In memory of David Bronshtein

Mark Taimanov

A bitter message has come from Minsk - one of the brightest grandmasters of "Golden Age" of chess David Bronstein has died.
His place in history is a special one. Bronstein was a romantic and visionary, an idol and loser, a remarkable person and truly creative nature.
We were tied together for more than semicentenial friendship of rivalry, and I recollect David with the kindest feelings and respect, and admiration.
A low bow before the great maestro!

From the M.Taimanov's book "Recollecting most-most"
Paradoxes of sly Davik

Chess miracles, as against other miracles,
sometimes nevertheless occur due to imagination
of a chess player and inexhaustible opportunities of chess.
David Bronstein

When about a grandmaster who played a world-title match in a draw it is said that he didn't completely realized his natural gift, it means he can be brought in the register of great chess players. What prevented Bronstein as an obstacle on a way to the most supreme achievements? Indoubtedly, he as an artist always gained the upper hand over a sportsman. Probably, such qualities as will and energy also did not concern to number of his advantages. But probably even more significant was his indecision, and even "crafty philosophizing", shown in chess and in life.
"I know how to win today, - I shall go so, - David moved pieces on a board, - he will reply so, I shall attack, he will defend, I shall put a trap, he will get and will resign. But in fact it is boring..." He really avoided boredom. I remember, as in a game against Miguel Najdorf in a match USSR - ARGENTINA in Buenos Aires Bronstein, playing white, having sat down at a table, has reflected on ... twenty five minutes. Everything terminated safely, David won, but all were perplexed.
"How you don't understand, - he was justified, - when I see an initial position, I am dazzled - so many tempting opportunities are. What to prefer? In fact already after the first move it is necessary to refuse from the majority of interesting ideas. As in life. For example, it turned out to be a free month when you get a possibility to have a well rest. You start to vacillate where to go: on the south to bathe, to village on fishing, or maybe to mountains? Estimate this way and that. The decision comes not at once. But when you determine your position all occurs quickly - buy a ticket, get ready for a trip, set off in a way. It would be nice if were possible to play with a partner a few games at once..."
And what is surprising, Bronstein's imaginations were realized, he found adherents. Once he played simultaneously four games with Rafik Vaganian and then eight more with Mikhail Tal whom such experiments were especially desired.
... David's ingenuity is inexhaustible - he likes to surprise the interlocutor with his paradoxes. He confidentially withdraws "victim" aside and starts to state ideas, reasons, sights with a quiet voice almost without intonations and with a rapid speech. Sometimes curious, sometimes amusing, sometimes moralizing, but always original and unexpected. And if he feels, that a listener is tightened in a web of intricate artful design of his monologue, tests true satisfaction. For example: "Yesterday I looked "Swan lake" in the Big Theatre, - David starts to prepare the ground for shocking and in detail, boringly-soporifically tells about theatrical impressions. - You know how I love Chaikovsky's music but : - and here the slow-acting mine blows up, - I would compose dance of small swans differently..."
... Or: "I read reports from the tournament and I can't understand what is necessary to these miserable critics. They reproach me with peaceableness, are dissatisfied with the compromise in a game with Smyslov. Do they really think that I shall begin to attack the World Champion for 2.60 rubles?" (So much we get then per day on a feed.)
... We met with David in tournaments twenty five times since 1944 and till 1978 - during the most dynamical creative period - how prompted an all-knowing computer!
... We also battled much with David in "five-minutes" duels. He played blitz "a-la-Tal", in a "tasty" chess - with imagination, keen, recklessly. We played certainly not during the tournaments - not up to that, - but on gathering, on foreign trips when there is a place to leisure. And once have established a record, noteworthy Guinness book.
It has happened in Montevideo. Coming back from Argentina, from a memorable match between teams of the countries, we appeared captives of the Uruguayan airline for two weeks owing to an emergency landing and necessity of expectation of a next flight for Europe, that in those days demanded long-suffering. However it was not necessary to complain - the had been guilty company paid hotel on ocean's coast , restaurants and even excursions. We have shown the initiative, - having contacted local federation we agreed to play a friendly match what was accepted with delight, to hold press conference and to act with sessions of simultaneous game. Certainly we did not refuse also legal banquets. And once, late at night, having returned from a reception, we with Yury Averbakh - my colleague and the neighbour under hotel number - were adjusted to go to bed, a knock at a door was heard and Bronstein has appeared spick-and-span with a not trivial offer: " Mark, shall we play blitz? "We cosily arranged behind a little table." "For interest on pair peso?" - has rhymed Davik. "I am ready!" And a game began. David in the evening dress, I in shorts and sleeveless sports shirt, barefooted. Firstly Yury watched the battle, and then, feeling, that the match is tightened, went to bed. Later he recollected: "I have woken up in the morning and have not believed my eyes - trim David and Mark wrapped up by a plaid indifferently knock pieces; I have had breakfast, become sunburnt on a beach, have had a dinner, they do not change a disposition and even do not react to my appeals".
We really battled as mad. The match has been interrupted only after a telephone call from the head of delegation Vyacheslav Ragozin: "Friends! I did not see you at dinner and I want to remind, that in half an hour begins a blitz-tournament with participation of Uruguayans. A car already waits us below". Hardly having had time to shave, we with David have gone on a new battle. Invigorated only a strong Brazilian coffee. The daily chess marathon has ended somewhere to midnight. What to add?! We with Bronstein have amicably shared the first prize in the tournament ... At a leisure I has counted up: if the games last on eight-ten minutes, we played in total more than twenty hours and the quantity of duels has turned one hundred. Such it is possible only in youth.
... And still among numerous trips, matches, appearances uniting us with David on decades, the most memorable, significant and fascinating I shall name a grandiose tournament of candidates in the World Championship. In 1953 in Switzerland met the strongest chess players of that time: fifteen oustanding grandmasters, the majority from which were in at the peak of their powers. Everyone should play twenty eight games that predetermined a struggle "up to last drop of blood" and gave an occasion for a bitter joke that the victory will get to that one who will reach to final round a game hall independently, without the help of the second.
Dry figures - also for the Guinness book of records. Competition last sixty two days. The partners have played two hundred ten games, and for two thousand two hundred hours has been made sixteen thousand eight hundred forty seven moves. And the most persistent duel last eight hours forty seven minutes.
... Tournament has come to the end, but has not fade from memory. Bronstein has written a magnificent book about it where not only has immortalized a historical chess event, but also has created "a monument at life" to himself. A creative achievement of the author cannot be overestimated - under the inexpressive name "The International tournament of grandmasters" bulks of revelations are covered. The book as a confessional essay, in all completeness opens Bronstein's chess outlook, his sights at basic problems of strategy and tactics of chess art. In the graceful form of original short stories comments to the games find the subject contents. And all this with goodwill to address of the main characters - grandmasters.
A remarkable work which has brought to the author a recognition which could be compared to his oustanding achievements over chess board. Recently Bronstein has complained with bitterness: "I have been rejected on a roadside of chess life but the book "The International tournament of grandmasters" is republished, issues in other languages. And I think will survive me for a long time..."...

Mark Taimanov

Main page Store
Webmaster - Alena Alekseeva
Shahcom Company, © 2005