Thanks again to Tim Krabbe and his excellent list of chess brilliancies. The move in question is the the last chance to convert the win, and it cements Bronstein’s legacy as an uncompromising, stylistic genius.
Brzozka – Bronstein, 1963
1.c4 f5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.O-O O-O 6.d4 d6 7.Nc3 c6 8.Qc2 Kh8 9.b3 Na6 10.Bb2 Nc7 11.Rad1 Bd7 12.e3 Qe8 13.Rfe1
In a sense this delayed Dutch is already a brilliant game. Black controls the center with a seemingly fragile mix of pawns and pieces. He’s about to play the odd Rd8 to provide more protection to d5. Despite the cramped nature of black’s game white has a difficult time making his space advantage count. Bronstein is careful to avoid passivity at all times.
13…Rd8 14.Rd2 Nh5 15.d5
Black plays 15…Qf7! If you look closely you can see that black, through accurate piece placement, actually has better control of d5. The knight doesn’t count as a defender because it can be eliminated. Black will have to respond to the check afterwards but he should be able to hold onto d5. White must cede control of this important square. Watch how his position slowly erodes from this point forward.
16.dxc6 bxc6 17.Ne2 c5 18.Nf4 Nf6 19.Ng5 Qg8 20.Bc3 Rde8 21.Ba5 Ne6 22.Ngxe6 Bxe6 23.Nxe6 Qxe6 24.Qd3 Ne4 25.Qd5 Qxd5 26.Rxd5 Bc3 27.Bxc3+ Nxc3 28.Rd2 Ne4 29.Rb2 a5 30.f3 Nf6 31.Kf2 Rb8 32.Ke2 Rb6 33.Kd3 e5 34.f4 e4+ 35.Kc3 Kg7 36.Bf1 h5 37.h4 Rfb8 38.Be2 a4 39.Reb1 a3 40.Rd2 Kf7 41.Rbd1 Ke7
42.Rd5!? White is struggling. He has the worst minor piece and his rooks can’t find good spots. He realizes that his heavy pieces are terrible and that black’s knight is easily better than either of them. He tries the exchange sacrifice banking that black, with no pawn levers, will eventually have to sacrifice the exchange back to have winning chances. This shows great strategic awareness. Black doesn’t bite of course, but it was worth a try.
…Ne8 43.R1d2 Nc7 44.Bd1 Na6 45.Bc2 Nb4 46.Bb1 Ra6 47.Rd1 Nxd5+ 48.Rxd5
Well, it looks like after 48. Rxd5 the game is a clear draw. Not in Bronstein’s book. Can you spot the killer variation and the idea behind it? After 48..Rxb3!! and the ensuing rook penetration black’s pawns give more than adequate compensation for the piece. Although white puts up a stout defense the triple connected passers roll right on down the board.
49.Kxb3 Rb6+ 50.Kc2 Rb2+ 51.Kc1 Re2 52.Rd1 Rxe3 53.Rg1 Rc3+ 54.Kd2 Rxc4 55.Bc2 d5 56.Rb1 d4 57.Bd1 Rc3 58.Rb3 e3+ 59.Ke2 Rc1 60.Rxa3 c4 61.Ra7+ Kd6 62.Ba4 Rh1 63.Rd7+ Kc5 64.Rc7+ Kb4 65.a3+ Kc3 66.Bb5 Rh2+ 67.Kf1 d3 68.Rxc4+ Kb2 69.Kg1 e2 70.Kxh2 e1Q and White resigned