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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Robert James Fischer
Varna Olympiad Final (1962), Varna BUL, rd 10, Oct-07
Gruenfeld Defense: Russian. Smyslov Variation (D98)  ·  1/2-1/2

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Premium Chessgames Member
  PhilFeeley: <kadopov: Are they brothers?> Seriously? How can you not know this?
Feb-08-15  Ulhumbrus: 52 h5 makes one skewer in order to prepare another. It skewers the g6 pawn to the g5 square. On 54 Rg5+ skewers the Black king on e5 to the b5 pawn. After 54...Kd6 55 Rxb5 Black has no longer two connected passed pawns
May-01-15  Howard: We could really use some engine analysis on this game !

Anyone up to it ?

May-09-15  Howard: To repeat....anyone up to it ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Howard> We could really use some engine analysis on this game ! Anyone up to it ?>

OK, I'll give it a try. Interestingly, even though this game has supposedly has been thoroughly analyzed, I haven't been able to find any thorough analysis on it, certainly not to the level of Geller's analysis of 20.Qf4! instead of 20.a3? in "The Application of Chess Theory", Fischer vs Geller, 1967 from, or Speelman's 29...Bxh2 in Spassky vs Fischer, 1972 from "Analyzing the Endgame", If anyone can provide me any links to analyses of this Botvinnik vs Fischer, 1962 game I will be very appreciative.

And there seems to be very little engine analysis done on this game that I could find. Maybe the game is too old and interest in it waned before suitably strong chess engines and computers became widely available. There is some engine analysis in kingscrusher's video of the game here: But, given that it is a video, the depth of analysis is necessarily done at very shallow search depths.

I did find some interesting if brief analysis of this game with notes by both Fischer and Botvinnik here: which I will refer to as the <gameknot> link for convenience. But the source of where the analysis was published is not listed, and I am not sure about its authenticity since videos of the end of the game given in <Sneaky>'s post above ( show Fischer leaving the table following the end of the game and I can't conceive of Botvinnik and Fischer getting together at a later date to do a joint analysis.

Understandably, no engine analysis listed in this link. But these notes, authentic or not, seemed to be as good a place as any to drive an engine analysis. I'll post my analysis in stages as I complete it, and I am not sure how many lines I will explore since that depends on when real life will intrude and when I will finally lose interest. Hey, this happens to everyone, including myself.

Because this is an analysis of mostly endgame positions, search depth is important in trying to reach definitive evaluations. I've listed what the engines reported as their search depth reached during iterative deepening and (if the engine reports it) their maximum search depth reached during search extensions (e.g. quiescent search), separated by a "/". The latter gives a subjectively increased confidence that the line was thoroughly searched, subject to the caveat that the maximum depth reached during search extensions is for <all> searches at the listed search ply and not necessarily for the line that is listed. This may not make much sense but that's just how the engines work.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: Botvinnik vs Fischer, 1962, after 38.Bd1 Re1 (part 1 of 3)

After 38.Bd1 we reach the following position:

click for larger view

Here Fischer played 31...Rd4. According to the <gameknot> link Botvinnik said that "This move gave me new heart. By 38...Re1! White's defenses could have been completely disorganized." But Fischer replied: "After 38...Re1 White plays simply 39 Bf3." (original descriptive notation converted to algebraic).

Let's see whether according to the engines Botvinnik or Fischer was correct in their assessment. Here is how the currently 3 top-ranked engines evaluated the position following 38...Re1, all with 5-piece tablebase support; Gaviota tablebases for Houdini, Syzygy tablebases for Komodo and Stockfish. And it gave me an opportunity to try out the recently released Komodo 9.01:

<Houdini 4>, d=31/69:

1. [-0.98]: 39.Bf3 Rb1 40.Re3 Kf6 41.Bd5 Rd1 42.Rf3+ Kg5 43.Bg8 Rd8 44.Bc4 Rd4

click for larger view

And after 45.Bg8 we might be seeing a draw by repetition.

2. [-1.01]: 39.Bb3 Re4 40.Bd5 Rd4 41.Bc4 a6 42.Bb3 a5 (I think that this move, impeding ...b5 by letting White control the light squares, might throw away any possible win) 43.Bc4 Kf6 44.Bg8 h5 45.Rc2 g5 46.Bc4 Ke5 47.Re2+ Re4 48.Rc2 (Houdini, IMO, wisely refuses the rook exchange) 48...h4 49.a3 Rd4 50.Re2+ Kf4 51.Bb5 Kf5.

click for larger view

White's light squares grip will be difficult to break.

3. [-1.08]: 39.Bg4 Re4 40.Bd1 Rb4 (since Black could have played 38...Rb4 arriving at the same position, this effectively indicates that Houdini does not consider 38...Re1 to be one of its better move choices) 41.Rc2 Rd4 42.Be2 Kf6 43.Kg3 h5 44.Bc4 Kf5 45.Kh2 Ke5 46.Kg2 h4

click for larger view

So Houdini considers 38...Re1 to be a reasonably good move, effectively maintaining Black's one-pawn advantage, but not as good as other alternatives.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: Botvinnik vs Fischer, 1962, after 38.Bd1 Re1 (part 2a of 3)

Komodo's evaluations are somewhat higher than Houdini's and comparable to Stockfish's which is a change; the evaluations of earlier versions of Komodo were typically closer to Houdini's evaluations than Stockfish's, which are typically higher than the other engines. Also note that Komodo does not indicate the maximum depth reached during search extensions. Maybe the next version will. :-)

After 38.Bd1 Re1 we reach the following position:

click for larger view

<Komodo 9.01>, d=34:

1. [-1.23]: 39.Bf3 Rb1 40.Ra3 a5 (since IMO ...a5 makes Black's win more difficult, I would think that 40...a6 helping the b-pawn advance would be better) 41.Re3 Rb2 42.Bd5 Kf6 43.Re8 a4 44.Rf8+ Ke7 45.Rf3 b5 46.a3 h6 47.Bg8 Nd7 48.Re3+ Kf6 49.Rf3+ Kg7 50.Bd5 Ne5 51.Rc3 Rd2 52.Bb7 Rd4 53.Ba8 Rc4 54.Re3 (Komodo once again wisely rejects the rook exchange) 54...Kf6 55.Be4 b4 56.f4 Nd7 57.axb4 Rxb4 58.Kf3 Nc5 59.Bd5 Rd4 60.Bg8

click for larger view

Here I would think that after 60...Rd3 forcing the rook exchange that Black has a won game since White's bishop can't stop Black's a-pawn from queening unless White's king comes over to help. But if White moves his king over to the q-side, his k-side pawns will be easy picking for Black's king. Restarting the analysis from this position Komodo agrees, evaluating the resulting position at [-3.90], d=30 after 60...Rd3 61.Rxd3 Nxd3 62.Ke3 Nb4 63.Kd4 a3 64.Kc3 a2 65.Kb2 Nd3+ (I would think that 65...Kf5 would be simpler) 66.Kxa2 Nxf4 67.h4 Ng2 68.Kb3 (Given that all is probably lost, 68.h5 might be a better practical chance even though after 68...gxh5 Black mates in 21 moves per the 6-piece Nalimov tablebases) 68...Nxh4 and now Black mates in 22 moves per the 6-piece Nalimov tablebases.

click for larger view

2. [-1.30]: 39.Bb3 Re2 40.Bd5 Rd2 41.Bb3 Rd4 42.Bc4 Ne4 43.Rc2 Kf6 44.Bb5 Nc5 45.Rc3 a6 46.Bc4 Rf4 47.Rc2 h5 48.Be2 Ke5 49.Bc4 Kf5 50.Rc3 Rd4 (here 50...Ne4 followed by 51...b5 might be useful) 51.a3 Rf4 52.Be2 Ke5 53.Bf3 Rd4 54.Be2 Rd2 55.Re3+ Kf6 56.Re8

click for larger view

Continuing passive defense with 55.Bf3 might have been better. Restarting the analysis from this position Komodo evaluates the resulting position at [-1.82], d=27 after 56...b5 57.Bf3 Ne6 58.Bb7 a5 59.Ra8 a4 (odd, 59...b4 would seem to be better) 60.Bc6 Rd3 61.Bxb5 Nf4+ 62.Kg1 Nxh3+ 63.Kg2 Nf4+ 64.Kg1 Rxa3 65.Rxa4 Rxa4 66.Bxa4 (this looks like a tough endgame for Black to win) 66...Ke5 67.Kh2 h4 68.Bc6 g5 69.Bb5 Kd5 70.Ba4 Nd3 71.Kg2 Ke4 72.Bd7 Nf4+ 73.Kg1 Kd5 74.Bc8 Ke5 75.Bg4 Nd3 76.f3 Kf4

click for larger view

But here Komodo at only d=16 calculates that Black wins (eval = [-250.00]) after either 77.Kg2, 77.Kh2, or 77.Bh5. The Syzygy tablebases don't have distance to mate information so Komodo can't provide the number of moves to mate using tablebase information only, so it lists a "special" evaluation of [-250.00] to indicate a win.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: Botvinnik vs Fischer, 1962, after 38.Bd1 Re1 (part 2b of 3)

3. [-1.36]: 39.Bc2 (allowing the bishop to be pinned does not seem like a good idea, White loses a lot of time moving his king over to break the pin) 39...Rc1 40.Kf3 Kf6 41.Ke2 Ke5 42.Re3+ Kd6 43.Kd2 Ra1 44.a4 .Nxa4 45.Rf3 Nc5 46.Rf7 g5 47.Rxh7 (the trade of Black's h-pawn for White's a-pawn does not seem like a good idea for White since Black now has 2 connected passed pawns) 47...a5 48.h4 gxh4 49.Rxh4 Kc6 50.f4 Rf1 51.Ke2 Rg1 52.Bd3 Nxd3 53.Kxd3 b5 54.f5 Rf1 55.Rh6+ Kc5 56.Rf6 (blocking its f-pawn like this looks awful, but after 56.Ke4 Black's pawns advance faster than White's pawn) 56...a4 57.Ke2 Rf4 58.Ke3 Rd4 59.Ra6 Rd6 60.Ra7 Kd5 (60...Kc4 followed by 61...Kb3 seems faster. Black can always give up its rook for White's f-pawn and Black's advanced connected passed pawns supported by Black's king will beat White's rook) 61.Kf4 Rc6 62.Ke3

click for larger view

62.Kg5 seems better than the passive-looking 62.Ke3 since White's king can try to support the f-pawn and make it a queening race. But restarting the analysis from the position after 62.Kg5 Komodo calculates a win for Black (eval = [-250.00]) at d=23 after either 62...Kc5, 62...Kc4, or 62...Rc8. So the best that can be said for 62.Kg5 is that Komodo had to work a little harder, it found a win for Black at only d=15 after either 62...Rf6, 62...Kc4, or 62...Ke5.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: Botvinnik vs Fischer, 1962, after 38.Bd1 Re1 (part 3a of 3)

After 38.Bd1 Re1 we reach the following position:

click for larger view

Here is how Komodo Stockfish evaluated that move at d=36/60:

<Stockfish 6>:

1. [-1.35]: 39.Bf3 Rb1 40.Re3 Kf6 41.Bd5 Rd1 42.Rf3+ Kg5 43.Bg8 Rd8 44.Rg3+ Kh6 45.Bc4 Rd2 46.Ra3 a5 47.Re3 Kg5 48.Kg3 Rd4 49.Bb5 Rb4 50.Bc6 Rb2 51.Bd5 Kf5 52.Kf3 h6 53.a3 g5 54.Bc6 Rc2 55.Kg3 Rd2 56.Bf3 Kf6 57.Re8 Rd3 58.Re3 Rxe3

click for larger view

I think that exchanging rooks leads to a lost game for White but that is usually beyond the engines' horizon and, if they avoid the exchange of rooks that's due to positional considerations, not calculation. Restarting the analysis after 59.fxe3 Stockfish also agrees, evaluating the resulting position at [-5.70], d=42/60 after 59...b5 (immediately getting the q-side pawns moving) 60.Kf2 Nd3+ 61.Ke2 Ne5 62.Bb7 Nc4 63.a4 bxa4 64.Ba6 Nb6 65.Kd2 a3 66.Kc2 Nd5 67.Kb3 a2 68.Kb2 (of course not 68.Kxa2, 68...Nb4+) 68.Ke5 69.e4 Kxe4 (by now it's pretty much over) 70.Bc8 h5 71.Kxa2 Ke5 (I would have thought that 71...Kf4 with 72...g5 to follow would be quicker) 72.Bd7 h4 73.Kb2 a4 74.Bxa4 Nf4 (Stockfish seems to be making it very hard for Black, but 75.Bd7 runs into 75...Ne6 followed by 76...g4 and 77...h3, winning the queening race) 75.Kc3 Nxh3

click for larger view

And, surprise!, this position is a win for Black per the 6-piece Nalimov tablebases, although Stockfish's analysis runs a few moves longer.

2. [-1.46]: 39.Bg4 Re4 40.Bf3 Rd4 41.Bc6 Rd6 42.Bb5 Rd2 43.a3 a6 44.Bc4 Kf6 45.Rf3+ Kg5 46.Rg3+ Kh6 47.Re3 b5 48.Be2 Kg7 49.Kf1 Kf6 50.Rc3 Ne4 51.Rc7 h6 52.h4 Rd6 53.Kg2 Ke5 54.Rc8 Kd4 55.Re8 Nd2 56.Re3 Nc4 57.Rh3 h5 58.Rd3+ Kc5 59.Rxd6 Nxd6

click for larger view

As I've indicated several times before, Black seems to have a won game after the exchange of rooks.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: Botvinnik vs Fischer, 1962, after 38.Bd1 Re1 (part 3b of 3)

3. [-1.47]: 39.Bb3 Re4 40.Bc4 Rd4 41.Bb5 Rd2 42.a3 a6 43.Bc4 Kf6 44.Rf3+ Kg5 45.Re3 Kh4 46.Re5 h5 47.Be2 Rd4 48.Re3 Rf4 (and here I think that 48...Re4 forces the exchange of rooks and results in a winning position for Black) 49.Re5 a5 50.Re3 Rf6 51.Bc4 g5 52.Bd5 Rf4 53.Bf3 Rd4 54.Be2 Rd6 55.Bc4 Rd2 56.Be2 Rd4 57.Bb5 Rf4

click for larger view

Stockfish does not seem to know how to proceed to try to force a win for Black and starts to move its pieces back and forth with no apparent plan, what I call "engine dithering". And indeed, after restarting the analysis at this position, Stockfish evaluates the position at only [1.29], d=34/48 after either 58.Re2, 58.Rd3, or 58.Be2, indicating that it can't figure out a winning approach.

So Stockfish can find a win for Black if it can exchange rooks and can't find a win if it can't exchange rooks, but I don't know if the rook exchange can be forced. I would think that Botvinnik would have known that the exchange of rooks would be unfavorable for him (being a pawn down he would tend to avoid piece exchanges from general principles if nothing else, besides he would know that all rook endings are drawn :-) so he would like to keep the rooks on the board.

Premium Chessgames Member
  cro777: <AylerKupp> Botvinnik had thoroughly analyzed this game in his "Analytical and critical works" ("Analiticheskie i kriticheskie raboty", I have this Russian original). The third volume of this series covers his best games from the period 1957 - 1970 (including the game against Fischer in Varna 1962).

Premium Chessgames Member
  cro777: The game has also been (Informator style) annotated in Sergei Soloviov: "Mikhail Botvinnik Games II (1951-!970)" published by Chess Stars 2001.

Premium Chessgames Member
  cro777: <AylerKupp: After 38.Bd1 we reach the following position>

click for larger view

Here Fischer played 38...Rd4.

According to Botvinnik, "this careless move" by Fischer gave him (Botvinnik) some hopes to save the game. Botvinnik expected 38...Rd1, preventing Bc2 (the best place for the bishop). If 39.Bc2 then 39...Rc1.

Premium Chessgames Member
  cro777: <AylerKupp: I did find some interesting if brief analysis of this game with notes by both Fischer and Botvinnik here:

But the source of where the analysis was published is not listed.>

The analysis is from Kasparov: "My Great Predecessors. Part II" (Botvinnik, The clash of generations).

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <cro777> Thanks for the info. Your knowledge of chess is remarkable.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Here's a picture of the two men at the board for this game:

Maybe after 11.Qc5 ... ?

<Game six, Fischer-Gligoric, comes from the Varna Olympiad in 1962, and it is a magnificent struggle. The game is presented by GM Ivkov (Ivkov, Borislav, Povratak Bobija Fišera, Chess Press, Novi Sad, 1993, pp. 33-35) who paints a vivid picture of how the game unfolded.

<‘In the previous Olympiad in Leipzig 1960, the Americans pushed us away from our ‘silver’ position. That was the first time Fischer played for the US. To Zlatni pjasci [which translates to Golden sands], the famous resort near Varna, they came as gold prospectors. Silver was not enough for them. They were lead by Fischer, who went into the match with us [the Yugoslav team] as the acknowledged moral victor over Botvinik.>>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: <Petrosianic: <Thanks. So how in the world was Fischer "cheated" out of a win?>

He wasn't, but he claimed he was. Check Eliot Hearst's column in the July 1964 Chess Life.

The way Botvinnik tells the story, after Fischer made the big blunder that threw away the win, Botvinnik got up, walked over to his team captain, Abramov, and said one word: "Draw!".

According to Hearst, the way Fischer told it, Botvinnik was getting outside help, and asked for a formal protest to be filed. Everyone else regarded it as too incredible to imagine that Botvinnik would even listen to, much less solicit help from someone so much weaker than himself (not to mention that it happened after Fischer made the big boo-boo) and so no protest was filed.

According to Hearst, many US players who had been willing to listen to Fischer's charges of collusion at Curacao became much less open to it afterwards. Every time Fischer suffered a reverse, in his mind it was always a conspiracy. After he won the title, most of this was forgotten, of course, and as much history as possible got rewritten to make it part of Fischer's grand struggle against the Russians, that culminated at Reykjavik.>

By now, however, I guess that a substantial number, if not a majority, of US chess players realize that Bobby was just an embarrassment.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: <AylerKupp: <cro777> Thanks for the info. Your knowledge of chess is remarkable.>

For English readers, Botvinnik's "Half a Century of Chess" (Pergamon 1984) is the best source. I guess that the analysis of this game is similar to that in the reference <cro777> cites. In the book, this game is game 82 out of 90 that are analyzed.

An interesting feature of Botvinnik's book is that he includes not only analysis of the games, but also forthright comments about the tendencies and character of the notable players among his opponents. For example, for this game, he writes, after 41 Kg3 Ne4+:

"It was here that my opponent's deficiencies of character begin to show. Thinking that the game was easily won, he was angry with me for continuing the battle and although the time control was already passed, he took a rash decision. By 41... Rb4 42 a3 Rd4 43 f3 a5 black could have created a zugswang position: the white king must guard h4, the rook - c4, and the bishop - d1."

He also recounts the story of analysis that was published after the game, The main bone of contention was about whether black could have won if he had chose a different move 51: ..Kd4 instead of ... b5.

Fischer declared that black's position was still won at that point and published the following position after white's move 64, claiming it was won for black:

click for larger view

"Fischer then continued his analysis:

64 ... Qb3+ 65 Ke2 Qd1+ 66 Ke3 Rb1 67 Qf8+ Ka2, and concluded that 'white's king will be without shelter from the coming avalanche of checks'. "

Botvinnik, however, stated that after 68 Qc5, white could draw.

He then states: "But an even more elegant way to draw was found in the same year (1977) by 13-year-old Harry Kasparov (Baku): 67 Rc4 (instead of 67 Qf8+) 67 ... Rb3+ 68 Rc3 Qe1+ 69 Kd3 Qf1+ 70 Kd2 (70 Ke3? Qh3+!) 70 ... Qxf2 71 Kd3 .

"Thus, not only did the young Fischer display a careless attitude to the adjourned game, but also as a mature grandmaster he showed a lack of care in published analysis."

Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: Hmm.. 38... Rd4!
Just shows what an incredible chess genius Fischer was! 39. Bc2 a5! and black wins. Remarkable innit? ;)
Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: Now I understand why Botvinnik felt so relieved; 40... Ke5 (instead of Kg5) also wins :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: So where did Fischer miss the win?
I think it's after 41... Ne4.
Fischer should've played 41... Rb4.

It's funny if one thinks that Botvinnik felt 'relieved' after move 38.

Sep-30-16  Allanur: "A rebuttal from 13 year old Garry to Bobby"

What kind of name could have been given to this game?

May-24-17  vermapulak: Pics :-

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Ayler Kupp> Thanks for your posts on this game.

<I did find some interesting if brief analysis of this game with notes by both Fischer and Botvinnik here: which I will refer to as the <gameknot> link for convenience.>

I'm with you, I don't think there was any joint analysis. Whoever made that post on gameknot seems to have just lifted the annotations from Fischer's <My 60 Memorable Games>. There, Fischer reprinted earlier analysis from Botvinnik. I don't know when or where it was originally printed, or to what extent it differs from that printed in <"Analytical and critical works">.

<Fischer/Botvinnik joint analysis: Black's winning line is 51...K-Q5! 52 RxP P-N4 53 P-R5 P-N5 54 P-R6! P-N6 55 R-N4 ch K-B4! 56 R-N5 ch K-B3! 57 R-N6 ch K-N2! 58 R-N7 ch K-R3! 59 R-N6 ch K-R4! 60 R-N5 ch K-R5! 61 R-N4 ch K-R6 62 R-R4 P-N7 63 P-R7 P-N8 (Q) 64 P-R8 (Q) Q-N6 ch! 65 K-K2 Q-Q8 ch 66 K-K3 R-N8!! 67 Q-B8 ch K-R7, leaving White's King with no shelter from, in Fischer's words, "the coming avalanche of checks".>

Again, that's just a straight lift from Fischer's notes in 60MG. Botvinnik definitely didn't agree with fact he later published a refutation from Kasparov, as discussed in other posts.

May-24-17  Howard: "Your move, Bobby" is what Soltis wrote about this game back in a 1980 issue of CL.

In other words, Fischer's M60MG apparently had given faulty analysis of this clash, and Soltis was stating that it was up to Bobby to prove otherwise. To my knowledge, Fischer never got around to it.

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