Friday, December 15, 2006

David Bronstein, in memoriam

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

IF you are very observant, in the James Bond movie “From Russia with Love,” the early part of the picture shows a game being played by “Kroonsteen” and “McAdams.” It was based on an actual game between Bronstein and and Boris Spassky in the 1960 USSR championship.

Sun.Star Network Online's 12th Asean Summit watch

One of my childhood heroes while I was just learning how to play chess in the early fifties (so now, you can guess how old I am) was the late David Bronstein who passed away a few days ago at the age of 82. My late father had the good habit of cutting clippings in the newspaper featuring games of top players like Mikhael Botvinnik , Vassily Smyslov, Bronstein and Paul Keres, the leading players at that time.

According to various articles culled from the Internet and Chessbase, David Bronstein was born on Feb. 19, 1924 in Bila Tserkva in Ukraine. He defeated Boleslavsky in the candidates’ tournament in Budapest in 1950 to become the challenger for the world title against reigning champion Mikhael Botvinnik. He later became close with Boleslavsky and married his daughter Tatiana, who was at his deathbed when he died.

He was described as a creative genius and master of tactics by chess lovers all over the world and the story goes that he had been forced to lose the match to Botvinnik.

Bronstein came close to actually taking it from Botvinnik, when he was leading by a full point up to game 22. He lost game 23 and then drew 24 and the match, which left the incumbent world champion Mikhail Botvinnik in place. Under Fide rules, in case of a tie the champion retains his title.

He himself wrote in his book The Sorcerer's Apprentice: "I have been asked many, many times if I was obliged to lose the 23rd game and if there was a conspiracy against me to stop me from taking Botvinnik's title. A lot of nonsense has been written about this. The only thing that I am prepared to say about all this controversy is that I was subjected to strong psychological pressure from various origins and it was entirely up to me to yield to that pressure or not."

In the same book, he said, “I had reasons not to become the World Champion, as in those times such a title meant that you were entering an official world of chess bureaucracy with many formal obligations. Such a position is not compatible with my character.”

Bronstein and Keres were, together with Viktor Korchnoi and Bent Larsen, the strongest players not to have won the world championship title.

When Viktor Korchnoi defected from the Soviet Union in 1976, Bronstein was one of the few Soviet grandmasters who refused to sign a letter denouncing him. As punishment, his stipend, a salary paid to all chess grandmasters in the USSR, was suspended, and Bronstein was banned from competing in national tournaments.

He was an early advocate of speeding up competitive chess, and introduced a digital chess clock that adds a small time increment for each move made, a variant of which has become very popular in recent years.

He has also denied rumors that he was related to the revolutionary Leon Trotsky, whose real name was Bronstein, in his book the The Sorcerer`s Apprentice.

Cepca news. Just like the Asean Summit, our Grand Finals, Christmas party and induction of new officers and members led by president-elect Emmanuel “Mat” Matuco was moved from its original schedule of Dec. 10 to 17 due to the typhoon, which after all was just a shower here in the city. Inducting officer is Vice Mayor Michael Rama. Venue is still at Stella Maris near the Supercat terminal in pier 4 and starts at 1pm.

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