A Draw Offer


‘When David Bronstein offered me a draw after 25 moves of our game in the Alekhine Memorial Tournament in Moscow in 1971. I was quite willing to accept. The position had become a tortuous tangle of backward pawns and weak squares on both sides and, if anyone had the advantage, it was a mystery to both of us.

But, instead of agreeing immediately, I, under the force of habit of strict tournament protocol asked, “What’s your move?” expecting him to put on the board the move that must accompany a draw offer. I was totally nonplussed when he paused and said, “I don’t have the slightest idea.”

I matched him blank look for blank look and consternation for consternation. Then the Russian broke into an impish smile that was meant to be reassuring and said, “Don’t worry—I’ll think of something.”

He moved, I took the draw, but the question still lingered whether he was playing this little interchange straight or indulging in the well-known fey Bronstein humor.’ 

Robert Byrne

The New York Times Book of Great Chess Victories and Defeats 
(New York: Times Books, 1990), pp.167



Bronstein – R. Byrne
Moscow 1971

White to play


photo: Joost Evers, Dutch National Library, The Hague

Robert Byrne


© Mark Huba

photo © Mark Huba

David Bronstein

1 Comment

  1. Grunty says:

    “impish smile”
    Just look at that face – isn’t it that of a gnome? He had such magic inside, you could never guess the exact moment when it would burst over the board.

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