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Vladas Mikenas vs David Bronstein
USSR Championship (1965), Tallinn URS, rd 2, Nov-23
Old Indian Defense: Czech Variation w/Nc3 (A53)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 5 OF 5 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-21-11  sfm: Wow, thanks to all for the roses, a huge surprise. From mid-seventies to '80, chess was absolutely all I cared about, exclusively, night and day. What I just wrote was truly myself at the time. The reason I stopped again was that chess became too exiting. I had to make the choice between "only chess" or "no chess". I stopped.

Was it the right choice? See, I would have thought that I'd one day would run into something else equally absorbing. But it never happened.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <sfm> Well done - you captured the player's thought processes perfectly!
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Bronstein's 24...Rxa3!!, hanging the rook three different ways, is a bit reminiscent of how Black hung his queen three different ways in S Levitsky vs Marshall, 1912 (23...Qg3!!!) and E MacDonald vs Burn, 1910 (33...Qg4!!!).
Sep-21-11  morfishine: <Once> Very good! I'm a Pink Floyd man too! Been so since 1977, or so...

<sevenseaman> Good going on the POTD and doe me a favor, send me those puzzles to my forum: Thats twice now the next poster solved it, my eyes wandered, and well I saw the solution...Excellent puzzle nonetheless

<sfm> Wonderful!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: I saw this almost at once (I hate having to say that, but hey...), having briefly looked at 24...Qe1+ and seen that 25.Qf1 defended. But such defences often have weak spots - might the Ra1 be deflected, for instance? We have an open a-file ... Bingo. It even helps that bxa3 leaves the Ra1 hanging, and the Rook on a3 attacks the White Queen, so the Ra1 can't just move away...

I like this one because the position looks so normal. It's clearly a position both players have visualized in advance -- White has some potential advantages, like a passed pawn, if he can defend the back rank. Which, he thinks, he can. But Black has seen further.

It's worth saying again. The opportunity to play a move like 24...Rxa3 rarely emerges from nowhere. It becomes possible when one player has seen it coming, and the other hasn't.

Would I have seen it in a game? I don't think so, not unless I'd already planned it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <sfm> Great description of the process I was trying to describe. The difference is, you engage the reader by telling the story from the inside.

Tells can be as useful in chess as in poker.

Sep-21-11  Patriot: <sevenseaman> Thanks! I wish you and others here could be members in my local club. The competition would be fierce and everyone in my club would learn a lot, including myself.

For a mate in 3, it was a tough problem. It seemed too easy to dismiss 1.Qa5+ because there didn't seem to be a good follow-up after 1...Kxa5. Then I looked at 2.Ra4+ and thought no...that loses the rook! So I looked around and finally came back to the idea and noticed 2...bxa4 3.b4#. 1.Qa1+ and 1.Ra4+ were good distractions. It would be very tough to see this OTB but this is where I'm hoping to improve. The goal is to minimize over-looking short-term mates or other tactics OTB. It's unrealistic though to say the goal is to never miss these things because we're only human.

Sep-21-11  sevenseaman: <Memethecat> Relax, drop the nerves. In my view you have cracked a really tough one. Hope it is the first of many you are going to bring home.

As I always say, there's no shortcut to plain hard work in imbibing a lasting attribute into your personality.

Sep-21-11  sevenseaman: <Patriot> Nice knowing how your mind worked on the puzzle. Similar thoughts coursed thru my head too the first time I saw this wonder.

I never select and post a puzzle to test the other guy's ability. I do it so that we all enjoy ourselves. You have shown a great capacity for sheer happiness.

If a puzzle has really frustrated me but I still find it worth sharing I am sure to preface its presentation with 'what a difficult time I had' in tackling it.

In fact I shun composers who complicate their creations (and end up making them overly ornate) merely to frustrate and belittle the solver.

A good writer must always be at one with his potential friend, the reader.

Sep-21-11  CHESSTTCAMPS: Positionally, white looks to have an advantage, given the doubled black b-pawns and the passed white d-pawn. Tactically, with the weak back rank, white is lost so long as black finds the right move (likely enough, given that it's Bronstein). Obviously, white can defend 24...Qe1+?? with 25.Qf1 and black appears to have nothing better than 25... Qxf1+ 26.Rxf1 b5 with no serious winning chances and perhaps a chance of losing. After a few minutes (not quickly enough to gain points on Chess Tactics Server), I found it:

24... Rxa3!!! exploits a pin and creates a winning fork:

A) 25.bxa3 Qxa1+ 26.B/Qd1 Re1+ wins.

B) 25.R(Q)xa3 Qe1+ forces mate.

C) 25.Ra1 other Rxd3 wins

D) 25.Qf1 (Or b1/d1) Rxa1 26.Qxa1 Qe1+ mates next.

E) 25.Other Rxa1+ wins.

"Drop dead", "gold coin drop" gorgeous. Time for review....

Sep-21-11  Creg: At first I thought this is too easy after 24...Qe1+ 25.Rxe1 black will mate on the back rank, then I saw 25.Qf1 and realized that doesn't work.

That's when I said I think I recognize this position?! Then it hit me out of the blue! I have seen this before. 24...Rxa3!! All 3 captures by white lead to a back rank mate. White can try and save the queen and protect the a1 rook, but after say 25.Qd1 Rxa1 and once again the back rank mate is on!

Sep-21-11  stst: Back from vac, rusty...
24.....Rxa3 will win either R or Q and win the game.
IF (A)25.RxR Qe1+ and 26.Qf1 is no defense.
IF (B)25.QxR Qe1+ and 26.RxQ loses to RxR#
IF (c)25.ignores and Qf1 RxR, 26.QxR and Qe1 wins in same style, for if 27.QxQ RxQ# see if I missed the then No.2's mind.
Sep-21-11  alachabre: I blew this one at first, thinking Qe1+ was a forced mate, even knowing that that would be too easy even for a Monday puzzle, and never in a game with a name like Bronstein on the board. So yes, Qf1 defends and it's back to the drawing board.

The themes I started looking for then were a deflection of the queen, or if there were some way I could sac the queen against the rook on a1. Focusing on that last idea, I saw

24. ... Rxa3

Which forks the queen and a1 rook, and to which there is no defense, nothing. A move like Qf1 or Qb1 fails to Rxa1, etc.

The lesson of this one appears to be that one can focus so hard on what looks like a simple idea, in this case an elementary textbook back-rank mate, that the real subtlety of the position can be lost, never to be regained once the wrong path is chosen.

Sep-21-11  LIFE Master AJ: <<sfm> Was it the right choice? See, I would have thought that I'd one day would run into something else equally absorbing. But it never happened.>

To THIS - I can relate!!!!!!!!

When I was six, they said: "Give him a year or two," he will grow out of it." When I was tweleve: "Wait until he discovers girls." When I was 25: "He will eventually burn out on it. One day, he will find he can't do chess and a job, and ..."

And so it goes ... I am 53.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: 24...Rxa3 - beautiful.

Some excellent posting on this thread!

Sep-22-11  gamego: 24.....Qd1 check
25. Rxd1 ...Rxd1
26. Qc1 ...Rxc1
Is this mate?
Aug-12-12  Everett: One of the most efficient positions in understanding back-rank mate. One move, three captures, all lose to three separate responses.

Bronstein once criticized himself for accepting doubled pawns too lightly (a "deficiency" in his game) because he so enjoyed the open lines.

Aug-12-12  Everett: <gamego: 24.....Qd1 check
25. Rxd1 ...Rxd1
26. Qc1 ...Rxc1
Is this mate?>

No, 24..Qd1+ is met by 25.Qf1

Feb-24-14  SpiritedReposte: Rxa3 is quite the showstopper. Moves like that are just too cool.
Jul-23-14  DubbleX: Wow amazing
Jul-25-16  Ultra: Nice finish!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: So, white thinks the position is even, and then, suddenly, he sees an unexpected and extraordinary move on the board and realizes he is dead at once. What a sledgehammer.

A fantastic move, 100% Bronstein.

Here's another Bronstein surprise:

Bronstein vs Korchnoi, 1962

Premium Chessgames Member
  Messiah: 'Back Prank'
Premium Chessgames Member
  Messiah: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 e5 5.d5 Be7 6.Be2 O-O 7.Nf3 Na6 8.O-O

< featured 8.h3, and in the next year saw 8.Nd2.>

Bd7 9.Ne1 ⩲

<9.Nd2 ± ended the opening with a success.>

9...Qc8 ⩲

<9...Nc5= or 9...cxd5 ⩲ both were playable.>

10.Nd3 ⩲

<10.a4 ⩲>

10...Bd8 11.f4 ⩲

<11.Be3 Bb6 12.Bxb6 axb6 13.a4 ⩲.>

11...cxd5 12.cxd5=

<I think 12.fxe5 Nxe4 13.Nxd5 Qxc4 14.Nf2 Nxf2 15.Rxf2 Qc6 16.Bf3 ⩲ was minimally better, by being more active.>

12...Nc5 13.fxe5=

<13.Nf2= is also totally playable.>


<13...dxe5=, and can be continued with 14.Kh1, 14.Nf2 or 14.Nxe5, as you wish.>

14.Nxe4 Nxe4 15.Be3 Bb6=

<15...dxe5 16.Nxe5 Bf6=.>

16.Bxb6 axb6 17.Rf4=

<More activity could have been earned by something like 17.Qc1 Qxc1 18.Raxc1 Rxa2 19.Rf4 Nc5 20.exd6 Nxd3 21.Bxd3 Rxb2 22.Re1= or 17.Rc1 Qd8 18.a3 Nc5 19.exd6 Ne4 20.Ne5 Nxd6 21.Qd4=.>

17...Nc5 18.exd6 Nxd3

<18...Qb8 19.Nxc5 bxc5 20.a4 Qxd6=.>


<19.Bxd3 Qc5+ 20.Kh1 Qxd6 21.Qd2=.>

19...Qc5+ 20.Kh1=

<Objectively not a mistake, but White forces an eventual h3 - because of this, 20.Qd4 Qxd6 21.b3= was more fortunate.>

20...Qxd6 21.Rh4 h6 22.a3=

<Not a mistake at all, but for kids I would recommend 22.Bf3, to simultaneously increase the overprotection of the isolated pawn, and to X-ray the b7/a8 squares.>

22...Rfe8 23.Bf3 Qe5=

<A tiny inaccuracy. 23...b5 was a tad better, with the idea of Ra4 and to get rid of the doubled pawns.>


<The losing move, out of the blue. Equal were 24.Qd4 Qd6 (24...Qe1+ 25.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 26.Qg1=) 25.Qb4= and 24.Rd4 b5 25.h3=. Even an immediate 24.h3 was possible, or 24.Qb1/24.Rf1, but I am not certain that these three moves are very precise.>


<Obviously, this is resignable. To avoid checkmate, White should give up tons of material (and then gets a checkmate, anyway).>


Apr-21-22  Mathematicar: Brilliancy.
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