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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A Fascinating Position

     In describing the following game, Irving Chernev wrote that it “floats along with ease and grace” and Bronstein’s play “charms us with its air of gay nonchalance. We derive pleasure that comes from spontaneous wit.” That’s not the language I’d use to describe it, but ever since I first saw the position after white’s 14th move in this game, it has held a fascination for me. 
     In 1954 the Soviets were unbeatable.  In March they defeated the team from Argentina 20.5-11.5. Other team victories in 1954 were: they won the Amsterdam Olympiad when they won 11 matches, lost none and drew only one (against Argentina). They crushed the US team in a match held in the Hotel Roosevelt in Manhattan by a score of 20-12. They beat teams from France 15-1 and Uruguay 19.5-0.5. 
     This game against Najdorf is especially interesting because it features three united passed Ps pitted against a minor piece. In the ending three united passed Ps are generally superior to either a N or B, but in the middlegame the situation is much more complicated. Sometimes the extra piece can be used to conduct an attack before the Ps can get moving. Once Qs are exchanged the Ps increase in value. 
     In Modern Chess Strategy, Pachman used this game, lightly annotated, as an example of how to play with passed Pawns against a piece. Irving Chernev also presented it in his book Twelve Great Chess Players and Their Best Games which contains 115 games by Capablanca, Alekhine, Lasker, Fischer, Botvinnik, Petrosian, Tal, Smyslov, Spassky, Bronstein, Rubinstein and Nimzovich.
     Everybody has praised Bronstein’s conception when he played 28.d6, but that was based more on the result than on the cold calculation of hundreds of thousands of variations that the engines can produce. And, of course, the engines found good defensive possibilities for Najdorf that are beyond the scope of humans. 


    That doesn’t take anything away from Bronstein’s play though. Thankfully, players like those 12 in Chernev’s book didn’t play like today’s GMs do!! Who wants to watch the rigor mortis brought on by too much computer analysis that prevails in today’s chess?

1 comment:

  1. Seeing the White pawns moving relentlessly down the board reminds me of playing Space Invaders!

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