Correspondence Chess Reminiscence N7


By Eric Ruch


The Radio Match Great Britain URSS (1946)


The first game played by radio between Great Britain and URRS took place
between June, 19 and June, 20 1946. It was the first event organized by the
Anglo Russian chess club and was recognized by both chess federations.

According to the newspaper, this match was also the opportunity to demonstrate
the friendship between the two countries. The rooms, where the games
were played, were decorated with the flags of the two countries, and many
Britain officials visited the place during the games.

M. Silkin, minister of  government, welcomed the players with a magnificent
speech that the English players will remember for ever. Emphasizing the
development of chess in his country, he said that the Members of the Parliament
used to play much more than in the past. He concluded by wishing that
MM. Bevin and Molotov could solve their different points of view on a chessboard!


The players of the two teams, listed from board 1 to board 12:


Great Britain USSR
C.H.O.D Alexander M. Botvinnik
E. Klein P. Krs
I. Konig V. Smyslov
H. Golombek I. Boleslavsky
W.A. Fairhurst  S. Flohr
P.M. List A. Kotov
W. Winter   D. Bronstein
J.M. Aitken I. Bondarevsky
B.H. Wood A. Lilienthal
G. Abrahams V. Ragozine
Miss E. Tranmer V. Byelova
Mrs R.M. Bruce  I. Rudenko



Viacheslav Ragozine, the second correspondence world champion, wrote an article
about this match, that was published in Le Monde des Echecs in 1946. It is a very
interesting document that was probably not published (as far as I know) outside URSS.


The defeat of the English chess players.



We hope that the American Tragedy can be avoided, wrote the English chess
players in the letter they send to their soviet colleagues when proposing a radio
match after the tournament played between USSR and USA. The soviet team had
defeated the American with the astonishing score of 15 to 4 . The chess world
was surprised. For many persons, this result was a shock, and the American players
were not at all prepared to such a score. Obviously they had underestimated their opponents.


The British players did not make the same error. They had a good knowledge of the
strength of the soviet team and they had well prepared all the games. They had the
opportunity to carefully study the style and the opening repertoire of each member
of the soviet team: the english and the american chess magazines were full of games
played by the soviets and opening study analyzed by the leading soviet masters
during the months preceding the match. All the games of the first international
tournament USRR USA had been published in these magazines,
with deep annotations and analysis.


It was much more difficult for the players of the USSR to prepare the games
of this match. Some of the English players, such as Alexander or Clyne,
did not take part to the major tournaments during the last six years and
we could not study their games to be well prepared for the struggle.


The English players were well prepared. The English master, Golombek,
has played the Indian defense against Boleslavsky, a master of this defense.
Golombek played a line where the queens are exchanged very early in the game,
getting then a very quiet game. This tactic was successful, and Golombek could
secure the draws in the two games.


Each team had two ladies players. This match was the first international
tournament for the two soviet ladies. Belova and Rudenko obtained
very good results, winning their four games. In the two games,
Valentine Belova, USSR lady champion, could prove her endgame
technique against her opponent Miss. Tranmer. Ludmila Rudenko won her
two games against Mrs. Bruss by a direct attack on the King during the middlegame
Her second game was the shortest and the most spectacular game of the match.


For the men, the best results were obtained by the grand masters Vassili Smyslov,
Alexander Kotov and Igor Bondarevski. They have won their two games
The grand masters Paul Keres, Salomon Flohr and Andr Lilienthal 
have secured 1   points out of the two games.


The big surprise has been the defeat of the USSR champion Botvinnik in
the second game. Mikhail Botvinnik is a player having a large variety of style.
He is as strong in calm positional games as in very tactical and complicated positions.

Many players think that the win with Black is more valuable that the win
with the white pieces. Botvinnik has won more games with Black than
with White in his tournaments.  When playing Black, Botvinnk generally
plays complicate opening where it is very difficult to give a correct assessment
of the position. But of course, Black has also to play very carefully in such openings.
In the second game played against Alexander, Botvinnik played a French defense
and get a position where both players had good chances for sizing the attack.
He played a wrong move and was forced to play in defense. Botvinnik does not
very often make mistakes, but in this particular case, the lack of training during
more than a whole year could be felt. Botvinnik did not take part to any
tournament since the 14th USSR championship played in May 1945.


As in the first radio match between the URSS and the USA, the games played
in this second match took twice more time than an usual game.
The game Flohr Firehearst lasted 22 hours over two days! As long as
the radio technique will not permit the games to be played in eight hours,
this type of games will be very tiring for the players.

Has the English team be able to avoid the American Tragedy?  Indeed,
the percentage is not as disastrous as the American one, but the defeat could not be avoided.

The art of soviet chess has won a prestigious victory in the radio match URSS Great Britain.

V. Ragozine.


Great Britain USSR
C.H.O.D Alexander 1 1 M. Botvinnik
E. Klein 1 P. Krs
I. Konig 0 2 V. Smyslov
H. Golombek 1 1 I. Boleslavsky
W.A. Fairhurst  1 S. Flohr
P.M. List 0 2 A. Kotov
W. Winter   1 1 D. Bronstein
J.M. Aitken 0 2 I. Bondarevsky
B.H. Wood 1 A. Lilienthal
G. Abrahams 1 V. Ragozine
Miss E. Tranmer 0 2 V. Byelova
Mrs R.M. Bruce  0 2 I. Rudenko



The magazine published a photo of the soviet team who played in the
game against the USA, and some of these members, amongst them Ragozine,
played also in the match against Great-Britain.



Quiz : Are you able to recognize all these champions ?




The two games played by Alexander and Botvinnik have also been
published in Le Monde des Echecs (pages 261 262 &  356-358).


C.H.O.D. Alexander M. Botvinnik [C18]

(radio), 1946

F. Molnar "Le Monde des Echecs" (1946)


1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.c3 b4

The preferred move of Botvinnik in the French, his first choice against 1.e4

4.e5 c5 5.a3 xc3+ 6.bxc3 e7 7.g4

Master Alexander is not intimidated and uses an aggressive move 
7.f3 bc6 8.d3 a5 9.d2 c4 10.e2 a4
to avoid a4, Pogrebysski - Botvinnik en 1939.

7...cxd4 8.xg7 g8 9.xh7 a5?

Who will be the first? White wants to make the decision on the King side,
whereas Black launches an attack on the Queen side. But the move 
...a5 is not
as efficient as
...c7, due to the double threat ...xc3 and ...xe5 while defending b7.

After 9...c7 the game continues 10.e2 bc6 11.f4 d7 12.d3 dxc3 13.xc3 a6 14.b1 c8 15.d2 a5 16.h3 b5 17.d3 c4 and Black has the better game Lilienthal - Lwenfisch, Moscow 1936.





A very strong move. The defensive move
would lead to a similar game as in the preceding  line.


10...xc3+ 11.d2 c7

11...xa3 should be tried.

12.f4 bc6

12...d7 would be a complete resignation .
13.f3 f8 14.d3 f5 15.xd4 xd4 16.xd4 xc2 17.b5+

followed by the castle and White has an overwhelming position.


13.f3 d7 14.g5!

A very aggressive move. White attack can now hardly be refuted.




The exchange sacrifice is mandatory. Black tries to escape from the
struggle by dominating the center, but all tries will be unsuccessful.

If Black plays 14...d8 15.b4 and Black position is completely blocked
and the Queen side castling is no more possible. Moreover

would be bad, in view of 15.h5 and the threat is h7.


15.fxg5 0-0-0

The sacrifice of the f7 pawn cannot be avoided and Black is seeking for more space.
15...xe5+ 16.d1 b6 17.d3
and Black game would be completely paralyzed.


16.xf7 xe5+ 17.d1

White king is in safety and the passed pawns become now very dangerous.


17...f5 18.g6 e3+ 19.c1 e4

The threat of mate allows Black to win a pawn,
while White is continuing his development.


20.d3 xg2 21.e1 e5 22.f4 f3 23.e2 h3

If 23...e5 24.xg2 exf4 25.g7 e6 26.g6 g8 27.f6 etc.


24.xe3 e5 25.f7 dxe3 26.g7

The little pawn is growing....


26...g4 27.h3 g1+ 28.b2 g3 29.g6 d4

Blacks position is hopeless, and the rest
of the game is merely a question of technique.

30.g8 xg8 31.xg8+ c7 32.h7 d6

32...xe2 33.f5 wins.

33.d3 e4 34.h6+ c7 35.xe3 e5 36.a2

To unpin the King.

36...f5 37.g5

The Knight and the pawn are pinned.


37...e6 38.e2 d4+ 39.eb3 b6 40.d2

To prevent the push
a5-a4 that threats to win the Rook.

40...d3 41.g4 1-0

Black has no other choice than to resign.




M. Botvinnik,M C.H.O.D. Alexander,C [E49]

(radio), 1946

I. Shernetsky " Le Monde des Echecs" (1946)


1.d4 f6 2.c4 e6 3.c3 b4 4.e3

This move has been first played by the grand-master Rubinstein. Many
young grand-masters have adopted it, especially the young one
such as Botvinnik, Reshevsky, Fine, Flohr et Lilienthal. For a long period,
the best line against the aggressive Nimzowitsch Defense has been

4.b3 c5 5.dxc5 c6 6.f3
etc,  then 4.c2 d5 5.cxd5 exd5 6.g5 d6 7.e3 e4 8.f4
has been the favorite line of play.

4...d5 5.a3

The great Akiba preferred 
5.ge2 0-0 6.a3 xc3+ 7.xc3
avoiding the doubled pawns, but the modern grand-masters consider
that the pawn complex
c3-c4-d4 can be accepted, once Black has played d5.  Thats why Black tends to adopt the pawn formation c5-d5-e5 that seems to create more problems to White.

5...xc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.cxd5 exd5

Probably better was
7...xd5 avoiding the possibility to have an isolated pawn at d5.
But the missing Knight at f6 makes White attack on the King side much more efficient.

8.d3 0-0 9.e2 b6

Preparing the development of the Bishop on
a6 and not on b7,
to exchange it against the very active white Bishop.

10.0-0 a6 11.xa6 xa6 12.a4 d7 13.a3 fe8 14.d3

In order to provoke the pawn push
...c4 to release the tension on the Queen side where the four black pawns are blocked by the three white pawns, and then attack on the King side by playing f3-e4-e5-f4-f5 etc.




This move is probably the cause of Back problems.
We would have preferred
14...b7, maintaining the tension
c5 and d4. After 14...b8 White cold have played 15.c4!

15.c2 b8 16.ae1 c6 17.g3 a5 18.f3 b3 19.e4! xa4

Played as in the well known game Botvinnik - Capablanca, Avro, 1938.
Black has won the a4 pawn and White has to demonstrate
that his initiative on the King side is worth the sacrifice.

The two games are almost identical, the sole difference
is that White has played his Bishop on
b2 and not on a3.


20.b2 Black wins a valuable tempo by playing
20...c5! 21.f2? d3
etc, or even 20.b4

20...a5 21.e5 b5!

Ignoring the attack on the King side,
Black tries to use his pawn majority on the Queen side.


22.exf6 b4! winning back the piece.



22...e6 23.exf6 xd6 24.fxg7 b4 25.e5 d7
26.f4 e8 27.e2 de6 28.f5 xe5 29.dxe5 a7+

Black has no time to play
29...f6 because 30.h5! would be decisive.

30.h1 bxc3

To give the d4 square to the black Knight,
but it is too late to bring back this piece to defend the King.

31.f6 d4 32.e3

33.f5 wins

32...a8 33.xc3 a4 34.xd4!

This pseudo sacrifice could have been played at the previous move



34...xd4 35.f5 h5

Mandatory in view if the threats
h6 or e7 mate.

36.xd4 e8 37.f5 d4

37...xe5 38.h6+ h7 39.g8+ etc.

38.e6! 1-0

38...fxe6 39.h6+ h7 40.f7 wins the game.


Answer to the  quiz :

First rank, sited from left to right :
A. Kotov, V. Smyslov, M. Botvinnik, V. Ragozine et S. Flohr.

Second rank :
A. Lilienthal, I. Boleslavsky, V. Makaganov, I. Bondarevsky et D. Bronstein.



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