Talk:David Bronstein

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Untitled[edit]

This article is a wee bit POV but heartwarming nonetheless! Weasel

Although it should be better written, some mention of the theories and accusations of thrown games.

Like many other instances, there is credible theory that Bronstein was forced to throw the match by the Soviet oligarchy, to allow the Russian Botvinnik to win. Similarly, in the 1953 candidates tournament in Zurich, there is further speculation that there were pressure for the non-Russian Soviets, Keres and Bronstein to allow Smyslov to win.
On 1953 Zurich: www.chesscafe.com/text/skittles171.pdf
On 1951 WC match, David Bronstein's memoirs neither confirms nor denies having to throw games. From "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (Cadogan, 1995), "A lot of nonsense has been written about this," he says, but adds "I was subjected to strong psychological pressure from various sources and it was entirely up to me to yield to that pressure or not" (p. 16).

Other GMs, notably GM Larry Evans, have supported these claims.

R.I.P. David Bronstein. I have added an interesting piece of trivia to the article, and made another very minor edit, improving the position of a set of parentheses within a sentence. Vonhangman 07:44, 7 December 2006 (UTC)Vonhangman 7th December 2006Vonhangman 07:44, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

I only heard the news today. One of the great players of the 20th century. RIP David Bronstein. Carcharoth 15:16, 10 December 2006 (UTC)


In April 2005, I was chatting with Tom Furstenburg (who co-authored Sorceror's Apprentice) on the ICC, and asked him about Bronstein, since he was my favorite player He said "Bronstein has no email and his health is not good; very high blood pressure. Besides he's becoming a bit more weird than usual - I wanted to be with him to celebrate his 80th birthday (2004), but declined and said that he would go into hiding that day - unreachable for the world!" So I will add a small snippet that his health had been in decline. Barney Gumble 02:51, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

I wrote much of the article, using as a major source Bronstein's book "The Sorcerer's Apprentice".

I admit that I am a Bronstein fan. Bronstein was a very highly regarded writer, so the book has a high degree of credibility, in the eyes of most knowledgeable chess people. It won an award in 1995.

Even in his book on the 1953 Candidates' Tournament in Zurich, Bronstein strongly implied that it was set up for Smyslov to win by the Soviet chess authorities! And this was published in the 1950s, only a few years after the death of Stalin!! This book is also one of the all-time classics of chess literature, selling hundreds of thousands of copies in the USSR, and also did very well in the West following its translation in 1979 by Jim Marfia.

Bronstein did at certain times pay a personal price for his independent views, as is outlined in the article.

I left out certain other controversial stories from the "Sorcerer" book, since I didn't think they were central to the theme.

I admit that I was original, and certainly cutting-edge, in my comparison of Bronstein with Botvinnik from their 1951 match; yet this information is readily available, and I merely compared their respective lots from wartime, using it.

During WWII, Bronstein did not play a serious tournament for nearly three years, while Botvinnik got in plenty of practice in closed training matches, as well as periodic strong events, such as Sverdlovsk 1943. Botvinnik's personality was certainly cold and aloof; he treated chess as mainly an academic pursuit, and made major contributions to training methods and pedagogy, for which he was deservedly lauded, as he helped to build Soviet and Russian dominance, which has lasted ever since. Botvinnik was the darling of the Soviet chess authorities; see the Botvinnik article for more on this (I also wrote much of that). Bronstein was more the romantic, preferring to trust his intuition, rather than do vast amounts of preparation for specific opponents, as Botvinnik did.

Botvinnik had trouble dealing with Bronstein's style right from the start; he lost their first encounter in 1944, and drew their second game in 1945. This was at a time when he was Soviet champion and arguably the world's strongest player, based on chessmetrics.com ratings. At that time, Bronstein was virtually a complete unknown in the USSR, where there were hundreds of Master-strength players.

The two did not meet again until the 1951 match. Then Botvinnik lost game 5 of the 1951 match, after the first four games were drawn, and only scored his first wins after he had faced Bronstein at least seven times. Bronstein was put down by Botvinnik after the match, as Botvinnik explained his drawn match result (beforehand, he had been expected to win easily by virtually everyone) by not having played competitive chess for three years. But it was Botvinnik's established method to NOT play that much (at least not in public), and he could analyse all the master games played by others without having to risk anything himself, because of his privileged position, and could thus keep his plans secret.

But in his own book, in the introduction, Botvinnik pointed out, based on the match, that Bronstein played poorly in simple positions, and had a tendency to underestimate endgame technique. This seems unfair; my conclusion is that Botvinnik's vastly greater experience, especially with adjourned positions, was decisive in allowing him to obtain a drawn match result. Bronstein asserts this in his own book, where he wrote that he lost four completely even endgames in the match, after the adjournments, because of "bad homework". Bronstein also pointed out that Botvinnik was not able to defeat him even once in the match in a game which finished before move 40, whereas Bronstein won several games this way. Certainly, Botvinnik's criticism of Bronstein's specific faults is not clearly backed up by Bronstein's play from either before or after the match; in fact, his creativity is universally admired. Compare their respective chess careers after 1951, and Bronstein certainly doesn't come out worse; granted, he never became World Champion, but Botvinnik had such privilege as World Champion that he rarely even contested tournaments, and when he did, he didn't dominate the other top players, several times finishing out of the top spots (see 1951 Soviet Championship, 1952 Budapest, 1955 Soviet Championship). Botvinnik did not even play in the Soviet Championship after 1955; he likely decided it was too risky to face the rising new generation and have them pick apart his chess, with the exposed faults then being utilized later by challengers in title matches.

Looked at from this perspective, Bronstein's feat of reaching the 1951 world title match, and drawing the match, really stands out, especially with his father having been imprisoned years earlier (and being classed as an 'enemy of the state', for what was later admitted to be nothing, again according to the Sorcerer book, where Bronstein presents certain documents showing this. Trotsky's real name was Lev Davidovich Bronstein, and Bronstein's father's name was Iohanon Bronstein; it may be that his father was imprisoned merely because of his name, since at that time in the 1930s, Stalin had a virulent fetish towards removing anything connected with Trotsky, which ran to paranoia. Even a possible distant relative was seen as a threat!

I believe that state interference with high-level chess in the Soviet era is a central component to understanding many otherwise unexplainable events, and that chess from this era CANNOT be properly understood without at least some acknowledement of this phenomena. It's somewhat problematic, since chess rivalry near the very top is largely a matter of styles clashing, and psychological factors, and champion chess players prove their superiority by understanding and exploiting their opponent's weaknesses. This can often take drastic measures, and stories of cheating, thrown games, players helping their friends to analyze and win, coaches who change sides for key matches, and pressure put on by authorities to lose, are commonplace. Certainly, the era of Anatoly Karpov is filled with this type of material; Boris Spassky, himself a former World Champion, apparently got into some trouble for winning and finishing ahead of Karpov in a 1983 tournament where they both played. It is likely that at least some of these stories are exaggerated or fabricated, but when a central figure such as Bronstein, who has absolutely nothing to prove based on his achievements, delves into this area, it must be taken very seriously by researchers. My take on it is that it's impossible for all of these stories to be false. Look at the conclusion of the 1984-85 World Championship match!! That right there is confirmation that unusual factors are at work!! FrankEldonDixon|Frank Dixon 12:42 GMT+5, July 30, 2007 (UTC)

While I don't mind the way the article is currently written (I think the conspiracy theories about Stalin somehow caring about chess, of all things, in 1948 or 1951 are trash, but everyone is entitled to their opinion, however loosely supported by any facts), I feel the need to clear up a number of factually inaccurate assertions you make above.

For instance,

Even in his book on the 1953 Candidates' Tournament in Zurich, Bronstein strongly implied that it was set up for Smyslov to win by the Soviet chess authorities!

I have read Bronstein's classic book backwards and forwards many times. Nowhere did I find any implication, (strong or otherwise) of anything being set up for Smyslov to win. I'm very curious what passage you are getting this from. I have a copy of this book with me in both Russian (my native language) and English (my superior language!), so please feel free to refer to page numbers and paragraphs in either version.

Also,

During WWII, Bronstein did not play a serious tournament for nearly three years, while Botvinnik got in plenty of practice in closed training matches, as well as periodic strong events, such as Sverdlovsk 1943.

This is absurdly, hilariously wrong. Botvinnik hadn't played any chess whatsoever between winning the World Championship tournament in 1948 and defending the title against Bronstein in 1951. Not to say that Bronstein was wonderfully active either, but at least he had won the Candidates' Tournament in Belgrade beforehand. Both were probably rusty, but based on playing activity, Botvinnik was moreso, having been completely away from the game for 3 whole years.

I also wouldn't say Botvinnik got much "practice" against anyone during WW2, either. The "closed training matches" were training games against his good friend and second for the match, Viacheslav Ragozin, while both of them were in evacuation. For those who don't know, evacuation was hardly a good time to be studying chess; Botvinnik (and Bronstein) were both far more worried about not freezing to death, and having enough food to eat.

I believe that state interference with high-level chess in the Soviet era is a central component to understanding many otherwise unexplainable events, and that chess from this era CANNOT be properly understood without at least some acknowledement of this phenomena.

It would also be nice if you provided any tangible evidence aside from wild, severely biased speculation. But I guess that's the nature of conspiracy theorists!

Botvinnik had trouble dealing with Bronstein's style right from the start; he lost their first encounter in 1944, and drew their second game in 1945. This was at a time when he was Soviet champion and arguably the world's strongest player, based on chessmetrics.com ratings. At that time, Bronstein was virtually a complete unknown in the USSR, where there were hundreds of Master-strength players.

So losing one game and drawing a second one, which is an extremely small, insignificant sample size, is proof that Bronstein was inherently better than Botvinnik or something? Wow, talk about biased!

Also, the assertion that "there were hundreds of Master-strength players" in the USSR during WW2 is patently false. The Soviet Union lacked that sort of depth at the time; I would love to see you list even 100 master strength Soviet players during the 40s. They simply didn't exist; at most, there were perhaps 50 of them. That's a lot, but a far cry from "hundreds".

This seems unfair; my conclusion is that Botvinnik's vastly greater experience, especially with adjourned positions, was decisive in allowing him to obtain a drawn match result.

Back then, with longer time controls and no computers, adjournments were a standard element of chess. Both Bronstein and Botvinnik had plenty of experience with it. If Botvinnik was better in adjourned positions, that was a superior chess trait of his, not something to be discounted in such a blind, biased manner.

Certainly, Botvinnik's criticism of Bronstein's specific faults is not clearly backed up by Bronstein's play from either before or after the match; in fact, his creativity is universally admired.

I don't see how Bronstein's great creativity has anything to do with his ability in simple positions. (By the way, "simple positions" is a very precise term in the Russian chess lexicon, it has a very specific meaning)

Botvinnik is certainly entitled to his opinion, being one of the greatest players ever, and I see no factual contradiction to it. You, a very biased, weak player who hates Botvinnik and blindly worships Bronstein (I love Bronstein too, but come on, try to be a BIT objective), disagree with him. That's fine, but quit presenting your opinions as some kind of facts.

Compare their respective chess careers after 1951, and Bronstein certainly doesn't come out worse;

For someone who cited Chessmetrics several times, it's very telling that you don't do so here. Because by their calculations, Botvinnik's career from 1951 to 1970 (his retirement) was MUCH more successful than Bronstein's during that period.

Botvinnik did not even play in the Soviet Championship after 1955; he likely decided it was too risky to face the rising new generation and have them pick apart his chess, with the exposed faults then being utilized later by challengers in title matches.

Absurd speculation. Keep in mind that these are the same ultra-tough Soviet championships (probably the strongest tournaments in the world during the 1950s and 1960s) where other legendary world champions like Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian, and Spassky (not to mention legends like Keres, Geller, and yes, Bronstein) frequently lost and often finished with disappointing scores far from first place.

That tends to happen in tournaments featuring, at their peak, no fewer than 5 different world champions and countless others who were almost as strong!

Anywho, I could go on and on. The bottom line is that while I love Bronstein too, I try not to be so blindingly biased on his World Championship match, or present personal opinions as "facts".

ChessPlayerLev (talk) 01:18, 17 January 2012 (UTC)ChessPlayerLev

Olympiad[edit]

The article says "In the 1954 team match against the USA, held in New York, Bronstein scored an almost unheard-of sweep, at this level, of all four of his games on second board." This must have errors because (1) there was no Olympiad in New York, and (2) in 1954, Bronstein was third board (not second). Bubba73 (talk), 16:13, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

I'm not near any of my reference material right now, but I think that wasn't an Olympiad but rather a continuation of the USA vs USSR team matches that had begun with the famous 1948 radio match humiliation of the US. A US team subsequently went to Moscow (in 1952 I think) and lost again, then the Soviet team came to the US in 1954 and the US lost for a third time. I think at that point the US had had enough and cried "no mas". 165.189.101.177 (talk) 19:43, 19 February 2009 (UTC)
OK, I misread it as being part of the Olympiad. Bubba73 (talk), 22:39, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

Career after 1951[edit]

The section states:

Bronstein challenged throughout in Switzerland, and finished tied for second through fourth places, together with Keres and Samuel Reshevsky.

What does the phrase to which I have add emphasis actually mean? Some words must have dropped out JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 20:33, 30 May 2012 (UTC)

Bronstein delay clock[edit]

The article says that Bronstein introduced a digital clock with a delay. (1) Did he really design a clock or did he just invent the idea of a delay? (2) Was it a digital or analog clock? (I could have been analog.) Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 22:09, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

Also, the article says that Bronstein wanted to speed up the game. I haven't read much about him, but in The Even More Complete Chess Addict, page 237, it says that he often thought for over a half hour on his first move and once took over 90 minutes in the sixth move in the Ruy Lopez. This doesn't sound like a person who wanted to speed up the game. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 00:10, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

Read The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Bronstein & Tom Furstenberg to answer your questions. JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 16:42, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
I don't have it. I assume that was used for the reference in the article. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 17:19, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
Everything you said above is true. Yes, Bronstein once sat for an hour looking at his first move. Yes, he was a pioneer of modern time limits, rapids, 30 mins, 10 mins, 5 mins, 2 mins, 1 minute chess, and the Bronstein add-after time increment as is found on all chess clocks today (along with Fischer add-before and the pre-delay settings). Additionally, he was the first guy to record people's clock time on moves and graph it using (primitive Soviet) computers. JacquesDelaguerre 02:12, 24 February 2013 (UTC)
Have you seen this very funny (old) video of Yasser Seirawan talking about David Bronstein? JacquesDelaguerre (talk)!
No, I had not seen that - great video. Seirawan is a good storyteller. I looked at the book on Amazon and it seems to mostly be about games. Is there plenty of information about Bronstein other than the games in the book? Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 02:50, 24 February 2013 (UTC)
Lotsa. Read it. JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 02:55, 24 February 2013 (UTC)
OK, you have convinced me - I ordered the book. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 03:31, 24 February 2013 (UTC)
Enjoy! JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 03:46, 24 February 2013 (UTC)

I can't find anything about Bronstein introducing a digital clock with a delay. He did introduce the idea in 1973, long before digital clocks, so I have revised the sentence to reflect that. If anyone comes up with a reference that he introduced a digital clock, please include it. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 23:52, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

ISTR there was some kind of experiment with this kind of clock in his lifetime, but you're right, the source I cited is not sufficient to assert more than you have asserted. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jaxdelaguerre (talkcontribs) 06:00, 14 March 2013 (UTC)
When I first asked about the digital clock, I was told that the answer was in the book. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 15:06, 14 March 2013 (UTC)
Well at least you got to read the book. You shovel enough horse poo, there's gotta be a pony under there somewhere! JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 15:22, 14 March 2013 (UTC)
Or you could say that I bought the book to supply references for Wikipedia, when people who had the book said that there were things that were in the book that were not actually there, and wouldn't give page numbers. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 22:28, 14 March 2013 (UTC)

NPV & WTA[edit]

Quoting I. A. Horowitz on Bronstein is not an offense to NPV or WTA .... Horowitz was the greatest American chess commentator until Fine emerged and his assessment is entirely relevant and fitting in an encyclopedic article. JacquesDelaguerre (talk) 22:01, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

Then it needs to have markup as quotation, or copyedit to clarify it is coming from Horowitz (not just a superscript footnote ref), because the way it is presented right now, it is in Wikipedia's voice. Ihardlythinkso (talk) 00:14, 10 December 2013 (UTC)

1951 World Championship Game 6 move 57: Kc2??[edit]

Should the 57th move in game 6 of the 1951 World Championship be highlighted on this page? Various sources and commentary claim this was Bronstein's undoing in the match and loss of confidence leading to the inability to regain a championship form. It would be interesting to read a study on this possibility. Joel.sbateman (talk) 17:17, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

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Candidates 1953 allegations[edit]

I haven't read Bronstein's book, but I've found parts people have put on line, and I have cut and pasted them at Talk:World Chess Championship 1954. I can't see any allegation that Smyslov was favoured because he was Russian. Rather (Bronstein alleges), Bronstein and Keres were pressured to draw with Smyslov because Smyslov was leading and Reshevsky was coming second. So it was about stopping a non-Soviet (Reshevsky) from winning, not stopping a non-Russian. If someone has access to the book and can show otherwise, obviously I'm happy to change it back. Adpete (talk) 12:06, 15 April 2018 (UTC)

Russian or not?[edit]

At one point the article currently says:

It is sometimes further alleged that Smyslov was favoured over Bronstein and Keres because he was Russian and they were not (Jewish-Ukrainian and Estonian respectively).[citation needed]

But in the infobox it says Bronstein's country was "Soviet Union → Russia", and the article is categorized under "Russian chess players" as well as "Soviet chess players".

Was he considered as Russian or wasn't he? --69.159.8.46 (talk) 21:15, 7 April 2020 (UTC)

Well, he represented/lived in the Soviet Union and when it was disbanded, he represented/lived in Russia, so there is nothing incorrect. The article is speaking of the prevailing 'system preferences' at the time that Bronstein was bidding to become a world champion. It is commonly believed that the state heads and institutions always showed a discriminatory attitude against those citizens who were not pure (White) Russians, i.e. born in (modern day) Russia itself and allied to the orthodox religions. This in effect meant that being Jewish or part-Jewish, or being born in one of the neighboring republics identified you as a second class citizen. Consequently, it is thought that Smyslov and Botvinnik always got generous state support, while Bronstein and Keres (also people like Levenfish, born in Poland), did not. I'm simplifying things somewhat, as the complexities of the revolution, the Bolsheviks and anti-Bolshevik movements may also have a bearing (I'm no expert), but hopefully you understand that terms like 'Russian' can be used in a variety of contexts that might initially appear contradictory. Brittle heaven (talk) 19:01, 11 April 2020 (UTC)