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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian
Botvinnik - Petrosian World Championship Match (1963), Moscow URS, rd 12, Apr-20
Queen's Gambit Declined: Charousek (Petrosian) Variation (D31)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-18-03  refutor: nice exciting game in the quiet, old queen's gambit declined between botwinnik and petrosian ;)
Apr-04-08  Knight13: <refutor> You just had to say that in 2003, did you? And I agree! At least this game is not as boring as the other draws in the match.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: On another day and against a different opponent in a less important event, Petrosian might have played the characteristic exchange sacrifice 36...Re7:Ne5 and then knocked white's king about like superball down the escalators at Angel Tube station with a cricket bat in the library.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: This was an extremely tense game. Game 12 of the best of 24 game match; played on 20th & 21st April 1963. Petrosian was leading the match at the time 6-5.

In many of his previous white games Botvinnik had been offering a Queen's Gambit. Petrosian had been accepting that gambit and Botvinnik had really been getting nowhere.

In this game, however, Petrosian plays one of his favourite moves in the QGD: 3...Bf8-e7. This gives Botvinnik the chance to unveil some powerful home preparation.

Botvinnik plays 7.g2-g4!

click for larger view

This is not a novelty; it had been played in Botvinnik vs Bronstein, 1952.

Petrosian's defends in an analogous way to variations he knew from the Caro-Kann. After 12...Nf6-h5 we reach this position:

click for larger view

This may seem like a far-out, non-standard position. In fact Botvinnik must have been totally incredulous: he had had a very similar position <30 years earlier> in Botvinnik vs Alatortsev, 1934. Here is the position after 17...Be6 in that game:

click for larger view

But - amazingly - Petrosian plays the position far better than his experienced opponent. Salo Flohr criticizes 15.Bg6+ and 18.Nh4. Flohr also says that 21.Qg4+ is useless and that white should have castled.

When black's knights return from their rims the visual difference in coordination between the two sides is noticeable. After 28...Nf6:

click for larger view

After white played 36.♖f8-f1,

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Salo Flohr says, <"...Many people did not believe it - 'someone is having us on!' But no, it was not a joke. In the hall, there were 1,500 witnesses - yes, this is what Botvinnik had played. Now of course, Petrosian will sacrifice the exchange on e5. Tal would do so like a shot, especially if in serious time trouble. But 'that is not how they play'!">

Flohr means 36...♖4xe5! 37.dxe5 and now I think 37...Ne4

click for larger view

Black has a huge amount of play for the exchange (and a pawn). That ♘e4 is worth any rook. Petrosian, rightly or wrongly, or obliviously, played 36...Nc4 instead and the game soon petered out to a draw.

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