The Teacher of the Chess World

The Teacher of the Chess World

| 23 | Chess Players

David lonovich Bronstein was born February 19,1924 in Bila Tserkva, Ukraine, to a Jewish mother and father. Growing up, he learned chess at age six from his grandfather. As a youth in Kiev, he was trained by the renowned International Master Alexander Konstantinopolsky.

At age 16 he finished second in the 1940 Ukrainian Chess Championship, behind Isaac Boleslavsky, with whom he became close friends both on and off the chessboard. He would later go on to marry Boleslavsky's daughter, Tatiana, in 1984.

1945 was Bronstein's breakthrough year. 1st in the Semi-Finals of the Soviet Championships in Moscow, he then went on to finish 3rd behind Botvinnik and Boleslavsky in the 14th Soviet Championships and scored his first GM norm. His first major international tournament success occurred at the Saltsjöbaden Interzonal of 1948, which he won. He earned his Grandmaster title in 1950, when FIDE, the World Chess Federation, formalized the process. In May, 1950, David Bronstein and Boleslavsky won the first Candidates Tournament, held in Budapest, Bronstein became the eventual winner over Boleslavsky in a 1950 play-off in Moscow.

The match for the world title Botvinnik- Bronstein took place 16th March - 11th May 1951 in Moscow, Russia. Bronstein came agonizingly close to actually taking it from Botvinnik when he was leading by a full point up to game 22; He lost game 23 and then drew 24 and the match, which left the incumbent world champion Mikhail Botvinnik in place.

He represented the USSR at the Olympiads of 1952, 1954, 1956 and 1958, winning board prizes at each of them, and losing just one of his 49 games in those events. At Zurich 1953, Bronstein finished second behind Smyslov. He was 1st in the 1959 Alekhine Memorial Moscow Central Chess Club tournament with Smyslov and Spassky, 3rd in the Mar del Plata International behind Spassky and Fischer, 3rd in the 29th USSR Championships in Baku in 1961 behind Spassky and Polugaevsky but ahead of many strong players. He tied for 4th-6th at the 31st USSR Championship in Leningrad 1963, 2nd in the 32nd USSR Championship 1964-5 in Kiev, and 1st in the Moscow Championship of 1968 with Petrosian.


When Viktor Korchnoi defected from the Soviet Union in 1976 Bronstein was one of the few Soviet grandmasters who refused to sign a letter denouncing him. As punishment his stipend, a salary paid to all chess grandmasters in the USSR, was suspended, and Bronstein was banned from competing in elite national tournaments and from travelling abroad more than once a year.

In 1979 he finished 4th in the Keres Memorial in Tallinn behind Petrosian, Tal and Vaganian. In 1983 he stopped playing for a while and in 1984 was pensioned off by the Soviet Sports Committee (a point of bitterness in his book).  He resumed playing in 1987 with a 2nd at Pancevo. He played on - with diminishing returns - until 1999, finishing with a highly respectable 2432 rating.



He was perhaps most highly regarded for his authorship of Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953 (English translation 1979). This book was an enormous seller in the USSR, going through many reprints. More recently, he co-authored the autobiographical The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1995), with his friend Tom Fuerstenberg.

Contributions to Chess

In the Caro-Kann Defense, the Bronstein-Larsen Variation goes 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ gxf6. In the Scandinavian Defense, the Bronstein Variation goes 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qd6. In the book “Secret Notes” deservedly Kasparov writes: "David Bronstein is the Teacher of the chess world!

Bronstein died in Minsk, the 5th of December 2006, at the age of 82.

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