David Bronstein, one of the world's strongest players in the mid-20 th century, is also one of the most original of chess thinkers. Rapidplay tournaments, clocks with the addition of a certain time after every move, his own version of 'random chess' - these are just a few of the ideas to have sprung from his fertile imagination.
After his refusal to join other Soviet grandmasters in denouncing Victor Korchnoi for his defection in 1976, David Bronstein was barred from travelling to the West for 13 long years. When the barriers finally came down in the late-1980s, he eagerly used his newly-gained freedom to travel to numerous countries in Europe, delighting chess enthusiasts with his original ideas and gaining new friends of different nationalities.
This book is mainly an account of these travels, on some of which he was accompanied by his wife Tatyana Boleslavskaya, who adds her own intriguing impressions. Also included are games played in various tournaments, which showed that the old tiger had not yet lost his claws. Bronstein also looks back into the past, and in particular to a secret training match played with Victor Korchnoi in 1970, the games of which have never previously been published.
Bronstein's co-author, Sergey Voronkov, is a well-known author and editor of numerous chess books and magazines.
When this book was in the final stages of publication, we received the sad news that David Bronstein had passed away. We hope that the book will provide a fitting tribute to the later years of this remarkable man, who had so many friends throughout the chess world
Teacher of the chess world
In one of his recent interviews Bronstein bitterly let slip: if he had won against Botvinnik, everyone would have fawned upon him. And he is right. I think that, had David lonovich won that match (and on the play he deserved to win, in my opinion), his ideas would indeed have been listened to more, and chess itself could have taken a rather different course. I don't know what he lacked, but he did not become world champion. Which is a pity. Because as regards his depth of chess understanding - depth, and not only originality (Larsen was also original, but he was a long way behind 'David the great'), Bronstein undoubtedly ranks alongside the champions.
His games have enriched chess with numerous original and fresh decisions. In the 1970s and even the 1980s I followed Bronstein's games with interest, and in each of them there could appear a bright, surprising idea, which had not occurred to anyone. He posseses his own, unique vision of the chess board, which with the years has possibly been transformed into eccentricity. But sometimes behind this eccentricity are concealed brilliant ideas, which enable Bronstein to be ahead of the time.
I am sure that his diverse activity has yet to be properly appreciated, since among the post-war generation of grandmasters he stands apart precisely by the amount of what he has done in chess. And, unfortunately, a large part of this rich heritage has not yet been comprehended by us.
Talking about Bronstein's contribution to chess, I should like to begin with the fact that after Tarrasch and Nimzowitsch he is one of the most brilliant popularisers of the game. In former times every leading player aimed to write a book, and even better - a primer, and the standard of chess literary mastery was very high. Unfortunately, with the years this fashion has almost died out. The great chess books of the post-war era can be counted on the fingers of one hand! In fact there is a whole mass of books, and there are some incredibly prolific authors, but all these are in the nature of transitory booklets; whereas epoch-making books, influencing whole generations of chess players, are very few in number. And, I think, this is primarily because the very art of popularising chess, explaining it and trying to reach a very wide audience, is disappearing - in short, making a book a genuine instructional manual, which is precisely what distinguished Tarrasch and Nimzowitsch, despite their very different views.
Of course, a mark in chess literature has been left by all the great masters. Lasker and Capablanca were the authors of high-class manuals. Alekhine wrote some brilliant tournament books and beautifully annotated his own games... But this was pre-war culture, when modern chess was only just taking shape. But in the post-war era there are few who, as Tarrasch once was, could be called a teacher of the chess world. And here, of course, Bronstein is in a class of his own. Yes, there is Fischer's excellent book, and the books of Larsen, Botvinnik and Korchnoi, but no one has devoted so much attention to the popularisation of chess as Bronstein. His book Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953 is remembered by absolutely all chess players, irrespective of what language they speak. It is a genuine classic! By analysing the games of one super-tournament Bronstein managed to create a classic textbook on the middle-game, enabling even a very moderate player to understand many subtleties, andto penetrate into the depths of chess thinking. This wonderful book is one of my favourites.
But my very first book was 200 Open Games. I was still very young when it was published, and so first my father read it to me, and then I read it myself. An amazing book! Written in very lively, descriptive, rich language, it immediately appealed to me. This free, amazingly democratic manner of associating with the reader is also what distinguishes the other books of David lonovich...
Bronstein is also a genuine innovator. Not only in opening theory, but in his very approach to chess. His idea of a mutual simultaneous display on eight boards, as he played with Tal, is on its own priceless! Or commenting on moves directly during a game? Or creating a chess theatre, on the stage of which masterpieces from the past would be performed? In general, Bronstein did not allow boredom to set in. He thought about how to make the process of the game more dynamic and interesting for the public, how to disclose more fully the creative potential of chess. Alas, of all his numerous innovations, for the moment only rapid chess has taken root. And whereas for David lonovich it was primarily a way of making the game more attractive to spectators, the present-day 'accelerators' use his idea more for emasculating the very essence of the game of chess.
Incidentally, it was Bronstein who first suggested changing the initial arrangement of the pieces - and he played so-called Fischer Random Chess long before Fischer himself. Also, the addition of a number of seconds after each move is also his idea. Generally speaking, that which are called 'Fischer Chess' and the 'Fischer clock' were all Bronstein's invention! But he did not become world champion, he did not, so to speak, become one of the chosen few... Otherwise everyone would surely talk about 'Bronstein Chess' and the 'Bronstein clock'. This is also a question of historic justice. I am pleased that with the years his creative, rebellious spirit has not died. Bronstein is still capable of surprising us, and I am sure that this book will be of great interest to innumerable chess enthusiasts.
009 Garry Kasparov: Teacher of the chess world
012 David Bronstein: In free flight
David Bronstein and Sergey Voronkov
David in the role of Odysseus
019 Danish magicians
027 In the fand of the Trolls
038 Country of tulips and chess
059 Bitter experience in Spain
076 The English gardener
098 Two romances in Paris
116 Alpine ballad
137 Ja was kocham jak boga!
158 Shalom, Israel!
170 Viking songs
Through the Eyes of a Travel Companion
186 Parisian dreams
188 Scandinavian triptych
192 'I see a windmill and an annex...'
197 Spanish romancero
202 Inside an English novel
219 David Bronstein: 'Reaching 75 is no reason to drink Champagne!'
230 Index of opponents
230 Index of openings