World Chess Championship 1951

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The 1951 World Chess Championship was played between Mikhail Botvinnik and David Bronstein in Moscow from March 15 to May 11, 1951. It was the first match played under the supervision of FIDE; and the first to use a qualifying system of an Interzonal and Candidates Tournament to choose a challenger - a system which stayed in place until 1993.

Botvinnik was the defending champion: he was 39 years old, had been a world leading player in the 1930s and World Champion since 1948. The challenger, David Bronstein, was 27 years old and relatively new to top level competition.

The match ended in a 12-12 tie (5 wins each, and 14 draws), meaning Botvinnik retained the title of World Champion. Writing in 1973, Israel Horowitz described the match as "perhaps the most interesting match ever played for the world championship".[1]

1948 Interzonal tournament[edit]

An interzonal tournament was held at Saltsjöbaden in Stockholm, Sweden, in July and August 1948. The top eight finishers qualified for the Candidates tournament.

1948 Interzonal Tournament
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Total
1  David Bronstein (Soviet Union) x 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 13½
2  László Szabó (Hungary) 0 x ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 0 12½
3  Isaac Boleslavsky (Soviet Union) ½ ½ x ½ ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ 12
4  Alexander Kotov (Soviet Union) 0 ½ ½ x ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ 11½
5  Andor Lilienthal (Soviet Union) ½ 0 ½ ½ x 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 11
6  Igor Bondarevsky (Soviet Union) ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 x ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 10½
7  Miguel Najdorf (Argentina) ½ 0 1 ½ 0 ½ x ½ ½ 1 0 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 10½
8  Gideon Ståhlberg (Sweden) ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ x ½ 0 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 10½
9  Salo Flohr (Soviet Union) ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ x ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 10½
10  Petar Trifunović (Yugoslavia) ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 1 0 1 ½ x ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 10
11  Vasja Pirc (Yugoslavia) 0 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ x ½ ½ 0 1 0 ½ 1 ½ ½
12  Svetozar Gligorić (Yugoslavia) ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ x 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 0 1
13  Eero Böök (Finland) ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 x ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1
14  Viacheslav Ragozin (Soviet Union) 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ x 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 1
15  Daniel Yanofsky (Canada) ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1 x 0 ½ ½ ½ 1
16  Savielly Tartakower (France) 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 1 1 x 0 ½ ½ ½ 8
17  Ludek Pachman (Czechoslovakia) ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 x 1 ½ 1
18  Gösta Stoltz (Sweden) 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 0 x ½ ½
19  Lajos Steiner (Australia) 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ x ½
20  Erik Lundin (Sweden) 0 1 ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ x

The four players tied for sixth place were to have played off for three spots in the Candidates tournament, but Bondarevsky had to withdraw due to illness, so the other three qualified automatically.

1950 Candidates tournament[edit]

The 1950 Candidates tournament was held in Budapest, Hungary in April and May 1950. The players who finished second through fifth in the 1948 championship tournament (Smyslov, Keres, Reshevsky, and Euwe) were seeded directly into the tournament, along with Reuben Fine, who had been invited to the 1948 tournament but declined, and the top eight finishers from the Interzonal.

It has been written that Reshevsky and Fine were prevented from travelling to Hungary by the US State Department, with travel restrictions due to the Cold War;[1] however Reshevsky said in 1991 that he could have gone but did not want to.[2] Euwe declined due to work commitments, and Bondarevsky due to illness.[1]

1950 Candidates Tournament
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Score
1  David Bronstein (Soviet Union) xx = = 0 1 = 1 1 1 1 = 0 1 = = 1 = = 1 12
2  Isaac Boleslavsky (Soviet Union) = = xx 1 = = = = = 1 = = = = 1 = 1 1 1 12
3  Vasily Smyslov (Soviet Union) 1 0 0 = xx = = 1 = = 1 0 1 = 1 = = = = 10
4  Paul Keres (Soviet Union) = 0 = = = = xx = = 1 0 1 = = = = 1 = =
5  Miguel Najdorf (Argentina) 0 0 = = 0 = = = xx = = = = 1 1 = 1 = = 9
6  Alexander Kotov (Soviet Union) 0 = 0 = = 0 0 1 = = xx = 1 1 0 1 0 1 =
7  Gideon Ståhlberg (Sweden) 1 0 = = 1 0 0 = = = = 0 xx = = = = = = 8
8  Andor Lilienthal (Soviet Union) = = = 0 = 0 = = 0 0 0 1 = = xx 1 0 = = 7
9  László Szabó (Hungary) 0 = = 0 = = = 0 = 0 0 1 = = 0 1 xx 1 0 7
10  Salo Flohr (Soviet Union) = 0 0 0 = = = = = = 0 = = = = = 0 1 xx 7

The co-winners then played a 12-game rematch in Moscow in July and August 1950. In the event of another tie, the first decisive game would determine Botvinnik's challenger for the title.

Candidates playoff 1950
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Points 13 14 Total
 David Bronstein (Soviet Union) 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 6 ½ 1
 Isaac Boleslavsky (Soviet Union) 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 6 ½ 0

Bronstein thus earned the right to challenge the reigning champion.

Did Boleslavsky allow a tie?[edit]

Going into the final round of the Candidates tournament, Boleslavsky had a half point lead over Bronstein. Boleslavsky had white against Stahlberg, and offered a short draw when he was in a good position, which Stahlberg accepted.[3] This gave Bronstein the opportunity to catch him, which he did, with a brilliant win against Keres.[4] It has been said, by both Bronstein and by Yuri Averbakh, that Boleslavsky allowed Bronstein to catch him. Averbakh said that Boleslavsky had a very poor record against Botvinnik, and hoped that a tie would mean a 3-way match between Botvinnik, Boleslavsky and Bronstein, although this did not eventuate.[5]

It has also been speculated that the result of the Bronstein-Boleslavsky match was pre-arranged by the contestants.[6]

1951 Championship match[edit]

The match was played as best of 24 games. If it ended 12-12, Botvinnik, the holder, would retain the Championship.

World Chess Championship Match 1951
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Points
 Mikhail Botvinnik (Soviet Union) ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 0 1 ½ 12
 David Bronstein (Soviet Union) ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 0 ½ 12

Botvinnik retained the championship.

Highlights[edit]

Botvinnik-Bronstein, Game 5
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8
Chessboard480.svg
h8 black king
d7 white rook
g7 black pawn
h7 black pawn
b5 white knight
c5 white pawn
f5 black rook
b4 white pawn
g4 black knight
d3 black pawn
g3 white pawn
c2 black knight
g2 white king
h2 white pawn
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
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Bronstein took the early lead in Game 5. Black (Bronstein) here played 39...Nce3+, and Botvinnik resigned because it is mate next move.
Bronstein-Botvinnik, Game 6
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8
Chessboard480.svg
d8 white knight
b7 black pawn
a5 black pawn
c4 white pawn
f4 black king
b3 white king
c3 white pawn
e3 black pawn
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
In Game 6, Bronstein (white) made one of the worst ever blunders in world championship play. He played 57 Kc2??, apparently expecting 57...Kf3 58 Ne6 e2 59 Nd4+, but resigned when Botvinnik (black) played 57...Kg3, after which 59 Nd4 is not check. 57 Ne6+ was a simple draw. The blunder so upset Bronstein that he played weakly, and lost, in Game 7.[1]

External links[edit]

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