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Thursday, February 1, 2018

David Bronstein - Author

    David Bronstein (February 19, 1924 – December 5, 2006) was not only a great player, but he was a great author and he is, I think, underappreciated in both categories. I have posted on Bronstein before: He Should Have Been World Champion and the 1951 World Championship.
     Bronstein also invented the Bronstein delay time control. This method adds time but unlike increment not always the maximum amount of time is added. If a player expends more than the specified delay, then the entire delay is added to the player's clock, but if a player moves faster than the delay, only the exact amount of time expended by the player is added. For example, if the delay is ten seconds and a player uses ten or more seconds for a move, ten seconds is added after the move is completed. If the player uses five seconds for a move, five seconds is added after the move is completed. The advantage to Bronstein's method is that it ensures that the base time left on the clock can never increase even if a player makes fast moves.
     Bronstein's books are all worth reading whether you want to study or just want to enjoy playing over great games.

Zurich International Chess Tournament, 1953 – Bronstein wrote this book just three years after the event. The 210 games are worthy of study by beginner, intermediate and advanced players and can serve as a textbook on how to play the middle game. Or, you can just set down and go over the games. GM Alex Yermolinsky wrote: “David Bronstein wrote a great book about the 1953 Zurich Candidates Tournament. What makes it great is absolute disregard to theorizing. He takes all the games from a super-strong tournament – uses no selection criteria, so no bias towards the author’s agenda is there – and just invites you to watch ‘em play. If I had to name one single book that helped me with my problems, not once but many times throughout my chess career, I’d know which one it is.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice is a book of his best games with interesting stories and easy-to-understand annotations.
200 Open Games - Games beginning with 1.e4 e5 amusing commentary emphasizes ideas behind moves and the resulting patterns.
Modern Chess Self-Tutor – Sort of a misnomer because what he really discusses is how GMs decide on their moves.
Bronstein On the King's Indian - puts emphasis on understanding the typical moves, maneuvers and the overall spirit of the defense.
Secret Notes - In this book he describes the chess personalities he has met and annotates 40 of his best games of the 1990s. He also recounts events from his earlier career, impressions of players such as Larsen, Spassky, and Korchnoi and expresses his views on modern chess. Interesting light reading.
Chess in the Eighties – He discusses the sport oriented nature of chess and its detriment of chess as an art. He also investigates chess psychology and the thinking processes involved in chess, the impact of computers. He coauthored this book with a psychologist.

    The following game was played against Najdorf in the 1954 USSR vs. Argentina match that was played in Buenos Aires and Bronstein's notes are most instructive. Bronstein sacrificed a piece for three Ps and his comments on how to evaluate the resulting position are most insightful.
     His three united passed Ps on the Q-side mutually protected each other and because there were three of them, they presented a severe obstacle to black's attempt to blockade them. In a case where three united passed Ps are pitted against a minor piece the Ps are generally superior to wither a N or B in the ending, but in the middlegame things are much more complicated because the extra piece can be used for attacking purposes before the Ps get moving. And, once Qs are exchanged, the Ps become more of a threat.
     When analyzing this game with Stockfish it found some improvements, particularly for Najdorf at move 28. But, as I have pointed out before, Jeremy Silman has made the point that when we amateurs look at master games the point is NOT to find errors, but to learn enough to appreciate the game’s beauty and learn the lessons that eventually will allow us to create that same beauty in our games. Besides that, if you're playing over games just for enjoyment, whose games would you choose? Tahl or Nezhmetdinov or Bronstein or Najdorf or the games of Petrosian or Ulf Andersson or Karpov?   As for the last three, it's more exciting watching sloths at the zoo.


  1. I like these pre-fritz explanations, Besides playing,did he write a column for a Russian Newspaper ? I created this collection on the 200 open games . http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chesscollection?cid=1008641
    I enjoyed Bronstein's comments on this game, http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1033884

    He was a class guy.

  2. Thanks for the great link to 200 open games...and your effort in putting it together! He did a column for Izvestia, but I am not sure of the years covered. A fellow named Bill Price wrote about his meeting with Bronstein back in 1993: