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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How Do You Explain This Game?

      Taking the advice of reader Paul Gottlieb, I recently made a Nook purchase of Najdorf’s Zurich 1956 tournament book and have not been disappointed. I much prefer Najdorf’s notes to Bronstein’s! I came across the game below between Keres and Boleslavsky that seems incredible. I have been playing through the games with the help of Houdini and when I reached this game was somewhat taken aback by Boleslavsky’s play. Was this a “real” game or did Boloeslavsky throw it it?
       In a paper dated 2008 Charles C. Moul of Miami University and John V. V. Nye of George Mason University conducted a Statistical Analysis of Championship Chess 1940-78.Their goal was to “examine whether players from the former Soviet Union acted as a cartel in international all-play-all tournaments – intentionally drawing against one another in order to focus effort on non-Soviet opponents – to maximize the chance of some Soviet winning.”
       On the eve of the Zurich 1953 Candidates Reshevsky said, “This is going to be a tough tournament to win – probably the toughest of my career.” Being that the Soviets most likely did make every effort to keep him from winning the tournament, he was more right than he knew. Reshevsky was probably worn out at this tournament because he had to play a lot more 'real' games. Russians were afraid of Reshevsky.
      Dr. Reuben Fine once wrote he declined his invitation to The Hague 1948 because he did not want to play in a tournament where the Soviets threw games to each other. I’m not entirely convinced that Fine did not come to that conclusion until later in his career and thought it sounded like a plausible excuse or if he realized that after the war, his strength had simply declined and he chose not to embarrass himself. Since Keres lost his first four games against Botvinnik, suspicions are raised that Keres was forced to throw games to allow Botvinnik to win. On the other hand, Reshevsky once commented that he did not think Keres was steady enough to have ever won a world championship.
       It is strongly suspected that the Soviets cheated in Hague-Moscow 1948, Saltsjöbaden 1952, Zurich 1953, and Curaçao 1962. It is known that they passed notes as was reported in some 1953 and 1954 issues of Chess Review. I have never seen the article by Bronstein but supposedly in the Soviet chess magazine 64 he admitted that some games at Zurich were fixed and that a KGB official asked him, "Do you think we came here to play chess?"
       After round 6 Reshevsky was in lead with 4.5 pts., a half point ahead of Keres and Smyslov. At the time this game was played the Old Indian was a relatively unexplored opening and Boleslavsky’s Rook sacrifice on move 9 was a novelty that looked more like a blunder as he got nothing for it.  Najdorf could not explain it and I was thinking even GMs are not immune to the admonition about not grabbing the b-Pawn in the opening. But then I got to wondering, did Boleslavsky blatantly throw this game?

1 comment:

  1. I seem to remember reading somewhere a comment by Bronstein that annotating some of the games was pointless because they were fake but he could not have admitted it at the time.