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Photo courtesy of Eric Schiller.  
David Bronstein
Number of games in database: 2,176
Years covered: 1938 to 1997
Last FIDE rating: 2432
Highest rating achieved in database: 2590
Overall record: +819 -311 =999 (61.9%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      47 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (211) 
    B40 B31 B20 B50 B90
 Ruy Lopez (131) 
    C77 C97 C78 C91 C92
 Nimzo Indian (75) 
    E41 E21 E55 E59 E32
 French Defense (63) 
    C07 C18 C15 C05 C02
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (57) 
    C97 C91 C92 C99 C98
 Caro-Kann (52) 
    B10 B18 B17 B12 B11
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (121) 
    C16 C07 C15 C09 C08
 King's Indian (95) 
    E67 E60 E80 E92 E69
 Ruy Lopez (88) 
    C76 C63 C69 C92 C99
 Sicilian (85) 
    B92 B32 B51 B90 B40
 Caro-Kann (83) 
    B16 B10 B14 B15 B13
 Queen's Pawn Game (53) 
    A45 A40 D02 E10 E00
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Bronstein vs Ljubojevic, 1973 1-0
   Bronstein vs Geller, 1961 1-0
   Bronstein vs Keres, 1955 1-0
   Bronstein vs M20, 1963 1-0
   J Kaplan vs Bronstein, 1975 0-1
   N Bakulin vs Bronstein, 1965 0-1
   Efimov vs Bronstein, 1941 0-1
   Pachman vs Bronstein, 1946 0-1
   Bronstein vs Botvinnik, 1951 1-0
   Bronstein vs Korchnoi, 1962 1-0

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: [what is this?]
   Botvinnik - Bronstein World Championship Match (1951)

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Budapest Candidates (1950)
   Saltsjöbaden Interzonal (1948)
   USSR Championship (1948)
   Gothenburg Interzonal (1955)
   Zurich Candidates (1953)
   USSR Championship (1949)
   USSR Championship (1958)
   USSR Championship 1964/65 (1964)
   USSR Championship (1945)
   Mar del Plata (1960)
   USSR Championship (1957)
   USSR Championship (1963)
   Amsterdam Interzonal (1964)
   Petropolis Interzonal (1973)
   USSR Championship (1971)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Challenger Bronstein by Gottschalk
   Match Bronstein! by amadeus
   200 open games by David Bronstein (part 1) by tak gambit
   Bronstein's Run by suenteus po 147
   200 Open Games by David Bronstein (part 2) by tak gambit
   Guess-the-Move Chess: 1940-1959 (Part 2) by Anatoly21
   Bronstein's Odyssey by Everett
   Bronstein's Picturesque Games by Brown
   Guess-the-Move Chess: 1940-1959 (Part 1) by Anatoly21
   Bronstein Sorcerer's Apprentice 40 Combinations by hms123
   Bronstein vs Computers. by lostemperor
   David Bronstein's Best Games by KingG
   Sorcerer's Apprentice Bronstein by tak gambit
   King's Indian pioneers by keywiz84

Search Sacrifice Explorer for David Bronstein
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(born Feb-19-1924, died Dec-05-2006, 82 years old) Ukraine
[what is this?]
David Ionovich Bronstein was born February 19, 1924 in Bila Tserkva, Ukraine.1

Chess and Checkers Club

When Bronstein was six, his grandfather taught him how to play chess. Later, when his family moved to Kiev, he joined the city "Chess and Checkers Club" and soon won the Kiev "Schoolboy's Championship."1 At age fifteen he was invited to play in the 11th Ukrainian Championship in Dnepropetrovsk, where he finished 8th.2 On the strength of this result he was invited back for the 12th Ukrainian Championship in Kiev. He placed 2nd to Isaac Boleslavsky, 3 which garnered him both the Soviet national master title and a place in the USSR Championship Semifinal in Rostov-on-Don.1,4 The semifinal was never finished due to the German invasion of Russia on June 22, 1941, and Bronstein did not play any serious chess for the next three years.1

Two Grandmaster Titles

By February 1944 the Germans had been driven back to the Dneiper River, and Bronstein joined the USSR Championship Semifinal in Baku.1 His 4th place finish qualified him for the final and drew the interest of Boris Vainstein, who quickly became an avid promoter of Bronstein's chess career. Vainstein was an influential member of the Communist Party, and he managed to have Bronstein relocated to Moscow from his job rebuilding a steel factory in the ruins of Stalingrad.1 Bronstein managed only 15th place at the USSR Championship (1944), but he was hardly disgraced, since he won his game against the incumbent "Absolute Soviet champion": Bronstein vs Botvinnik, 1944. 5 Bronstein's 3rd place in the USSR Championship (1945) earned him a spot on the Soviet team in international matches, where he posted good results. Though he was not yet a grandmaster, FIDE invited him to the Saltsjöbaden Interzonal (1948), which he won.6 He was immediately made a Soviet grandmaster,7 and in July 1949 FIDE awarded him the international grandmaster title.8

The World Championship

Bronstein wasted no time proving that if someone wanted to unseat world champion Mikhail Botvinnik, they'd have to go through him. He shared 1st in both the USSR Championship (1948) and the USSR Championship (1949). He went on to tie Boleslavsky for 1st in the Budapest Candidates (1950), and won the subsequent playoff match. Bronstein now had the right to face Botvinnik in a championship match. Botvinnik had played no chess in public since he'd won the FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948), which Bronstein thought was a deliberate ploy to hide his opening preparation.9 Bronstein opened game one with the Dutch Defence, one of the champion's favorite systems. Botvinnik later characterized this strategem as "naive."10 The match was closely fought, and by game 22 Bronstein led by a point and needed only win once more, or draw twice in the last two games, to become world champion. The stage was set for a climactic final game in which Bronstein needed a victory, since the champion would retain his title in the event of a drawn match. This game proved somewhat controversial because Bronstein accepted Botvinnik's draw offer after only 22 moves: Bronstein vs Botvinnik, 1951. This engendered speculation that the Soviet government had ordered him not to beat Botvinnik. In a 1993 interview Bronstein explained that "There was no direct pressure (to lose deliberately)... But... there was the psychological pressure of the environment..." in part caused by his father's "several years in prison" and what he labeled "the marked preference for the institutional Botvinnik." Bronstein concluded that "it seemed to me that winning could seriously harm me, which does not mean that I deliberately lost."11

Cold Warrior

The NKVD12 had arrested Bronstein's father in 1935 because he had "tried to defend peasants... who were put under pressure by corrupt officials."13 His father was released after serving seven years in a gulag, and only pardoned for any wrongdoing in 1955. Bronstein never joined the Communist Party, nor any organisations associated with it, such as the Communist Youth Party, the USSR Writer's Union, or the USSR Journalist's Union.13 Nevertheless, for decades Bronstein remained a prominent member of the Soviet chess team. He played in four successive chess olympiads, winning the bronze medal on 3rd board in Helsinki 1952, the silver medal on 3rd board in Amsterdam 1954, and the gold medal on 4th board in both Moscow 1956 and Munich 1958.14 In the USSR - USA Radio Match (1945) Bronstein faced Anthony Santasiere on 10th board, scoring +2 -0 =0 in a 15½ - 4½ Soviet rout of the Americans. In a 1946 USSR-USA match in Moscow, the Soviets won again, with Bronstein splitting a pair of games against Olaf Ulvestad on 10th board. He again helped defeat the USA in two ideologically charged matches in 1954 and 1955. The first was slated for New York in 1953, but Cold War politics got in the way. The Soviet team were on the verge of boarding a ship from Cherbourg when a jittery US State Department abruptly tightened their visa restrictions. Moscow declared this a "violation of all the rules of international hospitality and civility," but the Soviets did manage to play the Americans the following year in New York, and again in Moscow 1955.15 In New York Bronstein played 2nd board and beat Arthur William Dake in one game, and then proceeded to win three straight from Dake's replacement, Arnold Denker. In Moscow he faced Larry Melvyn Evans on 3rd board, scoring +1 -0 =3. The USSR won both events.16

Golden Age

Although Bronstein never again played a world championship match, he enjoyed a long period of success in strong chess events.1 He came close to a title rematch with Botvinnik when he finished shared 2nd at the Zurich Candidates (1953), two points behind Vasily Smyslov. Bronstein wrote a book about the event, which has become a classic in chess literature: Zurich International Chess Tournament, 1953. He won the Gothenburg Interzonal (1955) in fine style, but finished behind Smyslov and Paul Keres in the Amsterdam Candidates (1956). He would never compete in another candidates event, though he did play in the Portoroz Interzonal (1958), Amsterdam Interzonal (1964), and the Petropolis Interzonal (1973). After 1949 he appeared in fifteen more USSR Championships, with his best results coming in 1957 (2nd to Mikhail Tal); 1958 (3rd to Tal); Nov-Dec 1961 (3rd to Boris Spassky); and 1964/1965 (2nd to Viktor Korchnoi). He won or shared 1st in the Moscow Championship in 1946, 1947, 1953, 1957, 1961, and 1968.17 Bronstein also won or shared 1st in a series of international tournaments, including Hastings (1953/54), Belgrade 1954, Gotha 1957, Moscow 1959, Szombathely 1966, East Germany 1968, Sarajevo 1971, Hastings 1975/76, and Jurmala 1978.18

Chess Theory

Bronstein made many contributions to theory in openings such as the Ruy Lopez, King's Indian, and Caro-Kann (e.g. the Bronstein-Larsen variation 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6 gxf6). He helped revive the King's gambit,1 and also wrote a popular book on one of his favorite weapons: Bronstein On the King's Indian. Although Bronstein preferred some systems over others, the following recollection from biographer Tom Fürstenberg is worth keeping in mind: "David explained many times that he doesn't play openings - he just starts to create an attack... from the first move! ...That is why he does not have a specific opening repertoire. He just plays everything!"1


Bronstein, known affectionately as "Devik" by his friends, married three times, but it was his third marriage to Isaac Boleslavsky's daughter Tatiana in 1984 that seems to have given him the most lasting and satisfying partnership.19 In her memoir, she recalls meeting him several times as a young girl, noting his humour, generosity and, "above all, his gentle smile."19 She also ruefully explains that although Bronstein's patron Boris Vainstein was indeed a powerful man, he could do nothing to prevent the Soviet Chess Federation from banning him from almost all foreign tournaments for thirteen years.19 Bronstein was banned after Viktor Korchnoi defected in 1976, and Bronstein refused to sign a group letter condemning him. Despite the fact that Boris Gulko, Spassky, and Botvinnik also refused to sign this letter, it was only Bronstein who received this draconian punishment. Foreign tournaments were prized by Soviet masters as a crucial source of income, because they generally paid out prizes in "hard currency." Bronstein had to support himself during this period by writing for "Isvestiya."1 He believed his punishment was so severe because he had helped Korchnoi during the Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates Match (1974). 20 In 1990, after the Soviet Union collapsed and the borders opened, Bronstein contracted cancer, but an operation proved successful, and he lived another sixteen years. He spent much of this remaining time touring Europe, glorying in his new freedom by traveling from tournament to tournament, meeting old friends and making new friends. In his typically light hearted manner, Bronstein explained that "...amazed that I was still alive, chess clubs began showering me with invitations"21 He died on December 5, 2006.22

A Magical Fire

"The art of a chess player consists in his ability to ignite a magical fire from the dull and senseless initial position."23

--David Ionovich Bronstein


1 David Bronstein and Tom Fürstenberg, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (Cadogan 1995), p.263-271

2 Rusbase [rusbase-1]

3 Rusbase [rusbase-2]

4 Rusbase [rusbase-3]

5 Though Cafferty and Taimanov do not recognize the USSR Absolute Championship (1941) as a bona fide USSR Championship, the winner Botvinnik was nonetheless considered the Soviet champion at the time. Bernard Caffety and Mark Taimanov, "The Soviet Championships" (Cadogen 1998), pp.48-51

6 Kotov and Yudovich, "Soviet Chess School" (Raduga Publishers 1982), pp.77-78

7 "Tidskrift för Schack" nr.8-9 (Aug-Sept 1948), pp.180-181. Translation by User: Tabanus

8"Tidskrift för Schack" nr.7-8 (July-Aug 1949), p.159. Translation by User: Tabanus

9 Bronstein and Fürstenberg, pp.16-17

10 Mikhail Botvinnik "Match for the World Championship- Botvinnik Bronstein Moscow 1951" Igor Botvinnik ed. Ken Neat transl. (Edition Olms 2004), p.16

11 "Revista Internacional de Ajedrez" (Mar 1993), pp.38-42. In Edward Winter, Chess Note 4753:

12 The NKVD (Peoples Commissariat for Internal Affairs) was a predecessor of the KGB.

13 Bronstein and Fürstenberg, p.269

14 "Men's Olympiads"

15 Andrew Soltis, "Soviet Chess 1917-1991" (McFarland 1997), pp.221-227

16 Gino Di Felice, "Chess Results 1951-1955" (McFarland 2010) pp.422, 522-23

17 1946 [rusbase-4]; 1947 [rusbase-5]; 1953 [rusbase-6]; 1957 [rusbase-7]; 1961 [rusbase-8]; 1968 [rusbase-9]

18 <Hastings 1953-1954> (Di Felice, "Chess Results 1951-1955," p.317); <Belgrade 1954> (Di Felice, "Chess Results 1951-1955," p.333); <Gotha 1957> (Di Felice, "Chess Results 1956-1960," p.129); <Moscow 1959> (Di Felice, "Chess Results 1956-1960," p.342); <Szombathely 1966> (Di Felice, "Chess Results 1964-1967," p.429); <East Germany 1968> (Di Felice, "Chess Results 1968-1970," p.12 <Sarajevo 1971> ( <Hastings 1975/76> -<Jurmala 1978> (

19 Bronstein and Fürstenberg, pp.19-24

20 David Bronstein and Sergey Voronkov, "Secret Notes" Ken Neat, transl. (Edition Olms 2007), pp. 14-15

21 Bronstein and Voronkov, pp.12-13

22 Leonard Barden, David Bronstein obituary in "The Guardian" (7 Dec 2006)

23 Bronstein and Voronkov, p.34

 page 1 of 88; games 1-25 of 2,176  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Bronstein vs I Zaslavsky 1-025 1938 KievC43 Petrov, Modern Attack
2. E Poliak vs Bronstein 0-136 1938 KievD10 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
3. Y Lembersky vs Bronstein 0-137 1939 Kiev-tm USSR/YUGC25 Vienna
4. Bronstein vs B Ratner 1-035 1939 Soviet UnionB20 Sicilian
5. Bronstein vs V Gaiwevsky  1-048 1939 DniepropetrovskC66 Ruy Lopez
6. Bronstein vs Y Kaem 1-028 1939 DniepropetrovskC71 Ruy Lopez
7. L Kanevsky vs Bronstein  0-134 1939 Soviet UnionC46 Three Knights
8. Bronstein vs Gorenstein ½-½15 1940 KievC29 Vienna Gambit
9. Bronstein vs S Zhukhovitsky 1-032 1940 Kiev jrC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
10. Bronstein vs R Piatnitsky 1-015 1940 Kiev jrC41 Philidor Defense
11. Bronstein vs L Morgulis 1-034 1940 Kiev-tm USSR/YUGC25 Vienna
12. Bronstein vs V Mikenas 1-025 1941 URSC40 King's Knight Opening
13. S Belavenets vs Bronstein 0-124 1941 URSA54 Old Indian, Ukrainian Variation, 4.Nf3
14. Efimov vs Bronstein 0-112 1941 Kiev URSC34 King's Gambit Accepted
15. Bronstein vs E Kuzminykh  0-141 1941 Rostov on Don (Russia)C79 Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Defense Deferred
16. Sokolsky vs Bronstein 1-029 1944 USSR ChampionshipB10 Caro-Kann
17. Bronstein vs Panov  ½-½29 1944 Baku ch-URS sfC97 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
18. Bronstein vs Lilienthal 1-037 1944 USSR ChampionshipC92 Ruy Lopez, Closed
19. Lisitsin vs Bronstein  ½-½46 1944 USSR ChampionshipE94 King's Indian, Orthodox
20. Bronstein vs Alatortsev 0-139 1944 USSR ChampionshipC92 Ruy Lopez, Closed
21. Bronstein vs A Khavin 0-144 1944 USSR ChampionshipD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
22. Bronstein vs Flohr  ½-½53 1944 KievB10 Caro-Kann
23. Bronstein vs Boleslavsky ½-½22 1944 Kiev (Ukraine)C16 French, Winawer
24. Sokolsky vs Bronstein 1-027 1944 Kiev (Ukraine)C52 Evans Gambit
25. Smyslov vs Bronstein ½-½30 1944 USSR ChampionshipC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
 page 1 of 88; games 1-25 of 2,176  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Bronstein wins | Bronstein loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <It is no secret that any talented player must in his soul be an artist, and what could be dearer to his heart and soul than the victory of the subtle forces of reason over crude material strength! Probably everyone has his own reason for liking the King`s Gambit, but my love for it can be seen in precisely those terms> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <It would be as naive to study the song of the nightingale, as it would be ridiculous to try and win a King's Gambit against a representative of the old chess guard> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Theory regards this opening as incorrect, but it is impossible to agree with this. Out of the five tournament games played by me with the King's Gambit, I have won all five> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Some pieces in the King's Indian appear on a 'special price' list: the dark square bishops are at the top of that list> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Two passed pawns advancing on the enemy pieces have brought me more than a dozen points in tournaments> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <It is annoying that the rules of chess do not allow a pawn to take either horizontally or backwards, but only forwards ... This psychological tuning is ideal for attacking purposes, but what about for defence?> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <There is no disputing that in the eyes of Schlechter, Teichmann or even Rubinstein, the backward pawn was something more substantial than lively piece play, but in our day the latter is more often preferred.> - David Bronstein.
May-11-15  tappingfoot: Thank you <TheFocus> for these quotations<David Bronstein>.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Nowadays grandmasters no longer study their opponent's games so much, but they study his character, his behaviour and his temperament in the most thorough fashion> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <When everything on the board is clear it can be so difficult to conceal your thoughts from your opponent> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <When you play against an experienced opponent who exploits all the defensive resources at his command you sometimes have to walk time and again, along the narrow path of 'the only move'> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Far from all of the obvious moves that go without saying are correct> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <In chess, as in life, opportunity strikes but once> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Independence of thought is a most valuable quality in a chess player, both at the board and when preparing for a game> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <A strong player requires only a few minutes of thought to get to the heart of the conflict. You see a solution immediately, and half an hour later merely convince yourself that your intuition has not deceived you> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <To play a match for the World Championship is the cherished dream of every chess player> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <The essence of chess is thinking about the essence of chess> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Beauty is the most important aspect of chess…. We are passing our knowledge and our understanding of beauty to the next generations, and thus life goes on forever> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <If you have made a mistake or committed an inaccuracy there is no need to become annoyed and to think that everything is lost. You have to reorient yourself quickly and find a new plan in the new situation> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <To lose one's objective attitude to a position, nearly always means ruining your game> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Real combinations cannot result if one stirs together pawns, pieces, and weak points in a pot, heating this mixture on the fire of time pressure> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <In the middlegame one should not hesitate to advance a central passed pawn> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Without technique, one cannot attain mastery of any form; it is no less impossible in chess> - David Bronstein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <The act of playing chess is an act of creative cooperation. Even though you're trying to defeat your opponent, you're still creating something in partnership with him, a brand new game. Whether that creation is ultimately beautiful or ugly makes no difference, the aesthetics don't matter - you're still teaming up to make a game that's never been played before> - David Bronstein.
Oct-05-15  Everett: Games Like Bronstein vs Larry Evans, 1955

Game 1 in Steve Giddins new book Bronstein: Move by Move

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