Learning from Masters: David Bronstein.

Learning from Masters: David Bronstein.

Jul 25, 2010, 12:00 AM 18,117 Reads 29 Comments Tactics

When a chess player remembers tournaments he played, the first ones that come to mind are obviously those that he won.  But in my case, when I remember the International tournament in Oslo that took part in 1994, even though I tied for first there, this is not what brings me the most pleasant memories (after all this was not the only International tournament that I won). During that tournament I had a fantastic opportunity to spend about a dozen hours with the legendary David Bronstein.  Almost every evening, after the round was over, he would come to my hotel room and we were drinking tea ( I was lucky enough to bring a very popular at that time brand of Russian tea) and talking.  Did I say talking? Well, actually it was him who was talking and I was mostly just listening. I wish I had some sort of recording device to record his wisdom.  Really, even though my ELO rating was much higher than his ( I was at the peak of my career and he was not a young man anymore) I had this feeling of awe.  The old man knew hundreds of times more about chess than I.  His constant search for new ideas on the chess board as well as outside of it was really inspiring.  He would say: " Do you think I don't know the recent developments in the Botvinnik Variation of the Slav?"

Then he would show me the latest games of Shirov with his comments. Then he would add: "Chess players are digging a grave for themselves.  We play for people and people want to see creative ideas, not a subtle novelty on move 33 that promises a slightly better endgame." He valued most the creativity and improvisation during the game. And it was way before the computers became really strong, so I can only wonder what the Man would say today, when it is very common that chess players leave their Fritzs and Rybkas to work overnight in order to surprise their opponents with their 'creative' ideas the next day.

In my opinion one of the reasons why David Bronstein is widely considered to be one of the founding fathers of the King's Indian Defense was the fact that when he extensively played this opening in 1940-1950-ies, it was practically unknown territory.  But later, when it became one of the most popular openings (thanks to the games of Bronstein), the Master himself lost much of his interest there. He kept playing it till the end of his chess career, but it was not the same new and intriguing variation anymore.  Still, I believe if you want to learn the King's Indian defense, then instead of buying the latest opening monograph, do yourself a favor.  Find Bronstein's games where he showed the World how this exciting opening should be played.  I promise, you won't regret it. Let me show you some of his masterpieces here.

(Just like in most of my articles I give you a chance to test your attacking skills, so the games are given as a Quiz.  Please remember that you can always replay the whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list".)



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