Members · Prefs · Laboratory · Collections · Openings · Endgames · Sacrifices · History · Search Kibitzing · Kibitzer's Café · Chessforums · Tournament Index · Players · Kibitzing

Mikhail Botvinnik
Number of games in database: 1,182
Years covered: 1924 to 1983

Overall record: +567 -138 =463 (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 E48 E45 E23
 King's Indian (64) 
    E67 E69 E60 E72 E62
 English (52) 
    A16 A15 A14 A13 A10
 Queen's Gambit Declined (41) 
    D37 D31 D35 D30 D38
 English, 1 c4 e5 (37) 
    A22 A28 A26 A25 A20
 Slav (33) 
    D10 D13 D19 D14 D11
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (86) 
    C18 C19 C15 C07 C05
 Sicilian (61) 
    B63 B62 B72 B27 B58
 Ruy Lopez (47) 
    C98 C90 C92 C82 C68
 Nimzo Indian (46) 
    E34 E21 E33 E26 E41
 French Winawer (46) 
    C18 C19 C15 C17
 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 Euwe, 1948 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Bronstein, 1951 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 (1944)
   USSR Championship (1939)
   USSR Absolute Championship (1941)
   Moscow (1947)
   USSR Championship (1945)
   Groningen (1946)
   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
   Das Schachgenie Botwinnik (Suetin) by Chessdreamer
   Mikhail Botvinnik's Best Games by KingG
   Bot_vin_nik Blinked at Fredthebear by fredthebear
   1d410's favorite games by 1d410
   BOTVINNIK"S BEST GAMES VOL 1: 1925-1941 by Malacha
   Botvinnik's Best Games 1947-1970 by uglybird
   botvinnik best games by brager
   GOOD STILL TODAY by Imohthep
   Selected Games (Botvinnik) by Qindarka
   GOOD STILL TODAY Compiled by Imohthep by fredthebear
   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
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 1,182  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Botvinnik vs N Begunov 1-0321924Leningrad 2/3th catD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
2. Botvinnik vs A Zilberman 1-0481924Leningrad jrD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
3. Botvinnik vs N Timofeev 1-0231924LeningradD26 Queen's Gambit Accepted
4. G Abramovic vs Botvinnik 0-1321924Leningrad jrE61 King's Indian
5. Botvinnik vs I Folga 1-0371924LeningradA48 King's Indian
6. Botvinnik vs S Kaminer 0-1411924Training GameE90 King's Indian
7. V Zbandutto vs Botvinnik ½-½431924Leningrad 2nd catC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
8. G Andreev vs Botvinnik 0-1461924LeningradE60 King's Indian Defense
9. Botvinnik vs A Makhlin 1-0281924Leningrad 2/3th catC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
10. S Kaminer vs Botvinnik 1-0281924Training GameD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
11. V Miliutin vs Botvinnik 0-1231924Ch Leningrad juniorsD72 Neo-Grunfeld,, Main line
12. Botvinnik vs I Kalinin 1-0291924Leningrad 2/3th catC55 Two Knights Defense
13. G Abramovic vs Botvinnik 0-1171924Soviet UnionA80 Dutch
14. J Dobropistsev vs Botvinnik 0-1351925Leningrad 1st catC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
15. V B Yuryev vs Botvinnik 1-0381925Leningrad 1st catD02 Queen's Pawn Game
16. G Jagdfeld vs Botvinnik 0-1351925Leningradd catD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
17. Botvinnik vs J Zverev 1-0381925Leningrad 1st catD92 Grunfeld, 5.Bf4
18. A Vait vs Botvinnik 0-1311925Leningrad 1st catD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
19. Botvinnik vs S Kaminer 1-0391925Leningradd catD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
20. Botvinnik vs M Schebarschin 1-0321925Leningrad 1st catA50 Queen's Pawn Game
21. B Rivlin vs Botvinnik 0-1331925RussiaE00 Queen's Pawn Game
22. B Rivlin vs Botvinnik 0-1321925Leningrad 1st catD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
23. B Rivlin vs Botvinnik 0-1431925Leningrad ttC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
24. Botvinnik vs B Rivlin  1-0331925Leningrad 1st catD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
25. Botvinnik vs N Liutov 1-0341925RussiaA46 Queen's Pawn Game
 page 1 of 48; games 1-25 of 1,182  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 45 OF 61 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Hey, how many people can claim to be thrown off of a tennis court by Jimbo?

I think he played one year of college tennis, like McEnroe, then turned pro. In the DeFord article, Ilie Nastase says that Connors would hole up in his hotel, and just get room service and play backgammon with Nastase. Connor's has always reminded me a litle of Fischer; very talanted, but could never get on well with large numbers of people, not too many interviews, a bit reclusive.

Apr-19-10  ycbaywtb: this is good post, but those who follow chess will always know who's who and why

<<<Jim Bartle: I was reading a Sports Illustrated story on K-K 1987 which referred to Botvinnik as "the three-time world champion." This happens in boxing as well (Muhammad Ali being the most notable case), saying so-and-so is a "two-time champion" or whatever, and it really irritates me.

Why is Botvinnik a three-time champion rather than a run-of-the-mill one-time champion? Only because he also lost the championship twice.

Or maybe the problem goes the other way. Instead of just "former champion," maybe Kasparov should be referred to as "six-time champion.">>>

Jul-31-10  Xeroxx: Why is Botvinnik everybody's favourite player?
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Photo and signature:

Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: <Mikhail Moiseyevich Botvinnik was a Russian International Grandmaster and long-time World Champion.>

<Born in St. Petersburg, the son of a dental technician, he first came to the notice of the chess world at the age of 14, when he defeated the world champion, Jose Raul Capablanca, in a simultaneous display.>

<Progress was fairly rapid and by the age of 20, Botvinnik, already a Soviet Master of some years standing, won his first Soviet Championship in 1931. This feat was to be repeated in 1933, 1939, 1941, 1945 and 1952.>

<At 24 years of age, Botvinnik was competing on equal terms with the world's elite, chalking up international tournament successes in some of the strongest tournaments of the day. First (equal with Salo Flohr) at Moscow 1935, ahead of Emanuel Lasker and Capablanca. First (equal with Capablanca) at Nottingham in 1936 and equal third at the prestigious AVRO tournament of 1938.>

<Not surprisingly, Botvinnik continued to build on these successes and went on to hold the title of World Champion on three separate occasions (1948-57, 1958-60, 1961-63). His longevity at the top level of chess is attributed to his astonishing dedication to study. Pre-match preparation and post-match analysis had not featured quite so prominently in the armoury of many of his predecessors, but this was Botvinnik's real strength. Technique over tactics, endgame mastery over opening traps. His adoption and development of solid opening lines in the Nimzo-Indian, Slav and Winawer French stood up to the severest scrutiny and he was able to focus on a narrow repertoire of openings during his most important matches, frequently guiding the game into well chosen areas of preparation. There were many "secret" training matches against masters of the calibre of Flohr, Yuri Averbakh and Viacheslav Ragozin. It was the unveiling, many years later, of the details of these matches that provided the chess historian with a fascinating new insight into Botvinnik's reign.>

<It is perhaps surprising that Mikhail Botvinnik is not widely regarded as a contender for the title of best player of all time. On the one hand, his achievements were undoubtedly impressive and it should be remembered that his main rivals, the younger Vasily Smyslov, Tigran Petrosian, David Bronstein, Paul Keres and Mikhail Tal were all formidable players in their own right.>

<On the other hand, critics point to his rare appearances in post-World War II tournaments and his mediocre record in world championships matches - he lost 2 but regained the title in re-matches; and he struggled to draw the other 2 matches. Many people also think that Botvinnik's play was based on correctness rather than the intuitive or the spectacular - although world-class player Reuben Fine wrote that Botvinnik's collection of best games was one of "the three most beautiful".>

<Three factors contributed to his patchy record. World War II broke out just when Botvinnik entered his prime - he might have been world champion 5 years earlier if the war had not interrupted international chess competition. He was the only world-class player who at the same time had a long and distinguished career in another field - the Soviet government decorated him for his achievements in engineering, and Fine recounts a story which shows that Botvinnik was as committed to engineering as he was to chess. Finally, previous world champions had been free to avoid their strongest competitors, the way heavyweight boxers do to-day; Botvinnik was the first champion who was forced to play his strongest opponent every three years, and held the title longer than any of his successors except Kasparov.>

<From the 1960s onwards, Mikhail Botvinnik curtailed his competitive play, preferring instead to occupy himself with the development of computer chess programs and to assist with the training of younger players; Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov were just two of his many students.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <Jim Bartle> <This happens in boxing as well (Muhammad Ali being the most notable case), saying so-and-so is a "two-time champion" or whatever, and it really irritates me.

Why is Botvinnik a three-time champion rather than a run-of-the-mill one-time champion? Only because he also lost the championship twice.>

They seem to be moving away from that these days. The current trend seems to be moving towards counting every victory in a title event, rather than counting the number of times that someone acquired the title. I've often seen Susan Polgar call Karpov a "7 time World Champion", which is a really tenuous claim, because she must be counting it like this:

1. 1975 (won by forfeit)
2. 1978 (beat Korchnoi)
3. 1981 (beat Korchnoi)
4. 1984 (survived against Kasparov)
5. 1993 (beat Timman in match for FIDE title)
6. 1993 (beat Kamsky in match for FIDE title)
7. 1998 (beat Anand in mini-match for FIDE Title)

So, in fact he only played in and won two events for the undisputed world title, but the 2 has been massaged up to a 7.

If we counted Botvinnik this way, he'd be a 5 time champion (the two drawn matches would increase the 3 to a 5).

Personally, I prefer the old way. You say it rewards someone for losing the title, and there's some truth to that. But seeing what happens to most champions after winning the title (they reach the top of the mountain, start to get lazy, and their play falls off), I find it extremly impressive that someone could lose the title, and rather than just live off their reputation, actually have the fire to go out and get it back again.

Aug-04-10  crazybird: Takes talent to reach the top but takes character to stay there
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: Yeah, winning the title is impressive, but defending it is even more impressive. And suffering the shock of losing it, but going out and getting it back is even more impressive still. To me, at least.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: This is where Botvinnik deserves the most credit. There were people who seriously suggested that he'd been beaten so badly in 1960 that he wouldn't even use his rematch. Why suffer another indignity like that? 1957 was almost as bad. To get the title back, you have to convince yourself that you can get right back out there and beat the same guy who just handed you a thrashing. To convince yourself, you have to ignore everybody who's saying "Who does he think he is, thinking he can beat Tal?" A second defeat would have been much more embarrassing. Like Muhammad Ali trying to come back against Larry Holmes, when everyone said he should just hang it up (and in that case, they were right). It must be a lot harder than just winning the title in the first place. A regular challenger has nothing to lose and everything to win.
Aug-04-10  crazybird: Well, Botvinnik gave back as much or more to Chess as he perhaps got from it. His legacy is far greater.
Aug-17-10  Ramurew: A great legacy! And happy birthday mr. Botvinnik
Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: I did not know that Botvinnik was a Leo. <Traditional Leo Traits

Generous and warmhearted
Creative and enthusiastic
Broad-minded and expansive
Faithful and loving

On the dark side....

Pompous and patronizing
Bossy and interfering
Dogmatic and intolerant>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: Also born on this date- Davy Crockett and Robert DeNiro.
Aug-17-10  talisman: happy birthday Davey and Bobby.
Sep-08-10  I play the Fred: <I think Bronstein hated Botvinnik more than vice versa. Unlike most here I have no use for Bronstein as a person, so that doesn't make me think any less of Botvinnik.>

The dislike (or hatred) was mutual at the least, but probably more intense from Botvinnik's side. In "Soviet Chess", Soltis wrote that in later years, Botvinnik didn't even want the name David Bronstein mentioned in his presence. To corroborate this, on another page here someone posted an analysis by Botvinnik, of a Bronstein game, in which Botvinnik referred to Bronstein only as "Br".

I don't think Bronstein forbid his acquaintences to mention the name Botvinnik in his presence, and I don't think Bronstein ever annotated a Botvinnik game by calling Botvinnik "Bo".

<keypusher>, why the hostility/apathy for Bronstein?

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: Well, I for one think Botvinnik's WC competition record is fairly impressive.

But what I really like about MB is the way he annotates a game. One of the best chess authors of all time, IMHO.

Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: Agree: Read his 100 Selected Games, an outstanding book. Paul Albert
Oct-04-10  Open Defence: <Xeroxx: Why is Botvinnik everybody's favourite player?> his chess is deep and profound

He built on the work of Nimzovitch, Alekhine, Rubenstein, Capablanca and even as far back as Lasker bringing in a comprehensive style of play where long term strategies for the type of end game the position results in were determined sometimes even in the opening!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: <paulalbert> 100 selected games was the book always lying around our house growing up, and influenced me to play chess.

<Marmot PFL: I did not know that Botvinnik was a Leo. <Traditional Leo Traits Generous and warmhearted
Creative and enthusiastic
Broad-minded and expansive
Faithful and loving

On the dark side....

Pompous and patronizing
Bossy and interfering
Dogmatic and intolerant>

As a Leo I appreciate your mentioning my wonderful traits; you are so generous. As for the negative stuff, you are way out of your league and can just shove it.


Nov-09-10  A.G. Argent: The last page of Botvinnik's games (7) were played just this September by another Mikhail Botvinnik, no relation, ironically born the same year of the last game CG has for the Great Botvinnik, 1983. The guy's from Belarus now an Israeli. At there's a game he played against a guy named Tigran Petrosian, also no relation to his namesake. True story. Didn't fare too well in the tournament that the 7 games are from. Came in 39th. Bad showing for a fella named after a legend. Anyway, CG oughta seperate the two, eh?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <Didn't fare too well in the tournament that the 7 games are from.>

And I thought he didn’t do so badly for someone who’s been dead for 15 years… Seriously though, if you want this thing (like any other kind of database problem) to be rectified, you should notify CG about it in their forum: User:; they're probably not going to read this specific kibitzing page out of thousands on their own initiative.

Nov-09-10  A.G. Argent: <Eyal> <...they're probably not going to read..> Yeah, I know. It was more of a rhetorical suggestion than an official request. I just found it interesting about the young neo-Botvinnik. What can a kid do when his parents give him that handle but play chess? Same with Tigran L Petrosian.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <What can a kid do when his parents give him that handle but play chess?>

Yes, I suppose names like that can have a great influence on a person’s life. Reminds me of a story about a meeting of the Viennese Psychoanalytic society, where a certain member gave a lecture in which he developed an extensive theory about how people's names can have a profound psychological impact on their lives, and backed it up by the discussion of several life-histories of his patients. At the end, the lecturer was severely reprimanded by Freud for the indiscretion of revealing his patients' names, and tried to assuage him by promising that all the names used were aliases.

Mar-02-11  seeminor: Didn't he use World Championship matches as a quasi-training match? He would let the challenger play all his ideas out on the board, take them away and prepare fastidiously for the (guaranteed) return match. Once the return match was no longer a condition he was not interested ingoing through the cycle once more.
Mar-02-11  talisman: <seeminor> well, he was pretty old by '63.
Jump to page #   (enter # from 1 to 61)
search thread:   
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 45 OF 61 ·  Later Kibitzing>
NOTE: You need to pick a username and password to post a reply. Getting your account takes less than a minute, totally anonymous, and 100% free--plus, it entitles you to features otherwise unavailable. Pick your username now and join the chessgames community!
If you already have an account, you should login now.
Please observe our posting guidelines:
  1. No obscene, racist, sexist, or profane language.
  2. No spamming, advertising, or duplicating posts.
  3. No personal attacks against other members.
  4. Nothing in violation of United States law.
  5. No posting personal information of members.
Blow the Whistle See something that violates our rules? Blow the whistle and inform an administrator.

NOTE: Keep all discussion on the topic of this page. This forum is for this specific player and nothing else. If you want to discuss chess in general, or this site, you might try the Kibitzer's Café.
Messages posted by Chessgames members do not necessarily represent the views of, its employees, or sponsors.
Spot an error? Please suggest your correction and help us eliminate database mistakes!

home | about | login | logout | F.A.Q. | your profile | preferences | Premium Membership | Kibitzer's Café | Biographer's Bistro | new kibitzing | chessforums | Tournament Index | Player Directory | Notable Games | World Chess Championships | Opening Explorer | Guess the Move | Game Collections | ChessBookie Game | Chessgames Challenge | Store | privacy notice | contact us
Copyright 2001-2018, Chessgames Services LLC