Vladimir Alortsev (2495) - GM Issac Boleslavsky  (2680) 
U.S.S.R./Soviet Championships  (Finals)
Moscow, RUS;   1950 


(The ratings here are relatively accurate, although they could be adjusted upwards quite a bit to account for inflation. At one time, Boleslavsky was probably 
 rated  #2  or #3  in the world. Alortsev was definitely in the 'Top 100' and maybe in the 'Top 50' when this particular game was played. For more on ratings ... 
  see Jeff Sonas's web site.) 

  The CB medal for this game ... if you are familiar with the scheme, you can tell the features of the game at a glance. (alo-bol_cb-medal.gif, 02 KB)

 You will definitely need a chess board for this game - it is  TEXT only,  with just a few diagrams.   [Replay] 

   Click  HERE  to see an explanation of the symbols that I use.   

A very good game, dozens of authors - like GM J. Nunn, GM J. Emms, and GM Andy Soltis - have named this game as one of the best all time. (Soltis lists it in the top 50 of the whole of the 20th Century.) 

It was played by a player who was, at least at one time, in the top three players in the world.

A game of great and wonderful chess artistry. It also shows the wonderful combinational ability that Boleslavsky possessed. 

 (Click  here  to read a brief bio on Issac Boleslavsky.)    

1.d4 Nf6;  2.c4 d6;  3.Nc3 e5!?;  
This opening is called,  "The Old Indian."  [more]  


     [  More usual is:  3...g6;  which would lead to a K.I.D. ]  


White clamps down on the center.

This continuation was very popular during the 1950's  ...  many GM's played the White side. 
 (Initially the players of the White pieces had a lot of success with this line.)  

See also the contest:
R. Nezhmetdinov - L. Polugaevsky;  R.S.F.S.R. Championships, 1958.  


     [  Probably slightly better is:  >/=   4.Nf3 Nbd75.e4 c66.Be2 Be7;  
        7.0-0 0-0 8.Re1, "+/="  {Diagram?}  and White has a small edge. ]  


4...exd4;  5.Qxd4 Nc6;  6.Qd2 g6;  7.b3 Bg7;  8.Bb2 0-0;  
9.Bd3 Ng4!?;  (Really - '!')    {See the diagram just below.}   
The most aggressive move  ...  as in the (later) Pol - Nez game, Black probes the King-side. 

This move releases Black's KB and also prepares ...f7-f5. 
 (I think this move fully deserves an exclam, but GM Soltis does not give it one.)  

White has an obvious advantage in space - thus he cannot be allowed to consolidate his position. 


     Black just played the move, 9...Ng4!? Who is better here? And why?  (alo-bol_ts_pos1.jpg, 33 KB)

(The actual game position after Black's ninth move.)


Black has a lead in development, and thus ... according to one of the "Morphy Rules"  ...  
he must open the game up as quickly as possible. 


A logical developing move.


     [  No better was:  10.Nge2!?{Diagram?}  which was thoroughly 
        trounced in the Polugaeyevsky - Nezmetdinov encounter]  


10...Nge5;  11.Be2,   
This looks nearly forced.  


     [  Not  11.Nxe5!? dxe5; "=/+"  {Diagram?}  
         ... "when Black has a pleasant outpost on d4 for his Knight." 
         - GM John Emms]  


11...Nxf3+;  12.Bxf3,   
This looks forced. 


     [  Ugly is:  </=  12.gxf3?! Nd4; "=/+"  ]  


This is good, and very aggressive.  Black has so many good moves here, (...Nd4; ...Ne5; ...f5; ...Re8;)  that it must have been difficult to choose among all the different and promising alternatives! 

     [ 12...Ne5!? ]  


Now White's Bishop is forced to retreat, there is no way that White can allow his Bishop-Pawns to be doubled here. 
White keeps his defender of the light squares, and avoids any damage to his pawn structure.

     [ 13.h4!? Nxf3+14.gxf3 Qf6; "=/+"  - GM J. Nunn. ]  


FM Graham Burgess picks up the game at this point and provides the following comment:  
"Black is ahead in development and has a more harmonious position."   

13...f5; ('!')    
This is the best move here, I believe. 

     [ 13...Be6;  or  13...c5  ]  


It seems wrong to open the game here - this is exactly what Black needed. It seems White should accept just a (very) slightly inferior position and castle on the King-side. (With perfect play, it would then seem highly unlikely that White would lose this game.) 


     Probably better is:  >/=  14.0-0 fxe4; "="  {Diag?}  
         when White might be able to draw the game. ]  


The correct re-capture.  

     [ </= 14...gxf5?!; or 14...Rxf5!? ]  


15.Ne2?!,  (Maybe - '?')   {Diagram?} 
White continues to push Black, but he was too far behind in his development for this to work. (Soltis brands this as the losing move, and gives White a whole question mark here.) 


     [  It seems White simply had to play:  
         >/=  15.0-0 c6!?; "~"  {Diagram?}  
         and admit he has absolutely no advantage here. 


            Other continuations that could have been played: 
            a).   GM A. Soltis  gives the following continuation of: 
                    15...Bd7!?16.Ne2!? Nxe2+; 17.Qxe2 Bxb218.Qxb2 Qg5!;  "~" 
                     when Black is OK ... maybe even a tad better. 

            b).  Black has the initiative after: 
                  15...a6!?16.Ne2 Nxe2+17.Bxe2 Bxb218.Qxb2 Qg5;  
                  19.Bf3 c6; "/\"  {Diagram?}  with good play for Black.  

            c).  Soltis also gives:  15...c5!?16.Nd5 Be4!?"=/+"  {Diagram?}
                  with (a slight) advantage to Black.  

                   (I much prefer:  16...Qh4!; "=/+")   ]  


FM G. Burgess gives Black's next move an exclam. 

15...Nxe2!;  16.Bxe2;  
Soltis says this is forced.  

     [  GM A. Soltis points out the very amusing continuation of: 
        16.Bxg7!? Nf4!!17.Bxf8?!,   
         This looks very natural, but it is a terrible mistake.  ('?') 

           ( White had to play: >/= 17.Qxf4 Qe7+!;  18.Be5 Rae8!; 19.Bf3 dxe5;  
              20.Bd5+ Kg7; 21.Qe3 c6; 22.Bf3 Qb4+; 23.Qd2!? Qxd2+;    
              24.Kxd2 Rd8+; 25.Ke1 Bd3!; "=/+"   
              and Black has a very dominating position here. )    

        17...Qf6!;  ("-/+")  {Diagram?}  
         and Black is probably winning. 

           (With the likely continuation of: 17...Qf6!;  18.0-0 Qg5!; "-/+"    
            and along with the mate threat, Black threatens to win White's   
            Queen as well.)   ]  


16...Bxb2;  17.Qxb2 Qg5!;   {See the diagram just below.}   
The best move, and GM John Emms awards an exclamation point to Black here.  
 (As does Adams and Burgess.) 


    Black has just played his Queen to the g5-square on his seventeenth move, can you see what Black has planned here?  (alo-bol_ts_pos2.jpg, 29 KB)

   (The position after Black just played ...Qg5.) 


     [ 17...Qe7!? ]  


18.g3 Rae8!;   
Now it is GM Andy Soltis's turn to award an exclam to Black's play in this game. 

('!' - FM G. Burgess.) 

     [ 18...Bh3!? ]   


19.0-0 Bh3;  20.f4!,   
This move, which was initially criticized by some, turns out to be the best move for White here. 

('!' - GM A. Soltis.) 


      [ </=  20.Rfb1!? Rxf2!!; "--->"  {Diagram?}  
         and Black probably has a decisive attack. ("-/+")  ]  


20...Bxf1!!;  (Maybe - '!!!')   {See the diagram just below.} 
I have always said that - year in or year out - the Soviet  (U.S.S.R.) Championships were (by far) the strongest events on the planet. (Especially for the period:  post-WWII to the mid-1970's.) 

Despite the presence of many of the world's best players, this move came as a complete surprise to nearly everyone who was present at that tournament. 

This move is easily one of the most brilliant of Boleslavsky's whole career.  (And that is saying something!) 

The move is very, very, very brilliant. Yet it is also - at least with the benefit of hindsight! - a logical try ... based on the obvious positional problem of White's weakened light-squares. 


     Black has hust played his brilliant coup on his twentieth move ... what is the underlying logic of this whole idea?  (alo-bol_ts_pos3.jpg, 30 KB)

   Black has just played his 20th move, maybe the most brilliant of his whole career.
(It involves a Queen sacrifice.)  


While some annotators only give this move on exclam, I am certain it deserves two. 
(Many computers do not find this move right away.) 


     [  Black emerges with a slight edge after the continuation of: 
         20...Qf621.Qxf6 Rxf622.Rfe1 Rfe6; "~"  {Diag?} 
         but it his highly uncertain if Black has enough to win. ]  


The next couple of moves look to be forced here. 

21.fxg5 Rxe2;  22.Qc3!?,   
This might not be the best defense here. 


     [   Probably the best line is:
         22.Qd4!? Bg2!23.Qh4 Bc6; "=/+" {Diagram?} 
         & Black is probably a tad better here. 


         GM Andy Soltis  gives the line:  
         22.Qd4 Bh3!23.Qh4!?,   
         I am not sure about this.

           (>/= 23.Qxa7! b6; 24.Qb7, "~")   

         Soltis gives this horrible move an exclam here.
          (It may deserve a question mark.) 


         Soltis also gives this (move) an exclam as well in this line.  

           (Probably better is: 24...Rxe1+!; 25.Kxg2 Re2+; 26.Kh3 b6!;  
            27.c5!? Rff2; "/+" when Black could be winning.)   

         Another move given by Soltis, that clearly looks second-rate.  

           ( 25.Qg4!?, "~")   

         25...Bc626.b5?! Rg2+{Diagram?}  
         Soltis says Black is probably winning here, ("-/+") but this line 
         has more holes than Swiss cheese! ]  



Definitely the best move here.

Soltis only awards this one exclam, but it easily deserves two. 
('!' - FM G. Burgess.)

(It seems Black could also win with   ...Bh3;  as well.) 


     [  GM A. Soltis  says  WHITE  will probably win after: 
         22...Bh3!23.g4! Bxg4?!{Diagram?}  
         (This move is a mistake, {?}  but GM A. Soltis does 
           not seem to notice this.)

          ( Black is CLEARLY better after: >/= 23...Rg2+!; 24.Kh1 Rxa2!;    
            25.Rg1 Bf1!; "/+"  {Diagram?}   and the second player's    
            advantage is nearly decisive in this position.    
            (Almost  "-/+."  An extensive analysis reveals White really has    
              no defense to the planned maneuver of ...b6; ...a5; ...Be2;    
              and ...Bf3+;  winning.) )     

         24.Rf1, "~"  ("+/=")  {Diagram?}   
         and GM A. Soltis says White might be winning here, 
         but that is  FAR  from being a certainty! 

         (A long computer analysis ...  that took DAYS to complete ...  
          seems to indicate that Black can probably draw. But ONLY 
          with PERFECT defense!!)  ]  


White has few good choices hereabouts. 


     [  White should probably NOT play:  
        23.Re1? Bh3!;   
        The most elegant.

          (Black can also play: 23...Rxe1+;  24.Qxe1 Rf1+; 25.Qxf1 Bxf1;    
            26.Kxf1 Kf7; "/+"  and Black should win the K+P ending here    
            without too much trouble.)   

        What else can White play?  

          (White definitely can NOT play: 24.Rxe2?? Rf1#)    

        24...Rf4!{Diagram?}   "-/+"    and Black should win.  

          (24...Rf3!?;  25.Qa1 Ref2!?; "=/+" - FM G. Burgess. )   


        Maybe:   23.Rb1!? Rxa2; "=/+"  {Diag?}  
        and Black is just a shade better here.  ]  


Definitely a great move ... one might expect Black to try and double his Rooks in this position.  

Black now threatens  ...Rg2+;  with some very nasty threats to follow.

     [ 23...Rfe8!?; "~" ] 


By now, White may have realized he was losing. 
(It is far too late to discuss any possible improvements, White is unable to save his game.) 


     [  If  24.Qxe2 Bxe2; "-/+"  {Diagram?} 
        and Black is probably winning. 


        After the continuation of: 
        24.Kf1 Rxh225.Qd4 c5!; 26.Qc3!? Be2+!;  
        The best move here. 

           (Soltis gives the vastly inferior move of:  26...Bc6+?;  here.  )   

        27.Kg1 Rff2!; ("-/+")  {Diagram?}  White will be mated.  ]  


Now Black has a VERY nice combination that wins the game for him. 

24...Rg2+;  25.Kh1 Bc6!!;   {See the diagram just below.}    
Refreshing ... Black allows the exchange of Rooks. And White is curiously helpless to prevent a winning discovered check. 

('!' -  FM G. Burgess.)  

     The second player has just played his decisive move, it is also very pretty and artistic as well. (alo-bol_ts_pos4.jpg, 29 KB)

   (The game position after Black just played 25...Bc6!!)


     [  Black could also (probably) win with the simple and blunt: 
         25...Rxg3+!?;  "/+"  {Diagram?}  but this would not have helped 
         to make this game more memorable. ]  


26.Rxf8+ Kxf8;  27.Qf1+ Rf2+; ('!')  White Resigns(0-1)  
(He loses his Queen, and Black remains a piece ahead.)

In my book, an ULTRA-brilliant game, and one of Boleslavsky's absolute best.






#1.)  "Selected Games,"  by  Jimmy Adams

# 2.)  "The 100 Best,"  (Game # 43)  by  GM Andrew Soltis
 (Soltis's analysis of this game contains many errors.)

# 3.)  "The World's Greatest Chess Games,"  
 by  GM J. NunnGM J. Emms, and also  FM Graham Burgess

# 4.)  "Chess High-Lights of The 20th Century,"  
 by  FM Graham Burgess.


Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I.  Copyright (c) A.J.G;  2003. 

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This is the original version of this game, I have not modified it for publication  on my web pages.  (I did this game at least once before. Unfortunately, I had  a big computer crash in early FEB. of 2003. This game was wiped out and  I had to re-do it completely.) 

If you would like a copy of this page for your own personal study, please  contact me

 Page first posted on my web site in September, 2002.

(Date of last major updateMonday;   June 18th, 2007.)    Last edit on:  Tuesday, June 19, 2007 12:35 AM .  

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