Polugaevksy and Bronstein Duels!

Polugaevksy and Bronstein Duels!

Jan 24, 2018, 9:13 PM |

In his masterful book, "Grandmaster Preparation", the first chapter is titled "On How this Book found Its Author". By the way, this book is a must for anyone interested in improving his/her play! Polugaevsky shares some of his varied and rich experiences, and this first chapter gives us some insight in how his chess journey started and shaped his career.


We pick up the action on page 12.....

" I cannot avoid recalling the "secret war" between David Bronstein and myself."



"What if, instead of 7...Be7, Black plays 7...Nbd7?"






In 1967 I managed to find the time necessary for some painstaking work on my idea. But before analyzing these two continuations, the main point had to be cleared up: did Black gain any advantage if White responded to 7...Nbd7 just as he would against 7...Be7? If not, it simply wasn't worth the trouble.....



It was here that I should have realized that David Ionovich would not "forgive" me this opening unpleasantness, and would do everything possible to try to gain his "revenge". I suffered the answering blow under the following circumstances.



On arriving at my hotel after the game, I discovered that White can make an important improvement to the variation, by playing 6. Qb3 instead of 6.Bg2. It was only four years later that I managed to test this idea in my encounter with S. Furman, who had not failed to notice the move order employed in Kharkov by Taimanov. Especially since during the Championship Furman and Taimanov had been sharing a room.



Two months passed, and I again reached the position after Black's fifth move, this time playing against Bronstein. As I now remember it, before my next move, I deliberated whether or not to make the apparently approved 6.Qb3. Common sense, and some sort of self-preservation instinct suggested, even demanded, that I should avoid trouble, and play the "old-fashioned" 6.Bg2. But, in the first place, I a accustomed to believing my analysis, and secondly, I completely failed to take into account the possibility of a "blood-feud" on Bronstein's part. A role was possibly also played by simple curiosity: what could my opponent have prepared for this variation?


Be that as it may but events developed at lightning speed:




                                                                David Bronstein




When, on the conclusion of the game, we sat down to analyze it, I had not yet cooled down after the battle, and began impetuously trying to demonstrate the total incorrectness of the pawn sacrifice. I said that White had not done anything "unlawful", such that Black should be able to give up material for nothing. I began giving various lines, trying to refute Black's venture immediately. And each time Bronstein would methodically comment on what was happening: "It's not so simple, it's not so simple. You have an extra pawn, but I have extra space!"


We even continued our discussion on the way to our hotel. And after ascending by lift to our floor, we concluded a gentlemen's agreement: to play this variation again, should the opportunity present itself, and thus continue our argument under tournament conditions, in which a move cannot be taken back.


Later, incidentally, when I had cooled down and had begun to analyze calmly, I realized that if Black's innovation was to be refuted, there was no way this could have been done during the first encounter. To solve at the board all the problems facing White was in practice a hopeless task. And with each new hour spent on analysis, it became more and more clear to me that Bronstein's clever discovery gives Black perfectly reasonable compensation in the majority of variations. At any rate, the explosive power in the innovation proved more than sufficient for one game."


Note: The Bronstein-Keres game that Polugaevsky refers to is an astounding pawn gambit in a main variation of the Ruy Lopez. Here is the game!