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Mikhail Botvinnik
Number of games in database: 1,184
Years covered: 1924 to 1983

Overall record: +568 -138 =464 (68.4%)*
   * 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 E24 E45 E48 E23
 King's Indian (64) 
    E67 E69 E60 E62 E72
 English (52) 
    A16 A15 A14 A13 A10
 Queen's Gambit Declined (41) 
    D37 D31 D30 D35 D38
 English, 1 c4 e5 (37) 
    A22 A28 A26 A25 A23
 Slav (33) 
    D10 D13 D19 D14 D11
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (86) 
    C18 C15 C19 C05 C01
 Sicilian (61) 
    B63 B62 B72 B27 B58
 Ruy Lopez (47) 
    C98 C90 C92 C68 C82
 French Winawer (46) 
    C18 C19 C15 C17
 Nimzo Indian (46) 
    E34 E21 E33 E41 E22
 Caro-Kann (40) 
    B12 B18 B19 B10 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 Fischer, 1962 1/2-1/2
   Botvinnik vs Euwe, 1948 1-0

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 (1929)
   Moscow (1935)
   USSR Championship (1931)
   Leningrad Championship (1932)
   USSR Championship (1945)
   USSR Absolute Championship (1941)
   USSR Championship (1939)
   USSR Championship (1944)
   Groningen (1946)
   Moscow (1947)
   Alekhine Memorial (1956)
   USSR Championship (1952)
   Palma de Mallorca (1967)
   USSR Championship (1933)
   USSR Championship (1940)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Match Botvinnik! by chessgain
   Match Botvinnik! by amadeus
   Das Schachgenie Botwinnik (Suetin) by Chessdreamer
   Mikhail Botvinnik's Best Games by KingG
   Bot_vin_nik Blinked at Fredthebear by fredthebear
   GOOD STILL TODAY by Imohthep
   GOOD STILL TODAY Compiled by Imohthep by fredthebear
   BOTVINNIK"S BEST GAMES VOL 1: 1925-1941 by Malacha
   1d410's favorite games by 1d410
   Botvinnik's Best Games 1947-1970 by uglybird
   Selected Games (Botvinnik) by Qindarka
   botvinnik best games by brager
   BOTVINNIK'S BEST GAMES: VOL 2,1943-1956 by Malacha
   Botvinnik's best games by HOTDOG

   Robatsch vs Botvinnik, 1962

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Mikhail Botvinnik
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(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 1,184  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Botvinnik vs I Kalinin 1-0291924Leningrad 2/3th catC55 Two Knights Defense
2. G Abramovic vs Botvinnik 0-1171924Soviet UnionA80 Dutch
3. Botvinnik vs S Kaminer 0-1411924Training GameE90 King's Indian
4. Botvinnik vs N Begunov 1-0321924Leningrad 2/3th catD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
5. Botvinnik vs A Zilberman 1-0481924Leningrad jrD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
6. Botvinnik vs N Timofeev 1-0231924LeningradD26 Queen's Gambit Accepted
7. S Kaminer vs Botvinnik 1-0281924Training GameD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
8. G Abramovic vs Botvinnik 0-1321924Leningrad jrE61 King's Indian
9. Botvinnik vs I Folga 1-0371924LeningradA48 King's Indian
10. V Zbandutto vs Botvinnik ½-½431924Leningrad 2nd catC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
11. G Andreev vs Botvinnik 0-1461924LeningradE60 King's Indian Defense
12. Botvinnik vs A Makhlin 1-0281924Leningrad 2/3th catC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
13. V Miliutin vs Botvinnik 0-1231924juniorsD72 Neo-Grunfeld,, Main line
14. Botvinnik vs B Rivlin 1-0211925Leningrad mD46 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
15. K Nadporoshky vs Botvinnik 0-1361925Leningradd catC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
16. J Dobropistsev vs Botvinnik 0-1351925Leningrad 1st catC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
17. V B Yuryev vs Botvinnik 1-0381925Leningrad 1st catD02 Queen's Pawn Game
18. G Jagdfeld vs Botvinnik 0-1351925Leningradd catD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
19. Botvinnik vs J Zverev 1-0381925Leningrad 1st catD92 Grunfeld, 5.Bf4
20. A Vait vs Botvinnik 0-1311925Leningrad 1st catD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
21. Botvinnik vs S Kaminer 1-0391925Leningradd catD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
22. Botvinnik vs M Schebarschin 1-0321925Leningrad 1st catA50 Queen's Pawn Game
23. B Rivlin vs Botvinnik 0-1331925RussiaE00 Queen's Pawn Game
24. B Rivlin vs Botvinnik 0-1321925Leningrad 1st catD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
25. B Rivlin vs Botvinnik 0-1431925Leningrad ttC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
 page 1 of 48; games 1-25 of 1,184  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 58 OF 61 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: <keypusher>: <Most underrated? Maybe Bogoljubov.>

Maybe Euwe. The only player to beat Alekhine in a match, and still strong in 1948.

But Botvinnik gets my vote for the greatest of all time, apart from Kasparov.

I agree with others here that contributions to theory and methods are equal in importance to playing results. So Botvinnik, Kasparov and Nimzovitch score heavily in that category.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Petrosianic: Yeah, well I've got to help keypusher take the heat.>

Standup guy.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: I would say, however, that chess players can be an odd lot. If you kibitz any top level GM tournament, it's like unless you're THE greatest player who ever lived, they don't care about you at all. Baseball doesn't have that because it's a team sport. One great player isn't enough, you want all you can get. In chess, nobody can be praised without someone (angrily!) insisting that someone else was better. As a result, a lot of players and styles never get so much as looked at. Most people could themselves an enormous favor by taking a player like Bogoljubov or Larsen, or even (God help me!) Janowski, and studying all of their games from a tournament. Just because a player didn't succeed at the very highest level doesn't mean that they don't have things that would benefit a club player enormously. And things that you wouldn't see from the highest players.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jim Bartle: I think best player by decade might work better if each starts in the year five, at least since WWII.

1945-1955: Botvinnik.
1955-1965: Smyslov (?)
1965-1975: Fischer
1975-1985: Karpov
1985-2005: Kasparov
2005-2015: Carlsen (?)

Dec-15-15  Karposian: <Tiggler: Maybe Euwe. The only player to beat Alekhine in a match, and still strong in 1948.>

Yes. And keep in mind that Euwe also made major contributions to chess theory, particularly openings.

He wrote over 70 chess books, no other World Champion comes even remotely close to that number. And if we can agree that contributions to theory and methods are equal in importance to playing results, Euwe's achievements in its totality, as a player, author, theoretician, even FIDE president, are incredibly impressive.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jim Bartle: I sort of screwed over Spassky and Petrosian with that list...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: If you want to look at some Bogo games, pull ALL of his games from Moscow 1925, and re-play them all, win, lose or draw. Yeah, I know Capablanca was a better player, but never mind. Play them anyway, and look at how he handled players who were maybe not the world champion, but top level players, nevertheless.

Or, play over all his games from his two Soviet Championships. This isn't generally known, but Bogo has the highest percentage score in Soviet Championship history (80%, although he only played in two of them, and at a time before the Soviet School of Chess really existed). He'll show you how players much stronger than any you're likely to meet on Playchess or ICC can be handled.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <Jim Bartle: I sort of screwed over Spassky and Petrosian with that list...>

A much tougher question would be to go year by year. Start at 1970 (the year the Chess Oscar started), and work backwards.

The problem there is that winning a world championship match pretty much ices you as the player of that year, as does winning the Candidates.

So let's just look at years that had neither of those events, and go back to World War II? Who was The Player of These Years?:


I'm not sure about a lot of these off the top of my head. I'd have to give most of them some thought, and do some checking.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: Just to start at the top, The Player of 1967 is surely either Petrosian, Fischer, Spassky or Larsen. I wouldn't be at all surprised if a serious crunching of the numbers showed that it was Larsen.
Dec-15-15  Karposian: <Petrosianic: So let's just look at years that had neither of those events, and go back to World War II? Who was The Player of These Years?:


From the top of my head my suggestions would be:

1967 Spassky
1964 Petrosian
1955 Smyslov
1952 Smyslov
1949 Botvinnik
1947 Botvinnik
1946 Botvinnik

Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: Botvinnik didn't play in 1949, did he? For 1946 and 1947, it was probably Botvinnik, though. Keres won the 1947 Soviet Championship (that Botvinnik didn't play in), but I wouldn't go by just one tournament.
Dec-15-15  Karposian: <Petrosianic: Botvinnik didn't play in 1949, did he?>

I'm sure you're right about that. Like I said, it was from the top of my head. So, who do you suggest for 1949? Bronstein, perhaps?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: I'm not really sure. I'm not as familiar with 1940's events as some other decades. I could probably name the nominees. Bronstein, Smyslov, Boleslavsky, Keres, Reshevsky and Najdorf. I think I'd have to seriously study their numbers to know who should be on top.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Not a whole lot happened in 1949. Strongest tournament was Soviet Championship - Bronstein and Smyslov tied for 1st.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Najdorf is a strong contender for 1946 and 1947 -- he had several strong performances that took him to #2 on Chessmetrics. There was a reason people thought he should be included in the 1948 match-tournament. I think Bronstein or Smyslov get 1949.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Petrosianic: Botvinnik didn't play in 1949, did he?>

After winning the title in 1948, Botvinnik played no serious game until he sat down to face Bronstein in 1951.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jim Bartle: Well, he certainly played thousands of offhand games. We know how much he loved blitz.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Sonas figured out annual winners under his rating system. Under that system, Botvinnik won 1946 and 1948, Stahlberg won 1947, and Smyslov won 1949.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: 'Bout as much as Reshevsky loved Fischer.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Link to Sonas:
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tiggler: The fact that Fischer does not make many lists of "most overrated" just proves how overrated he is.
Dec-16-15  nok: <We know how much he loved blitz.> Reminds me of Caruana.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Lambda: Fischer becomes overrated by people giving him an imaginary career after 1972. "He was amongst the best for a time, burned brilliantly for three years then went out" is not an acceptable narrative for many people.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Lambda: Fischer becomes overrated by people giving him an imaginary career after 1972. "He was amongst the best for a time, burned brilliantly for three years then went out" is not an acceptable narrative for many people.>

I left Fischer off the overrated list because too many strong GMs rate him at or near the very top. Ditto with Morphy. Which is a shame, because (aside from regular posting on the Rogoff page) there is no better way to lose friends and alienate people than to say Morphy and Fischer are overrated.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: E.g. there's a CNN article that crowd-sources questions for Carlsen. Who does he really admire? Who from the past does he really want to play? Fischer and Kasparov.

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