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         The History and The Culture of Chess

USA-USSR RADIO MATCH of 1945 - The Soviet Union Team

The Russian representatives in the USA_USSR Radio Match are pictured on these pages. The biographical details will introduce these players to American readers.                                                                 -----Chess Review Aug.-Sept. 1945

Board 1

Mikhail Botvinnik

     Born in St. Petersburg April 11, 1911. Electrical engineer by profession. He won the USSR Championship in 1931, 1933, 1939, 1941, 1944 and 1945. Shared 1st prize with Flohr in the great tournament at Moscow, 1935; divided first prize with Capablanca at Nottingham, 1936; third, after Fine and Keres, in the famous AVRO Tournament, 1938; drew matches with Flohr, 1933 and Levenfish, 1937.
     One of the world's greatest living masters, Botvinnik is highly resourceful, is a fine "psychologist" who specializes in a profound study of his opponent's style and opening references; he has enormous theoretical knowledge, is capable of inspired flights of brilliancy, has phenomenal staying powers, is subtle in his opening play and methodical in the ending.

Board 2

Vassily Smyslov

     Born 1921 in Moscow. He began playing chess at the age of 6. Has won the Moscow Championship several times; was third, only half a point behind Bondarevsky and Lilienthal, in the "Absolute Championship" Tournament of 1941; Second to Botvinnik in the 1944 USSR Championship.
     Smyslov established himself as one of the greatest Soviet masters at a phenomenally early age. He is inventive, resourceful, fearless and . . . very impulsive. His failure in the most recent Soviet Championship suggests that he has become over-confident, and that a period of maturity and consolidation is on the way.

Board 3

Isaac Boleslavsky

     Born 1919 in Zolotonosha, a small Russian town. Won the strong Ukrainian Championships of 1938, 1940, 1941. Distinguished himself by tying Botvinnik for fifth and sixth prize in his first try at the USSR Championship in 1940, and took fourth place in the "Absolute Championship" Tournament of 1941/ Won the Kuibyshev Tournaments in 1942 and 1943. Third prize in the 1944 USSR Championship and second prize after Botvinnik in the 1945 Championship.
     Boleslavsky is a sharp attacking player, a keen student of the game who has a great future ahead of him. Botvinnik rates his play very highly.

Board 4

Salo Flohr

     Born November 21, 1908 in Horodenka, Poland and brought to Czechoslovakia as a child. He became a Soviet citizen in 1942. Chief successes: Tied for first prize with Botvinnik at Moscow, 1935; first prize at Podebrad, 1936 ahead of Alekhine; tied for first prize at Kemeri, 1937 with Reshevsky and Petrov, first prize in the Leningrad-Moscow Training Tournament, 1939; drew matches with Sultan Kahn and Euwe, 1932, ad Botvinnik, 1933.  Flohr started out as a very enterprising player, but he has steadily become more and more conservative. This has told against him seriously in the last ten years, especially against the aggressive Soviet masters.

Board 5

Alexander Kotov

     Born 1913 in Tulia. A mechanical engineer and inventor who has made valuable contributions to the Soviet war effort. In 1944 he received the Order of Lenin for his inventions. Due to his professional work, he sometimes fails to do himself justice because of lack of practice. Chief successes: second to Botvinnik in the 1939 USSR Championship; first prize in the 1941 Moscow Championship; figured in a tie for fourth in the 1945 USSR Championship with Bondarevsky and Konstantinopolsky.
     Kotov is a brilliant player, rich in ideas and thoroughly versed in modern opening theory.

Board 6

Igor Bondarevsky

       Now in his middle twenties, is one of the best players in Russia. His greatest success to date was charing first place with   Lilienthal in the 1940 USSR Championship, far ahead of Botvinnik. In the 1945 USSR Championship, Bondarevsky tied for fourth with Kotov and Konstantinopolsky.

Board 7

Andrea Lilienthal

Born 1911 in Moscow. In early childhood he was brought to Budapest, but made Moscow his permanent residence in 1935 and has since become a Soviet citizen. His outstanding success: tie for first and second with Bondarevsky in the 1940 USSR Championship n a very strong field. Other firsts: Budepest, 1933; Ujpest, 1934; tie for first with Lisitsyn in the Trades Union Championship, 1938; Moscow Championship, 1939.
     Lilienthal is a highly gifted player, but very erratic. When in his best form, he produces genuine masterpieces, unfortunately, he often falls short of playing as well as he should.


Board 8

Vyacheslav Ragosin

     Born 1908 in St. Petersburg, has won the Leningrad Championship several times. In 1936 he tied with Chekhover for first place in the Trades Union Championship. His best showing in the USSR Championship was n 1937 when he tied for second, half a point behind Levenfish.
     Ragozin's style of play always delights the spectators: aggressive, angling for sacrificial combinations. Unfortunately, he resembles Lilienthal in the unpredictability of his play. He is very popular among Soviet enthusiasts for his numerous victories against foreign masters. To date, such meetings have occurred so rarely that the Russians attach great sporting interest to them.

Board 9

Vladimir Makogonov

     Born 1904 in the Caucasus, and for many yearts the outstanding player of that region. He has never won a big tournament, but he consistently wins a very high prize whenever he participates. He has a carefully, steady style, has a flair for the finest kind of positional chess. His games are very enjoyable to play over and have great pedagogical value.

Board 10

David Bronstein

     Born in 1924 at Belaya Trerkov near Kiev. When only 16, he placed second in the Ukrainian Championship. In 1944 he qualified for the USSR Championship Finals, and while he finished near the cellar, he won a fine game from Botvinnik and Lilienthal. In the recently concluded 1945 Championship, he scored a sensation by finishing third, ahead of many famous masters.

The Russian reserves are:
   1. Alexander Konstantinopolsky, of the Ukraine, one of the leading younger masters. In the most recent Championship Konstantinopolsky tied for fourth place with Kotov and Bondarevsky, both of whom were selected for the official team.
   2. Victor Chekhover, one of the USSR's best players for a number of years. Chief success: tying for first place with Lisitsyn in the great Trades Union Championship of 1936 (700,000 entries!).
   3. Joseph Rudakovsky, one of the up and coming younger Russian masters.
   4. Peter Romanovsky, Grand Old Man of Soviet Chess.

(standing)   Lilienthal,  Boleslavsky,  Makogonov,  Bondarevsky,  Bronstein
(sitting)   Kotov,  Smyslov,  Botvinnik,  Ragosin,  Flohr