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Mikhail Botvinnik vs David Bronstein
Botvinnik - Bronstein World Championship Match (1951), Moscow URS, rd 17, Apr-22
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Normal. Bronstein (Byrne) Variation (E45)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-31-04  Prophylaxis: Enormous tactical oversight at the end, although Bronstein was already winning.
Aug-15-04  suenteus po 147: <Prophylaxis:> <...although Bronstein was already winning.> Sometimes we don't see how close we are to losing until something like this happens to us. Botvinnik resigns, of course, because he finally saw that the queen is immune to capture: 35. exf6 Rxe1+ 36. Qxe1 Rxe1+ and now, if 37. Kf2, then 37...Nd3#! mates, and if 37. Kh2 then 37. Nd3 wins the exchange of the bishop. After facing a few losses like this, I'm always under the assumption that my position is tenuous and easily lost, forcing me to make the best move possible. It only takes one or two moves to lose if your opponent knows what he is doing.
Sep-21-06  Resignation Trap: April 22, 1951

Botvinnik tried to reassure himself before this game with comments very much like those before game 16:

"There is no other way - than to play well.

Try to force him to think in the opening.

Work with cunning, watch for threats. In so doing the main thing is time. Let's go! Things need to be finished off."

Sep-21-06  Resignation Trap: Botvinnik probably internalized most of his disgust for this game, for his post-game comment was really short:

"Up to move 25 played well; then - lost my head."

Dec-20-06  Ulhumbrus: With 11...Nc6 Bronstein shows contempt for his backward c7 pawn and Botvinnik's potential threat of organizing an attack on the c file. Bronstein will defuse this attack with the move ...Be7-d8!! whereupon the c7 pawn will be defended by a minor piece, rendering useless an attack upon it by a Rook on the c file. One interesting question is why the disconnection of Black's Rooks does not matter. Apparently there are no open files for White's Rooks. A lesson which this suggests is that when there are no open files for one's Rooks, the opponent can take liberties, or play around like this.
Mar-23-08  Knight13: Botvinnik is very passive here. He let Bronstein set up the best position for a blow-open and Bronstein exploited it the best he could. 29. f4!! is very good. 34. d4 adds control to the c3 and e3 square, and Bronsteain probably was planning to trade with ...Nh6 and then play ...Nd5 and jump on d3 or c3 when the time is right.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Everett: Bronstein is the ultimate chameleon, and showed a modern level of flexibility that was virtually unknown in the 50's.

This game is a case in point. One could imagine Petrosian or Karpov playing the sequence of moves for Black from 12..g6 (limiting the scope of Ng3) through 25..Bf6. The patient reorganization of his position after a provocative opening (at the time) rendered Botvinnik unrecognizable. I'm quite curious what the computer thinks about the position after 25 moves.Botvinnik seemed satisfied with his play, but Bronstein seemed to be in complete control at this point.

Feb-28-12  anjyplayer: Flexible pawn moves are behind some of the upsets.
Sep-12-12  csmath: Botvinnik played passive game obviously confused by strange manouvres from Bronstein and to top it all he badly blunders in the end.

This has to qualify for one of the worst Botvinnik's games ever.

Jun-19-13  zydeco: 30.exf4 Qxe1 31.Nxe1 Rxe1 followed by ....Nxf4 and there are no good squares for white's queen.

White has several attractive moves that he avoids: 12.Nf5 and then Rac1, Nd2, and Nd3-e5 around move 20. Instead he moves backwards and becomes passive.

Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: <Everett> After White's 25.Bc3 Houdini 3x64 finds the position even after 26/65 plys (a depth of about 4.5 billion moves).
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: Even more to the point, after 34...d4 35.Bc1, Houdini finds a minimal advantage for Black after 26/66. Botvinnik's move 35.Nf6+ drops a piece, as simple as that. So here is my advice to Anand, Carlsen, Gelfand, and all the other fellows: if you are playing for the WCh, don't drop pieces.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Everett: Thanks <maxi>, remarkable how great Black's position looks at move 34, yet the computers claims only a slight advantage.

35.Bc1 makes perfect sense, aiming to capture on f4 next move. The N is a much better piece than the B in this scenario. I imagine play could go <35.Bc1 Nd5> looking to keep the N and limit White's ability to trade down.

Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: Hi, <Everett>. After I read your comment I kept wondering about this position, especially because I didn't get a reading on it. I analized it a bit with the computer to make up for my lack of understanding. After 35.Bc1 the computer suggests 35...Qd6! 36.Bxf4 gxf4 37.exd6 Rxe1+ 38.Qxe1 Rxe1+ 39.Kf2 Re6 40.Re2, even position. To understand this peculiar line one must realize that Black is in precarious situation. After 35.Bc1 Nd5 36.Rf2, the threat of f4 is extremely dangerous. If 36...Qf5 37.f4! still. If 36.Kg7 f4 and it would be difficult for Black to draw. The computer recommends 35.Bc1 Nd5 36.Rf2 Nf6, and White has a small advantage.
Nov-04-14  Ulhumbrus: <csmath: Botvinnik played passive game obviously confused by strange manouvres from Bronstein and to top it all he badly blunders in the end. This has to qualify for one of the worst Botvinnik's games ever.> An alternative view is that Botvinnik appeared to play passively because after Botvinnik examined Bronstein's apparently strange looking manoeuvres he concluded that it turned out that they served to frustrate all attempts on the part of Botvinnik to play more actively so that this qualifies as one of Bronstein's best games ever. Fine included this game as an example in one of his books of chess games.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 5..Ba6 was an innovation thought up by Bronstein during breakfast the morning of the game; nowadays it has become the most popular line and is referred to as the Fischer Variation. Nowadays 7 Nf4 is now considered to be the strongest move; Botvinnik's 7 Ng3?! leads to nothing for White. 8 b3 has been played a few times and looks like an alternative worth further investigation. After 9..exd the position resembles a Queens Indian where White is behind in development. 13 b4, Bb2 and Rad1 would have been a more active plan than the one Botvinnik chose. 18..Bd8 defended against a potential sacrifice on c7; ie if 18..Nd8 then 19 Rxc7..Qxc7 20 Nxd5 and White will end up with two pawns for the exchange. 25 Bc3?! made it easier for Black to activate his queens rook; 25 Rac1 was an alternative. With 30 Ne5 Botvinnik was hoping for 30..Nxe5? 31 dxe..Bxe5 32 exf..Bd4+ 33 Qxd4!..Qxe1 34 Qh8+..Kg7 35 Qf6+..Kg8 36 f5 and White is winning; Bronstein avoided this trap. Bronstein had played a beautiful game up until playing 34..d5? (34..Qg6 would have maintained his edge) but Botvinnk immediately blundered.

<maxi: <Everett> After White's 25.Bc3 Houdini 3x64 finds the position even >

Giddens disagrees with the computer evaluations at several points during this game feeling that Black was on top the whole game until playing 34..d4?.

<After 35.Bc1 the computer suggests 35...Qd6! 36.Bxf4 gxf4 37.exd6 Rxe1+ 38.Qxe1 Rxe1+ 39.Kf2 Re6 40.Re2, even position.> After 40..Rxe2+ 41 Kxe2..Nxd6 Black is up a clear pawn though White would have had good drawing chances.

Jun-26-16  cunctatorg: What variation exactly is the so-called Fischer variation and why this name? Kasparov and Keene had named (Batsford Chess Openings) the variation 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 (Nimzo-indian Defense; so far, so good!...) 4. e3 0-0 the Classical variation (of the 4. e3 variation of the NID) and the variation 4... b6 the Nimzowitsch variation though Aron Nimzowitsch had just played one game (a draw with David Janowski) during ALL his career and Mir Shultan Khan had played this variation twice! By the way, the same authors had named (BCO again) the 4... c5 variation as Huebner variation and the 4... Nc6 one as the Taimanov variation of the 4. e3 variation of the NID...

What variation exactly is the so-called Bronstein (Byrne?) variation and why these names?

Premium Chessgames Member
  saffuna: Bronstein: "In this game I adopted the strategy of deliberately making moves that defy all logic. This had the effect of completely confusing Botvirnnik. After the opening he was psychologically 'groggy.'"

The "defy all logic" strategy never seems to work for me...

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <The "defy all logic" strategy never seems to work for me...>

Exactly. Bronstein’s boast is like Botvinnik claiming he beat Tal in the rematch by avoiding open positions. If chess was that easy, you and I would be a lot better at it, but then it wouldn’t be nearly so interesting.

Jun-22-19  sneaky pete: Black played here just like the late, lamented Henry Edward Bird.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: I have a book of Botvinnik's games and always feeling Botvinnik was less interesting than other players of his level I left it. But lately I started playing his games over and they are very interesting. Some sharp struggles.

He had the capacity to come back. e.g. against Tal his return match was very strong. Bronstein was a bit unlucky but luck is an essential par of every chess player's arsenal as Kasparov points out...

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