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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Jose Raul Capablanca
"The Blossoming Brilliance of Botvinnik" (game of the day Sep-13-2018)
AVRO (1938), The Netherlands, rd 11, Nov-22
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Normal Line (E40)  ·  1-0


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Given 71 times; par: 74 [what's this?]

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find similar games 7 more Botvinnik/Capablanca games
sac: 30.Ba3 PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 18 OF 18 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-13-18  Patzer Natmas: I had to rewatch the game. He sacrificed two pieces! Most excellent!
Sep-13-18  Ironmanth: Perennially one of my all time favorite games. Genius idea and execution. Thanks for this, chessgames.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Korora: I think this is the one The Best in Chess had a story based off of where Capablanca plays a nearly identical game against the devil (for the ultimate stakes, natch), whom he tricks into making a touch-move blunder on move 40.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: Botvinnik:

<"My greatest victory, ever!">

After 30.Ba3: <"The beginning of a 12-move combination, including the following winning manoeuvre. I must admit that I could not calculate it right to the end and operated in two stages. First I evaluated the position after six moves and convinced myself that I had a draw by perpetual check. Then after the first six moves I calculated the rest to the end. A chess player's resources, particularly at the end of a game, are limited".>

CG kibitzers:

<I'm surprised that Botvinnik thought that this was the best game of his life as there's not much to it.

I know that I am not alone in thinking that this game is vastly overrated.

This is not a great game.

Haha...Well, I personnally don't see what's so spectacular about that game […]

I fail to see the immortality of this game. The Ba3 Nh5+ combination looks rather bland, and counting how to avoid a perpetual check doesn't make it "classic".

I think it's boring for a supposed classic

It is hard to argue if the combination with Capablanca was good or bad. Finding the moves 30. Ba3!! and 31. Nh5+!! is not too hard for an advanced player.

I think the combination is a bit over rated, i think any elo 2400-2500 could see that the combination Ba3! and Nh5!

This game is vastly overrated.

in this game the young Capablanca was still no match for the experienced Botvinnik.

Devoting large-scale analysis to this game is like a doctor giving heroin to a detective who is just about to crash his gyrocopter.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pyke: <in this game the young Capablanca was still no match for the experienced Botvinnik.>

Capablanca was more than 20 years older than Botvinnik. This doesn't make any sense.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Pyke,

Check It Out is quoting what other poster have said about this game.

<the young Capablanca was still no match for the experienced Botvinnik.>


Botvinnik vs Capablanca, 1938 (kibitz #240)

I think it was a joke, it was treated as such by following posters.


Personally a great game and all credit to an honest Botvinnik who in his notes says, he knew he had a perpetual when he sacced his Bishop and that was a far as he could see.

When the game moved on a few more moves he found the mate.

A piece of advice I have always followed. If about to go sac-happy v a King. If I see a perpetual I dive in, sometimes a mate I never saw appears.

I was going for a perpetual in the end of G Chandler vs V Slaven, 1991 when a mate popped up. (better add that to the game - Morf appears to be under the impression I saw it all.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I usually am quick to acknowledge how great the great games are, but I have to side with the people who don't think this game is all that. I definitely agree that any 2400 and a lot lesser lights would spot Ba3! and Nh5! Avoiding the perpetual really isn't all that tough either.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Ohio,

It is the occasion and the opponent that lifts this game to a higher level.

If Botvinnik who played some great games thinks this is his best win then you can get idea of what it meant to him and what he was going through at the board.

True a 2400 player could make the Ba3! sac even routinely....against another 2400 player.

Botvinnik tells us Capablanca was calm and making 'everything is under control' gestures to Euwe just after the sac.

You have to put yourself there and remember it's v Capablanca of all people who once famously said (paraphrase) if you see a good move against me you have to think...would I allow such a move.

You would be sitting there thinking and sweating 'What have I missed...' (I know I would.)

I'll go along with Botvinnik, he played it, he was there and he went for it. If he says this was his greatest victory then I cannot disagree.

Sep-14-18  WorstPlayerEver: 21. Nf5 g6 A. 22. Nd6 Re6 23. g4 Nbc5 24. Qd2 Nd3=

click for larger view

25. Ra1 Qc6 26. Ba3 N7xe5 27. dxe5 Rxe5 28. Qh6 f6 29. f4 Re2 30. f5 d4

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B1. 22. Ne3 Kh8 23. f4 Qc6 24. Ba3 f6 25. g4

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B2. 22. Ne3 Qc6 23. f4 f5 24. g4

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B3. 22. Ne3 Qc6 23. f4 Kh8 24. f5 Ndc5 25. fxg6 fxg6 26. Ba3 Nd3 27. Rb1 b5 28. Rxb3

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21. Nf5 a5 22. Qf2

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29. Qc7+

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29... Kg8 30. Qe5 A Kg7 31. Ba3 Na5 32. Qc7+ Kh8 33. Be7 Ng4 34. h3 Nc6 35. Bg5 h6 36. Bd2 Nf6 37. Bxh6 Ne7 38. Qxa7 Qd8 39. Bf4

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29. Qc7+ Kg8 30. Qe5 B Qe7 31. Ba3 Qxa3 32. Qxf6 Qf8 33. Qe5 Qe7 34. Qxd5

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1. 34... a5 35. Ne4 Nc1 36. Qxc4

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2. 34... b5 35. Ne4 Nc1 36. g3 Nd3 37. Qd7 Kf8 38. Qc8+ Qe8 39. Qa6 Qb8 40. Nf6

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29... h6 30. Qd6 Qf8 31. Qc7+ Kh8 32. Qe5 Kg7 33. h4 h5 34. Ne2 Nd2 35. Qc7+ Kg8 36. Ba3

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Sep-14-18  WorstPlayerEver: 25... Rf8 26. fxg6 hxg6 27. Re6 Kg7 28. Qe3 Qa2 29. Re7+ Kg8 30. Qh6 Qb1+ 31. Nf1 Rf7 32. Rxf7 Kxf7 33. Ba3 g5 34. Qf8+ Kg6 35. Be7 Nh7 36. Qg8+ Kh6=

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25... Rf8 26. fxg6 hxg6 27. Re6 Kg7 28. Qf4 Na5 29. Nf5+ gxf5 30. Qg5+ Kh8 31. Rxf6 Qd1+ 32. Kf2 Qc2+ =

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25... Rf8 26. Qf4 Ne4 27. Qe5 Qd7 28. Nxe4 dxe4 29. fxg6 Qf5 30. gxh7+ Kxh7 31. Qxe4 Qxe4 32. Rxe4 Nd2 33. Re1 a5 34. Bc1 Nb1=

click for larger view

Sep-14-18  WorstPlayerEver: PS thanks to <Random Visitor> and <others> for their analysis, which made it fairly easy for me to collect the data :)
Sep-14-18  WorstPlayerEver: Taimanov vs Yusupov, 1982

I left a little ditty here about pawn sacs in the middle game. As a reference I linked the two games.

I forgot something to clarify, however.

Because a tactical mistake usually means that the player who did not see the tactic, has to swallow a pawn (or piece) forced. Or, if the pawn (or piece) is poisoned, then they should obviously -forced- not take it.

Just to illustrate that I refer to a forced situation, (as part of) a combination; a tactic, which otherwise will favor the opponent, when the forced aspect of a move is not understood by the player. In other words: when they miss the combination.

Premium Chessgames Member
  BAJones: This is a great game, but what makes it great are not the sacrifices - impressive as they are - but the underlying strategic concepts. For half of the game, Black's Queen and Queen's Knight were effectively out of action. Capablanca's Queen's Knight moved five times in the first 18 moves, to occupy a not very effective square. The piece was surely overworked, and Black lost too many tempi as a result. White could afford to make the brilliant move 30.Ba3, as, in positional terms, Black could be said to be a piece worse off. Great teachers such as Nimzovitch have taught the importance of centralisation, but here, Capablanca allows his forces to be diverted to the Queen's wing.

On the other hand, Botvinnik makes a mighty push in the centre, which results in a giant passed pawn. Case proven!

What makes this win all the more remarkable is that it was done under tournament conditions, against the great Capablanca.

Thanks for highlighting this game,, you made my day.

Sep-14-18  john barleycorn: This game is definitely (for me) among the most overrated games in chess history. What else except 30.Ba3 whould have given Botvinnik a chance for a fight? then Botvinnik also admitted he could calculate the effect of Ba3 for only 6 moves and was not sure about the outcome.
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: Interesting contribution, <Sally Simpson>. One has to look at the ocassion.

I remember Botvinnik saying he could not get up from his seat after this game from sheer exhaustion.

It is also true that Capa was past his prime.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi maxi,

That is the point I am trying to make.

Some say it is overrated but to Botvinnik it was a life changing moment and an historic event.

Those skipping it through it and claiming it is nothing special are missing the significance and the affect it had on Botvinnik. (it is also a very good game of chess.)

Yes, one has only to look at the tournament table to see Capa was past his prime, this was his 2nd last loss - his last came a few rounds later when Euwe beat him for the first time and only time in 18 attempts.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Some day, Naka is going to beat Carlsen. That alone will not make that game one of Naka's best ever, nor, dare I say, Naka claiming it is. Sometimes people are not the most unbiased observers about events they participated in. Sure, beating Capa, a speculative Pawn sac, great stuff, it meant a lot to Botvinnik, okay, but a historically great game? No.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <OhioChessFan> <Some day, Naka is going to beat Carlsen.> You mean, like this? Carlsen vs Nakamura, 2016

Maybe it proves your point - people don't seem to remember that game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Not sure I want to forget a game to make a point!
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: <OhioChessFan: ... Sure, beating Capa, a speculative Pawn sac, great stuff, it meant a lot to Botvinnik, okay, but a historically great game? No.> Bad composition Ohio. "historically" it is certainly a great game, one of the few games defining the end of an epoch and the beginning of another. But I think you mean something different, that the chess game itself is not that original and creative. As <Sally Simpson> writes, it was a very good game of chess, but, yes, it isn't that great, really. Capa plays non-optimal moves here and there, and misplaces his QN on b3. Botvinnik sees the attack on Capa's King side, spearheaded by the e-f pawn pair. None of this is very original. But then Botvinnik's execution of his plan is flawless, and that is worth something for sure. And the game is very educational!

As Sally Simpson wrote, it is the ocassion more than anything else that makes this game immortal. Botvinnik put his heart and soul on this game because he understood that.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: Excellent post <Check It Out>!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Maxi and Ohio.

I see where the confusion has come from regarding 'historic '

My post should have read:

"it was a life changing moment from an historic event."

Avro 1938 is a famous and historic event.

Kasparov judges it as the most brilliant of the tournament and worth two first prizes.

Botvinnik says it was the best game of his life.

I'll go along with those two before any of the naysayers and nit-pickers <Check It Out> highlights.

BTW the game is famous enough to have appeared on a couple of stamps.

So somebody somewhere likes it.

Dec-05-18  MrJafari: Hi all! I think games like this are great not only for clever moves, but most for the moves that today's GMs consider as foolish!
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: For whatever it’s worth, in Emms, Nunn, and Burgess’s 100 greatest games anthology, this tied with one other game (Kasparov’s octopus, I think) for the highest “merit” score. And yet quite a few people would put it on their “most overrated” list.

I’m not quite sure what to think about it myself. I think it’s great, but it’s not my favorite Botvinnik game by any means.

Jan-02-19  fabelhaft: As for Botvinnik’s own thoughts on the matter, I think chess players often are like musicians. Ask some pop artist which his best song was and he will usually pick some song no one else likes all that much. Which doesn’t mean one would have to like it more than his other songs.

I was never a fan of this game as far as greatest games are concerned. But a good game of course.

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