Kindred’s Special: History Losses Emerge and Restored Again in Ancient Chess Writings

No one these days, other than my own diggings, write to bring to the forefront the bungling errors of history where the truth is shaded always for the super elite at the expense of granting for posterity the record of achievement among the long forgotten.  Perhaps it proves that for a professional man and well-known physician, chess is often rarely cited for a lasting memory and contribution but rests with the archives of his own ventures into the realm of the 64-squares.  Those, like myself, do homage to the past while the vast majority of writers are content to fill volumes of current activities and featured stars. There is a place for that!  There is a place for the ancients, for the long forgotten travels of superb chess that drifts like a fog that we see lifting from the mist into the coming bright sunlight.

For us to be a witness of remarkable historical writings and records is no one’s domain; my own library and research is by no means the last word on the subject which I now relate for my readers. Perhaps the only record for today’s public rests with my column.

Born November 27th 1892, Fedor Parphenievich Bohatirchuk became worldly known as one of the pioneers  in radiology research while in the USSR and later after emigrating to Canada.  In 1955,  he published a paper that won the prestigious Barclay Prize for the advancement in the detection and treatment of spinal disorders and arthritis.  With all this, his joy for chess was celebrated with many victories both on over-the-board chess as well as through international correspondence play where he achieved a brilliant record of 88-wins, 8-losses, 38-draws.  This included the great winning percentage of 74 %;  his achievements in over-the-board were likewise impressive. In 1910, he captured the Kiev championship at age 18 ahead of E Bogoljubov; 1912, he axed the championship of Russia, and high scoring in future soviet championships which left him third among the top based upon 100 games, with top honors held by Botvinnik and Tal.  In the great 1935 Moscow Tournament, he fared only with 8-11 for 16th place in the 20-player field, achieving draws with Capablanca and Lasker and defeating Mikhail Botvinnik who tied for lst with Flohr.

Like much of Communist propaganda, Bohatirchuk’s status and name has just about vanished from Soviet chess records. His autobiography, My Life; Towards General Vlassov and the Prague Manifesto (1978) relates the event that affected much of his later years.

The following game is one of two he won from Botvinnik with his own annotations in part.

White:  F. Bohatirchuk   vs.  Black:  M. Botvinnik    Moscow International Tournament of 1935  Opening:  4-Knights Game

1. e4  e5  2. Nf3  Nc6  3. Nc3  Nf6  4. Bb5  Bb4  5. O-O  O-O  6. d3  Bxc3 7. bxc3  d6  8. Re1  Qe7  9. Bg5  a6.  This dogmatic play was typical Botvinnik at the time who previously had lost a hard ending versus Flohr who used his Bishop Pair to great energy. The next avoids giving Black a half-open file to work with.

10. Bc4  Na5  11. Nd2  h6  12. Bh4  Be6  13. Bb3  Nxb3  14. axb3  g5  15. Bg3  Ne8  16. d4.  Counterplay in the center–a typical plan in this type of position.

16. … f6  17. Nf1  Ng7  18. c4  Here, two plans presented themselves; (1) organize a pawn attack on the Q-side, or; (2) to prepare for Botvinnik’s likely attack on the K-side that would weaken his position and allow me to improve placement of my Q-Bishop.

18…Rad8  19. Ne3  Qf7  20. Re2.  With the intention of forcing Black into a center pawn exchange, opening up play for my Bishop.

20. …Qg6  21. f3  Rd7  22. Rd2  exd4  23. Rxd4  Re7  24. Be1  f5  25. Bc3!  Rfe8  26. Qd3  Bc8  Botvinnik achieves his goal to win a pawn but miracles overturn his calculations.

27. Rf1  fxe4  28. Rxe4  Rxe4  29. fxe4  Qxe4  30. Nd5 Qxd3  13. Nf6+ Kf7  32. cxd3  Rd8  33. Nd5+ Nf5  34. g4 (1-0).

This game cost Botvinnik sole owner of lst place. It is interesting to notice how the square count theory can be applied here.  It was the long-range planning that seemed to give Black the upper hand at the onset of his use of his brain waves seeing the probable win of material, only to arrive at the ultimate goal to see the flaw at the end.  A masterful bit of psychology perhaps played a role in the final outcome. Sometimes when you let the opponent have his way, it opens the door for displaying a kind of masterful trapping.

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