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Mikhail Botvinnik
Number of games in database: 1,180
Years covered: 1924 to 1983

Overall record: +565 -138 =463 (68.3%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 14 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Nimzo Indian (89) 
    E40 E48 E24 E45 E23
 King's Indian (64) 
    E67 E69 E60 E72 E62
 English (55) 
    A16 A15 A13 A14 A10
 Queen's Gambit Declined (43) 
    D37 D35 D31 D30 D38
 English, 1 c4 e5 (37) 
    A22 A28 A25 A26 A23
 Slav (34) 
    D10 D13 D14 D18 D11
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (87) 
    C18 C19 C15 C07 C05
 Sicilian (55) 
    B63 B62 B58 B27 B72
 Ruy Lopez (47) 
    C98 C90 C92 C68 C82
 French Winawer (46) 
    C18 C19 C15 C17
 Nimzo Indian (45) 
    E34 E33 E21 E26 E41
 Caro-Kann (40) 
    B18 B12 B10 B11 B15
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Botvinnik vs Capablanca, 1938 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Portisch, 1968 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Vidmar, 1936 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Chekhover, 1935 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Alekhine, 1938 1-0
   Denker vs Botvinnik, 1945 0-1
   Botvinnik vs Keres, 1966 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Bronstein, 1951 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Euwe, 1948 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Fischer, 1962 1/2-1/2

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: [what is this?]
   FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948)
   Botvinnik - Bronstein World Championship Match (1951)
   Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Match (1954)
   Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Return Match (1957)
   Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Rematch (1958)
   Tal - Botvinnik World Championship Match (1960)
   Tal - Botvinnik World Championship Return Match (1961)
   Petrosian - Botvinnik World Championship Match (1963)

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   USSR Championship (1931)
   Leningrad Championship (1932)
   Moscow (1935)
   USSR Championship (1939)
   USSR Absolute Championship (1941)
   USSR Championship (1944)
   USSR Championship (1945)
   Groningen (1946)
   Moscow (1947)
   USSR Championship (1952)
   Alekhine Memorial (1956)
   Palma de Mallorca (1967)
   Budapest (1952)
   USSR Championship (1940)
   USSR Championship (1955)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Match Botvinnik! by chessgain
   Match Botvinnik! by amadeus
   Bot_vin_nik Blinked at Fredthebear by fredthebear
   Das Schachgenie Botwinnik (Suetin) by Chessdreamer
   Mikhail Botvinnik's Best Games by dcruggeroli
   Mikhail Botvinnik's Best Games by KingG
   Botvinnik's Best by Koolcat
   BOTVINNIK"S BEST GAMES VOL 1: 1925-1941 by Malacha
   Selected Games (Botvinnik) by Qindarka
   Botvinnik's Best Games 1947-1970 by uglybird
   GOOD STILL TODAY by Imohthep
   botvinnik best games by brager
   GOOD STILL TODAY Compiled by Imohthep by fredthebear
   BOTVINNIK'S BEST GAMES: VOL 2,1943-1956 by Malacha

   Robatsch vs Botvinnik, 1962

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Mikhail Botvinnik
Search Google for Mikhail Botvinnik

(born Aug-17-1911, died May-05-1995, 83 years old) Russia
[what is this?]
Mikhail Moiseevich Botvinnik was born in Kuokkala, near Viipuri (Today, Vyborg) in what was then Finland. He was raised in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). He learned the game early and progressed rapidly, winning the 1st of his 6 USSR Championships in 1931; the other 5 victories were in 1933, 1939, 1944, 1945 and 1952. He also won the Leningrad tournament of 1934, the Absolute Soviet Championship in 1941, and the Sverdlovsk super tournament of 1943. Other significant achievements include equal first with Salomon Flohr in Moscow 1935, 2nd at Moscow 1936 behind Jose Raul Capablanca, equal first with Capablanca at Nottingham 1936, 3rd at AVRO 1938, and first at Groningen 1946 before playing for the World Championship in 1948. He also won the Tchigorin Memorial tournament of 1947 and came equal first with David Bronstein in the Alekhine Memorial of 1956.(1)

With the death of Alexander Alekhine in 1946, the FIDE saw its chance to take control of the World Championship and invited six players to take part in a tournament to determine the championship. With Reuben Fine declining the invitation to play, Botvinnik won it ahead of Vassily Smyslov, Paul Keres, Samuel Reshevsky, and Dr Max Euwe in the quintuple round robin FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948). He retained the crown in 1951 against David Bronstein when he tied the match, by winning and drawing his last two games. He again retained it in 1954 against Vasily Smyslov by again drawing the match, however Smyslov turned the tables in 1957 by wresting the crown from Botvinnik. At the time, a defeated champion was entitled to a return match the following year and so in 1958, Botvinnik defeated Smyslov in a return match. Likewise, after losing to Mikhail Tal in 1960, Botvinnik defeated him in a return match in 1961. He lost the title for the last time to Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian in 1963. FIDE had eliminated the return match and so Botvinnik chose to retire from world championship play.

Generally regarded as the Patriarch of the Soviet Chess School, his style was based on rigorous opening preparation, deep calculation, and accurate endgame technique. Students of his school include Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov and many more.

Live footages of Botvinnik from 1933-1963 starting at the following link: Mikhail Botvinnik.

Special edition of This Week in Chess devoted to Botvinnik and his career, assembled by Mark Crowther soon after Botvinnik's death in 1995:

Wikipedia article: Mikhail Botvinnik

(1) Crosstables of competitions mentioned in this paragraph are successively linked at [rusbase-1], [rusbase-2], [rusbase-3], [rusbase-4], [rusbase-5], [rusbase-6], [rusbase-7], [rusbase-8],, [rusbase-9], [rusbase-10],,, [rusbase-11], and [rusbase-12]

 page 1 of 48; games 1-25 of 1,180  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. G Andreev vs Botvinnik 0-1461924LeningradE60 King's Indian Defense
2. Botvinnik vs A Makhlin 1-0281924Leningrad 2/3th catC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
3. V Miliutin vs Botvinnik 0-1231924Ch Leningrad juniorsD72 Neo-Grunfeld,, Main line
4. Botvinnik vs I Kalinin 1-0291924Leningrad 2/3th catC55 Two Knights Defense
5. G Abramovic vs Botvinnik 0-1171924Soviet UnionA80 Dutch
6. Botvinnik vs S Kaminer 0-1411924Training GameE90 King's Indian
7. Botvinnik vs N Begunov 1-0321924Leningrad 2/3th catD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
8. Botvinnik vs A Zilberman 1-0481924Leningrad jrD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
9. Botvinnik vs N Timofeev 1-0231924LeningradD26 Queen's Gambit Accepted
10. S Kaminer vs Botvinnik 1-0281924Training GameD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
11. G Abramovic vs Botvinnik 0-1321924Leningrad jrE61 King's Indian
12. Botvinnik vs I Folga 1-0371924LeningradA48 King's Indian
13. V Zbandutto vs Botvinnik ½-½431924Leningrad 2nd catC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
14. Botvinnik vs B Rivlin  1-0331925Leningrad 1st catD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
15. Botvinnik vs N Liutov 1-0341925RussiaA46 Queen's Pawn Game
16. N Proskurin vs Botvinnik  0-1361925Leningrad 1st catC90 Ruy Lopez, Closed
17. N Liutov vs Botvinnik 0-1281925Leningrad ttC68 Ruy Lopez, Exchange
18. A Veigert vs Botvinnik  0-1551925Leningradd catC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
19. A Perfiliev vs Botvinnik 0-1361925Leningrad 1st catC56 Two Knights
20. Botvinnik vs B Rivlin 1-0211925Leningrad mD46 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
21. K Nadporoshky vs Botvinnik 0-1361925Leningradd catC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
22. J Dobropistsev vs Botvinnik 0-1351925Leningrad 1st catC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
23. V B Yuryev vs Botvinnik 1-0381925Leningrad 1st catD02 Queen's Pawn Game
24. G Jagdfeld vs Botvinnik 0-1351925Leningradd catD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
25. Botvinnik vs J Zverev 1-0381925Leningrad 1st catD92 Grunfeld, 5.Bf4
 page 1 of 48; games 1-25 of 1,180  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Botvinnik wins | Botvinnik loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 63 OF 63 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jul-26-18  Olavi: <Diademas:> Alexander Zaitsev, who won the Soviet championship in 68-69, losing the play-off to Polugaevsky.

As for Petrosian, where exactly the border between Europe and Asia lies in the Caucasus, I guess no one knows. Born in Tiflis to Armenian parents.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: <Olavi> Thanks. My bad!
Jul-27-18  Howard: Keep in mind that there were at least two players named Zaitsev. Diademas is apparently unaware that the Zaitsev whom I have referred to could not have possibly become a GM in 1976. He'd died in 1971 !
Aug-18-18  sakredkow: That's a pretty slim bio for one of the greatest.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <sakredkow: That's a pretty slim bio for one of the greatest.>

What's that song?

♩ Slim bio, my Lord, slim bio!
Oh, Lord, slim bio! ♩

Aug-30-18  1d410: Let me start out by saying this guy made me play chess. I was inspired by his moves, and wanted to play at the same level, so I started playing chess seriously for a while. Now however, his games seem materialistic when compared to modern players such as Aronian or Caruana. Looking at his games now I feel like his only positional evaluations were counting up the material and finding clever tactics. From nuclear strategy we know there is not only an ultimate weapon (Queen or nuke for example) but also an ultimate position. I know feel like Petrosian and even Tal understood this better and that is why they unseated Botvinnik as world champion. Fight me on this guys. I don't like this conclusion but that is how I currently feel, disillusioned....
Aug-30-18  Petrosianic: I haven't studied Botvinnik's games enough to know if you're right or not. I always seem to study him from the other side of the board, as being the mountain that somebody else is trying to climb.

If you look at the Petrosian-Botvinnik match, it's a duel between two extremely positional players. It's not pawn grabbing on one side vs. positional play on the other.

Do you have some positions to cite that would show Botvinnik in this light?

Aug-30-18  Captain Hindsight: <1d410> I think generalizations of any sort are dangerous - and false, like this one.
Aug-31-18  1d410: Well I feel the main clue is that if Botvinnik were like Petrosian he would be doing clever exchange sacs for positional advantages. Its a basic revelation in positional play that material can be exchanged for other positional advantages, such as controlled files or diagonals. Petrosian did this with his exchange sacs for example. I never see Botvinnik compromise on material unless he has a calculated forcing move like a clever tactic. I think this was simply enough to defeat the caliber of his weak opposition in the 30s convinvingly and that he did not need positional play like Petrosians. To be fair though I have only recently come to the playing strength and understanding where I have been able to come to this conclusion, so I don't really know. Any thoughts...
Sep-01-18  ughaibu: Here's a famous pre-Petrosian positional exchange sacrifice by Botvinnik: V Liublinsky vs Botvinnik, 1943
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <1d410>

Tolush vs Botvinnik, 1945

I Rabinovich vs Botvinnik, 1939

Botvinnik vs H Ree, 1969

I supposed this is too tactical.

Tolush vs Botvinnik, 1939

Incidentally, Botvinnik identified a tendency to grab pawns as one of Tal's weaknesses. Something he tried to take advantage of in games like this:

Botvinnik vs Tal, 1961

Sep-01-18  Retireborn: Another example (not really positional, more exposing the king) I like very much is:-

Botvinnik vs Tartakower, 1936

The interesting thing is that Botvinnik could have won the exchange (with 22.Bxh6+ Kxh6 23.Rxf6+ Kg7 24.Nxe8+) instead of sacrificing it.

Sep-01-18  N0B0DY: <1d410: To be fair though I have only recently come to the playing strength and understanding where I have been able to come to this conclusion, so I don't really know. Any thoughts...>

<N0B0DY> believes your insubstantial claims.

Sep-01-18  RookFile: As somebody pointed out to me, Botvinnik had a terrific record with the black pieces. Like Fischer, this guy often put full points up on the board with black.
Sep-01-18  1d410: Thanks for the games guys I will take a look, its hard covering every Botvinnik game and I've been researching Botvinnik at the university library too. You guys are great....
Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: I went through all those Botvinnik games; thank you as well for posting.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: I've read a piece claiming that Botvinnik's brother was 'killed by the Germans in the war'. Wikipedia confirms the existence of an elder brother, <Issy>, but only in the context of Mikhail's childhood. Does <Achieving the Aim> mention this?
Sep-14-18  Telemus: < Botvinnik's brother was 'killed by the Germans in the war'. [...] Does <Achieving the Aim> mention this?> Yes.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Who was involved?
What happened?
Where did it take place?
When did it take place?
Why did that happen?
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: <In September 1941, Botvinnik’s brother, Isya, died at the front from incoming German bombs. His aunt and uncle also died in the early days of the war.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Botvinnik being interviewed after playing at the 1961/1962 Hastings.


"What do you consider the main strengths and weaknesses of the British and American players...What advice could you offer them."


"In my Opinion the British Master lack all-round playing strength...R. Fischer has no longer any need of my advice."

CHESS. January 1961 (page 120)

Sep-27-18  gokusano: The advent of computers reduces drastically all the advantages the Soviets have over their contemporaries. Years ago, they were ahead in opening preparations and strategies because they (the topnotch players) can collaborate with each other at any given time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Botvinnik in the same 1962 interview (see above) regarding computers.


"In how many years do you think Chess by electronic computers will become a serious factor in the game?"


"I believe the time when an electronic machine will play chess is not far off."

Sep-27-18  john barleycorn: Always remember: "A fool with a tool is still a fool"
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <1d410>

If I was going to list great Botvinnik exchange sacrifices, I really should have included Botvinnik vs Vidmar, 1946. I also really like Tal vs Botvinnik, 1961 for both players!

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