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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Max Euwe
Groningen (1946), Groningen NED, rd 10, Aug-24
Queen's Gambit Accepted: Classical Defense. Rubinstein Variation (D27)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-12-04  henrilin: According to Botvinnik this is a game that decided chess history. If Euwe had won this game, he would have won the tournement in Groningen 1946. Since he was ex-champion and Alekhine had passed away, the Dutch planned to declare Euwe champion - if he had won the tournement. In the endgame almost everyboy considered Botvinnik lost but he could, after the resumption, find a way to avoid the abyss and secure a draw. Botvinnik claims that 42.Rc2 was the saving move.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: It seems like Botvinnik is overstating the importance of this game. True, he did win the tournament by a half of point, 14.5 to 14 for Euwe. However, this game took place in round 10 (out of 19). In fact, Euwe only lost his share of first by blundering away his last round game against Kotov. Perhaps memory was playing tricks on Botvinnik.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: No, Botvinnik's memory was fine. In his memoirs, he clearly stated what happened in this tourney, including the pressure in the last round where he worried that Kotov would overpress and lose to Euwe, and he lost against Najdorf's powerful play Najdorf vs Botvinnik, 1946 (note 31. g4!). But Najdorf consoled him by saying, "Look, Euwe can resign too (see Kotov vs Euwe, 1946; Euwe lost because he overlooked 26. ♕d8).

It is fair to say that the game with Euwe, his main rival, was crucial. If Euwe had won both this game and the tourney, the Dutch would have had a vey strong case to declare him World Champ, as the only surviving ex-champ.

For this game, compare Lasker vs Rubinstein, 1914, which looks almost like a mirror image. So everyone thought Euwe would win, including Botvinnik at first. To Euwe's chagrin, Botvinnik discovered that the extra ♖♙s mean that the ♔+♙ ending would be drawn—Black can't just get the ♘♙ for nothing; he must go for the ♖♙, but White gets the ♘♙ and ♕s in time.

Aug-11-07  wolfmaster: Botvinnik did look lost for a while but magnificently found 42.Rc2! to draw against the former champion Euwe.
Aug-05-08  tud: 42Rc2 compared to what other choices ? Should the exclamation mark be several moves before maybe ?
Jul-03-11  Hesam7: The question is was Euwe winning at some point during the Rook endgame? One candidate is 39. ... Rc5!

click for larger view

White seems to be in Zugzwang: 40. e5 Kd5; 40. Ke3 Ke5; 40. g5 Rc7; 40. Rc1(2) c3 and finally 40. h5 g5+ 41. Kf3 Ke5 42. Ke3 Rc7.

Jul-03-11  Hesam7: It seems that 39. ... h6? turned Euwe's won position into a drawn one. After 40. ... hxg5 41. Kxg5 White has an easy draw.
Jul-03-11  Hesam7: According to the engines Euwe could have played more energetically in the middle game:

24. ... b5! 25. axb5 (25. Qc3 f6 does not change much) 25. ... axb5 26. Qxb5 (26. Qf4 f6 27. e4 White defends b3 but after 27. ... Qd2 28. Qxd2 Rxd2 Black has a big advantage) 26. ... Qd2 27. Rxd1 Qxd1+ 28. Kg2 (28. Qf1? Qxb3) 28. ... Qxg4+ 29. Rg3 Qe4+ 30. Rf3 (forced if the White King returns to the first rank then Black has 30. ... Qb1+ and 30. Kh3? loses to 30. ... Bd6 and the White rook can't move b/c of ... Qf3+) 30. ... f5!

click for larger view

And although this is not strictly winning Black has a big advantage.

What part of this is mentioned by Botvinnik in his analysis??

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Botvinnik thought that 12..cxd 13 exd..Na5 14 Ne5 would have given Black better play than in the game. Botvinnik's clever 17 Bxc6! led to an advantage for White; 17 g4..Bg6 18 h4..h5 would have been more double-edged. A better continuation for Black would have been 19..b5 20 Qc3..f6 21 Nb7..Qf7 22 e4..Rfd8 with equality. Botvinnik, however, missed his ooportunity with 20 Nd7? missing the stronger 20 g4..Bg6 with one possible continuation being 21 Rad1..Rxd5 22 Qxd5..Qc8 23 Nd7..Rd8 24 Bxg7!..Bc2 25 Bc3..Bxc1 26 Qe5..f6 27 Qe6+ and White is winning. Botvinnik's 22 Rf1 kept the threat of Bxg7 and Qf5 alive but after Euwe's excellent defense 22..g6! the attack was over (if 23 Qc3..Bf6) and White's rook was mis-placed. Botvinnik was critical of 36 f4 giving the e5 square to Black; he thought 36 Kd2 would have been a better defense.

<Hesam7: The question is was Euwe winning at some point during the Rook endgame? One candidate is 39. ... Rc5!

White seems to be in Zugzwang: 40. e5 Kd5; 40. Ke3 Ke5; 40. g5 Rc7; 40. Rc1(2) c3 and finally 40. h5 g5+ 41. Kf3 Ke5 42. Ke3 Rc7>

There has been a lot of published analysis on the position after the improvement 39..Rc5 40 e5. At the time of the game this was thought to be winning for Black. The most recent line (quoted by Kasparov) is 40..Kd5 41 Re3..c3 42 e6..c2 43 e7..g5! (a suggestion from a New In Chess Reader) 44 Kxg5..Kd4+ 45 Kf4..Rc8 46 Re1..Re8 and he claimed this as a win. However in the next issue of New In Chess (2002 #1) this analysis was carried out further to a draw: 47 Rc1..Kc3 48 Kg5..Rxe7 49 Kh6..Re4 50 Kxh7..Rxg4 51 h5..Kd2 52 Rxc2+..Kxc2 53 h6.

Apr-21-14  Poulsen: This is indeed an important game. Euwe played his best tournament ever in Groningen.

The endgame is almost identical to a game played in St. Petersburg 1914:

Lasker vs Rubinstein, 1914.

Only difference is the reversed colors and the h-pawns (which would have been a-pawns in the Lasker-game). Both Botvinnik and Euwe must have known of the Lasker-game.

So at the adjournment by move 40 Euwe looked confident - and when the game resumed after 1˝ hour he is said to have padded Botvinnik comforting on his shoulder.

I guess, Botvinnik rewarded this gesture the best way he could. Good game.

Dec-06-17  Howard: Regarding the 2001/8 improvement that a reader came up with, Timman replied that it was "an important contribution to endgame theory" !

At any rate, one wonders what other improvements might be lurking in this well-know rook ending.

At any rate, the "importance" of this game has probably been overstated. It took place roughly in the middle of a 19-round event. If Euwe had won, there's no telling(!) how the rest of the tournament would have gone. After all, individual games in a tournament (or a match, for that matter) often have a ripple effect on subsequent games.

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