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Botvinnik vs Bronstein 1951
Moscow

 Bronstein vs Botvinnik, 1951
 Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, Moscow 1951
Ten players competed in the first Candidates Tournament, a double round robin held at Budapest 1950. David Bronstein and Isaac Boleslavsky tied for first with 12 points. After the first 12 regulation games were tied +2-2=8 in a Moscow playoff match, Bronstein won the tiebreak in the second game and earned the right to play World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik for the title.

Some chess historians subscribe to the theory that Bronstein was forced to throw the match by the Soviet oligarchy, to allow the Russian Botvinnik to win, while others attribute Bronstein's blunder in the 23rd game to a simple human oversight, perhaps induced by the fatigue of the long match.[1]

In the introduction to his book The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Bronstein addresses the conspiracy theory, albeit ambiguously:

I have been asked many, many times if I was obliged to lose the 23rd game and if there was a conspiracy against me to stop me from taking Botvinnik's title. A lot of nonsense has been written about this. The only thing that I am prepared to say about all this controversy is that I was subjected to strong psychological pressure from various origins and it was entirely up to me to yield to that pressure or not.[2]
The Botvinnik-Bronstein title match started at Moscow in March 1951. Down one game with two to go, Botvinnik won the 23rd game and drew the 24th game. Bronstein went agonizingly close to his goal when he tied the match with a score of 12-12. Under FIDE rules, the title remained with the champion and Bronstein was never to come so close again.

click on a game number to replay game 123456789101112131415161718192021222324
Botvinnik½½½½011½½½01½½½½0½1½001½
Bronstein½½½½100½½½10½½½½1½0½110½

FINAL SCORE:  Botvinnik 12;  Bronstein 12
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Botvinnik-Bronstein 1951]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #23     Botvinnik vs Bronstein, 1951     1-0
    · Game #22     Bronstein vs Botvinnik, 1951     1-0
    · Game #6     Bronstein vs Botvinnik, 1951     0-1

FOOTNOTES
1.

 page 1 of 1; 24 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Botvinnik vs Bronstein ½-½29 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchA91 Dutch Defense
2. Bronstein vs Botvinnik ½-½49 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchD87 Grunfeld, Exchange
3. Botvinnik vs Bronstein ½-½67 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchC07 French, Tarrasch
4. Bronstein vs Botvinnik ½-½47 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
5. Botvinnik vs Bronstein 0-139 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchE47 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3
6. Bronstein vs Botvinnik 0-157 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchB63 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack
7. Botvinnik vs Bronstein 1-066 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchA94 Dutch, Stonewall with Ba3
8. Bronstein vs Botvinnik ½-½41 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchD49 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
9. Botvinnik vs Bronstein ½-½41 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchA91 Dutch Defense
10. Bronstein vs Botvinnik ½-½55 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchA84 Dutch
11. Botvinnik vs Bronstein 0-139 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchE17 Queen's Indian
12. Bronstein vs Botvinnik 0-140 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchA84 Dutch
13. Botvinnik vs Bronstein ½-½56 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchE44 Nimzo-Indian, Fischer Variation, 5.Ne2
14. Bronstein vs Botvinnik ½-½66 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchA07 King's Indian Attack
15. Botvinnik vs Bronstein ½-½33 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchC07 French, Tarrasch
16. Bronstein vs Botvinnik ½-½75 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchA91 Dutch Defense
17. Botvinnik vs Bronstein 0-135 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchE45 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Bronstein (Byrne) Variation
18. Bronstein vs Botvinnik ½-½58 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchD45 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
19. Botvinnik vs Bronstein 1-060 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchD74 Neo-Grunfeld, 6.cd Nxd5, 7.O-O
20. Bronstein vs Botvinnik ½-½46 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchA14 English
21. Botvinnik vs Bronstein 0-164 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchE69 King's Indian, Fianchetto, Classical Main line
22. Bronstein vs Botvinnik 1-038 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchA91 Dutch Defense
23. Botvinnik vs Bronstein 1-057 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchE60 King's Indian Defense
24. Bronstein vs Botvinnik ½-½22 1951 Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship MatchD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
 page 1 of 1; 24 games  PGN Download 
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Kibitzer's Corner
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May-11-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Jezhov (Yezhov) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola...
May-11-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <gypsy> Thanks. Here is another "appearance" of Stalin behind a curtain, this time at the trial of Yezhov's predecessor Yagoda:

<Yagoda was found guilty of treason and conspiracy against the Soviet government at the Trial of the Twenty One in March 1938. Solzhenitsyn describes Yagoda as trusting in deliverance from Stalin even during the show trial itself:

Just as though Stalin had been sitting right there in the hall, Yagoda confidently and insistently begged him directly for mercy: "I appeal to you! For you I built two great canals!" And a witness reports that at just that moment a match flared in the shadows behind a window on the second floor of the hall, apparently behind a muslin curtain, and, while it lasted, the outline of a pipe could be seen.

Yagoda was executed by shooting shortly after the trial.>

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genrik...

May-11-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Boomie: <keypusher: <boomie> <Spassky and Bronstein directly refused to sign.> Bronstein I'll give you, but Spassky was living in France by then, so it would have been the height of absurdity for him to have signed the letter. Korchnoi even called him a "one-legged defector."

<H said he would write his own letter of condemnation and sign that. The gummint didn't let him do that. >

Botvinnik was a genius, I tell you!

Seriously, though, I've often heard that he told them he wouldn't sign a collective letter, but this is the first time I've heard that he said he would write his own letter. What is your source?>

I found this in Wikipoopia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botvin... in the Political Contorversy section.

The reference to Spassky signing is there, too. It's from a Saidy column in the USCF mag which, alas, is only for members.

May-11-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Boomie> Thanks! The source for the story about Botvinnik offering to write his own contra-Korchnoi letter was Kharitonov, and I have to admit it is pretty convincing. I am going to post a link to the story on Botvinnik's page, as it is well worth reading.

http://www.chessbanter.com/rec-game...

May-11-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Boomie: <keypusher: <Boomie> Thanks! The source for the story about Botvinnik offering to write his own contra-Korchnoi letter was Kharitonov, and I have to admit it is pretty convincing. I am going to post a link to the story on Botvinnik's page, as it is well worth reading.>

Thanks for the link to that article. It gives a glimpse into the character of a very complex personality.

May-19-09  Brown: <acirce> Live your life and make your own decisions.

Bronstein did what he thought proper: convince the world that Botvinnik is not invincible.

What you find important amongst the chess elite is not necessarily what they value.

May-20-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  acirce: <What you find important amongst the chess elite is not necessarily what they value.>

Of course not. I was just saying that if Bronstein really didn't want to win the title he should out of basic respect have stepped back in favour of someone who did. I certainly have the right to this opinion - seems like common sense. Of course I don't believe him in the first place when he says he didn't want to win it. If he didn't and yet came so close he must have been by far the strongest player around. Presumably that is what he wanted us to believe.

May-20-09  Brown: <acirce> Human beings are never so cut and dry, and it is obvious to anyone paying attention that Bronstein was conflicted about competitive chess throughout his career.

If Bronstein's goal was to knock Botvinnik off his high horse, and he knew he was the only one who could do it, why should he step aside?

You have the right to be wrong, absolutely. Or, to put it more clearly, to the degree that you feel Bronstein should have followed your logic, you should follow my logic and not criticize him in this regard.

...seems like common sense.

Jul-09-09  drnooo: Actually it seems virtually everyone here is missing at least one point when they get caught up in the endless wrangle of did he or didn't he. Bronstein was at the very least Botvinniks equal. If he could play that many games in a tension fraught match (Jew he was, that is indisputable). He himself once said, I just wanted to show he was not a God. Well, he did. Anyone who leaves Bronstein out of the soviet best, at least not alongside Botvinnik, and by default then, Smyslov, are missing the point. I always include Keres there as well, perhaps even placing him above the other three: it is pretty well proved that he was lucky to get off with his head after the war. One more chess player among the 40 million Stalin killed (at least and likely much greater) would not have bother Josef in the least. Instead we always have the usual, Botvinnik and Smyslov as the best in the east in the early to mid 50s. Not so. Bronstein and Keres were at least their equals, and on a level playing field probably better.
Dec-04-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Bent75: Do you have a comment, Bent75? Post it here! -Thanks! First I have to find out the corellations between Kibitzing and the very interesting chessgames!
when using Kibitzing, I need to Jump directly to page #3: As I understand; the most important is the chessgames, and not what happen during the period of Stalin, including the chessplayers!!One of the best chessplayers I know is David Bronstein, and I was expecting to
get good and interesting GAMES!?; Not
the half covered negative writing of a
person who make the world of Chess inspiring!!!
Re:Boomie: "Botvinnik was a genius, I tell you"!YES!; Me and my wife met him 1996 in Hasting;We had interesting conversation!
Apr-15-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: <Botvinnik was a genius, I tell you"!YES!; Me and my wife met him 1996 in Hasting;We had interesting conversation!>

I bet it was kind of one sided.

Apr-15-10  kamalakanta: acirce, I feel you are sincere, but nevertheless cruel towards Bronstein.

Let us apply your logic to other players: Fischer, for example. If he intended to abandon the game, then he should not have played in the World Championship title at all! He should have left others, who really wanted to gain the title AND defend it, play on!....

Of course Fischer's situation was a little more complex than that...but so was Bronstein's.

We can make very harsh and heartless judgements on anyone.

You must remember Bronstein was a very sensitive person, someone who spent most of World War II near the front lines, someone who saw his generation perish. In his country, most people his age died in the war. Millions upon millions! I can't even imagine how it feels to see most of your own generation disappear! Yet he had to endure this....

Add that to the fact that the Stalin regime sent Bronstein's father unjustly to the Gulag for six years, and broke his health in doing so, and that if he had become World Champion, he would have been representing that same Stalinist regime which he despised, and you start getting a more complete picture of the complexity of the situation Bronstein was in.

He has stated that all he wanted to do was to prove that Botvinnik was not invincible, so yes, he had to play that match to prove it. And he did prove it; Botvinnik did not beat him; the score was even at the end. Point made, even if Botvinnik retained his title......

Apr-15-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  acirce: <Let us apply your logic to other players: Fischer, for example. If he intended to abandon the game, then he should not have played in the World Championship title at all!>

That's not my logic.

And I don't see how I am being "cruel" or "harsh" or "heartless" towards Bronstein.

<Add that to the fact that the Stalin regime sent Bronstein's father unjustly to the Gulag for six years>

How do you know it was unjust?

Apr-15-10  I play the Fred: <How do you know it was unjust?>

14th December 1955

Citizen Bronstein
Esther-Molka Duwid

Concerning the contents of your request which was addressed to the Office of the Prosecutor of the USSR to revise the file of your husband Bronstein I. B., we inform you that it has now been revised and stopped because of the absence of any evidence that a crime had been committed.

Deputy regional office of the prosecutor concerning special cases, advisor to the Justice Dept.

A. Tomaschenko

Apr-16-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Ulhumbrus: I suspect that it was Bronstein's fate and misfortune to be unable to trust Botvinnik. I suspect that If Bronstein had told Botvinnik the pressure he was under, Botvinnik would have used his influence to get his father's file revised and would have freed both Bronstein and his father and that Bronstein would have won the world championship, although Botvinnik might have won a return match. Because that was the kind of man Botvinnik may have been. He was a convinced communist but may have been as well more upright than Bronstein assumed. I suspect something similar of Karpov: He may be and may have been more upright than Korchnoi and Kasparov have assumed. It may have been not Karpov who oppressed Korchnoi and Kasparov but other officials in the communist party who backed Karpov. It may have been those officials who arranged for Karpov to benefit from other people's analysis, and this conceivably without Karpov's knowledge. Kasparov has suggested in his books on his predecessors that prior to his 1974 match with Spassky Karpov had become already one of the strongest players in the world. Kasparov mentions that Karpov's rating was actually a little higher than Spassky's, although not significantly so. Therefore it is open to question whether any help from the communist party made much difference to Karpov's results during the period when Karpov was at the top, although there was once a rumour that Tal threw a game in one tournament, in order to enable Karpov to win it.
Apr-16-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: I wonder whether Botvinnik was really all that powerful. Remember that he was WC yet did not play on the 1952 Olympiad team (keres, Smyslov, Bronstein , geller). Was that paying a debt to Keres for 1948, and maybe to Bronstein for '51, or did he simply not want to play unless he could be 1st board? (Keres was Soviet ch. but played poorly on bd 1, 6.5 out of 12).
Apr-16-10  whatthefat: <Marmot PFL>

This was actually recently discussed on the Smyslov page:

Vasily Smyslov

Apr-16-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: <whatthefat> As WC Petrosian also had some bad tournaments, but always played board 1 with excellent results. So I don't think it was quite fair to Botvinnik to demote hum like that. Tournaments and team events seem to have different psychology. (I noticed that Euwe didn't play for Holland either, wonder what that was about.)

A similar case was the 1970 USSR v. World match. Fischer had not played much while Larsen had won several tournaments in the last year, so he demanded bd 1. Fischer surprisingly agreed, probably so he wouldn't meet Spassky again before the 1972 match.

Apr-16-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  acirce: <I play the Fred> Thanks. Of course also "rehabilitations" were very politicized at that time.
Apr-16-10  kamalakanta: acirce, it was unjust because he was sent to the Gulag, not for something bad he did, but for complaining against a corrupt local official.
Jul-28-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Here is a photo of the playing hall:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_klxcwTbD0...

Dec-04-10  Everett: <<acirce>: <I play the Fred> Thanks. Of course also "rehabilitations" were very politicized at that time.>

Yet obtuseness seems to be bipartisan.

Apr-22-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  talisman: #7 against #1...Mmmmm...who's #1 in 51?
Apr-25-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  talisman: BRONSTEIN.
May-21-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: Here is some live film footage of this historic match:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmU2...

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