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Bronstein's Big Endgame Mistake

David Ionovich Bronstein (February 19, 1924 – December 5, 2006) was a Soviet chess grandmaster, who narrowly missed becoming World Chess Champion in 1951. Bronstein (seen here in a picture from 1963)  was one of the world's strongest players from the mid-1940s into the mid-1970s, and was described by his peers as a creative genius and master of tactics. He was also a renowned chess writer. To get an idea of how incredibly strong he was, look up his peak average ratings for any range between 1-20 years at http://www.chessmetrics.com/cm/CM2/PeakList.asp?Params=199510SSSSSWS000000000000111000000000000010100

Botvinnik (the WCH Bronstein faced in 1951) wrote that Bronstein's failure in the 1951 WCH was caused by a tendency to underestimate endgame technique, and a lack of ability in simple positions. It's also possible that another reason was pressure by Soviet authorities to let Botvinnik retain his title.* At any rate, in this game Bronstein decides to enter an unusual endgame (Rook + 4 pawns vs 3 minor pieces) against the worst possible opponent: Another  Super-GM who is also considered to be one of the greatest endgame players of all time: Vassily Smyslov (Mar 24, 1921 - Mar 27, 2010) who unlike Bronstein beat Botvinnik in 1957 to take away his crown, albeit for only one year. You can also check out Smyslov's amazing performance peaks from 1-20 yrs at the chessmetrics link given above and find several more of his games in my blogs by going to the players index. 

* SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bronstein



Comments


  • 16 months ago

    Estragon

    Even strong GMs err in the ending, sometimes in simple known positions.  Hammer still had a draw against Svidler until after time control, when he incredibly moved his King to the third rank instead of just g8 which draws - as Carlsen pointed out in the interview of his own game with Topalov.

  • 17 months ago

    Icehawk3248

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 17 months ago

    Reshevskys_Revenge

    I actually feel that Sammy Reshvesky was the strongest player in the mid-1950s.  He defeated world champion Mikhail Botvinnik in a four game mini-match, which was the top board of the USA vs USSR team match held in Moscow. And at the candidates match in Zurich, 9 Soviet Grandmasters prearranged several results in games amongst themselves to successfully prevent the overall victory by Reshevsky.

  • 17 months ago

    NimzoRoy

    I think allegations regarding both Tal & Bronstein's mediocre or inferior endgame skills were usually made in the context of comparison to players like Botvinnik, not to ordinary GMs. Also it is interesting to note that most modern WCHs are considered to be megaweight endgame players - but I've never seen Euwe or Tal mentioned along with Lasker, Capablanca, Smyslov, Fischer etc. in this regard.  Maybe Tal and Bronstein were merely heavyweight endgame players

  • 17 months ago

    You_Know_Poo

    well, its true. u never said that Bronstein was throwing away his games, knowingly.  But ur comments air the doubt of it, though being very subtle.

    (plus, 2600+ is great in any form of the game. i knew it was bullet, though mentioning "2600+ only in bullet guy said", doesnt sound so good as "someone with 2600+ rating said", so i omitted that part)

  • 17 months ago

    NM GargleBlaster

    FWIW, I never meant to imply that Bronstein was throwing his games against Botvinnik, merely that the match was notable for Bronstein's endgame difficulties.

    That said, I find it somewhat interesting that Bronstein's supposed lack of endgame technique is not that easy to document outside of this match, and there are many instances of him shining in that phase of the game:

     

     


    Also, and this goes sort of without saying, but my "2600 rating" is in bullet (and from 2011 at that) and therefore in no way makes me an authority on any of this. :)



  • 17 months ago

    airbus

    Bronstein explained in 1976 why he made the 57.Kc2 move in the 6th match game against Botvinnik. I have written about it in my blog here : http://www.chess.com/blog/airbus/blunder-of-the-century

  • 17 months ago

    You_Know_Poo

    I have already seen the games. There is a wikipedia page for very obvious blunders by famous GMs.

    But none of the other examples coincide with a WCH contender saying that he was forced to loose.And there are two more games from the same match, third being too complex for me but was notable enough to be posted by someone with 2600+ rating.So dont "really?" me, because its possible.

  • 17 months ago

    NimzoRoy

    brilliant post gargleblaster. the first game's position is far too obvious for a GM to make such a blunder(that too in world championship). You_Know_Poo 

    Really? I suggest you look over the following games instead of making up your own facts

    http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chesscollection?cid=1003221

    Rubinstein AND Nimzovitch both overlook MATE IN TWO: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1102356

    Karpov misses an elementary threat, losing in 12 moves http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1069116

    Another Karpov disaster http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1067831

  • 17 months ago

    batgirl


    Bronstein, Keres, Botvinik


    The Botvinnik-Bronstein match was indeed strange.The 23rd game continues to be controvesial.  In 2003 Chessbase featured it in an article.  Two interesting items from that article are:

         "For years rumors persisted about why he lost. Some say Soviet authorities pressured him to lose in order to keep Botvinnik, a favorite of the Communist Party leadership, on the throne. Chess writer Lev Khariton described an interview with Luis Rentero, longtime organizer of the prestigious annual Linares chess tournament, in which Rentero tells how Bronstein consoled a young Bobby Fischer, who was teary-eyed after a loss to Boris Spassky in the 1960 Mar del Plata tournament. "Listen," Bronstein said to the future world champion. 'They forced me to lose an entire match to Botvinnik, and I didn't cry.'
         In an interview in the journal Chess in Russia, Bronstein initially denied having said it, but eventually conceded that he may have uttered something of that nature. 'Too much time has passed,' he said. Though Bronstein went on to have a successful career, winning many Soviet and international tournaments, he will likely be remembered more for what he didn't accomplish rather than what he did."


    and a story Ray Keene repeated from Genna Sosonko's 'New in Chess' column (the story was later reprinted in Sosonko's marvelous "The Reliable Past.")

         "The story about it is told by Genna Sosonko in New in Chess, in his recently essay on Salo Flohr. The 23rd game was adjourned with Botvinnik's two bishops clearly stronger than Bronstein's knights. After thinking for a long time Botvinnik sealed his move and left the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall with Flohr. After dinner they analysed the position, and Salo continued polishing the variations at home.
         The following day Flohr went to Botvinnik's place, where the defending champion said: 'Salo, could you show the variations to Gannochka.' Flohr was dumbfounded, since Botvinnik's wife barely knew the moves of the pieces. Botvinnik watched the lines. The two then had lunch and proceeded to the playing venue. Before climbing up onto the stage Botvinnik whispered: 'You know, Salo, I sealed a different move...'
         Sosonko says that when this happened Flohr had tears in his eyes, because of the suspicion and mistrust Botvinnik had shown towards him. The way I read Botvinniks behaviour is that he was saying goodbye to his title, because he had not sealed the winning move. But then one error by Bronstein in session two gave him fresh hope.
         One should note that if you are being forced to lose a match, this is a strange way to go about it. I dont recall Bronstein ever making such a claim before. If its true that he is now claiming this, then it's time for an extended interview with chapter, verse and variations. Botvinniks actions, on the other hand, make it seem that if he was being made a gift of the match, then he did not know anything about it."

  • 17 months ago

    You_Know_Poo

    brilliant post gargleblaster. the first game's position is far too obvious for a GM to make such a blunder(that too in world championship).

  • 17 months ago

    owltuna

    "The only thing I am prepared to say about all this is that I was subjected to strong psychological pressure from various sources and it was entirely up to me to yeild to that pressure or not. Let's leave it at that." -- David Bronstien, re the 1951 World Championship.

  • 17 months ago

    NimzoRoy

    Either Botvinnik was right - Bronstein "underestimated" endgames (a nice way of saying he was inferior to Botvinnik in endgames) and/or couldn't deal with simple positions(?) that one is hard to swallow OR the match was fixed, so Bronstein had to make sure he didn't win. Who knows? I've also read that in 1951 the 27 yr old Bronstein just took it for granted this wouldn't be the only time in his life he got to play for the WCH

  • 17 months ago

    NM GargleBlaster

    The match against Botvinnik was bizarre - Bronstein lost three very drawable endgames:

     
     
     




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