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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Berndt Soderborg
Stockholm (1962), Stockholm SWE, rd 9, Jan-??
English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. Queen's Knight Variation (A16)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KingG: 21.f6! is a nice pawn sacrifice to give White's pieces room to play.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MrMelad: Yes, 21 f6! seems very strong. The kind of moves that only a very strong player will play.. I'm not sure I understand it fully though.

The point is to open up the f file to double the rooks on it, attack the knight on c8 (with intention of attacking d6) and to open the h3-c8 diagonal for the white bishop, right? Maybe it's deeper then that?

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  ChessDude33: A superb game by Botvinnik! After 27...f6 black is almost ready for a game of checkers!
Premium Chessgames Member
  KingG: <MrMelad> I think you've got it about right. The main points of the pawn sac were to open the f-file and the h3-c8 diagonal. White now has lots of play, while there isn't much for Black to do.

31...Nxd5 looks to be a pretty bad mistake, opening the c-file, that Black can't contest because of the bishops controling the c8 square, and giving the bishop a secure outpost of e6. Having said that, Black may have been lost anyway.

Premium Chessgames Member
  CMDMB: I agree that this is the purpose of the sacrifice, but I'd also add that it was almost "forced" from a strategic perspective: white has the 2 bishops and he must make them count. If he doesn't play this, his light squared bishop may become perpetually imprisoned. Thus playing it, with all the benefits that have been mentioned (combined with the fact that black's "extra" pawn on f7 is going nowhere and is rendered a liability rather than an asset, and that the bishop is able to prey on all of black's weak squares rather than ogling them enviously from his castle window) makes the "sac" a completely logical, and indeed necessary, move. Of course hindsight is 20-20 (and we have one of the greats to instruct us) but hopefully we can successfully implement the concept in our own games now!
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