Posts Tagged ‘Tolush Chess’

During what became a rather bumpy flight for both myself and my -soon to become slightly damaged- bicycle, I reverted to one of my favourite books, that being The Soviet Championships by Bernard Cafferty and Mark Taimanov.

In the late 1940’s Alexander Tolush won several brilliancy prizes in his quests to become the Soviet Champion. Whether he was, as so often described ‘cavalier’ or ‘gung ho’, it is difficult to be sure without a formative study of his career. But one thing we can be sure of is that he did not mess about over the board…oh and in case you didn’t know, he went on to be Spassky’s trainer and played a decisive role in him becoming world champion.

So, 1947 it is. Tolush plays with white, his victim on this occasion was Vladimir Alatortsev, the result being another brilliancy prize for what was a brutal kingside attack. I won’t show the whole game, just a few diagramatic motives with the linked game to follow…oh and before I forget, Tolush finished a mere fifth that year with a ‘rehabilitated’ Keres back in the fold and finishing first.


Looks like a fairly standard slav from the 1940’s to me. Tolush just played 8. Qc2 which is followed by 8. … dxc4



Both players have placed their better bishop on its best diagonal but as ridiculous as it may seem, where the queen’s knights are placed respectively, makes a more crucial difference in the position. Black has just played 10. …Qe7, and here white now plays 11. Ne2!? Anticipating black’s e-pawn break, the knight wants to go to f5 via g3. To stop that black must make a concession which will cost him dearly.


Both players pushed their e-pawns but black had to play g6 too, to stop that knight hoping into f5. White plays 15. Rae1!, threating to push his e-pawn on again, black replies with 15. …Ne5.


After 15. …Ne5, 16. Nxe5 Bxe5, 17. f4 was played with 17. …Bc7 to follow. I will stop here and suggest you play through the game linked below. Rest assured, Tolush won the brilliancy prize for a reason (his next four moves are all pawn-moves!).


As I was to soon learn, my wheels won’t look quite like that once they got off that plane.  😦



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Tolush, Spassky’s old trainer, was a colourful figure over the board and won many brilliancy prizes in his day. Unfortunately, there were times where he was gung-ho to the point where you wonder whether he deserved the title he had. Here is one game where he fails in spectacular fashion it is, apparently, one of Khalifman’s favourite games: 14th Soviet Championships, Moscow

Tolush – Bondarevsky Boleslavsky (Cafferty’s mistake not mine)

1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5

The Trompowsky played in the 40s!

The Trompowsky played in the 40s!

2. …c5

3. dxc5 Ne4

4. Bf4 Nc6

5. Qd5

I don't play the Trompowsky but this looks cavalier to me.

I don’t play the Trompowsky but this looks far too cavalier to me. Some kingside development is surely in order here rather than the move actually played.

5. … f5 6. Qxf5

What on earth is going on?

Again this doesn’t seem right. White must now attend to his queen before developing.

6. … d5

7. Qh5+ g6

8. Qh4 Nd4


Note that half of white’s moves have been with his queen, which is danger of having no good squares left if black is allowed to play Nf5 on his next move.

9. Be5 Nxc2


I think we can say that the opening hasn’t been a great success for white.

10. Kd1 Nxa1

11. Bxh8 Qa5 6 12. Nc3 Nxc3+

13. Bxc3 Qxa2

14. e3 Qxb1+


An extraordinary position. How does white get into such a mess within 15 moves? By ignoring just about every opening principle that exists, that’s how.

15. Ke2 d4 Black opens up the position. 8 16. Qxd4 Bd7 Black prepares to castle.

17. Qb4? Hard to understand. Boleslavsky thought Nh3 was better  

17. … O-O-O

18. f4 Nc2

19. Qa5 Qc1 1020. Bd4 Nxd4

21. exd4 Qxb2


Still no kingside development!

22. Kf3 Qxd4

23. Ne2 Bc6+

24. Kg4 h5+

25. Kh4 Qf6+

26. Kg3 e5


1 – 0


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