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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Salomon Flohr
Botvinnik - Flohr (1933), Moscow / Leningrad RUS, rd 1, Nov-28
Caro-Kann Defense: Panov Attack. Modern Defense (B13)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-19-04  arielbekarov: To all of you !
I would love to hear opinions and comments on this game Botvinnik vs Flohr, 1933. This is a very educative game, where Salo Flohr shows that he was quite capable of winning the worldchampion title, but, WW II stopped him. Botvinnik was already one of the strongest players and was, as well, qualified to take the title. The game as such is very subtle.
Botvinnik makes though two mayor mistakes after a quick analyze. I hope that you can assist me, because I think that Flohr takes every opportunity here in his favor.

7. d5 is as far as I can see a clear mistake. Botvinnik could simply have played Nf3.

31. Qd4 Qxd4 ! Botvinnik shouldn't have given Flohr the chance to exchange the Queens.

34. Nxd6, is there any alternative ?
Here it is lost, because Botvinnik's Knight is out of play here. He can't use it because of black's pawn on a2.

The amazing is that Flohr beats Botvinnik in pure positional play. Flohr did quite correctly exchange the rooks, as well. So, I am eagerly waiting for your opinions.
I love this game !

Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: <arielbekarov> I cannot see why <9.d5> "is a clear mistake". It is sharp, but not anti-positiona1 and it is still a theoretical line.

Botvinik later played <10.Nf3> and wrote "In the first game of the match I played 10.Bxf6 and got the worse game; but after analysis at home I was convinced that if <10.Nf3> e6 11.Bxf6! Qxf6 12.Qxd3, Black has a very bad position. The bishop at f8 has no move, and the king is stranded in the centre.

So Botvinnik played the variation again in the match and won.

<31.Qd4> seems to be an effort to achieve more than the alternative 31.Nxb5 Ba6 32.Nfd4 Qe5+ 33.Kd1 Qe4 34.Nxd6 Qb1=

<33.axb4> seems to be a draw.

It looks to me that Botvinnik lost by trying too hard to win.

Apr-20-04  arielbekarov: Thank you Chessical for your assistance !

Move 7. d5.
It is sharp, but has no effect. Botvinnik loses in tempo, as far as I can understand.

You are right about axb4. It seems to be a draw.

This is note-worthy ;
"It looks to me that Botvinnik lost by trying too hard to win." It is quite possible, because 34. Nxd6 is the move that finally gives Flohr the victory.

Great ! This possibility to exchange ideas !!
But, you have to take in account that I am a real beginner on the "commenting" field, but I find it very interesting to analyze these great games. Now, I have to start with my own games, as well.

Apr-20-04  arielbekarov: I did forget to write move 33.axb4 instead of Ncxb5.
Might be confusing for other readers.
Jun-10-04  Whitehat1963: Is this hopeless?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Yes, the final position is hopeless < Whitehat1963>, no point adjourning that. It seems that Botvinnik underestimated 35...Ba6+!! This move wins the game as it traps the white knight on d6. Botvinnik probably reckoned only with Bxd5; and if he considered Ba6 at all, then surely only as a harmless check. I am suprised that Botvinnik's desperado was Nxf7 instead of Nxf5, which certainly was better. But it could have been an attempt to fish in a time trouble, I do not know. Black a2 pawn spells doom at any rate.
Jan-02-05  aw1988: Flohr clearly had extraordinary talent.
Premium Chessgames Member
  nasmichael: Two knights versus two bishops here with respective queen assists lead to a very instructive game. That passed pawn is a thorn in white's side. The king has to disengage from the d-pawn he intended to escort to queendom, allowing black to take it, if the advancing a-pawn is to be dealt with. The white knight is also tied up with prevention of promotion. Thanks, Mikhail and Salomon.
Mar-16-06  notyetagm: Beautiful play by Flohr.
May-25-09  Sem: 7. d5 is the sort of daring move for which I am far too timid, I don't even see them. So I applaud White for putting up a fight, even if he may have been wrong. As Lasker said: 'You have to give a game a face.'
Premium Chessgames Member
  shalgo: I don't see the problem with 7.d5. In fact, it seems like the most obvious move in the position. Black is threatening to win a key central pawn, so White moves it to a square where it is protected, at the same time gaining a tempo by chasing Black's knight and gaining space.

And if you look at the statistics, in my database, White scores 71% after 7.d5 Ne5 8.Qd4.

If there is a questionable move by White in the opening, then it is probably 10.Bxf6. Far more common now are 10.Qxd3 or 10.Nf3. White has an edge in development, and it doesn't make sense to speed up Black's development like Botvinnik does in this game.

After 10.Nf3, Black will often invest a tempo with 10...h6 to provoke the exchange that Botvinnik carries out willingly.

Botvinnik himself switched from 10.Bxf6 to 10.Nf3 in game 9 of this match (Botvinnik vs Flohr, 1933), which he won. In that game, Black's king got stuck in the center after 10.Nf3 g6 11.Bxf6 exf6 12.O-O Qb6 13.Rfe1+

Nov-03-10  Monoceros: Flohr does a really good job of making the isolani useless for Botvinnik: he blockades it first so it can't advance, plants a Bishop on d7 to guard the squares controlled by the isolani, and methodically arranges his own Pawns to keep Botvinnik's Knights away from all the approaches. The IQP never falls but it's never any help to Botvinnik's game either. I guess that an isolated pawn does spread gloom over the whole board.
Jun-25-16  EQUILIBRIUM: What about 36.Kd2 Ke7 (36...Bf1?) 37.Nf5 gf5 38.Kc3 Bf1 39.g3 Bh3 40.Kb2 Bg2 41.Nf3 Be4 42.Ka2
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