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  Welcome to MY web page on the 8th greatest game of chess ever played. Many hours of work went into bringing you this page. I hope you enjoy it. (page-banner, spas-bron1.gif; 05KB)

Boris Spassky (2745) - David Bronstein (2675)
 28th Soviet Championship, (Round # 16) 
 Leningrad, U.S.S.R; 1959.  / (Possibly 1960?) 

  [A.J. Goldsby I] 


The ratings are a VERY conservative estimate, especially in lieu of what the ratings were (are) in the year, 2001. 
(Spassky and Bronstein were both easily in the Top ten when this game was played.) 

Jeff Sonas  gives the following  ratings  for these two players: 
 GM Boris Spassky (2757), and also the  # 4  player in the world; GM David Bronstein (2713), and also the  # 11  player in the world.  


ALL ANALYSIS quoted herein is assumed to be my own ... UNLESS if course, I quote (blame!) someone else. 

You definitely will need a chess set to play over this game
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 The 8th Greatest Chess Game Ever? 

In my mind, one of the most amazing games of chess ever played. (It is also one of the more famous games of the modern era.)  

In an era when players only knew how to play 'correctly,' Spassky - perhaps caught up in the infectious style of Mikhail Tal  - plays the  'incorrect'  King's Gambit. (At this time, this opening was considered by opening theory to be almost completely unsound.)

Spassky's handler was reportedly to have joked to a friend, upon learning what opening his protégé was playing, that he was going to pack. When asked why he was going to pack (as if for a move); he responded; "If Spassky loses this game, I am sure they will ship us both to both to Siberia!"

All kidding and jokes aside, this is a marvelous game. (R.J. Fischer, upon seeing this game, immediately wanted to classify it as one of the  "Ten Greatest"  of all time!)

Spassky, in order to save ONE (1) tempo, sacrifices an entire Rook!!! 
This was probably unprecedented at the time, especially in the exact manner that Spassky did it.

This was a pivotal game in the Championship. And it continued a run by Spassky where Bronstein never seemed to be able to get a good game against Boris Spassky.

This game was immediately hailed in newspaper columns around the world as one of the most brilliant {chess} games ever played.  


 This game is also one of the very few accorded the honor of being played in a movie.

  It was featured at the very start of the now classic James Bond movie, ... ... ...   "From Russia, With Love." (Kronstein - McAdams).  

(Albeit, two pawns were removed in a key shot.) 


"The two leading experts on the King's Gambit dispute the opening on the Leningrader's home grounds. The result is perhaps the most brilliant King's Gambit since the first decades of the century."   -  IM Andy Soltis  (In his book, "The Best Chess Games of Boris Spassky."   
Copyright  © 1973,  A. Soltis. David McKay, publishers.). 

"This is a fantastic game. Spassky defeats Bronstein in typically Morphy style, though Bronstein is a much tougher opponent than were the victims of Morphy's many brilliancies."  - Irving Chernev.  (From the book,  "The Golden Dozen," by I Chernev.)

My annotations of this game are based primarily on the excellent book,  "The 100 Best,"  by  GM Andy Soltis


{ Opening survey included. I do  not  consider this a comprehensive opening examination.
   But I wanted to do two things here:
# 1.)  Give a relatively decent look at a few of the more commonly played variations, in order to give the average player at least a basic understanding of a few of the ideas and lines that are played the most often.
# 2.)  Perhaps  after  looking at this survey, a player could decide what variation of this VERY complex opening interests him the most. He or she could then purchase a book on that line for further study and examination on their own. } 

1. e4 e5(David, are you sure that is your move?) 
"What the devil prompted me to reply to 1.e4, with 1.e5??"  

"The fact that Spassky, like Spielmann in the last century, very much likes to play the 
  King's Gambit had momentarily escaped me."  - David Bronstein, 'The Blue Bird.'   
  In the book, << 200 Open Games. >>  Page # 26 of the Dover Edition. (Pub. 1991)   

2. f4!?{Diagram?}  
The King's Gambit.  

This was a very daring decision, as Bronstein is perhaps one of the top opening 
theoreticians of his day, especially for the King's Gambit. (Maybe Spassky deserves 
an exclam for brashness and some very shrewd psychology.)  

  [ More usual - especially at the Master level - is: 2.Nf3 Nc6; etc. ]


2...exf4(Maybe - '!')
The King's Gambit Accepted. 

This is probably the best course for Black. 
(Opening theory still considers this the sharpest and the best move here.) 

  [  Black can also play: 2...Bc5;  which is the   King's Gambit Declined

     A normal, 'book' line now runs:  3.Nf3,  Probably the best move here. 

      (3.fxe5?? Qh4+{Now almost funny is: 
Now if 4.Ke2???, then 4...Qxe4; mate.}  4.g3 Qxe4+; 5.Qe2 Qxh1; "-/+").   

     3...d64.c3!?,  White prepares to expand in the center, and blunt Black's Bishop.  

      ( MCO - 14 gives the continuation: 4.Nc3 Nf6; 5.Bc4 Nc6;  (6. a3!?)  6.d3 Bg4;  
      (6...a6!?)   7.Na4 Bb6; 8.Nxb6 axb6; 9.c3 0-0; 10.0-0, "+/="  (Maybe - "=")  
       White is just slightly better.  (According to MCO.). 
       [ See MCO-14; pg.'s 16-17, col. # 31, and notes # (a.) thru (e.). ]. )  

     4...Nf65.d4!?,  (Maybe - '!')  Maybe the best move here. 
     (White tries to block Black's KB out of the game.).  

       ( MCO gives: 5.fxe5!? dxe5; 6.d4 exd4; 7.cxd4 Bb4+; 8.Bd2 Qe7; 9.Bd3 Nxe4 
        The end of the column. 10.Bxe4 Qxe4+; 11.Kf2 Bxd2; 12.Nbxd2,   
        This is: IM Sophia Polgar - GM Glenn Flear;  Brussels, 1987.   
        Now 12...Qd5;  Best, according to DeFirmian.  13.Re1+ Be6; "="  is equal,  
        according to GM Nick DeFirmian.   
       [ See MCO - 14; pg.'s 16-17, col. # 33, and note # (l.). ].   
         Maybe 14.Re5!?, "+/="  - {A.J.G.} )  

     5...exd4; 6.cxd4 Bb4+; 7.Bd2 Bxd2+; 8.Nbxd2 0-0; 9.Bd3 Bg4!?; 10.0-0 Nc6; 
     with good play for both sides.  (Computer-assisted, analysis line.)  {A.J.G.} 
     Now White should probably play: 11.Qb3!, "+/="  (Maybe just equal,  or "=")  
     This is my own analysis, and ...   - in my opinion - represents a very large 
     improvement over MANY books in this position!!  - LIFE-Master  A.J. Goldsby I  


     Black could also try: 2...d5;  "The Falkbeer Counter-Gambit."    3.exd5, 
     The most commonly played line here.  ( For 3.Nf3!? , col. # 30.).    3...e4
      (3...c6!?)    4.d3 Nf6;  5.dxe4!?,  The computer book says this line is best. 

      ( White could also play: 5.Nc3 Bb4; 6.Bd2 e3; 7.Bxe3 0-0; 8.Bd2 Bxc3;  
        9.bxc3 Nxd5
; 10.c4 Re8+; The end of the column. 11.Be2 Nf6; 12.Nf3, "+/="  
        and White is just slightly better.   - GM N. DeFirmian in MCO.  
        Razhdestvensky - Estrin;  Moscow, 1943.   
        [ See MCO-14; pg.'s 14-15, col. # 27, and note # (m.). ].    

      Or 5.Nd2!? exd3; 6.Bxd3 Nxd5; 7.Qf3!? Nc6; 8.a3 Bc5; 9.Ne2 0-0 
      10.Nb3 Be7;
"= "  The end of the column.  
      The position is now equal, according to MCO.  
       [ See MCO-14; pg.'s 14-15, col. # 25, and notes # (a.) thru (d.). ].   
       Maybe 11.Bd2!?, "+/="  {A.J.G.} )    

     5...Nxe4; 6.Nf3 Bc5; 7.Qe2 Bf5; 8.Nc3 Qe7; 9.Be3 Bxe3; 10.Qxe3 Nxc3; 
     The end of the column. 11.Qxe7+ Kxe7; 12.bxc3 Be4!?;  (Maybe - '!')  

       ( The continuation: 12...Bxc2!?; 13.Kd2 Ba4!?; 14.Re1+, "~"  (Maybe - "+/=")  
         leads to very wild and unclear play. ) 

     13.Ng5 Bxd5; 14.0-0-0 Rd8; 15.c4, "+/="  (Unclear or equal?)  
      ... and according to DeFirmian, White is just a little better.  
     Gravel - O. Rodriguez;  Spain, 1992.    
     [ See MCO-14; pg.'s 14-15, col. # 26, and note # (j.). ]. ].   


3. Nf3(Nearly - '!')
This is actually the line,  "The King's [Knight] Gambit." 

White does FOUR very good things with just this one move:
# 1.)  Controls the center;
# 2.)  Develops a piece;
# 3.)  Helps to prepare for a K-side castles; 
# 4.)  Stops ...Qh4+; by Black.

But this is NOT the ONLY move here.

   [ White can also play the line referred to as the, "King's [Bishop]
  with: 3.Bc4!?,  which was a favorite of Tchigorin and

     It was also used a few times by Bobby Fischer, once in a U.S. 
     Championship game. 

     If you are interested in this VERY complex line, I suggest you
     get a book on this opening, (Or MCO); and investigate further
     on your own. ].


3...d5!?(Maybe - '!')  
This is VERY energetic and was pioneered, I believe, by GM M. Botvinnik. 
(See his 1952 Soviet Championship game vs. ... GM David Bronstein!!). 

Black returns a pawn in order to challenge White's dominance in the center and 
also be able to develop as quickly as possible. He also maintains the f4-pawn, 
which serves as a major impediment to White's attacking schemes on the King's-side. 

"3...d5!?;  is the best and most reliable method for dealing with the King's Gambit 
Accepted Variations."  (From a Chess Digest/ Ken Smith pamphlet on this opening.).

"The best practical defence." - Irving Chernev

   [ The more normal  'BOOK'  line here - in this position - is:  3...g5!
     The "Kieseritzsky Variation."  

     Chernev calls this move  'old-fashioned,'  but modern theory (2002) still considers 
      it the very best.   (White can also play the Philidor,  the Hanstein lines, or ... the  
       really wild  .......  "Muzio Gambit.") 

     4.h4! g4; 5.Ne5! Nf6!; 6.d4! d6; 7.Nd3 Nxe4; 8.Bxf4, "~"  with a wildly unbalanced 
     position.  Play could continue: 8...Qe7; 9.Be2 Nc6!?; 10.c3 Bf5; 11.d5 Nb8!?; 
     The end of the column. 12.Na3 Nd7; 13.Nb5, "<=>"  (Maybe  - "=") 
     The chances are about even.  -  GM N. DeFirmian in MCO.  
     Wortel - Jenni
;  Slovakia, 1996. 
     [ See MCO - 14; pg.'s 6-7, col. # 01, and note # (e.). ].  
     ( I might like Black's chances in this position, although White has a very 
       strong initiative. {A.J.G.} );

     Black can also play, "The Fischer Variation,"  with: 3...d6; {Analysis Diagram.} 
     but this can transpose to other lines or can assume it's own, unique character. ].  


4. exd5(Almost forced.) 
The correct move ... and the most consistent one. 

It is also the best (or even the only try) that might enable White to achieve an 
advantage in this position. 

  [  4.e5?! g5; "=/+" ].  


4...Bd6!?(Maybe - '!') 
An older system of the King's Gambit that is - 'nonetheless' - perfectly sound. Black 
returns a pawn in order to challenge White in the center and activate his pieces. 
(Could I christen this, "The Botvinnik/Bronstein Variation?")  

He develops quickly and prepares to castle K-side. He also tries to maintain 
the f4-pawn as a thorn in White's side. 

  [  Black could also play: 4...Nf6!?; which is also perfectly playable. 
     5.Bb5+,  This is maybe the sharpest line here. 

      ( White could also try one of several different alternatives at this point. 
,  (Col. # 13.)or 5.Nc3,  (Col. # 14.)or 5.c4.  (Column # 15.)  
         [ See MCO-14; pg. # 10, columns # 13 - 15. ] )  

     5...c6; 6.dxc6 bxc6;  This is interesting, but it is not clear what is best here. 

      (Maybe best is: 6...Nxc6!?; 7.d4 Bd6; 8.Qe2+!? Be6; 9.Ng5!, "~"  (Maybe "+/=")  
       For more info on this wild line, see MCO-14; page # 10, and column # 14.)   

     7.Bc4 Nd5; 8.0-0 Bd6; 9.Nc3!, "+/="  - IM A. Soltis.  We could simply stop here, 
     and conclude White has a slight  - but solid edge.   ( 9.d4!?)   9...Be6; 
     10.Ne4! Be7; 11.Bb3! 0-0; 12.d4 Nd7; 13.Qe2 g5; 14.c4 N5b6; 15.h4 h6; 
     16.Nfxg5!!,   ( I would probably try:  16.hxg5 hxg5; 17.c5!?, "~"  {A.J.G.} ).  
     16...hxg517.Bxf4!,  "--->"   B. Spassky - Zacharov;  1/2 Finals,  
     28th USSR Championship, 1960. 
     [ See the book, "The Best Chess Games of Boris Spassky,"  
       by  IM A. Soltis. Game # 23, pg. # 89. ]  ].   


5. Nc3{Diagram?} 
This is perfectly good and natural, White develops a piece and controls the center. 

   [ I might have been tempted to try: 5.c4!?,  with an interesting game. - {A.J.G.} ; 

     Variation # 1.)  The main line here is probably:  5.d4! Ne7!?;  This is best, I think. 
     Black prepares a quick King-side castling.   ( Or 5...Nf6!?; 6.c4 Bg4; 7.Bd3 0-0; 
       8.0-0 b6; 9.Qc2 c5; 10.b4!, "+/-"  White is clearly much better, according to MCO. 
       - GM N. DeFirmian.  [ See also MCO-14, pg.'s 10-11, column # 16, and notes 
       (o.) through (r.).  Mainly note (p.). ].  (10.Ne5!?, "+/=" - {A.J.G.} ).     

    6.c4 Ng6;  7.Bd3,  Maybe the most logical move here. 
    (MCO-14 calls this an excellent alternative.)  

       ( MCO gives the continuation: 7.Be2 0-0; 8.0-0 b6!?; 9.Nc3 c6; 10.dxc6 Nxc6;  
         The end of the column. 11.Nb5 Be7!?; 12.d5, "+/="  
         "White has a small advantage." - GM Nick DeFirmian. (In MCO.)  
         GM Joe Gallagher - Ballard;  Paris, 1990.  
         [ See MCO-14; pg.'s 10-11, col. # 16, and note # (r.). ]. )  

     7...0-0; 8.0-0,  "White has comp." (Maybe - "+/="),  with good play for both sides. 
     (Analysis line.) {A.J.G.}   
     For more info on this line, see the game: M. Hebden - Johansen;  London, 1982.   
     [ See also MCO-14, pg.'s 10-11, column # 16, and notes (o.) through (r.). ].  
        ( 8.a3!?; or 8.Nc3!?, - {A.J.G.} )    That game proceeded:  8...c5!?
     This could be viewed as potentially risky.  9.b4!?,  Almost too wild. (But VERY sharp!) 
       (Perhaps indicated was the move: 9.Nc3 , with good play.  
       Or 9.dxc5 Bxc5+; 10.Kh1, "~")    9...b6;  Maybe too passive a response. 
Maybe Black had to play: 9...cxb4; 10.c5 Be7; 11.Qb3, "~" - {A.J.G.} )  
     10.bxc5 bxc5; 11.Nc3 Bg4; 12.Ne4, "+/="  (Maybe - "+/")  
     "White held an edge."  - GM N. DeFirmian in MCO.  
     (An almost crazy line. I am NOT vouching for any of this! - {A.J.G.}).  
     GM M. Hebden - Johansen;  London, 1982.  
     [ See MCO-14, pg.'s 10-11, column # 16, and notes (o.) through (r.);  
       - Mainly note # (q.) here. ].  


     Or Variation # 2.)  5.Bb5+ c6; 6.dxc6 Nxc6; 7.d4 Nge7;  "="  (Equal.)  
     Hans Ree - GM Nigel Short;  Wijk aan Zee, 1986. 
     [ See also MCO-14, pg.'s 10-11, column # 16, and notes (o.) through (r.). 
       - Mainly note (o.) here, Part (A.). ]  ].   


"Black's handling of the gambit is a little unusual: Instead of trying to capture the 
enemy d5-pawn, as Black usually does in the more normal 3...d5; variation, he first 
prepares to protect his own f4-pawn; (with ... Ng6.).  The f4-Pawn is now destined to 
play a very remarkable role in this game."  - GM A. Soltis

I also should point out this was the sharpest way ('book') to play this line at that time. 

(Chernev says the players were probably out of book at this point. Most Americans 
were unaware that Bronstein had analyzed this position well past move ten in an 
article in a Russian magazine just a few months prior to this game. {A.J.G.}) 

   [ Another try for Black is: 5...Qe7+!?; 6.Be2 c6; "<=>"  {Counterplay} 
      with a complicated position. ].  


6. d4 0-0(Simple chess.) 
To me, this is safest and the most consistent with opening principles - the kind that 
 I teach to all my students. ("Protect your King and castle early!") 

   [ Another line that is popular, according to modern theory, is: 6...Nd7!?; 7.Bd3 Nb6; 
      8.0-0 Nbxd5;  ( Or 8...0-0; 9.Ng5!, "+/="  9.Nxd5 Nxd5; 10.c4 Nb4; 11.Re1+ Kf8; 
      This seems nearly forced.    ( GM A. Shirov recommends, instead: 11...Be6?!;  
        12.Bf5! 0-0
; ("=") Shirov claims this position is equal.  [ See also MCO-14, pages 
        10 - 11, column # 16, and notes (o.) through (r.). - Mainly note (o.) here, Part (B.). ].  
        But a brief check of any good chess program will reveal that: 13.Bxe6 fxe6;  
        14.c5 Be7
; 15.Qb3!, "+/="  (Maybe "+/") and White is MUCH better in this position. 
        - LM A.J. Goldsby I  )    12.Be4 f5!?; 13.Bb1, "+/="  ("="),  but I don't much believe 
      in it. {A.J.G.} (I much prefer White in this position!) 
      [From an ECO/Informant {format} book.]  ].    


7. Bd3 Nd7(Maybe - '!?')  
This was the way they were playing this line at that time. 

   [ Someone has had to have tried:  7...Bb4!?;  at some point. After the further 
     moves: 8.Bxf4 Nxd5; 9.Bd2 Re8+; 10.Kf2 Nf6; 11.Re1 Be7; "="  the position 
     is nearly equal. - {A.J.G.}  ].   


8. 0-0 h6!?(Maybe - '?!/?')  
I only give this move an appellation of "Exclam-Question mark," as it 
does NOT lose by force. (Many consider it an error.) 

{The computer evaluations consider this position anywhere from equal to just 
  slightly superior for White. Certainly this data does  NOT  support branding 
  this move as a blatant error.}. 

Black may have had better moves here, that much is true. But nothing so drastically 
better as to merit giving this move such a harsh grading. (In my opinion.)  

'?' - GM A. Soltis.   '?' - FM Graham Burgess. 

"Black was concerned about Ng5 or Qh5, but this move wastes too much time." 
 - GM A. Soltis

    [  Black could also play:  8...Ng6; 9.Ne4 Nf6; 10.Nxd6 Qxd6; 11.c4 Bg4!; ("=") 
        - GM A. Soltis. (& GM B. Spassky)  12.Qb3, "+/="  {A.J.G.}; 

       Or Black could try: 8...Nf6!?; 9.Ng5!,   I think this might be the best move here. 
         ( 9.Ne5 Nexd5; 10.Nxd5 Nxd5; 11.Qh5,  - Spassky & Bronstein. 
           ( Or 11.Bxf4 Nxf4
; 12.Rxf4 Qg5!?; "="  - FM G. Burgess.)    11...g6;  
            (11...Nf6!?)    12.Qh6 Qf6; "=" - Spassky. )     9...h6; 10.Nge4!  "~"  
       (Maybe - "+/=")  - Line by Soltis. ].  


White's next move strongly activates his game. His opponent said of Ne4, 
that,  "It was a totally unexpected move." - GM David Bronstein
(In a Soviet chess magazine.) 
9. Ne4!
,   (Maybe - '!!')   
An unexpected turn. White sacrifices a pawn to activate his pieces. 
He also plans c4-c5, severely cramping Black. 

This move also represents a major departure from the accepted method of handling 
these types of positions.  (At least, according to the opening theory of that time.).  

'!' - GM A. Soltis.  '!' - Irving Chernev.  '!' - FM G. Burgess. 

   [ Or White could try - 9.Ne2!?;  "~"  {Unclear.}  

      Or White could try: 9.Ne5!?,  (Maybe dubious?) 
      Several of my students have suggested this move, but it is an absolute dead end. 
      9...Nxe5; 10.dxe5 Bxe5; 11.Bxf4 Bd4+; 12.Kh1 Bxc3; 13.bxc3 Nxd5; "=/+" 
       -  LM A.J. Goldsby I  ].  


9...Nxd5;  (Black must make a crucial decision here.) 
Probably the best move here. (Maybe even forced.) 

   [ According to Chernev: 9...g5!?; 10.c4!?,  (Maybe - '!')   is very good for White. 
     10...f5; 11.Nxd6, "+/"  However, when analyzing this position with a strong 
     computer, I discovered 9...g5;  is a mistake.  (White can respond with 
     11.Nfxg5!!,  with a winning attack for White. Apparently Chernev missed this.)  ].   


10. c4 Ne3(Box?)  
"The ONLY good move here."  - GM A. Soltis

"It is logical to make White give up his dark-squared Bishop for this Knight; 
  otherwise White has a solid positional advantage."  - FM Graham Burgess
(From the book, "[The Mammoth Book Of]  The World's Greatest Chess Games,
by GM John Nunn, GM John Emms, and FM G. Burgess.) 

   [  Or Black could try: 10...Nb4!?; 11.Bb1!, "+/="  White is just a little bit better here. 
      But probably not: 10...N5f6?; 11.Nxd6 cxd6; 12.Bxf4, "+/="  ("+/")  
White is a lot better here. {A.J.G.}  ].  


11. Bxe3 fxe3; 12. c5!,  
"It is important to drive this Bishop back."  -  GM A. Soltis

"An excellent move."  -  GM David Bronstein
( Writing for the Russian magazine, called, "64." ).  

(Soltis does NOT give this move an exclam. But from my tests on dozens of players 
 over the years, to find this move ... AND the idea behind it!  ...  is  NOT  easy to do! 
 The attacking scheme here is NOT readily apparent, at least to the average player.)

'!' - GM David Bronstein   '!' - GM S. Flohr.   '!' - I. Kan. 

   [ The computers mostly pick: 12.Re1, "="  with equal play. ].   


"The Bishop must retreat."  -  Irving Chernev

   [ 12...Bf4?!; (Maybe - '?') 13.g3 Bg5; 14.Nfxg5!,  The sharpest and best. 
        ( Or White could play: 14.h4!? White is probably still a little better. )   
14...hxg5; 15.Qh5, "--->"  (Really "+/-") 
      "White has a winning attack." - I. Chernev.  ].  


13. Bc2!,   
A nice move. The Bishop retreats so that White can set up a very dangerous 
battery on the b1-h7 diagonal. 

(Soltis DOES give this move an exclam.)

'!' - GM A. Soltis.   '!' - GM John Nunn.   '!' - Irving Chernev.   '!' - FM G. Burgess. 

"Adopting a theme (Q to d3-h7 mate) most often found in problems or 
  the Queen's Gambit Declined." (Q.G.D.)  -  GM Andrew Soltis.  

   [ 13.Qe2!? "+/=" ].  


13...Re8(Possibly - '!?')   
Probably the best move here. 

Bronstein vacates the f8-square so that he can put the Knight on that square 
for K-side defence. (No more threats of Qh7#.) 

   [ 13...Nf6?!; 14.Nxf6+!?,  This may not be the most accurate.   

         (14.Qd3!, (Maybe - '!')  -  FM Graham Burgess.  
         One of the most respected writers of all time recommended that Black  
         try to defend with: 14...Nxe4!?;   (14...Re8!)    15.Qxe4 g6;  
         16.Qxe3 Kg7!?; - Irving Chernev.  17.Rad1, "+/="  (!)  {Probably best.}  
         - LM A.J. Goldsby I ).  

     14...Bxf6; 15.Qd3 g6!?; 16.Qxe3,  "+/="  this now gives, ...  
      "White the better prospects."  - FM G. Burgess. ].  


14. Qd3,  ("Hammer Time!"  - Rapper 'M.C. Hammer.'
The battery has been erected, (along the b1-h7 diagonal); and careless 
 play by Black can now lead to a quick mate. 

   [ 14.b4!? ].  


14...e2('!?' ... Maybe - '!')   
Black wishes to distract White from his attack. Indeed, this pawn is not 
recoverable, so it would seem very logical to sacrifice it for a tempo. 

"One of the members of the older generation of Soviet Masters, Ilya Kan, 
remarked that Akiba Rubinstein or Jose Capablanca would have played 
15. Rf2, here without much deliberation."   -  GM Andy Soltis.  

"Black is buying time with his useless KP but ends up purchasing a Rook 
at great cost."   - IM A. Soltis.  
(From Soltis's book on Spassky, printed before Soltis became a GM.) 

"Bronstein hopes to gain time by luring the Queen into the capturing the King's 
Pawn, but the Queen, (unlike Atalanta, who stopped to pick up the golden apples 
in the race against her suitor); resists the temptation to pick up the insolent pawn." 
 - Irving Chernev( From the fantastic book, "The Golden Dozen." 
{The Twelve Greatest Chess Players of All Time} 
Plus selected, annotated games. 
Copyright 1976;  - I. Chernev, & Oxford University Press. )  

   [  Most Masters would be very uncomfortable with: 14...Nf6!?; 15.Nxf6+ Bxf6; 
  The sharpest move.   (16.Rae1 g6; 17.Rxe3, "="   16...Kf8;  
      17.Rae1,  "~"  when the proximity of the White Queen to my King would 
      have made me very nervous. 

      Or 14...Nf8; 15.Ne5!,   (15.Qxe3!?, "+/="   Or 15.Bb3!?, "~")    15...Be6;  
        (If 15...f6!?; 16.Ng5!! hxg5; 17.Qh7+!! Nxh7; 18.Bb3+ Qd5[]; 19.Bxd5+ Be6;  
20.Bxe6+,  and mate next move!!!).  
16.Rae1!,  {"With an initiative."}   "+/=" - GM A. Soltis. ].  


  The position after 14...e2.  

  The position after Black's 14th move.  (spas-bron_1_paBlk14.jpg, 05 KB)



"Spassky's next move is move is both memorable and spectacular." 
  - FM Graham Burgess
  [ From his very good book, "Chess Highlights of The 20th Century." 
    (c) 1999, Gambit Pub. ]. 

15. Nd6!!(Maybe - '!!!/!!!!')  (!!?!?!)  ('!?' - Garry Kasparov)  
One of the single most amazing and brilliant moves ever played on a chess board. 

This is definitely one of the prettiest, (if not the very best ever); moves ever played 
in a Soviet Championship(s). 

(< The crowd was stunned. Electricity began to grow in this position, > 
     according to one Soviet newspaper.) 

I always thought myself a pretty fair chess-player. But I remember looking at this 
game in the early 1970's. I just stared at the position for over an hour. Seemingly 
an infinite number of lines poured through my head, yet I found it impossible to 
'divine' the win. This game, along with a couple of Tal games and a couple of 
Fischer games taught me there was much more to chess than just a mere,  ......  
"crunching the numbers." (Calculation.) 

"This move, threatening Qh7+ and mates, has been criticized on the grounds that 
15. Rf2 would have given White a fine game whereas the text leads, with correct 
play, to an unclear position. This may be accurate - but somewhat unfair. Chess is 
not always a game of the objectively best moves but of pragmatic choices. Black, 
who is soon short of time, begins to swim in the complications he would have never 
had to worry about after a move like 15. Rf2."  - GM Andrew Soltis.  
(Beautiful prose; and very well put!!) 

I will only add to this that in chess you must sometime listen to your inner voices. 
Chess is not only competition, but also art. Things like creativity, imagination, 
and intuition should also count for something. Here Spassky gives his  'emotive 
  the ability to express itself fully!  - LM A.J. Goldsby I 

<< One of the deepest sacrifices this side of the "Evergreen Game." >> 
   - IM A. Soltis.  (From his book of Spassky's games, published before 
   {1973} Soltis got the GM title.)

GM R. Fine, writing for the American magazine, 'Chess Life & Review,' called 
this move,  ...  "Perhaps one of THE most shocking chess moves ever played!!" 

"One move by Spassky - a really fantastic move - lights up the whole position. 
'Fantastic' is a strong word, but how else can one describe Spassky's inspired 
15th move? Instead of removing an impudent pawn that that attacks his Rook, 
Spassky blithely permits this pawn to capture his Rook with check!  *** 
Truly, it is just one move ... in a million!" - Irving Chernev
 ( From his book, "The Golden Dozen."

'!!' - GM A. Soltis.   '!!' - Irving Chernev.  

   White could try: 15.Qxe2!?, "+/="   

       Or 15.Rf2!?, "+/="  Now not 15...b6!?;    (Better is: 15...f5[];)    
       16.Nd6!!, ("+/-")  with play much as in the game ... but with one very 
        important difference. (White does not lose a Rook!)  ].  


15...Nf8?!(Too passive.) 
Perhaps the first really inaccurate move in this very grand game. {A.J.G.}  

This Knight retreat is actually a very logical and a very reasonable defensive idea. 
(It fails, but not by much. And it may lose ... BUT! ...  it takes some very brilliant play 
by White to prove the win!!).  

'?' - GM A. Soltis   '?' - GM J. Nunn.   '?' - FM G. Burgess. 

Many players have heavily criticized this move, calling it the losing move. 

While Black may nearly be lost after this move, it is still not so bad ... 
- in my own humble opinion - as to rate full question mark. 

I also think that a lesser player may not have won this game. 
(Master practice is full of examples of such games - - one side may have a won 
game, but could not quite find the 'knock- out' blow to put his opponent away.) 

Here Spassky shows he is up to the task and has brought his whole game, 
... and  the finishing touch. 

I should point out to that most of the critics of this move never played a game 
that belongs in the "Best Over-All One Hundred Games of Chess." !! 

Chernev did  NOT  give this move a mark of any kind. To me, this is very revealing. 

... "The fact that Bronstein had only 20 minutes left to play his next 26 moves, 
      I am sure was not helpful to his frame of mind."  - Irving Chernev.  

   [  Black has a huge array of seemingly reasonable alternatives, the choices here 
      boggle the mind and confuse even a Master! 

      Variation # 15B1.)  The best defense is: 15...Bxd6!; 16.Qh7+ Kf8; 
      17.cxd6 exf1Q+
; 18.Rxf1 cxd6!;  Absolutely the best move in this position.  
      Any other move here falls short of allowing Black to put up a reasonable defence. 

       Black could also play: 
      a.)  Definitely NOT 18...c6??; 19.Qh8#.   
b.)  Another line that LOOKS good but falls short is: 18...Nf6?!; 19.Qh8+ Ng8; 
             20.Ne5 f6; 21.Bh7 Be6; 22.d7!,  (A nice move.  Maybe - '!!'  GM Soltis likes 
             this move so much, he awards it two exclams!)  22...Re7; 23.Bxg8 Bxg8; 
             24.Rxf6+! gxf6; 25.Qxf6+ Rf7; 26.Ng6#. 

      19.Qh8+ Ke7; 20.Re1+ Ne5;  Now this is forced.   (20...Kf6??;
      21.Qxg7 Rg8; 22.Qxh6 Qb6!; 23.Kh1 Be6; 24.dxe5 d5[]; 25.Qf6+,  "/\"  (Unclear?)  
      with a position where White's attack may (will) continue.  This is obviously the best  
      continuation for Black.  But I should point out this line was not worked out until WELL 
      AFTER  the game ... and only then by a TEAM if GM's!! For Bronstein to discover this 
      line over-the-board would have been a super-human effort ... and nothing short of 
      miraculous. To find this line over-the-board ... when he was also already short of 
      time - well, let us just say that this was just being very unrealistic!! 
Just as good - {and perhaps better},  is the move: 25.Ba4!?,  (- GM A. Soltis.) )

      Variation # 15B2.)  Completely unacceptable is: 15...cxd6??; Just plain silly. 
      16.Qh7+ Kf8; 17.Qh8#. 

      Variation # 15B3.)  A very plausible variation, but one that loses brilliantly is: 
      15...exf1Q+!?; 16.Rxf1 Nf6!?;  This is a fairly reasonable-looking move here. 
       It loses in a very pretty and exceptional manner, but it takes ultra-brilliant play 
       by White to prove the point. 
         ( The move 16...Bxd6!;  transposes back to the best line of defence.  
          {See variation # 15B1.} )  
      17.Nxf7!,  (Maybe - '!!')  " ---> "  White has a strong attack now, in this position. 
      17...Kxf7; This looks to be pretty much forced. 

       Black could also try: 
17...Bf5; 18.Qxf5 Qd7;   (18...Kxf7?; 19.Bb3+ Kf8; 20.Qg6, "+/-" 
19.Qg6, "+/"  (Maybe "+/-")  
      b).  17...Qd5; 18.Nxh6+! Kh8;   (18...gxh6?; 19.Qg6+! Kh8; 20.Qxh6+ Kg8; 
               21.Bb3, "+/-")    19.Ng5! Ne4; 20.Nhf7+ Kg8; 21.Bb3!, ("+/-") 
             White is winning easily.  

      18.Ne5+ Kg8; []  Again forced.  And it looks like Black is getting away. 
        ( Many of my students - over the years - has said that Black was, ... 
          "completely safe" in this position. (!!!) ) 

          ( If 18...Kf8?!; 19.Bb3! c6; Ugly, but there is not much Black can do here ... 
            other than to play give-away!   (If 19...Be6; 20.Bxe6 Bxc5; 21.Ng6#.    
              Or 19...g6; 20.Qxg6, "+/-" Or 19...g5; 20.Qh7, "+/-")   20.Ng6#.  )  

      Now White wins brilliantly. 
      19.Qh7+!! Nxh7; This is forced.   (19...Kf8??; 20.Qh8#)     20.Bb3+ Qd5; 
      21.Bxd5+ Be6; 22.Bxe6+ Kh8; 23.Ng6#.  An ultra-brilliant, spectacular mate. 

      Variation # 15B4.)  15...Nf6!?; 16.Nxf7! exf1Q+; 17.Rxf1 Kxf7; 
      18.Ne5+ Kf8;  Forced.    (18...Kg8; 19.Qh7+!!, etc.)    19.Bb3,  ("+/-")  with a 
      winning attack.  {White threatens Ng6#.}  (These lines are nothing more than 
      a "mirror echo" of many of the line analyzed earlier. So I will not analyze them 
      in great detail.) ].  


16. Nxf7!(Probably - '!!')  
A very nice move. White cracks open Black's King-position like an egg for breakfast. 

"I am sure Spassky did not consider such a move as 16. Nxe8 for more than 
  two seconds." - Irving Chernev.  

'!' - GM A. Soltis.  '!' - Irving Chernev.  '!' - FM G. Burgess. 

Really this is an incredible move. Very, very, very brilliant. How many players would 
play this move ...  WITH A ROOK ALREADY HANGING??? {A.J.G.} 

   [ 16.Nxe8? exf1Q+; 17.Rxf1 Qxe8; "-/+" ].    


Black accepts the Rook now, maybe out of pure desperation. 

   [ The Knight on f7 is taboo. 16...Kxf7?; 17.Ne5+ Kg8;  This looks forced. 
       ( Or 17...Ke6?!
; 18.d5+! Qxd5; 19.Qf5#).   18.Qh7+!! Nxh7; 19.Bb3+ Qd5; 
      20.Bxd5+ Be6; 21.Bxe6+ Kh8; 22.Ng6#.  ].   


17. Rxf1 Bf5;   
"Black must now throw material in the path of his opponent or face mate." 
 - GM A. Soltis

   [  Variation # 17B1.)  17...Kxf7?!; 18.Ne5+! Kg8?!;  Not really the best move, 
       But I allow Black to play it here, because the finish is so pretty. 
       (18...Ke6; 19.Qc4+ Qd5; 20.Bf5+ Kf6; 21.Bxc8+ Kg5; 22.Qxd5, "+/-")    
      19.Qh7+!! Nxh7; 20.Bb3+ Qd5;    ( 20...Kh8?; 21.Ng6# )    21.Bxd5+ Be6;  
      22.Bxe6+ Kh8
; 23.Ng6#.  A really cute mate. 

      Variation # 17B2.)  17...c6??18.Nxd8,  "+/-"  White wins easily. 
       (Black has lost his Queen.) 

      Variation # 17B3.)  17...Qd5; 18.Bb3 Qxb3[];  This is 100% forced, 
      according to many computers. 
      (MANY writers don't even consider this move!!)  

           Black could also play:  
          a.)  18...Qh5?!; 19.Nxh6+ Kh8; 20.Nf7+ Kg8; 21.N7g5+ Kh8; 22.Bf7,  ("+/-")  
                 White will regain a whole Rook, and maintain a two-pawn advantage ... 
                 and a powerful attack! 

          b.)  Or 18...Qc6?; 19.Nxh6+! Kh8; 20.Nf7+ Kg8; 21.Nd8+,  ("+/-");  
                 Black has lost his Queen. 
c.)  Or 18...Qxf7; Black almost gets enough material for his Queen in 
                 this line. 19.Bxf7+ Kxf7; 20.Qc4+ Kg6;
   (Not 20...Be6?; 21. Ng5+!, etc.)  
                 21.Qg8!,  - A. Soltis.  Now play could proceed: 21...Bf6; 22.Nh4+! Bxh4; 
                 23.Qf7+ Kh7; 24.Qxe8, 
                    ... "and White wins."  - FM G. Burgess.  
                 I.e., 24...Ng6; 25.Rf7 c6; 26.g3,  ("+/-")  with a fairly easy win on material. 

      19.Qxb3 Be6; 20.Nxh6+ gxh6; 21.Qxb7, "+/"  (Maybe - "+/-") 
      and White wins.  - LM  A.J. Goldsby I.  

      Variation # 17B4.)  17...Qd7?; 18.N3e5!,  White has a winning attack. 
      18...Qd5; (Box.)  There are no good squares for the Black Queen. 
      19.Bb3, (Best)  ("+/-")  Now Black's Queen is trapped or won.  ].  


18. Qxf5 Qd7;  
"By returning a Bishop, Black has gained a little time to defend."  
 - FM G. Burgess.  (The "Mammoth" Book.).  


19. Qf4!,  {Very good.}  
A nice move, maintaining the pressure. 

  [ 19.Qd3!?  ("+/=")  ].   


"This game deserves a better finish than 20. Nxh6+."  - GM A. Soltis

20. N3e5!,   
White is massing his pieces for the final attack. 
An excellent move, and one awarded an exclam by many annotators. 

'!' - GM Andy Soltis. 

  [  20.N7e5!?, "+/" ].  


This may be forced.  

   [  20...Bxe5; 21.Nxe5 Rxe5; (Box.)  Forced to avoid mate. 

        ( Or 21...Qe7!?;   (Now, maybe 22.Qe4!?, threatening Rxf8+.  - Soltis.)     
           22. Bb3! Kh8; 23. Qe4!,  "+/-"  Black is helpless. White threatens RxN/f8+, 
           and then simply Ng6+, winning.   

      22.dxe5, ("+/-")  ... "and White has to comfort himself with an endgame win."  
       - GM A. Soltis. ].  


21. Bb3!(Maybe even - '!!')  
White prepares a devastating discovered check. (This is not at all an obvious 
move, and sometimes the last move that is seriously considered by my students 
and people that I show this game to.) 

   [ Almost equally as good was: 21.Nxh6+!?,  (Maybe - '!')  21...gxh6; 
      22.Qxf6, "+/-"  which is the continuation many (most) of my students want 
      to play, at this point.   ( Or 22.Qxh6!!, "+/-" )    ].   


Not very good looking, but there wasn't much else Black could do. 

   [  Var. # 21B1.)  Maybe worse for Black was:  
; 22.Nxh6+! gxh6; 23.Qxf6 Qxf6; 
      24.Rxf6 Kg7; 25.Rg6+! Kh7; 26.Bxe6! Rf8; 27.Bd5, "+/-"  
White has an overwhelming advantage. 

     Var. # 21B2.)  Or  21...Kh7?!; 22.Qf5+ g6(Box)   
       ( 22...Kg8?
; 23.Nxh6+ Kh8; 24.Nef7+,  ("+/-")  Black has got to give up his Q.)  
23.Qxf6, "+/-"  ...  "forces an ending with a huge material advantage for White." 
      - FM G. Burgess. ].   


22. Nxe5+ Kh7;  
Is Black escaping? (Hardly!) 

   [   22...Kh8; 23.Qe4! g6;  This looks forced. 

       a).  23...c6?; 24.Rxf8+!, etc.   
       b).  Or 23...g5?!; 24.Rf7, "+/-"  and White wins.  
               ( Not 24.Rxf8+?? Qxf8; "~"

       24.Qd5!,  This is the strongest move here, in this position. 

       ( White can also win with: 24.Rxf8+ Qxf8; The best here. 
  ( 24...Rxf8?
; 25.Nxg6+, ("+/-")  wins easily for White.   
          Or 24...Kg7; (Box.)  25.Qxg6+! Kxf8; 26.Qxh6+ Qg7; 27.Nd7+ Ke7  
, ("+/-")  wins easily for White. )     

         25.Nxg6+ Kg7; 26.Ne5 Rxe5;  Sadly, this looks forced.  
          ( If 26...Kh8; 27.c6! b6; 28.Bc2!, "--->"  ("+/=");    
           Or 26...c6?; 27.Qg6+ Kh8; 28.Nf7+ Qxf7; 29.Bxf7, "+/-"    
         27.Qxe5+ Qf6; 28.Qxc7+ Kh8; 29.Qe5, "+/"  (Maybe "+/-")  
          White is much better, and should prevail in an ending.

       24...Qg7;   (24...c6??; 25.Qg8#)     25.Rf7 c626.Qd6 Rac8;  
       27.Rxg7, "+/-"
And ... of course, White will win easily.  


       Black can also try:  
       (>/=)  22...Ne623.Ng6!, Qg5!?24.Qe4!, "+/-"  {Diag?}   
       when White wins easily.  (Threats of Bxe6+, followed by a 
       discovered check by the Knight ... Black will lose a lot of 
       material trying to prevent this.)  Added Dec. 05, 2004.  ].   


23. Qe4+(Almost - '!')   Black Resigns, 1-0.  

   [  White wins after: 23.Qe4+ Kh8; Forced?   (23...g6;   
       24.Rxf8! Rxf8;   (24...Qxf8; 25.Qxg6+ Kh8; 26.Nf7+ Qxf7     
         27.Bxf7, "+/-" Not only does White have a material plus, he    
         will also mate Black.  25.Qxg6+ Kh8; 26.Qxh6+ Qh7; 27.Ng6#)  
      24.Rxf8+! Rxf8;  (24...Qxf8; makes no difference.)   25.Ng6+, 
; 26.Nxf8+!,
(dbl chk)  A nice move, leaving Black virtually 
      no options.  (The move, 26.Nxe7+!?, also wins ... and without too  
       much trouble.  26...Kh8; 27.Qh7# 


Simply one of the most incredible, - one of the most beautiful, ... and one of the most amazing games of chess ever played. 
(And perhaps the shortest game Bronstein ever lost!!!)

In my opinion, Spassky showed more creativity and imagination in this one game, than most players have shown in their entire lives. 

GM Ludek Pachman - analyzing this game for a German magazine - immediately hailed this game as, "One of the [new] modern chess masterpieces." 

GM Andy Soltis - in his book, "The 100 Best" - highly praises this game and ranks this game as # 32 out of his 'Top 100.'  Great marks for any chess game! 

This game was picked as one of the very best chess games of the 1960's in a poll of the readers of the Soviet magazine, "Shakmatny Bulletin.

FM Graham Burgess rates this as one of the 3 best games for the calendar year, 1960. 
See his book, "Chess Highlights of The 20th Century.").  

IM B. Cafferty,  (in his book on Spassky),  called this game one of the finest he had ever had the pleasure to review or to analyze. 

I believe it was Al Horowitz, writing for 'Chess Review,'  that said this had to be one of the most brilliant games of the last 50 years. 



  1. "The 100 Best,"  by  GM Andrew Soltis
    (The 100 Best Games of The 20th Century, Ranked.)

  2. "Chess Highlights of  The 20th Century,"  by  FM Graham Burgess. 

  3. [The Mammoth Book Of]  "The World's Greatest Chess Games."  
    by GM (& Dr.) John NunnGM John Emms,  and  FM Graham Burgess

  4. The book, "The Best Chess Games of Boris  IM Andy Soltis. 
    (Copyright © 1973, A. Soltis.  David McKay, publishers.). 

  5. "The 100 Best Chess Games of Boris Spassky,"  by  IM Bernard Cafferty

  6. The book,  "The Golden Dozen,"  by  Irving Chernev. (The Twelve Greatest Players Who Ever Lived.)  
    {Plus selected, annotated games.}  

  7. I did not have the following book when I first annotated this game, in fact - it had not even come out yet. But it does contain some interesting analysis. "My Great Predecessors, Part III."  By  GM Garry Kasparov  and also Dimitry Plisetsky. Copyright (c) 2004, published by 'Everyman Chess.' ISBN:  # 1-85744-371-3.  Game # 52, page # 203.  
    (December 06, 2004:  I recently purchased this book, but I have not had  a chance to thoroughly review the notes to this game. As soon as I can find the time, I will. If I find anything major, I will post it here ... of course!)  

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   Click  HERE  to see a game played in 2007 ... ... ... and the King's Gambit (Accepted) was the opening that was used. 

 I started this game in May of 2000. I worked on it - intermittently - for quite a while,
and then laid it aside. (I actually repeated this process several times.) 
 I finally finished the annotating process probably in early 2002.
It then took nearly another 4-7 weeks (or more) of work to get this web page ready ...
for publication on my web-site. SO ... Enjoy!

 This game, in  ChessBase  format; is probably one of the best annotation jobs anyone has ever done
 on this particular game. It also contains a fairly decent survey of the opening. If you would like a copy 
of this game to study on your computer, I hope you would  contact me. 

 Click  HERE  to return to the page you left. (The "Best All - Time Games" page.) 
 Click  HERE  to go to (return) to my home page. (Main Page.)


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 "The Best Short Games Of Chess."  (Click  HERE.)

  This game was  (first)  posted on my web-site on March 06th, 2002. 

   Page last checked/updated:  Sunday, November 08, 2015Last edit or save on: 11/08/2015 00:56 .  


  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I  

  Copyright (©) A.J. Goldsby, 1975-2015.  

  Copyright (©) A.J. Goldsby, 2016.  All rights reserved.  

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