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USSR Absolute Championship 1941
Compiled by Benzol
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NOTE : This collection has now been superceded by USSR Absolute Championship (1941)

Taking place in the cities of Leningrad and Moscow the winner of this Match-Tournament was going to be the challenger for Alyekhin's World Title. The USSR Absolute Championship of 1941 was brought about by the results of the 12th USSR Championship in 1940 (See Game Collection: USSR Championship 1940). Following the Russo-Germany Non Aggression Pact of August 1939 the Soviet Union annexed the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia as well as the eastern parts of Poland. This meant that players like Keres, Petrov and Mikenas were eligible to play in the 12th Soviet Championship. As Andre Lilienthal had also been granted Soviet citizenship he too was eligible to compete.

The hall in which the 12th Championship was held had excellent acoustics so the players suffered with noise from the audience. Botvinnik who was actually leading after nine rounds felt his performance was being affected by these conditions and he ended up in shared fifth and sixth places with Boleslavsky behind Bondarevsky and Lilienthal who were joint first, Smyslov third and Keres fourth.

After receiving a letter from Botvinnik and working behind the scenes chess organiser (and keen Botvinnik supporter) Vladimir Nikolayevich Snegiryov persuaded the authorities that a Match-Tournament of the first six place-getters would be a fairer determination of the Champion (and hence Challenger for Alyekhin), rather than the proposed winner of the Bondarevsky-Lilienthal Match play-off.

So the Match-Tournament was a twenty round affair with the first ten rounds held in the Tauride Palace in Leningrad and last ten rounds played in the Hall Of Columns in Moscow. It started on the 23rd of March and ran until the 29th of April. Botvinnik ran out the convincing winner.

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1.Botvinnik * * * * 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 2.Keres 0 * * * * 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 3.Smyslov 0 0 0 0 1 * * * * 1 1 1 4.Boleslavsky 0 0 1 0 0 * * * * 1 1 1 0 0 5.Lilienthal 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 * * * * 1 1 1 6.Bondarevsky 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 * * * *

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Two months after this tournament in "Operation Barbarossa" Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union and so the quest for a Soviet player to win the World Title receded into the background until after the War.

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Round 1 March 23rd Leningrad
Botvinnik vs Boleslavsky, 1941 
(C07) French, Tarrasch, 49 moves, 1-0

Lilienthal vs Smyslov, 1941 
(E32) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 35 moves, 1/2-1/2

Keres vs Bondarevsky, 1941 
(B11) Caro-Kann, Two Knights, 3...Bg4, 53 moves, 1-0

Round 2 March 24th Leningrad
Boleslavsky vs Bondarevsky, 1941 
(B11) Caro-Kann, Two Knights, 3...Bg4, 76 moves, 1/2-1/2

Smyslov vs Keres, 1941 
(C79) Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Defense Deferred, 67 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Lilienthal, 1941 
(E67) King's Indian, Fianchetto, 27 moves, 1-0

Round 3 March 26th Leningrad
Lilienthal vs Boleslavsky, 1941 
(C15) French, Winawer, 50 moves, 0-1

Keres vs Botvinnik, 1941 
(E34) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Noa Variation, 22 moves, 0-1

Bondarevsky vs Smyslov, 1941
(E25) Nimzo-Indian, Samisch, 35 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 4 March 27th Leningrad
Boleslavsky vs Smyslov, 1941
(C79) Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Defense Deferred, 42 moves, 1/2-1/2

Botvinnik vs Bondarevsky, 1941 
(D55) Queen's Gambit Declined, 89 moves, 0-1

Lilienthal vs Keres, 1941 
(E19) Queen's Indian, Old Main line, 9.Qxc3, 44 moves, 1-0

Round 5 March 29th Leningrad
Keres vs Boleslavsky, 1941 
(C19) French, Winawer, Advance, 31 moves, 1/2-1/2

Bondarevsky vs Lilienthal, 1941
(D30) Queen's Gambit Declined, 83 moves, 0-1

Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1941 
(C19) French, Winawer, Advance, 42 moves, 0-1

Round 6 March 31st Leningrad
Boleslavsky vs Botvinnik, 1941 
(C15) French, Winawer, 23 moves, 1/2-1/2

Smyslov vs Lilienthal, 1941 
(C43) Petrov, Modern Attack, 37 moves, 1-0

Bondarevsky vs Keres, 1941 
(D12) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, 42 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 7 April 1st Leningrad
Bondarevsky vs Boleslavsky, 1941 
(C19) French, Winawer, Advance, 77 moves, 1-0

Keres vs Smyslov, 1941 
(E32) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 65 moves, 1-0

Lilienthal vs Botvinnik, 1941
(C82) Ruy Lopez, Open, 32 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 8 April 4th Leningrad
Boleslavsky vs Lilienthal, 1941 
(C40) King's Knight Opening, 17 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Keres, 1941
(D27) Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical, 41 moves, 1/2-1/2

Smyslov vs Bondarevsky, 1941 
(A13) English, 114 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 9 April 5th Leningrad
Smyslov vs Boleslavsky, 1941 
(C11) French, 33 moves, 1-0

Bondarevsky vs Botvinnik, 1941 
(C02) French, Advance, 29 moves, 0-1

Keres vs Lilienthal, 1941 
(C86) Ruy Lopez, Worrall Attack, 94 moves, 1-0

Round 10 April 6th Leningrad
Boleslavsky vs Keres, 1941 
(C99) Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin, 12...cd, 90 moves, 1-0

Lilienthal vs Bondarevsky, 1941
(B18) Caro-Kann, Classical, 59 moves, 1/2-1/2

Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1941 
(E70) King's Indian, 54 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 11 April 11th Moscow
Botvinnik vs Boleslavsky, 1941 
(C07) French, Tarrasch, 65 moves, 1-0

Lilienthal vs Smyslov, 1941
(E38) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 4...c5, 43 moves, 1/2-1/2

Keres vs Bondarevsky, 1941 
(E02) Catalan, Open, 5.Qa4, 41 moves, 1-0

Round 12 April 12th Moscow
Boleslavsky vs Bondarevsky, 1941 
(B08) Pirc, Classical, 27 moves, 0-1

Smyslov vs Keres, 1941 
(C99) Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin, 12...cd, 72 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Lilienthal, 1941 
(E46) Nimzo-Indian, 54 moves, 0-1

Round 13 April 13th Moscow
Lilienthal vs Boleslavsky, 1941 
(E67) King's Indian, Fianchetto, 35 moves, 1/2-1/2

Keres vs Botvinnik, 1941
(C50) Giuoco Piano, 38 moves, 1/2-1/2

Bondarevsky vs Smyslov, 1941 
(E32) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 27 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 14 April 15th Moscow
Boleslavsky vs Smyslov, 1941
(C66) Ruy Lopez, 65 moves, 1/2-1/2

Botvinnik vs Bondarevsky, 1941 
(C84) Ruy Lopez, Closed, 74 moves, 1/2-1/2

Lilienthal vs Keres, 1941
(E58) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line with 8...Bxc3, 30 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 15 April 17th Moscow
Keres vs Boleslavsky, 1941
(C19) French, Winawer, Advance, 63 moves, 1/2-1/2

Bondarevsky vs Lilienthal, 1941 
(C49) Four Knights, 45 moves, 0-1

Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1941 
(C77) Ruy Lopez, 60 moves, 0-1

Round 16 April 21st Moscow
Boleslavsky vs Botvinnik, 1941
(C82) Ruy Lopez, Open, 18 moves, 1/2-1/2

Smyslov vs Lilienthal, 1941 
(C98) Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin, 125 moves, 1/2-1/2

Bondarevsky vs Keres, 1941
(E32) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 38 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 17 April 23rd Moscow
Bondarevsky vs Boleslavsky, 1941
(A45) Queen's Pawn Game, 42 moves, 1/2-1/2

Keres vs Smyslov, 1941 
(D96) Grunfeld, Russian Variation, 91 moves, 1/2-1/2

Lilienthal vs Botvinnik, 1941 
(D49) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran, 55 moves, 0-1

Round 18 April 24th Moscow
Boleslavsky vs Lilienthal, 1941 
(C84) Ruy Lopez, Closed, 33 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Keres, 1941
(D37) Queen's Gambit Declined, 20 moves, 1/2-1/2

Smyslov vs Bondarevsky, 1941 
(B54) Sicilian, 58 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 19 April 27th Moscow
Smyslov vs Boleslavsky, 1941 
(C19) French, Winawer, Advance, 41 moves, 1-0

Bondarevsky vs Botvinnik, 1941 
(D02) Queen's Pawn Game, 28 moves, 0-1

Keres vs Lilienthal, 1941 
(C31) King's Gambit Declined, Falkbeer Counter Gambit, 19 moves, 1-0

Round 20 April 29th Moscow
Boleslavsky vs Keres, 1941
(C92) Ruy Lopez, Closed, 26 moves, 1/2-1/2

Lilienthal vs Bondarevsky, 1941
(C84) Ruy Lopez, Closed, 30 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1941 
(C42) Petrov Defense, 15 moves, 1/2-1/2

60 games

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