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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Lajos Portisch
"Botvinnik and Paid For" (game of the day Feb-12-2009)
Monte Carlo (1968), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 7, Apr-10
English Opening: King's English. Two Knights' Variation Reversed Dragon (A22)  ·  1-0


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find similar games 3 more Botvinnik/Portisch games
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Kibitzer's Corner
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Feb-25-03  kostich in time: I have made harsh comments about Botvinnik in other places on this web-site, however, I will here say something in his defense..anyone who plays over this game(or his games against Vidmar, or his great win at A.V.R.O against Capablanca, or his win against Tolush in 43, or his summary execution of Denker in 1945,will have to conclude that he was, indeed a great chess artist..the biggest problems with Botvinnik were his obsession with being "scientific" and his toadying to the Stalinist Soviet party line.
Mar-09-03  Rookpawn: The finish of course could have been 26... Kxh6 27. Qh4+ Kg7 28. Qh7+ Kf8 29. Qxb7, when White would have a winning advantage.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: Amazing puzzle position at White's 21st move. Too hard for me. I considered the winning line but couldn't see 23.Be4! for the life of me.

As I like to announce during blitz chess (in an effort to distract and harry my opponent) ... "Brace yourself for revealed check!" Ouch!!

Apr-21-03  MoonlitKnight: Wouldn't normal people just play 21.Qf7 and 22.Lxh6 ? That would be enough to keep my brain busy, but I guess I'm no Botvinnik.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: 21.Qf7 Qe6
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: 21.Nh4! is nice but not very hard for a GM. 18.Rxf7!! is the key move that Botvinnik had to see a couple moves before when he played 16.Rxc7. Then he had to calculate 16...Kxf7 17.Qc4+ and about eight moves after that. So around 10-12 moves total. I wonder how long a computer takes to play 16.Rxc7...
Premium Chessgames Member
  crafty: 18. ... ♔xf7 19. ♕c4+ ♔g6 20. ♕g4+ ♔f7 21. ♘g5+ ♕xg5 22. ♗xg5   (eval 4.10; depth 9 ply; 50M nodes)
Jan-13-04  Benjamin Lau: Another great attacking game with a lot of sacrifices (that Portisch wisely declines). The final position is picturesque.
Mar-08-04  Prophylaxis: What would <Crafty> play on its own on the 18th move? Would it do the same thing as Botvinnik if unprompted?
Premium Chessgames Member
  crafty: 17...bxc6 18. ♖xf7 h6 19. ♖f5 ♕d6 20. ♕c4+ ♕e6 21. ♘xe5   (eval 2.71; depth 14 ply; 500M nodes)
Mar-10-04  PizzatheHut: Alright good chess players, I have a question for you guys. In this game, starting with 10. Be3, Botvinnik takes measures to control the c5 square, then the c-file. I've noticed controlling a square is important in GM chess. I understand when the square is important for an attack outpost or something like that, but what is so great about the c5 square here? Also, why doesn't Portisch try to get anything going in his game? It seems like he just sits there and takes it.
Mar-10-04  Benjamin Lau: PizzatheHut, here are the annotations to the game, maybe they can answer your question:
May-19-04  kedsie: PizzaTheHut: it doesn't seem like Botvinnik was trying to control c5 here. e3 is just the best square for the bishop and the c-file is the best place for the rooks. 11. Na4 seemed to be because he wanted to get his queen an active position on a4.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: 10.Be3 controls d4 so that black can't play a forceful Nd4. Suppose white plays 10.Bd2 instead, then we get

10.Bd2 0-0 11.Na4 Nd4! 12.Nxb6 Bb3!

May-24-04  Whitehat1963: Somehow not a typical game for Botvinnik. While he was clearly a genius and complete player, this looks more like something out of Tal's repertoire. Especially from move 16 on.
May-24-04  Dudley: Botvinnik could play combinations with the best of them- he just usually didn't need to to beat most of his opponents.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: My view <Dudley> is this: I find the combinations that Botvinnik did pull off incredibly subtle and sublime. They also seem quite different from the usual combinative fair; they tend to have a larger dose of inner logic and connection to the rest of the game. Botvinnik did not feel quite surefooted in combinative positions, however: he often missed opportunistic chances and also made mistakes in calculations. He got around his tactical handicap by heavy-dutty home preparation.
May-25-04  Dudley: Sounds like you know your stuff about Botvinnik, more than I do. I have played over his games some, and the diagrams generally show these heavy duty attacking wedges that look like the result of a definite plan. What I like about his play is that he seemed to have a lot of nerve when necessary and would occasionally do a "positional" sacrifice. Another thing I find interesting is that he was also a probably brilliant electrical engineer, and had periods away from chess as he did his work. It took a long time for me to get past his communist dogma, but in his time and place, if you wanted to be somebody you had to play the political game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: When I was a kid, Botvinnik was a hero of mine. Over the years, he receded from that place. (If you read Sosonko, for instace, you will understand why.) For heavy duty definite plans, Botvinnik had no equal. Rubinstein, Alekhine, Kasparov were/are great planers, but, in my opinion, Botvinnik surpassed them all. Moreover, games like this one, or the one from AVRO with Capablanca, are 95% home prep. Botvinnik anticipated important themes, discerned their germane notions, and prepared at home. He probably played 6-12 training games with Ragozin along the lines of his subsequent Capa game. I suspect even his final combination with Capa appeared a couple of times in his and Ragozin's trainig games in various forms. That was the way Botvinnik prepared.

But Botvinnik also had some sort of tunnel vision. My guess is that he concetrated too deeply on some lines of his thought; thus his vision of the board was uneaven. He could obviously calculate very deeply, but he would also miss fairly simple moves. In Botvinnik writings, for instance, he frequently talks of "a tall grandmaster who likes long moves". Alegedly, these were references to Max Euve whose ability to spot long moves Botvinnik coveted.

If you read Botvinnik Collected Games (especially if you read them in Russian and you are not quite up to all the nuances of Pushkin or Lermontov) there are long painfull discourses of Botvinnik on why he did not play this or that combination because he missed a hidden resource of one type or another.

All that said: I find many of the combinations that do appear in Botvinnik's games almost haunting and beautiful. (I made that realization sometime last summer and I remember being quite startled by it.)

May-25-04  Dudley: Thanks, very enlightening.
Premium Chessgames Member
  jaime gallegos: according to

Write GM Raymond Keene and Dr. Nathan Divinsky about White’s bombshell on move 18, “What makes this sacrifice so impressive (apart from the fact of its being completely unexpected) is the brilliant explosion of combinative energy arising from quietly logical strategic play.”

this game is really amazing !

Aug-06-04  Hoplite: In Best Games 1947-1970 Botvinnik repeatedly admits either that he missed some tactical nuance or, revealingly, that he avoided it since he did not see a clear result. Unperturbed, he then makes some general but unerring judgement about the position: "it is now clear that with the rooks off, this is a won ending for white"(and brings this off expeditiously) or "rather than engage in tactical cut and thrust, black gives back the pawn to exchange White's black-squared bishop, and exploit his resultant advantages on the c-file".

One gets the impression that Mikhail Moisievich considered combinations a bit tawdry, and tactics as a mechanism to secure lasting positional advantages.

Aug-06-04  Lawrence: <Hoplite>, a warm welcome, I'm sure everyone else same as me hopes to see lots more posts from you.
Sep-10-04  Knight13: It's good that the king didn't take the rook.
Jan-01-05  dac1990: And for once, I at last am the first to post on a daily puzzle, nineteen minutes after it was given! I didn't get it but a good Saturday puzzle nonetheless.
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