|USSR Championship (1945)|
The 14th Soviet Chess Championship was held in Moscow from June 1st to July 1st, 1945. Nineteen of the Soviet Union's strongest masters qualified or were invited to participate in the round robin event. Twelve players qualified from semifinal tournaments played earlier in 1945: Alexander Konstantinopolsky, Alexander Kotov, Iosif Rudakovsky, and Vitaly Chekhover qualified from Baku; David Bronstein, Ilia Kan, Vladimir Alatortsev, and Peter Romanovsky qualified from Moscow; and Isaac Boleslavsky, Alexander Tolush, Grigory Goldberg, and Mark Taimanov qualified from Leningrad. Taimanov was unable to participate and was not replaced. The eight remaining seats went to the following players: defending Soviet champion Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, Igor Bondarevsky, Salomon Flohr, Alexander Koblents, Andor Lilienthal, Viacheslav Ragozin, and Boris Ratner. Flohr fell ill after the third round and was forced to withdraw from the tournament. His record of participation and his games played were expunged from the final score, but his games are included here for completeness and historical rigidity. The championship was won by Botvinnik, his fifth of sixth eventual Soviet crowns, and his second consecutive title. It was also Botvinnik's greatest ever USSR championship performance: he obliterated the field, winning 13 of his 17 games and finishing undefeated, three points ahead of clear second Boleslavsky. It was a result that significantly bolstered Botvinnik's bid for a world championship match against Alekhine, and cemented his place as one of the best players in the world as well as the greatest Soviet player of his time.
The final standings and crosstable:
This collection would not have been possible without the efforts of <Phony Benoni>.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts
1 Botvinnik * 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 15
2 Boleslavsky 0 * ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 0 1 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 12
3 Bronstein ½ ½ * 0 0 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 10
=4 Kotov ½ 0 1 * 1 ½ 0 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 9½
=4 Bondarevsky 0 0 1 0 * ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 9½
=4 Konstantinopolsky 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ * 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 9½
=7 Lilienthal 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 * 1 0 0 ½ 0 1 1 ½ 1 0 ½ 9
=7 Ragozin ½ 1 1 0 0 ½ 0 * 0 ½ 1 1 0 0 1 ½ 1 1 9
=7 Rudakovsky 0 0 0 1 ½ 1 1 1 * ½ 0 ½ 1 0 ½ 0 1 1 9
=10 Chekhover 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ * 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 0 8½
=10 Smyslov 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 0 * ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 8½
=12 Alatortsev ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 1 0 ½ ½ ½ * 1 0 0 1 ½ ½ 7½
=12 Tolush 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 * 1 ½ 1 0 1 7½
14 Koblents 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 1 ½ ½ 1 0 * 0 ½ ½ 0 7
15 Romanovsky 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0 1 ½ 1 * 1 1 ½ 6½
16 Ratner 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 0 0 ½ 0 * 1 1 6
17 Kan 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 0 0 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 0 * 1 5
18 Goldberg 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 1 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 0 0 * 4
Flohr 0 - - - - 0 - - - - - - - - - - 1 - 1
Original collection: Game Collection: USSR Championship 1945, by User: suenteus po 147.
| page 2 of 7; games 26-50 of 156
|26. Chekhover vs Tolush
|| ||0-1||81||1945||USSR Championship||E87 King's Indian, Samisch, Orthodox|
|27. Koblents vs Lilienthal
||0-1||27||1945||USSR Championship||C45 Scotch Game|
|28. Koblents vs Chekhover
|| ||½-½||37||1945||USSR Championship||E32 Nimzo-Indian, Classical|
|29. Kan vs Tolush
|| ||1-0||41||1945||USSR Championship||E70 King's Indian|
|30. Konstantinopolsky vs Bronstein
|| ||½-½||41||1945||USSR Championship||C98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin|
|31. Bondarevsky vs Alatortsev
|| ||½-½||27||1945||USSR Championship||D03 Torre Attack (Tartakower Variation)|
|32. Alatortsev vs I Rudakovsky
|| ||½-½||57||1945||USSR Championship||A53 Old Indian|
|33. Alatortsev vs P Romanovsky
|| ||0-1||33||1945||USSR Championship||E34 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Noa Variation|
|34. Alatortsev vs Lilienthal
|| ||1-0||78||1945||USSR Championship||E33 Nimzo-Indian, Classical|
|35. Tolush vs Alatortsev
|| ||0-1||39||1945||USSR Championship||C49 Four Knights|
|36. Botvinnik vs Boleslavsky
||1-0||46||1945||USSR Championship||C79 Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Defense Deferred|
|37. B Ratner vs Botvinnik
||0-1||38||1945||USSR Championship||D87 Grunfeld, Exchange|
|38. Tolush vs Botvinnik
||0-1||41||1945||USSR Championship||C19 French, Winawer, Advance|
|39. Koblents vs Kan
|| ||½-½||41||1945||USSR Championship||B84 Sicilian, Scheveningen|
|40. Bondarevsky vs I Rudakovsky
|| ||½-½||67||1945||USSR Championship||D87 Grunfeld, Exchange|
|41. P Romanovsky vs Bondarevsky
|| ||0-1||40||1945||USSR Championship||C74 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense|
|42. Botvinnik vs Koblents
||1-0||26||1945||USSR Championship||D46 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav|
|43. Bronstein vs B Ratner
||1-0||29||1945||USSR Championship||B10 Caro-Kann|
|44. Kan vs G Goldberg
|| ||1-0||41||1945||USSR Championship||A47 Queen's Indian|
|45. Boleslavsky vs Bronstein
||½-½||32||1945||USSR Championship||C75 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense|
|46. Bronstein vs Kan
||1-0||36||1945||USSR Championship||C34 King's Gambit Accepted|
|47. Lilienthal vs P Romanovsky
|| ||½-½||67||1945||USSR Championship||E46 Nimzo-Indian|
|48. Koblents vs G Goldberg
|| ||0-1||49||1945||USSR Championship||E17 Queen's Indian|
|49. Bronstein vs Lilienthal
||½-½||19||1945||USSR Championship||C78 Ruy Lopez|
|50. Chekhover vs Bronstein
||½-½||41||1945||USSR Championship||A15 English|
| page 2 of 7; games 26-50 of 156
|Feb-01-13|| ||Benzol: "This Championship was something of a landmark for Soviet players. In gaining my fifth successive victory in difficult events, on this occasion I made the staggering score of 16 points out of 18 ( including my win over Flohr, who retired from the tournament ). My success made such an impression that Soviet masters wrote to Stalin, suggesting that a world championship match be organized between Alekhine and Botvinnik." - Mikhail Botvinnik.|
|Feb-01-13|| ||HeMateMe: Thanks chess biographers, and <phony benoni> for putting in the work to make these games available.|
1945--Makes you wonder how people had time to think about chess, with chunks of Russia and half of Europe burned to the ground.
|Feb-01-13|| ||waustad: This must be one of the most impressive wins ever over such a collection of players, +14 without a loss. At face value this is astounding, though I have to wonder if there may have been a little of: <My success made such an impression that Soviet masters wrote to Stalin, suggesting that a world championship match be organized between Alekhine and Botvinnik.> Would the powers that be have encouraged some players to improve the score? I don't know, but the way things were at that time it is possible. How could we ever know and could we believe anybody's later comments if they exist. I guess this is the essential problem for historians.|
|Feb-01-13|| ||keypusher: Here's an idea for improving discourse around here: no unsourced accusations against Botvinnik. No more "golly, I wonder..." every time he wins a match or a tournament.|
|Feb-01-13|| ||TheFocus: <keypusher> I second that motion.|
|Feb-01-13|| ||fisayo123: <Keypusher> Its interesting people say that. I read even Grischuk (in an interview) saying someone told him something along those lines.|
|Feb-02-13|| ||keypusher: <fisayo123: <Keypusher> Its interesting people say that. I read even Grischuk (in an interview) saying someone told him something along those lines.>|
Yes, that's exactly the kind of crap I have in mind. An unidentified person said an unidentified thing to someone who was born 40 years after this tournament took place. What is that worth? Zero.
|Feb-02-13|| ||TheFocus: According to some of the ignorant nay-sayers, without the help of the bureaucrats, Botvinnik would have just been another no-talent hack.|
I doubt that there is anyone living today that could not learn from Botvinnik's games. An all-around universal player, capable of stellar attacks, defensive masterpieces, strategy, positional nuances, and one of the greatest endgame players in the game.
Nuff said about one of the ten greatest players in the game.
|Feb-02-13|| ||perfidious: <TheFocus> and <keypusher>: Another piece of tripe I have seen implied, and even stated outright, is that Botvinnik was only capable of playing when in one of his systems-take him out of those and he was nothing special, or so went this risible theory.|
Turned out old Mikhail Moiseevich had a purty durned good career for a 'system player'. Somehow he managed to play at a high level till well into his fifties, despite his 'handicap'.
|Feb-21-15|| ||Fusilli: Enough about Botvinnik, folks! You are missing the truly remarkable thing that happened in this tournament... Tolush drew only one game!! :)|
|Sep-11-15|| ||keypusher: Kirillov-Botvinnik (USSR Championship 1931) after 21....Nb4:|
click for larger view
V G Kirillov vs Botvinnik, 1931
Golberg-Botvinnik (USSR Championship 1945) after 17....Nb4:
click for larger view
G Goldberg vs Botvinnik, 1945
Botvinnik-Yuriev (1927 Soviet Metalworkers Championship) after 19....Nb6
click for larger view
Botvinnik vs B Yuriev, 1927
Botvinnik-Kan (1945 USSR Championship) after 20....Nb6:
click for larger view
Botvinnik vs Kan, 1945
(Thanks to <MissScarlett> for pointing out the second pairing.)
Prearrangement? No, I don't think so. Botvinnik prepared opening systems very deeply, and if he found a plan that worked he would repeat it as often as necessary. In the Tal rematch he used analysis from 1947 to win Botvinnik vs Tal, 1961 and in Botvinnik vs Tal, 1961 he said he followed a plan from a game in the early 1950s (not one of his). But I'll bet Bobby Fischer would have been all over this.
|Sep-11-15|| ||Benzol: <But I'll bet Bobby Fischer would have been all over this.>|
<keypusher> Do you mean in a positive or negative sense?
I can recall seeing a demonstration lecture given by Brazilian IM Herman van Riemsdijk in which he pointed out that Fischer himself used similar middlegame setups that he was familiar with. I'm sorry I can't remember at the moment which of Bobby's games this applied to but I'm sure a lot of players follow this practice.
|Sep-15-15|| ||keypusher: <Benzol> Oh, negative, certainly. See here. H MacGrillen vs E Formanek, 1973|
But I see this erudite poster had given some thought to the issue:
H MacGrillen vs E Formanek, 1973
|Dec-19-17|| ||zanzibar: < Shortly after this, WW2 erupted and Kotov worked as an engineer in an armaments factory in Tula. Despite the war, the Soviets held championships in 1940, ‘44, and ’45 and Kotov finished second in all three events. ... >|
I think Tartajubow mistakenly assigns Kotov 2nd place in the USSR-ch (1945), as he place in a tie for 4th.
|Mar-07-18|| ||Marmot PFL: <Its interesting people say that. I read even Grischuk (in an interview) saying someone told him something along those lines.>|
I heard many stories like that from former Soviet residents. For instance one said Boleslavsky didn't object to losing a game for the "greater good" but rather than lose with his favorite Sicilian played the Spanish instead (which he very seldom played). Stories like this are impossible to check, all the participants having departed this world. Stories about Keres were the most common.
|Mar-31-18|| ||keypusher: < Marmot PFL: <Its interesting people say that. I read even Grischuk (in an interview) saying someone told him something along those lines.>
I heard many stories like that from former Soviet residents. For instance one said Boleslavsky didn't object to losing a game for the "greater good" but rather than lose with his favorite Sicilian played the Spanish instead (which he very seldom played). Stories like this are impossible to check, all the participants having departed this world. >|
Actually, we can check that story. Boleslavsky has ten Ruy Lopez games with Black in the database, and the only time he ever lost with it was in Round 1 of this tournament.
Botvinnik played 1.e4 against Boleslavsky five times and won each time: three French Defenses, one Sicilian and one Ruy Lopez.
So, odds are pretty good that that particular story is rubbish.
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