8 26. Qxd8+ Qf8 27. Qg5+. In going for more with 21. Nc6 Re8 22. Bh4 Bh6 23. Rc2 e3!, White allows Black to build up a powerful offensive of his own, with his two bishops now a potent weapon.
In a double-edged position of the kind Bronstein loved, it is Botvinnik who falters with 29. Rxc7 (Qf6+ Qg7 30. Qxg7+ Kxg7 31. Nxe6+ fxe6 32. Rxc7+ Kf6 33. Re1 Bd2 34. Re2 Re7 leaves Black in control) Bd5 30. Re1?, when writer Svetozar Gligoric notes that 30. Rf1! Qd6 31. Bxd5! (Nxf5? Bxf3+ 32. Rxf3 Qd1+ 33. Kg2 Rd2+ 34. Kh3 Rxh2+! 35. Kxh2 Qg1+ 36. Kh3 Qh1+ 37. Kg4 Rg8+ 38. Kh5 Rg5+ 39. Kh6 Rxg3+!! 40. Rxe3 Rg6+ 41. Kh5 Qd1+ leads to mate) Qxd5+ (Qxc7? 32. Qf6+ Kg8 33. Nxf5 Qe5 34. Nh6+ Bxh6 35. Bxf7+ Kf8 36. Qxh6+ Ke7 37. Qh4+ Kd7 38. Bxe8+ Rxe8 39. Qxh7 and White is winning) 32 Nf3 keeps White in the game.
Instead, Bronstein fills a killer shot on 30…Qd6! 31. Rc2 (see diagram; if 31. Rc3, Black has the powerful 31…f4, but not 31…Re4? 32. Rcxe3! Rxh4 33. Re8+ Rxe8 34. Rxe8+ Kg7 35. Nxf5+ Kf6 36. Nxd6 Bxf3+ 37. Kg1, with equality) Re4!!.
The rook totally disrupts White's central coordination, and Botvinnik must surrender his queen to prevent mate. White has some material compensation after 33. Qxe4 fxe4 34. Nf5 Qb4 35. Rxe3, but his disconnected pieces can't organize a defense against the marauding queen.
In the end, Black's 39. Kg4 f6! (covering g5) leaves White defenseless against the coming 40…h5+ 41. Kxh5 Qxf5+, winning a piece. Botvinnik resigned.
In a match in which every half-point would prove precious, the glorious draw in Game 18 proved critical to both players. Bronstein again pushes the pace, with a brilliant piece sacrifice that produces a dangerous phalanx of passed queen-side pawns. Botvinnik, after a sleepless night of analysis after White sealed his 41st move, finds an ingenious defense to save the draw.
White's 9. c5! Be7 (e5 10. dxe5 Ng4 11. e6! fxe6 12. Nd4 Nxc5 13. Qxg4 Nxd3 14. Qxe6+ Qe7 15. Qf5 is much better for White, according to Gligoric) 10. a3 a5 sets the tone for the closed positional game that follows, with each side probing for just the right moment for a central pawn break.
Unexpectedly, Bronstein offers a stunning bishop sacrifice on the wing with 26. Qb1 Qc8 27. Bxb5!! Nxe5 28. fxe5 Bh6 29. Bc1 cxb5 30. Nxb5, getting two pawns for his piece and a lovely d6 outpost for the knight. If and when Black snaps off the knight, the trio of passed White pawns could overwhelm the restricted Black knight and bishop.
Bronstein, who faced repeated time trouble during the match, stumbles at the adjournment, giving his opponent an opening: 33. Qc3!? (not bad, but 33. Qb2 was better, as will be seen) Bf8 34. b5 Bxd6 35. exd6 Qa4 36. Qb2 (had Bronstein played 33. Qb2, he now could continue 36. Kh2 Kf7 37. Bd2 Nf6 38. Qb4 Qc2 39. Qa5!, with decisive penetration) Kf7 37. Kh2 h6 38. e4! f4! (fxe4 39. Bxh6; or 38…dxe4 39. d5! exd5 40. Qh8!) 39. e5 g5 40. Qe2 Kg7.
Had White now played 41. c6 Bxc6 42. bxc6 Qxc6 43. Bxf4!, he would have broken through decisively: 43…gxf4 44. Qg4+ Kf7 (Kh7 45. Qxe6 Kg7 46. Qe7+ Kg6 47. e6 wins) 45. Qxf4+ Kg7 46. Qg4+ Kf7 47. Qh4 Nf8 48. Qxh6.
But Bronstein went for 41. Qd3?, and Botvinnik and his seconds found 41…Nb8!! 42. h4 Qc4 43. Qh3 Qxb5! (Qxc1? 44. hxg5 hxg5 45. Qxe6 Qe3 46. Qf6+ Kh7 47. Qxg5 Qg3+ 48. Qxg3 fxg3+ 49. Kxg3, and Black's two minor pieces are outmatched by White's five extra pawns) 44. hxg5 hxg5 45. Qxe6 Qd3!.
Black abandons his two minor pieces, for he has an instant perpetual threatened with …Qg3+. White unleashes a long volley of checks but finally accepts the inevitable after 56. Qf7+ Kh8 57. Qxb7 Qg3+ 58. Kh1. A thrilling struggle all the way.

World Championship Match, Game 11, Moscow 1951
BotvinnikBronstein
1. d4e621. Nc6Re8
2. Nf3Nf622. Bh3Bh6
3. c4b623. Rc2e3
4. g3Bb724. fxe3Bxe3+
5. Bg2Be725. Kh1Be6
6. 0-00-026. Bg2a5
7. b3d527. Bf3Kh8
8. cxd5exd528. Nd4Rad8
9. Bb2Nbd729. Rxc7Bd5
10. Nc3Re830. Re1Qd6
11. Ne5Bf831. Rc2Re4
12. Rc1Nxe532. Bxe4Bxe4+
13. dxe5Rxe533. Qxe4fxe4
14. Nb5Re734. Nf5Qb4
15. Bxf6gxf635. Rxe3Rd1+
16. e4dxe436. Kg2Rd2+
17. Qg4+Bg737. Rxd2Qxd2+
18. Rfd1Qf838. Kh3Qf2
19. Nd4Bc839. Kg4f6
20. Qh4f5White resigns

World Championship Match, Game 18, Moscow 1951
BronsteinBotvinnik
1. d4d530. Nxb5Nd7
2. c4c631. Nd6Rxa1
3. Nc3Nf632. Qxa1Qa8
4. Nf3e633. Qc3Bf8
5. e3a634. b5Bxd6
6. Bd3b535. exd6Qa4
7. b3Nbd736. Qb2Kf7
8. 0-0Bb737. Kh2h6
9. c5Be738. e4f4
10. a3a539. e5g5
11. Bb20-040. Qe2Kg7
12. Qc2g641. Qd3Nb8
13. b4axb442. h4Qc4
14. axb4Qc743. Qh3Qxb5
15. Rae1Rfe844. hxg5hxg5
16. Ne2Bf845. Qxe6Qd3
17. h3Bg746. Qf6+Kh7
18. Ne5Nf847. Qf7+Kh8
19. f3N6d748. Qf6+Kh7
20. f4f649. Bxf4gxf4
21. Nf3Re750. Qf7+Kh8
22. Nc3f551. Qe8+Kg7
23. Ra1Ree852. Qe7+Kh8
24. Ne5Rxa153. Qe8+Kg7
25. Rxa1Ra854. Qe7+Kh8
26. Qb1Qc855. Qf8+Kh7
27. Bxb5Nxe556. Qf7+Kh8
28. fxe5Bh657. Qxb7Qg3+
29. Bc1cxb558. Kh1Draw

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at dsands@washingtontimes.com.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide