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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Vasily Smyslov
Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Rematch (1958), Moscow URS, rd 18, Apr-19
English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. Anglo-Grünfeld Variation (A16)  ·  1-0
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-04-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Botvinnik missed a fine finnish here: 23.Nd4!! immediately wins. Black is too weak on the 7-th and 8-th rows.

I. 23...cxd4 24.Bd5+ Kh8 25.Re7 Nxe7 26.Rxe7 Qd1+ (26...g5 27.Be4) 27.Kg2 Qh5 28.Rxh7#

II. 23...cxd4 24.Bd5+ Rxd5 26.Re8! 1:0

III. 23...cxd4 24.Bd5+ Rf7 26.Re8+ 1:0

IV. 23...Nxd4 24.Bd5+ Rxd5 25.Re7 1:0

V. 23...Nxd4 24.Bd5+ Kh8 25.Re7 1:0

Jun-04-04  Owl: Ya thats is true Gypse.
At move 30, looking at Smyslov positions and being one pawn ahead and lossing this game. It comes as a shock to me. He totally messes up here.
Jun-05-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: In 1958, Smyslov was forced to play most of the match with flu. That may explain his dreadful peformance here. You are right, around move 30, Botvinnik had only partial compensation for his pawn deficit. Smyslov declined repetition of moves right before the time control. For this, he returned his extra pawn. And then Smyslov started droping pawns left and right....
Jan-15-05  chessiscool: What about 23.Nh4? threat-Be4-xg6
Jan-15-05  PivotalAnorak: Yes, it is well known that Botvinnik missed 23. ♘d4, and also that, in the actual game continuation, Smyslov missed 26... ♖d2 with unavoidable mate (if 26... ♖d2 27. ♗e6+ ♖f7 28. ♗xf7+ ♔xf7 and White gets mated).
May-09-06  CHEG: Rd2 is still tricky.

If 26...Rd2 27 Be6+ Kg7 28 Qxe5+ Rf6 29 R3e2 and no threat of checkmate?

However
26...Rd2 27 Be6+ Rf7 28 R3e2 Rxe2 29 Qd8+ Kg8 30 Bd6 blocking mate but giving up too much material for a win (Qd2)

May-09-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: In "Soviet Chess" by R.G. Wade, after White's 26th move, it states: < Now Smyslov stared at the position for eight minutes before going 26...Rde8, which should have been good enough for at least a draw, Botvinnik had been prepared to resign if Smyslov had played 26...Rd2!.>
May-10-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  pawn to QB4: Another desperately bad mistake from Smyslov: I almost think Wade shouldn't allow himself a ! for 26...Rd2, because it's staring at anyone with a 1000 rating. Maybe a slightly better player doesn't play it because of 27. Be6+, but way below Smyslov level we spot that doesn't work, in much less than 8 minutes. Compare Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1958, 28.Ne5?? for another howler that helped Botvinnik overturn all predictions - and there'd been many years of common sense that Smyslov was Botvinnik's natural successor and would enjoy as long a reign. The ending too, coming from the greatest endgame player of the time, suggests VVS came in with plague rather than 'flu. Strange that these mistakes have received less publicity and sympathy than those Bronstein made in '51: maybe we feel sorrier for DIB, but I'd have thought VVS had a stronger claim to have been a better player than Botvinnik.
May-10-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <Gypsy> I agree 23.Nd4! is a winning move. However, your variation IV, 23.Nd4 Nxd4 24. Bd5+? Rxd5 25.Re7 allows Black to keep an almost equal position with 25...Ne2+. Fritz 9 evaluation (.05) (19 ply) with an indicated continuation of: 26.Kg2 Rf7 27.Re7xe2 Qxe2 28.Rxe2 Bc6.

Instead, 23.Nd4 Nxd4 24.Re7 is immediately winning for White.

Aug-08-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <Gypsy: In 1958, Smyslov was forced to play most of the match with flu. That may explain his dreadful peformance here. *** >

I was not aware of that. Smyslov's play certainly was disappointing in this match. He lost rather decisively despite gift points from Botvinnik in games #5 (Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1958) and #15 (Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1958).

I originally looked up this game to point out the win Botvinnik missed (both during the game and in his notes) with 23. Nd4!!, but you were six years ahead of me, <Gypsy>. (See first comment in this thread.)

Jan-08-12  King.Arthur.Brazil: The way Smyslov lose this game with 2 passed P seems completly strange! I believe seriously that he was forced to lose. He's chess is better then the absurd games shown in this championship. He loses games like a child. The same we saw in Fischer x Spassky where the last player made unspoken mistakes (seems there were money involved to retain this crawn at hands. "pay me and I lose...") Simply this way... poor poor world of money!
Apr-07-13  Everett: A shame Botvinnik missed the win on move 23. It would have been epic! Of note, look at how took advantage of Smyslov's pieces on terrible squares: Ba4 and Qc2.

It all began with the pawn sac 17.Bh6! Bxh6 18.Qxh6 Qxd3 19.e5, pitching the d-pawn like a KID veteran to improve the scope of the rest of his pieces.

Smyslov could have been severely punished for this pawn-grabbing, which he invited with 15..Ba4 and 16..f6. In two moves he puts his best light-squared defender out if play and then weakens those same squares around his K! Smyslov, of all people!

Jan-31-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project: <Peligroso Patzer>

You wrote <I originally looked up this game to point out the win Botvinnik missed (both during the game and in his notes) with 23. Nd4!!>

I'm wondering which book you looked up to see that <Botvinnik> missed this move in his notes?

Here are his annotations to this portion of the game:

Botvinnik:

<"...in search of a forced win, White spent a long time on his next move, but still <<<failed to find the effective combination>>> (as far as I know, it was found by several watching grandmasters and masters): 23.Nd4!!">

-Mikhail Botvinnik, "Botvinnik-Smyslov/ Three World Chess Championship Matches: 1954, 1957, 1958" (New in Chess 2009), p.253

Jan-31-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project: <Pawn and Two>

<Botvinnik had been prepared to resign if Smyslov had played 26...Rd2!.>

Your citation of <Wade's> account is corroborated by <Botvinnik> himself. In fact, Botvinnik claims he almost resigned *before* Smyslov moved.

Botvinnik:

<"White is mated after 26...Rd2 (27.Be6+ Rf7! 28.Bxf7+ Kxf7)... <<<At first I decided to resign, without even waiting for the reply,>>> but then I changed my mind.

To my surprise, Smyslov did not make his reply immediately, but during the game I thought this was just because he had 15 minutes left to reach the time control, and wanted to check the variations, so as to avoid any unexpected surprises. But after six minutes had gone by, I started to hope: What if he doesn't play 26...Rd2?

...Finally, after eight minutes' thought, when Smyslov picked up the rook from d8, I nervously took up my pen to write down my resignation, but then I could not believe my eyes- Smyslov had played the rook to e8! It can certainly be said that in this game, the two players proved worthy of each other...">

-Mikhail Botvinnik, "Botvinnik-Smyslov/ Three World Chess Championship Matches: 1954, 1957, 1958" (New in Chess 2009), p.254

Jan-31-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project: <Gypsy>

You wrote

<In 1958, Smyslov was forced to play most of the match with flu. That may explain his dreadful peformance here>

It may well indeed, but <Botvinnik> claims he was just as sick as <Smyslov> during this match.

Botvinnik:

<...before the last encounter I was already so worn out, that Senkevich [the official match doctor] allowed me a third and last time-out on account of illness. <<<This was therefore a 'record' match with regard to illness- both contestants fully used their right to be unwell>>> [Botvinnik means both used their allotted 3 sick time-outs].>

-Mikhail Botvinnik "Botvinnik's Complete Games (1942-1956) and Selected Writings (Part 2)." Ken Neat, transl., ed., (Olomouc 2012), p.35

Jan-31-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project:

More from <Botvinnik> on this game:

-<"...both contestants were rather tired. The 18th game was especially typical in this respect (at Smyslov's request, Stahlberg decided to move it to a closed room- the grandmaster room at the Cnetral Chess Club). First Smyslov should have lost, then he himself could have mated the enemy king... In the end <<<the game was decided by a serious oversight by Smyslov>>> soon after the start of the adjournment session.">

-Mikhail Botvinnik "Botvinnik's Complete Games (1942-1956) and Selected Writings (Part 2)," p.35

######################

Here is <Smyslov's> "serious oversight... soon after the start of the adjournment session." that "decided" the game:

Black to play:


click for larger view

Botvinnik:

-<46...Be8

<<<A tragic mistake.>>> Smyslov became a victim of his own devices; he sat down at board quickly, and immediately played 46...Be8...>


click for larger view

Botvinnik answered with 47.Bd7-


click for larger view

Botvinnik:

-<-<Now Black <<<loses two pawns,>>> and the result of this chaotic game becomes clear.>

-Mikhail Botvinnik, "Botvinnik-Smyslov/ Three World Chess Championship Matches: 1954, 1957, 1958" (New in Chess 2009), p.256

Jun-24-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <WCC Editing Project: <Peligroso Patzer> You wrote <I originally looked up this game to point out the win Botvinnik missed (both during the game and in his notes) with 23. Nd4!!>

I'm wondering which book you looked up to see that <Botvinnik> missed this move in his notes?

Here are his annotations to this portion of the game:

Botvinnik:

<"...in search of a forced win, White spent a long time on his next move, but still <<<failed to find the effective combination>>> (as far as I know, it was found by several watching grandmasters and masters): 23.Nd4!!">

-Mikhail Botvinnik, "Botvinnik-Smyslov/ Three World Chess Championship Matches: 1954, 1957, 1958" (New in Chess 2009), p.253>

<WCC Editing Project> is being a trifle jejune. She correctly quotes this paragraph: <"...in search of a forced win, White spent a long time on his next move, but still <<<failed to find the effective combination>>> (as far as I know, it was found by several watching grandmasters and masters): 23.Nd4!!">

[By the way, here is the position after 22...Rcd8:]


click for larger view

.

After 23.♘d4 Botvinnik's line continues:

<23...cxd4

(or 23... Nxd4 24. Bd5+! Rxd5 25. Re7 )

24. Bd5+! Rxd5

(24... Kh8 25. Re7also loses)

25. Re8!.

My old 'illness' came to light again: a lack of combinative vision...>

But, crucially, to this there is a translator's note:

<As various authors have pointed out, Botvinnik's 'illness' let him down even in his analysis, as well as over the board. After 23.Nd4 Nxd4 24.Bd5+? Rxd5 25.Re7 fails to win in view of 25...Ne2+ 26. Kf1 Rf7=

The correct winning sequence from the diagram is 23.Nd4 Nxd4 24. Re7! Rf7 25.Bd5!.>

So <Peligroso Patzer> was mainly correct. Botvinnik got the first move right - but "it was found by ....watching masters..." but then goes immediately wrong! Very poor analysis!

Apr-29-16  Albion 1959: Move 22 for Smyslov Nd8! with Nf7 to follow would have evicted the queen from h6 and preventing the winning line that Botvinnik missed: It is hard to believe that at this level of chess, the strongest players at the time could make so many bad moves between them! From moves 22 to 26 both players made blunders that you would never expect in a World Title match. Still, it just shows that these guys are human after all and are subject to pressure and error that you see at club level. In spite of the errors, even in the ending, this was a fascinating and absorbing game to play through. Games like these are just as instructive and interesting as those brilliant flawless masterpieces which both of these players were well capable of producing!
Jun-08-16  zydeco: If this isn't the worst game of Smyslov's career it's pretty close. Sad that such a great player effectively lost his world championship title in this way. What to conclude from this? I have the impression that he didn't have great nerves and in high-pressure situations his nerves could sometimes betray him.
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