When Grandmasters are Underdogs by FM Dennis Monokroussos
Alexander Tolush (1910-1969) was a fine player in his own right – a grandmaster and one of Boris Spassky’s mentors on the latter’s way to the world championship. But compared to a legend like Mikhail Botvinnik, Tolush was very much an underdog this 1944 game against the “Patriarch” of Soviet chess. Sometimes underdogs play scared or at least with “proper” respect and reverence. Tolush did no such thing in this game, staying true to his sharp, swashbuckling style, and he defeated his great opponent in a wild, imperfect game. Both sides made mistakes, but as Tolush managed to drag Botvinnik into the kind of messy position he (Tolush) thrived on, it gave him his best chance to win, and he did.