Bronstein - Ljubojevic, 1973. 


I went to great pains to make this a "FIVE-STAR" analysis ..... ... ... 
 as it is one of the greatest games of chess ever played. 


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

Click  HERE  to go to my re-play page for this game. 


 GM David Bronstein (2575) - GM Ljubo Ljubojevic (2680) 
[B02]
 Petropolis (FIDE) Interzonal 
 Brazil, South America;  1973. 

[A.J. Goldsby I]

(The ratings are accurate. I simply added 50 points to each for inflation.)


One of the most brilliant and imaginative games ever played. 
Period - and bar none. 

This game was played in the FIDE Interzonal Tournament in Petropolis, 
 Brazil.  (1973.) 

This game could not have been played in a more important setting - at a very critical 
 time for both players. Ljubojevic - who, at one time, was the # 3 player in the world - 
 was in clear first place, and leading this tournament. (Which was a key step in 
  qualifying for the World Championships.)  Bronstein, who played in the first FIDE 
 World Championship Match in 1948, was playing well ... but really needed to win to 
 have any chance of qualifying for the Candidates Matches. 

The result is one of the greatest modern masterpieces ever played. 
(The game was unanimously voted as the most beautiful of the whole tournament.) 

(This game has won many different awards. Not only did it win first brilliancy prize from an important Interzonal - 
 which featured dozens of brilliant games - it also won the year-long contest as the best game for that issue of 
 the Informant. It also was voted game of the year by a distinguished panel of judges formed by the BCF.) 

***

A very minor footnote: I first saw this game many years ago, it very well may have 
been in the pages of 'CL&R' shortly after this game was played. I had renewed 
interest in this game in 1977 or 1978. What had happened is one of the south's 
leading chess players had been interviewed. He was asked to name what the 
THREE (3) most complicated games of chess ever played were.  {This was one 
of the games that was named.}  The GA chess editor, maybe only because he 
knew no one else who would even bother, asked me to annotate all three games. 
I mostly copied from books, and did very little original work. The work that I did 
do was probably (mostly) entirely forgettable. 

In the end, the majority of this material was run in the scholastic publication for 
the state high school players.  (And in some parts of Alabama as well.)

  (I only mention this in case anyone comes across any of my old stuff, and also to    
    let you know my interest in this game dates back almost thirty years now.)    


1.e4 Nf6{Diagram?}  
The very sharp Alekhine's defence. 

Very few top GM's employ this line on a regular basis today.  
 (GM's Lev Alburt and Mike Adams both come to mind.)  

This opening was practically unseen at the GM level for a very long time, until 
 Bobby Fischer used it, (successfully); against Boris Spassky in their WCS 
 match in 1972.  {Then it seemed everyone wanted to play it.}  

     [  In such an important game, I would have thought that Black would play  
        1...e5;  or even 1...c5;  which is the respected Sicilian Defense.

 

2.e5,  {Diagram?}  
The move that is the most often played in this position. 

     [ Another line is:  2.Nc3!? d5!3.e5!? d4!?;  "~"   {Diagram?}  
        with an unbalanced  {unclear}  position. ]  

 

2...Nd53.d4 d64.c4!?;  {Diagram?}  
Was this a prepared line ... 
or was this some of Bronstein's justly famous OTB innovation? 

This is not that c4 is a new move here! But to play it against his opponent - who 
was one of the world's experts in this line - took a tremendous amount of ... let's 
say confidence in your own abilities. (To say the least!) 

(Ljubojevic already had the reputation of being thoroughly at home in this line ... 
 with either color!) 

     [  MCO  gives the line of:  4.Nf3,  {Diagram?}  
        This is the main line, and what is most often played here ... 
         especially today at the GM level.  4...Bg4;  {Diagram?}  
        The older line, but still probably the most solid here. 
          (For 4...g6!? see column # 7.)  
        5.Be2 e66.0-0 Be77.c4 Nb68.h3!? Bh59.Nc3 0-0; 
        10.Be3 a5!?;  {Diagram?}  A newer move.  
          (For the older 10...d5!?; see column # 2.)    
        11.exd6 cxd612.Qb3 N8d7;  {Diagram?} 
         The end of the column.  13.Qb5!? Bg614.c5 Nc8;  
        15.Rfd1, "+/="  {Diagram?}  
         White has a solid edge here, and went on to win a nice game. 

        "White's Queen is in some danger, yet his Queen-side initiative 
          is very strong."  - GM N. de Firmian.  

        I. Glek - A. Shabalov;  USSR, 1989.  
        [ See MCO-14; page # 157, column # 1, & also note # (f.). ]  ]   

 

4...Nb6;  {Diagram?}  
The only good move. 

     [ A mistake is: 4...Nb4?5.Qa4+ N8c66.d5, "+/"  {Diagram?}  
        White will eventually win a piece here. ]    

 

5.f4!?,  {Diagram?}  
This is definitely razor-sharp. Either Bronstein came loaded for bear, 
 or this is something the Russians prepared for poor Ljubo. 

This starts the line known as:  "The Four Pawns Attack."    

This is certainly one of the wildest lines in all of chess ... and leads to the 
most unbalanced positions that you could imagine. 
(I have played this line since before I was a teen-ager.) 

This line is a VERY infrequent guest at the Super-GM level. When I was 
a youngster,  I used to go to tournaments, and check the Informants.  
(Which I would occasionally purchase.)  

A whole year could go by without one single GM-versus-GM game in this line. 

Bronstein guarantees a fight!  

This variation: "promises extremely sharp positions, with mutual chances 
for both parties."  -  GM J. Timman

     [  White can also play the  "Exchange Variation,"   with:  5.exd6!? cxd6;  
        6.Nc3! g67.Be3 Bg78.Rc1 0-09.b3! e510.dxe5 dxe511.Qxd8, 
        11...Rxd812.c5 N6d713.Bc4 Nc6;  {Diagram?}  
        The end of the column.  14.Nf3 Nd415.Ng5 Rf816.Nce4 Nf5;  
        17.0-0 Nf6
18.Nd6 Nxd619.cxd6 Bd720.a4, "+/="  {Diagram?}  
          ... "with the better ending for White here."   -  GM N. de Firmian.   
        GM Roman Dzindzichhasvili - GM Lev Alburt 
        U.S. Championships,  1996. 
        [ See MCO-14;  page # 161,  column # 15,  and also note # (j.). ] 

***

        It was not too late to play:  5.Nf3!?,  {Diagram?}  
        and try to transpose to the main line. ]   

 

5...dxe56.fxe5 c5!?;  {Diagram?}  
This was thought (previously) to be dubious by theory but was on the brink 
of becoming rehabilitated.  Ljubojevic was to go on to become the world's 
leading expert in this line.  

Ljubojevic has also - obviously! - come prepared. 

GM Lev Alburt  says this move could be doubtful. 
(In his book:  "The Alekhine For The Tournament Player.") 

GM J. Timman  says that this is a possibly a line with a poor reputation, 
and that it originates with a master from Russia, named Argunov. 
(Many books today call this line, "The Ljubojevic Variation.")  

***

NOTE:  I did numerous database searches from this position. I found many 
recent games from recent events. I found about 25 games, and Black won 
the majority of the encounters. (But in many of these contests, the second 
player was higher rated by a fairly considerable margin.)  But as  none  of 
the games were  GM - vs. - GM  contests,  I do not include them here. 
(January 07, 2003.)

Those interested in research should go to an on-line database and search 
 this position further. 

See also, (for research):  
D. Bryson (2388) - T. Luther (2538)
FIDE (Men's) Olympiad Bled, Slovenia; 2002.
 
(The game was drawn in 28 moves.)

 

     [  The (more normal?) main line, which is played much more often than 
         the text, is:  6...Nc67.Be3 Bf58.Nc3 e69.Nf3, "+/=" {Diagram?}  
         White usually retains a very small edge in these lines.  

           (I sometimes prefer the move order of 9.Be2 and then 10.Nf3.) 

         I stop here, as  Black  has  about 6 different moves  he has used 
         in tournament play - all with some measure of success.  
         (See any good reference book for details. 9...Be7;  is probably the main 
          line, though. I would definitely know, as I have over 25 years of tournament 
          experience in this particular variation.)   

           ChessBase's on-line database says that this position has occurred     
           at the master level over 1000 times. (!!)      

         The first time was:  
          Emanuel Lasker - S. Tarrasch;  Maehrisch Ostrau, 1923.  (!)   

         The most recent GM example, that I could find, was the game: 
         GM D. Velimirovc - GM V. Kupreichik;  
         JUG Championship (Cup) Tournament.  Becici, YUG; 1994.   

         MCO quotes the game: 
         Fernandez Garcia - Peter Leko
;  Debrecen, 1992.  
         [ See MCO-14, page # 163, columns # 19 through # 23, 
           notes # (a.) through # (p.);   ....................... 
           especially column # 19, and see also note # (e.). ]  ]    

 

The next few moves are all (pretty much) forced.  
7.d5 e6
8.Nc3 exd59.cxd5 c4;  {Diagram?}  
An old idea of V. Mikenas, this line had never been really tested 
 (much) at the GM level.  

   '!' - GM Lev Alburt. 
[ "The Alekhine For The Tournament Player."  
   By Alburt and Schiller, (c) 1985. ]
  

Black must be willing to sacrifice material  - 
especially the QBP  -  for play, in this variation. 

***

  Both players seem to be playing an odd form of poker.    
  Each is playing chess as if trying to say, ... ... ...     
  "I call your sharp line ... and raise you with an even more wild line!"    
   (The complications seem to be increasing exponentially here.)     

**************************************

 

     [  Previously played was:  9...Qh4+!?10.g3 Qd4;   {Diagram?}  
        when Black was thought to have a fair amount of play, but then White 
        discovered the move:  11.Bf4!,  "+/="  {Diagram?}  which gives the first 
        player a very solid advantage. 

        R. Verber - A. Segal;  
        World Championship Tourney; (Under-26 players), 1967.  

*****

          a).  One of my games, from the early-to-mid - 70's, once went: 
                11.Bf4! N8d7!?;  {Diagram?}  Several players have also tried the 
                 move ...g5 here, but without any real success. 
                12.Nf3 Qb4;  {Diagram?}  This is almost forced.  

                  (12...Qxd1+?; 13.Rxd1 a6; 14.e6 fxe6?!; 15.dxe6 Nf6;    
                    16.Bc7, "+/-"  {Diagram?} Black has lost a piece. )    

                13.Qd2!?,  {Diagram?}  This is very good for White. 

                   (But probably >= 13.e6!, "+/" {Diag?}  is even better.    
                     Nearly "+/-")     

                13...Be714.Rd1 0-015.Qc2!,  "+/"   {Diagram?}  
                 White had a large edge, and went on to win in less than 
                 30 moves ... against a player who out-rated me by more than 
                 700 points. 

*****

          b).  The older line here was:  11.Bb5+!? Bd712.Bxd7+!,  {Diagram?}  
                 Probably the best move here. 

                   ( Not as convincing is the older move: 12.Qe2!?, "~" {Diagram?}    
                    which often worked out to favor Black.     
                    (See Timman's book and also, "The Encyclopedia of Chess Openings.") )   

                 12...N8xd713.Nf3! Qxd1+14.Kxd1 0-0-015.Kc2!,  "+/="  {Diag?} 
                  which probably will give White a small advantage here. (Maybe - "+/") 
                  (Analysis. {A.J.G.})  ]   

**************************************

 

10.Nf3, ('!')  {Diagram?}  
The most natural move here. 

Damsky (and others) questions this, and recommends d6 instead. 
Personally I think this is a matter of taste. 

***

     [  The very respected book,  "Nunn's Chess Openings,"  
        gives the following line:  10.d6!? Nc6;  {Diagram?} 
        The only move given by Nunn.   

           (10...f6?; 11.Nb5!? Na6; 12.Qe2, "+/" {A.J.G.} )    

        11.Nf3 Bg4!?12.Bf4 g5!?;  {Diagram?}  
         The end of the row. 

          ( Better had to be: >/= 12...Qd7; 13.h3 Be6; 14.Qd2, "+/=" {Diag?}    
            but White retains a very solid edge in this variation. {A.J.G.} )    

        13.Ne4! gxf4?!; ('?')  {Diagram?}  
         This seems to be a big mistake, although Nunn does not seem to notice it. 

           ( It seems Black had to play: >/=  13...Nd7[]; 14.Bxg5 Qa5+; 15.Qd2!,    
             15...Qxd2+; 16.Nfxd2!, "+/" {Diagram?}  but White is clearly much     
              better in this position. {A.J.G.} )     

        14.Nf6+ Qxf6;  {Diagram?}  
         Unfortunately, this is now forced for Black.  
        15.exf6 0-0-016.Qc1!, "+/"  {Diagram?}  
         White is clearly better, if not winning outright. 
         [ See NCO; page # 131, line/row # 5, and note # 23. ]  

***

        Estrin and Panov  recommend instead that White play: 
        10.a3!?
, "+/="  {Diag?}  with maybe a slight advantage.  ]    

 

10...Bg4;  {Diagram?}  
Many books consider this the main line here, but it is hardly the only move 
available to Black. 

(Black has also played ...Bb4;  - see the note just below ... 
  as well as ...a6; and ...f6.) 

**********

     [  MCO  gives the continuation of:  10...Bb4!?;  (Maybe - '!')  {Diag?} 
        GM John Nunn  gives this move an exclamation mark. (!)  
        11.Bxc4 Bxc3+;  {Diagram?}  
        The only good move for Black here. 
        (Otherwise, Black will lose a Pawn - for no real compensation.) 

           (</= 11...0-0?!; 12.Bb3, "+/" )   

        12.bxc3 Nxc4; 13.Qa4+ Nd714.Qxc4 Nb6;  {Diagram?}  
        The end of the column.  15.Qb5+ Qd716.Qxd7+ Bxd717.d6 Rc8; 
        18.0-0!?,  {Diagram?}  
        The most natural move here - and also probably the safest.  

*****

          a).  >/=  18.Bd2!,  "+/="  {Diagram?} {A.J.G.}  
                (I recommended this move many years ago.)   

***

          b).  An often over-looked possibility is that White can play Be3 here, 
                 which also seems to allow a small edge to the first player: 
                 18.Be3 Rxc319.Bxb6 axb620.Kd2 Rc521.Rhb1 b5!?;  
                 22.a4! 0-0;  {Box? Diagram?}  
                 Black probably felt this was pretty much forced. 

                   (</=  22...bxa4?!;  23.Rxb7, "+/")   

                 23.axb5 f624.Ra7,  "+/="  {Diagram?}   

                 A. Minasian - A. Shabalov; 
                 /Minsk, RUS/1990  (38)   (White won a nice game.); 

***

          c).  Not that convincing was: 18.Bf4!? Rxc319.0-0 0-020.Rfc1 Rd3;  
                21.Rd1 Ra322.Bc1!? Ra423.Rd4 Rxd424.Nxd4 Rc825.Bg5 h6;  
                26.Bf4 Rc427.Rd1 Nd528.Bg3 Nc329.Rc1 Rxd430.Rxc3 Bc6;  
                31.Rc2 Kf832.Kf2 Ke833.Ke3 Ra4;  "=/+"  {Diagram?}  
                Maybe White should not lose this position, but he did - in a long 
                opposite-colored Bishop ending. 

                M. Marovic - A. Shabalov;  The U.S. Open.   
                Chicago, IL (USA)/ 1994 (50);   

*****

        18...Rxc3;  "~"  {Diagram?}  
        MCO calls this position as completely equal. ("=")  

        My analysis indicates that White should probably retain 
        a slight advantage with  Bb2, "+/="  here.   

        IM E. Formanek - GM A. Shabalov;   
        New York Open, NY;  (USA)  1995.   

        [ See MCO-14; page # 163, column # 24, & also note # (s.). ]  

        Nunn gives this line as well, but instead recommends that both 
        sides play: 18. Bd2, Bb5; and claims that Black has good 
        compensation for the material. 

*******

        A line that is not to be recommended here is: 
        10...Bc5?!11.Bxc4!,  "+/"  {Diagram?}  
         and White is clearly better. (Damsky.)   ]  

**********

 

11.Qd4!,  {Diagram?}  
A fairly respected writer remarks that: "White can probably take the c4-pawn, 
 but he correctly finds a stronger plan."  - GM Andy Soltis.  

   '!' - GM Andrew Soltis.   
(Other annotators have also awarded this move an exclam here as well.)

I personally like Qd4, and prefer it over the alternatives. But I would be remiss 
in my duties as an annotator if I did not point out that modern opening theory 
prefers the move,  11.Be2. (!) 
(But I do not agree with all the conclusions of some of the various opening 
 books here.) 

The move ... Qd4 ... leads to: "a nightmarish analytical smorgasbord." (!!) 
   - GM Larry Christiansen, Robert Raingruber, and also Manuel Joeseph.  
  [The book: "The Alekhine's Defense As White; The Four Pawns Attack.
    (c) 1988; The Thinker's Press. ]  

**********

     [   Variation # 1.)   
         Modern theory prefers Be2,   I.e.,  >/=  11.Be2 Bc5;  {Diagram?}   
         Two different books say this is the best line for Black. 

***

          ( Instead, another game went: 11...Bb4!?12.Qd4 Bxf313.Bxf3 0-0; 
            14.0-0 N8d715.Qf4!? Nc516.Qg3!? Kh817.Bg5!? Qe818.d6 f6!?;  
            19.exf6 gxf620.Bh6 Rg821.Qh4 Qg6?!;  (Maybe - '?!')  {Diagram?}  
            This looks doubtful to me. 

              ( It looks like Black had to play:    
               21...Bxc3; 22.bxc3 Qe5; 23.Rad1 Qxc3; 24.Bh5, "+/="  {Diag?}    
               White is clearly a lot better. (Maybe - "+/")   

            22.Nd5, "+/" {Diagram?}   
            White is clearly better. 

            M. Nilsson - P.  Andersen;  /Bikuben/[A.J.G.]/ 1994  (36)  
            (White won without too many problems.) )  

***

        12.Ng5! Bf5;  {Diagram?}  
         This is practically forced.  

           (12...Bxe2?!; 13.Qxe2, "+/" {Diagram?}    
             White has a near winning attack. (Nearly "+/-") )    

        13.Rf1 Bg614.h4 h615.h5!,  "+/"  {Diagram?}   
         White has a very large edge. 

        Buker - Fleck;   Germany, 1985.  
        [ See MCO-14; page # 163, column # 24, and note # (r.). ]   

        (NCO also gives this line, but stops after 13.Rf1, "+/"); 

*****

        Variation # 2.)    
        Some old analysis from one of my notebooks went: 
        11.Bg5!? Bxf3?!;  {Diagram?}  This is bad.  (Maybe - '?')  
         {Black should play ...Be7; or even ...Qc8.} 

           (Much better is: >/=  11...Be7; "~")    

        12.Bxd8 Bxd113.Bxb6 axb614.Rxd1 Nd715.Bxc4 Nxe5;  
        16.Bb5+ Nd717.d6 f6!?18.Nd5!,  "+/"  {Diagram?}  
        and White wins material.  (Maybe "+/-")  
        (But the whole line is really on the level of an opening trap. 
          Black's 11th move is simply terrible.);  

*****

        Variation # 3.)   
        White could also try: 11.Bxc4!? Nxc412.Qa4+ Nd713.Qxc4,  
        13...Bxf314.gxf3 Nxe515.Qe2,  "+/="  {Diagram?}
  
        White retains a small edge. 

        Walter Browne - Nicevsky;  Rovinj Zagreb, 1970. ]   

**********

 

11...Bxf312.gxf3 Bb4!?;  {Diagram?}  
Many of my books say this move is best or forced, 
but I am not 100% certain of this. 

 

     [  Interesting is:  12...Nc613.Qe4 Nb414.e6,  "~"  {Diagram?} 
        White <supposedly> has a winning attack, but I do not see it!  {A.J.G.} 
        (Line by  - GM Vlastmil Hort.)    (Maybe 14.d6!?, "+/=" instead?)   

        Or another line is:  12...N8d7!?13.d6!,  "+/="  {Diag?} 
        White is a little better. {A.J.G.}  ]   

 

13.Bxc4,  {Diagram?}  
Is this forced? Or is it best?  

     [ 13.Qg4!? Nxd514.Qxg7? Rf8; "~"  {Diagram?} 
        The 'Thinker's Press' book on this game says Black is nearly 
        winning here, but I do not believe it! {A.J.G.}  

        Hecht - M. Diesen;  Solingen 1970.   

        (The book on this game by  "The Thinker's Press,"  
          gives Qg4 a question mark. ('?') 
          But I think the real error was Qxg7. A.J.G.)  ]  

 

13...0-0; ('!')  {Diagram?}   
This is good, and very nearly forced in this position. 

     [  Worse for Black was:  13...Nc6?!14.Qe4 Nxc415.dxc6 b5;  
        16.c7 Qc817.Rg1, "+/"  {Diagram?} 
        White is clearly much better here - close to winning. ]   

 

14.Rg1! g6!(TN?)  {Diagram?} 

(Theoretical Novelty??)

A very large improvement over previous master practice.  

   '!' - GM Andy Soltis.    

***

GM Soltis makes a terrible mistake in his annotations. He says here: 
"Black knew the position well - he had lost a game at Cacak, 1971 ..." 

There are  TWO  inaccuracies in the above statement!  
   # 1.)  The game was played in 1970, not 1971!  
   # 2.)  Ljubojevic was WHITE in this game,  NOT  Black!!  
            (See the note just below.)  

***

     [  Previously seen was: 14...Qc7!?; ('?!')   15.e6! f6!?;  {Diagram?} 
        This is the natural reaction, Black tries to close lines. 

          ( 15...fxe6; 16.Bh6! e5;  17.Bxg7!! exd4;  18.Bxd4+ Kf7;  19.Rg7+ Ke8;     
             20.Rxc7, "+/"  {Diag?}  White is clearly much better. (Maybe "+/-") )      

        16.Bh6! Qxc4?;  {Diagram?}  This is an error.   

          (The following continuation was forced for Black: 16...g6[];  17.Bb3 Bxc3+;    
            18.bxc3 Qd6; {Diag?}  etc. But Black's game is pretty much hopeless,    
            perhaps why Black chose not to play this!)     

        17.Rxg7+ Kh818.Rg8+! Kxg819.Qg1+,  {Diagram?} 
         and Black was quickly mated. 

         L. Ljubojevic - Honfi;   Cacak, 1970]   

 

15.Bg5!(Maybe - '!!')  {Diagram?}   
A fantastic move  ...  that leads to complications that are nearly astronomical 
in proportions.  (White naturally wishes to exploit the somewhat weakened 
dark squares around the Black King.)

   '!' - GM Jan Timman.   '!' - GM Andrew Soltis. 

     [  White might still get an edge with the continuation: 
        15.Be3 Nxc416.Qxc4 Bxc3+17.bxc3 Nd718.Qd4, "+/="  {Diag?} 
        and White looks a little better than Black here.  

        Not as good is: 15.Bh6!? Nc616.Qe4 Bxc3+!17.bxc3 Nxe5!, "=/+" {D?} 
        Black is (at least) a little better here.  ]   

 

15...Qc7; (hmmm)  {Diagram?}  
GM Andrew Soltis  notes that Black threatens to win a whole Rook. 
(He threatens both ...Qxc4; and also the skewer, ...Bc5.) 

Black had also played this entire line very quickly, so this must have 
been a prepared variation here. 

     [ 15...Be7 ]  

 

16.Bb3!!(Maybe - '!!!/!!!!')   {Diagram?}   
Surely one of the deepest and most profound sacrifices ever played. 

***

<< Paul Keres was among the witnesses who were stunned by this game. 
      He said White's 16th move, leading to the sacrifice of a Rook, was 
      "a tremendous surprise, and during the game it took me quite a while to 
        find the point of it." 

      No wonder this was considered the most beautiful game of the whole 
       tournament. >>  - GM Andrew Soltis.  (The book: "The 100 Best.") 

***

To the above comments, I can only add that MANY MASTERS, (who were 
 present at the game); thought - quite simply - that Bronstein, who was given 
 to nearly whimsical thoughts; had just blundered

      [ 16.Rg4!? N8d7; "~" ]  

 

16...Bc517.Qf4 Bxg1!?;  {Diagram?} 
Certainly this is the most natural move in this position? 
(It is  DEFINITELY  the acid test of White's whole idea!)  

Many writers virulently criticized this move, and even awarded it a 
question mark.  ('?')  They include several GM's annotating this game 
for a Soviet Magazine, ('S.B.');  Zaitzev and Shashin, ('64'); 
The authors of the first edition of ECO, (many); and  Kotov,  Blackstock, 
& Wade, in their (joint) book: "World Championship Interzonals, 1973." 

But as  GM Jan Timman  showed in his landmark book:  
"The Art Of Chess Analysis,"
  this move might not only be decent, 
it could very well be the best move for Black! 

**********

     [  A postal game I played back in the  1980's  went: 
        17...N8d7!?18.d6! Qc619.0-0-0!!,  {Diagram?}  
         This is an improvement over Ne4, (GM H. Ree); which was the 
         move that was previously played in this position.   (19.Rg2!?)     
        19...Bxg1!?20.Rxg1 Qc5!?21.Re1 Rae8;  22.e6!!{Diag?} 
        A very brilliant move.    

          (Interesting was: 22.Kb1!?, with the idea of Ne4 next.  
            Or White could play the line: 22.Be7!? Rxe7; 23.dxe7 Qxe7; 
            24.e6!, "+/="  {Diagram?}  - GM Jan Timman. )     

        22...fxe623.Rxe6 Rxe6?!;  {Diagram?}  This is inferior. 

***

          a).  Necessary (probably) was:  23...Rc824.Re7+ Nc4;  {Diag?} 
                This is forced. 

                  (24...Kh8?; 25.Rxh7+ Kxh7; 26.Qh4+ Kg7; 27.Qh6#)     

                25.Qh4, "--->"  {Diagram?}   
                White probably has a winning attack here.  ("+/-")  

          b).  Really ugly, (for Black); is:  23...Rxf4?24.Rxe8+ Kg7;  
                 25.Rg8#.  (Mate.)  

***

        24.Bxe6+ Kh8?!;  ('?')  {Diagram?}  This is a mistake. 

          (Black had to play: >= 24...Kg7[]; 25.Bh6+ Kh8; 26.Bxf8, "+/-" {Diag?}    
            but White is still winning. )     

        25.Qxf8+! Nxf826.Bf6#.  {Diagram?}   

        A.J. Goldsby - R. Timetkin;  
        Golden Knights Postal Tournament, 1981 - '83. 

        This is a very pretty mate, but it is not even original.  
         (I think I was following an old analysis someone did, 
          it might have been by GM P. Keres.);  

*****

        Black could also try ...Re8 here:  17...Re8!?18.Bf6 N8d719.Ne4! Nxe5!?;  
        20.Rxg6+!!,  {Diagram?}   ... "with a crushing attack."   -  GM Jan Timman 

        Marjanovic - Filipowicz Yugoslavia, 1974. ]   

**********

 

18.d6,  {Diagram?} 
This looks to be best and/or nearly forced.  
(It also opens the diagonal for the Bishop on b3, prevents ...f5, gains some 
 space, and also gains a tempo as well.) 

   '!' - The Thinker's Press.   

     [  Ljubo was not afraid to repeat this whole line, i.e.,  18.Ke2? Qc5;  
        19.Rxg1?! Qxg120.Bf6 Qg2+21.Ke3!? Qxb222.Kd3 N8d7; 
        23.Ne4 Rac824.Qh6 Nxe5+25.Ke3 Rc3+;  White Resigns0 - 1 
        F. Gheorghiu  -  L. Ljubojevic;  Manila, 1973. (25)  ]   

 

18...Qc8!?;  {Diagram?}  
This was branded a mistake by some, but it certainly looks very reasonable. 
(It is hard to believe that Black - a whole Rook ahead - would have any 
 real problems.) 

"It was very difficult to foresee that this was the wrong square for the Queen here." 
   - GM Jan Timman

GM Jon Speelman - in his 1982 book,  "Best Chess Games, 1970 - 1980,"  
 brands this move as an error. But as I have found several mistakes in his analysis 
of this game, all of his conclusions cannot be considered valid. 

***

It is time to evaluate this position: 
# 1.)  Material - Black is ahead nearly a whole Rook, White only has one pawn 
          for the tower.  
# 2.)  Time - believe it or not, is about even ... both pieces have about the same 
          number of pieces developed.  
# 3.)  Force - Although both sides have about the same number of pieces in the 
          field of play, White's pieces co-operate and work together many times better 
          than their counterparts. 
#4.)  Space - Both sides pieces control approximately the same number of squares. 
         But White's pawn wedge in the center translates to a great deal of protected 
         squares. These pawns act as an umbrella, giving White a much greater freedom 
         of play in the center. 

Other factors that are  VERY  important in this position: 
a.)  White - since he can castle has much better piece coordination, and this translates 
       into a very large initiative. (White will be better able to generate threats over the 
       next few moves, and thus dictate and control the way the play transpires.)   
b.)  The second player has a hard time coordinating his pieces, and/or an ability to 
       find good squares. He will have special difficulty getting his Q-side into real and 
       effective play.  
c.)  Especially significant are the grossly weakened dark-square complex on the 
       Kingside. In some lines White threatens the very simple, (but effective); Bf6 
       and Qh6 ... with a mating web.  
d.)  Because Black is so far ahead in material, he should probably be looking for 
      any opportunity to return part of the point advantage for a chance to get to 
      get his pieces to good posts. 

***

 AN INTERESTING OBSERVATION   
One of the newest and latest programs I have is  Nimzo 8.0  ...  from ChessBase. 
It thinks here for over 5 minutes - - - and considers this position to be MUCH 
better, ("/+"); for Black!!  (January, 2003.) 

 

     [  Several major theoretical manuals all give the line of: 
         >/=  18...Qc5!{Diagram?}  
         This is definitely the best move here, according to opening theory. 

         19.Ne4! Qd4!;  {Diagram?}   
        
It is best too keep Black's strongest piece centralized here. 

           ( 18...Qc6?!; 19.e6!, "--->" ("+/-)     

         20.Rd1! Qxb2!; "~"  {Diagram?} 
         with continuing complications. 
         (GM A. Soltis mentions this possibility as well.) 

         Students of theory should study the critical game:  
         Moura - Rinaldi;  Correspondence Game, 1982/'83. 
         (The Informant has some very interesting analysis of this game, 
           but it is too long to go into here.)  

         A later game  followed the following path:  21.e6!?{Diagram?} 
         This could be imprecise.   ( >=  21.Rd2! "~")    21...N8d7!;   22.e7 Qxh2;  
         23.exf8Q+ Rxf824.Qxh2!? Bxh225.Nf6+ Kg726.Nxd7!? Nxd7;  
         27.Be7?! Rb8;  "/+"  {Diagram?}  
         Black is clearly better ... and went on to win shortly.  

         GM Y. Gruenfeld  -  GM L. Ljubojevic;   FIDE Interzonal Tournament; 
         Riga, LAT/ [A.J.G.] /1979  (37)  

         Once again we see a Ljubojevic success on either side of this whole 
          variation!  

***

         Black runs into problems after:  18...Qc6!?19.e6!,  "--->"  {Diagram?}  
         & White has a strong attack.  ]   

 

19.Ke2!?,  {Diagram?}  
An interesting idea by Bronstein. (But probably not the best move.) 

Bronstein is just a little too unconcerned for the safety of his own King. 

     [  Shortly after the game one of the participants pointed out the following line; 
        which seems to be a fair improvement over the way the game was actually 
        played:  >/=  19.0-0-0! Bc5!?;  {Diagram?}   It is difficult to suggest any real  
        improvements for Black here.    (19...Qc5!?; 20.e6 N8d7[]; 21.exf7+ Kg7;    
         22.Kb1! Qe5?!; 23.Rxg1!?, "+/=" (Maybe - "+/")  {Diagram?}    
         White is at least a little better here, in this position.  -  GM J. Timman.)    
        20.e6! fxe621.Qe5 Re822.Bh6! Qd723.Ne4, "+/"  {Diagram?} 
        White is clearly much better here, or even winning. 
        (Maybe "+/-") [Analysis by] - GM David Bronstein]   

 

19...Bc5!?;  {Diagram?}  
While this appears to be the natural reaction to White's ideas, it may be 
a slightly (overly) materialistic way of handling the position.  

"Black misses his last chance to make a fight of it."  - GM Andy Soltis

"This gains nothing."  -  GM Jan Timman

     [  The best line for Black was: >=  19...Qc5!;  - GM J. Timman.  
         20.e6 N8d7!; "=/+" {Diagram?}   Black is clearly better here. 
         (Maybe - "/+")  -  GM A. Soltis
        (The analysis of the variants in one book runs several columns!)  ]   

 

20.Ne4!?(Maybe - '!')  {Diagram?}  
GM A. Soltis makes no comment here, in this position. 
But this is definitely the best move here.  

"Now everything goes according to White's desires."  -  GM Jan Timman

     [ 20.Bh6!? ]   

 

20...N8d721.Rc1 Qc6{Diagram?} 
A casual observer might glance at this position ... and think the second 
player has few problems. 

 (The latest version of the program,  "Crafty,"  thinks for several minutes ... 
   {w/44 MB RAM for the hash tables}  ...    
   and says   BLACK  is  WINNING   this position!!!!!!!!  Jan. 2003.  

 

22.Rxc5!!{Diagram?}  
White - who must have been acting on intuition at this point - removes the 
defender of Black's dark-square complex.  

   '!' - GM A. Soltis.   

Soltis only gives this move one exclamation point, but I feel that this move 
definitely  deserves two. 

  The sea of complications - that both parties now find themselves nearly     
   drowning in - is vast ... and virtually bottomless. (!!!)    

"White gets a proud Knight on f6 by means of this exchange sacrifice." 
   -  GM Jan Timman

     [ 22.Kd1,  or  22.Bh6!? ]   

 

22...Nxc523.Nf6+ Kh824.Qh4 Qb5+;  {Diagram?} 
Black appears to be doing OK.  

25.Ke3!(Maybe - '!!')  {Diagram?} 
"Despite (severe) time pressure and the huge material disequilibrium, 
 White has a mating attack."  -  GM Andy Soltis

"The crowning point to White's attacking play."  -  GM Jan Timman

   '!' - GM Jan Timman.   '!' - GM Andrew Soltis.   '!!' - Yakov Damsky.  

I wish to add that when I first went over this game, I was quite sure that Black 
would be to draw this game - due mainly to persistent threats to the White King. 

     [  Not nearly as good is:  25.Kf2!? Nd3+26.Kg2! Nf4+;  
         27.Bxf4, "~" {Diagram?}  - GM Andy Soltis. ]  

 

25...h526.Nxh5,  ('!')  {Diagram?} 
Without this move, White's attack comes to a standstill. 

     [ 26.Qd4 Nxb3; "-/+" ]  

26...Qxb3+!?;  {Diagram?}  
Black said after the game, that he felt his 26th move was forced. 

     [  Two alternatives here were:  
         # 1.)  26...Qd3+27.Kf2 gxh5!?;  {Diagram?} This looks bad.  
                    (Did Black have to play: 27...Ne4+!?;  in this position? )    
                   28.Bf6+,  ("+/-")  {Diagram?}  and mates. ( - GM A. Soltis.)  

        Or Black could try:  
         # 2.)  26...Nd5+!?27.Bxd5 Qd3+28.Kf2 Qc2+;  
                   29.Kg3, ("+/-")  {Diag?}  ...  "and wins." - GM A. Soltis]  

***

 

White now shows he knows the value of a Steinitzian King. 
(GM A. Soltis also awards exclams to White's 28th and 29th moves.) 
27.axb3 Nd5+;  {Diagram?}  
Virtually ALL of my students over the years predict that the White King 
here will retreat to the second row. 

28.Kd4!,  {Diagram?}   
"The King is a strong piece." (Timman.) 

     [ 28.Ke2!? ]  

 

28...Ne6+29.Kxd5!,  {Diagram?}   
Bronstein seems to have found a new kind of chess ... and a new formula 
for winning in chess: Simply march your King all the way across the board! 
(The farther,  the better?) 

     [ 29.Ke4;  or  29.Kd3!? ]  

 

29...Nxg5;  {Diagram?}  
This is definitely forced.  

     [  Now White mates after:  
        29...gxh5!?30.Bf6+ Kg831.Ke4!, "+/-" {Diagram?} 
         -  GM Andy Soltis. ]  

 

30.Nf6+ Kg731.Qxg5,  {Diagram?} 
White's attack has now yielded a material advantage to the first player. 

     [ Also good is: 31.Ng4!?, "+/-" ]  

 

31...Rfd832.e6 fxe6+33.Kxe6 Rf8;  {Diagram?}  
"Only White's time shortage kept Black from resigning."  
   - GM Andy Soltis.  

 (Black played this entire game in less than an hour!) 

***

White's technique now carefully gathers in the full point. 
34.d7 a5;  {Diagram?}  
Black has a small threat.  

35.Ng4 Ra6+;  {Diagram?}  
The QR finally enters the battle.  

 (Too little, too late.) 

36.Kd5 Rf5+{Diagram?}   
Has White blundered? 

37.Qxf5, (!)   37...gxf538.d8Q fxg439.Qd7+ Kh6;  
40.Qxb7! Rg6
41.f4!,  {Diagram?} 
Black RESIGNS, his game is quite hopeless. (1 - 0) 

***

An amazing game of chess, one of the most complicated ever played in 
history of the game.  

(It certainly rivals games like "The Immortal Game," or even Reti-Alekhine; 
 Baden-Baden, 1925.) 

This game was voted as the best and the most beautiful game of the entire 
tournament. This included a panel of judges, and also, (I believe.); all the 
players as well. 

This game was also considered the best by the panel of judges for the 
INFORMANT. (Now the panel of judges was increased from six to ten.) 

***

Keres  says of this encounter: "Truly a wonderful game." 

Timman  calls this game: "A modern masterpiece." 
(In a Dutch chess magazine.) 

Another well-known  GM/writer/chess journalist  says:
"The entire 11th round was eclipsed by the quite fantastic game, 
Bronstein - Ljubojevic.  In this unbelievable encounter, the cagey veteran 
Bronstein played with veritably youthful energy. In our time, few are capable 
of playing such a game. There can be no doubt that this game will be 
awarded THE First Brilliancy Prize!"  -
GM E. Gufeld

(Dozens of other annotators have also praised this game. A group of editors 
  for the Soviet Magazine, '64' named this game as being: ...  "one of the five 
  best games played in the last 50 - 75 years.")

My own opinion is that this immortal game has got to be (EASILY!!!) in the 
100 best games of the last 250 years!  
 (GM Andy Soltis ranks this as game # 41 {!!!} of the whole of The 20th Century.)   

*****

An interesting footnote was that - after leading the tournament - Ljubo virtually 
collapsed after losing this key game. Bronstein, on the other hand, finished 
very strongly ... after a somewhat average start; and almost qualified for the 
Candidates Matches. 

***

(Historical footnote.) The tournament of the Interzonal for Petropolis, 1973 
  was one of the strongest ever held, at least in my opinion. The field was 
  a true "Who's who?" of nearly all of the best players in the world of that 
  period of time in chess. 

The field included, aside from the two players in this game, the following participants: 
GM Paul Keres, (Estonia); GM Yefwim Geller, (U.S.S.R.); 
GM Lajos Portisch, (Hungary); GM Vlastmil Hort, (Czech); 
GM Samuel Reshevsky, (USA); GM V. Savon, (U.S.S.R./Ukraine); 
GM Lev Polugaevsky, (U.S.S.R.); GM Borislav Ivkov, (Yugoslavia); 
GM Henrique Mecking, (Brazil); GM Vassily Smyslov, (U.S.S.R.); 
GM Oscar Panno, (Argentina); GM Florin Gheorghiu, (Romania); 
and GM Peter Biyiases,  (Canada). 

Most of the above names need no introduction or explanation to real chess fans. A few are the true, real super-greats of chess. Savon was almost 2600 at that time, and one of the best in the world. (He won the Championship of the USSR in 1971, clear 1st.) The Romanian Gheorghiu I know real well, I played in several U.S. Opens where he competed also. A very young Mecking won this event to establish himself as one of the new super-stars of chess. 

***

Another interesting footnote: As recently as the year 2000, I analyzed this game with a student. He had the latest versions of ChessMaster, (and a couple of other programs); running on a brand new computer. [His perception was that chess was solved, and the best program would {quickly} find the best plans. He based this on the fact that he had read somewhere that computers could already defeat 99% of all chess players.] Anyway, we spent all day one day analyzing this game. The computer - REPEATEDLY - failed to find the best line ... or even anything close to it!!  (A point to mull over, and meditate upon.) 

****************************************************************************************

BIBLIOGRAPHY:  
I literally consulted over 20 different books to annotate this game. Two books on 
tactics also spend several pages examining the key lines. 
(Quite a few of the books I used are indicated in the various comments, notes 
 and the sub-variations.) 

But my main guide for this Herculean effort was the book: 
 "The 100 Best."  (The 100 Best Games of The 20th Century, Ranked.)  
By  GM Andrew Soltis
 [ (c) 2000;  McFarland Books. ]

I also referred to the book: 
  "The Art Of Chess Analysis,"  by  GM Jan Timman
  [ (c) 1980,  R.H.M. Press. ] 
(This book contains like 15 pages of detailed, double-column analysis of this game.)

I later referred to the book: 
"Chess Brilliancy," ('250 Historic Games from The Masters');  
by  Iakov (Yakov) Damsky

I also have many books and pamphlets on this opening. I used these as well as 
MCO, NCO, ECO, etc. I consulted several different issues if the book series known 
as: "The Informant." I also have a book on this tournament, (in Spanish); and I 
consulted this as well. 

MCO  =  "Modern Chess Openings, 14th Edition,"  
  by  GM Nick de Firmian
[ (c) 1999 by the author.  {ND}  Published by David McKay books, a division 
  of Random House. ]  

***

Copyright () A.J. Goldsby I.  

  1 - 0  

  (Code initially)  Generated with   ChessBase 8.0 


This is not the original version of this game, I have modified it slightly for my web page. 
 If you would like a copy of this page for your own personal study, please contact me

FYI  I have been working on this game (off-and-on) for several months. 
It has become a running gag between myself and my wife. 
"When you will make an end of it?"  "When I am finished!" 
(See the classic movie,  "The Agony and the Ecstasy,"  with Charleton Heston and Rex Harrison.) 

Page first posted on my web site in December, 2002
(Page last updatedSundayJune 01, 2003.)


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