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  WCC Overview
Smyslov vs Botvinnik Rematch 1958

Although Mikhail Botvinnik lost the title to Vasily Smyslov in 1957, the FIDE rules at that time allowed a rematch. This match was held in Moscow, March 1958. This time Botvinnik started with three straight wins, kept that margin up to the half way point, then coasted home to regain the title after 23 games.

The chief arbiter for this match was Swedish GM, Gideon Stahlberg.

 Botvinnik Smyslov 1958
 Smyslov-Botvinnik, 1958
During game #15 of this match, Botvinnik had a very favorable position after 55 moves, and had only to make two moves in three minutes in order to adjourn and work out the possibilities. However, he stared at the board and became so absorbed in trying to figure out the win of a piece and which pawn to push, that he was quite surprised when Stahlberg informed him that he had forfeited in time.[1]

In spite of that time management error, Botvinnik maintained his composure and the lead. After 23 games, having achieved 12.5 points, Mikhail Botvinnik became the World Chess Champion for the second time.

click on a game number to replay game 1234567891011121314151617181920212223

FINAL SCORE:  Botvinnik 12½;  Smyslov 10½
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Smyslov-Botvinnik 1958]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #11     Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1958     1-0
    · Game #18     Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1958     1-0
    · Game #14     Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1958     1-0


  1. World Chess Championships by Graeme Cree

 page 1 of 1; 23 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Smyslov vs Botvinnik 0-1621958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchB11 Caro-Kann, Two Knights, 3...Bg4
2. Botvinnik vs Smyslov 1-0411958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchE81 King's Indian, Samisch
3. Smyslov vs Botvinnik 0-1661958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
4. Botvinnik vs Smyslov ½-½821958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchD98 Grunfeld, Russian
5. Smyslov vs Botvinnik 1-0411958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchB58 Sicilian
6. Botvinnik vs Smyslov 1-0491958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchA42 Modern Defense, Averbakh System
7. Smyslov vs Botvinnik ½-½161958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchB58 Sicilian
8. Botvinnik vs Smyslov ½-½411958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchE69 King's Indian, Fianchetto, Classical Main line
9. Smyslov vs Botvinnik ½-½401958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchB58 Sicilian
10. Botvinnik vs Smyslov ½-½441958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchA16 English
11. Smyslov vs Botvinnik 1-0241958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchD98 Grunfeld, Russian
12. Botvinnik vs Smyslov 1-0411958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchA12 English with b3
13. Smyslov vs Botvinnik ½-½411958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchD47 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
14. Botvinnik vs Smyslov 1-0681958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchA16 English
15. Smyslov vs Botvinnik 1-0551958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchB12 Caro-Kann Defense
16. Botvinnik vs Smyslov ½-½361958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchA16 English
17. Smyslov vs Botvinnik ½-½491958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchB10 Caro-Kann
18. Botvinnik vs Smyslov 1-0741958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchA16 English
19. Smyslov vs Botvinnik 1-0351958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchB11 Caro-Kann, Two Knights, 3...Bg4
20. Botvinnik vs Smyslov ½-½481958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchA30 English, Symmetrical
21. Smyslov vs Botvinnik ½-½231958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchB32 Sicilian
22. Botvinnik vs Smyslov 0-1381958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchA95 Dutch, Stonewall
23. Smyslov vs Botvinnik ½-½411958Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship RematchA05 Reti Opening
 page 1 of 1; 23 games  PGN Download 
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-03-09  Jim Bartle: Ed: "I hold in my hand the final envelope."

Carnac: "May the sewers of Ansapoor back up into your six o'clock news."

A: Kitchy-kitchy-koo.
Q: What do you call a military coup led by General Kitchy Kitchy?

Mar-04-09  Dredge Rivers: <Jim Bartle>

You are correct, sir!

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Botvinnik is second player to regain title-he will also be the third!

He starts out hoy here with 3 straight wins and never allows Smyslov to get closer than two games behind.

Aug-29-09  talisman: <kevin86> that's true...But...there was always the man on the Right...adjusting Botvinnik's clock.he was caught only this picture.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: "Smyslov understood chess more profoundly than his great rival Mikhail Botvinnik, against whom he contested three world championship matches with honours even. But Botvinnik was the better psychologist, had a shrewd knowledge of chess politics and made wily use of rules where 12-12 kept his title in 1954 and his 1957 defeat gave him a return series where he caught the <flu-stricken Smyslov> at the start."

--from the following article online:

Apr-06-10  Petrosianic: I hadn't heard this flu business before, but it seems to be the "official excuse" in the last few days. None of the GM's I've heard comment on the match have ever mentioned it. They usually talk about psychological factors. As no healthy player ever lost a game anyway, it seems like kind of a Non-Excuse excuse.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <Petrosianic>

Certainly Tal did not use ill health as an excuse for losing the rematch in '61.

And the article does not quote Smyslov on the issue.

But then how does one explain 3 losses in a row (2 with White!), followed shortly by a win?

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <talisman:

...there was always the man on the Right...adjusting Botvinnik's clock.he was caught only this picture.>

Not true! Scroll up to the top of the page. Where is says "History of the World Championship," click "next".

You will see a photo from 1960. Tal, Botvinnik, and mystery man to MB's right!

Apr-06-10  Petrosianic: <But then how does one explain 3 losses in a row (2 with White!), followed shortly by a win?>

Wasn't Game 5 decided by a Botvinnik howler 2 moves before the end? I don't know how Smyslov's flu explains that unless Vassily sneezed on him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <Petrosianic>

When people get the flu, it doesn't last their whole life. They are sick for a few days and then recover.

Or perhaps you were making a joke?

May-12-10  I play the Fred: Why is this match called the rematch? It should be called the return match.

1) 1954 Botvinnik = Smyslov
2) 1957 Smyslov d. Botvinnik
3) 1958 Botvinnik d. Smyslov

#1 is the first match. #2 is the rematch of #1. #3 is the return match of #2 in reference to the rule on the books at the time. There was no return match in force for #2, since Smyslov did not defeat Botvinnik in 1954.

May-12-10  Petrosianic: 1958 was Botvinnik's re-match. 1957, while a return match wasn't really a "re-match", as it didn't come automatically. Smyslov had to go back and earn another match.

However, I think calls the 1981 match a re-match, even though Korchnoi earned that one again too, so the usage isn't always consistent.

May-12-10  I play the Fred: <1958 was Botvinnik's re-match. 1957, while a return match wasn't really a "re-match", as it didn't come automatically. Smyslov had to go back and earn another match.>

A rematch, to me, is the one that isn't automatic. I think of 1957 as the rematch of 1954 (similarly, the 1994 Super Bowl was a rematch of the 1993 Super Bowl, as both teams had to earn their spots in it.), whereas 1958 was the return match required by rule.

<However, I think calls the 1981 match a re-match, even though Korchnoi earned that one again too, so the usage isn't always consistent.>

I guess that's what I was getting at: consistent usage. The term "return match", I believe, should be in use when the rules mandated it.

IIRC, Kasparov-Karpov III (1986) was a return match, and perhaps the last one we'll see.

May-12-10  Petrosianic: Usage may vary. To me, a rematch suggests one which IS automatic. Either way is fine though, as long as the terms are used consistently. I don't see any way to say that 1981 was a rematch but 1957 wasn't. But that's the way they have them labeled.

There were also people who questioned whether or not the Anand-Kramnik match should have been called a rematch. It was a return "contest", but the first actual "match" between them. (which tends to use such words informally), defines rematch as "A second contest between the same opponents." (without distinguishing between Automatic or Earned, or between Match or Tournament). Was Anand-Kramnik a rematch even under that definition? Unclear. Anand and Kramnik were two of the "same opponents" from Mexico City, but not everyone from Mexico was there. But since the two that mattered (the guy who lost the title and the guy who won it) were both present, I think of Bonn as a "rematch", (automatic chance to get title back) even though Mexico City hadn't been a match at all.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I like the picture at the top of the page.

Why weren't wax mats allowed in the playing hall?

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I am trying to find a hidden message in the no waxmat sign. There's got to be some reason all the letters are mirror images. Maybe it's a negative instead of the real pic and the letters are backwards....tamxaw on......nope. Maybe an anagram.....woman tax.......maybe. I will work on this mystery.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: < Udit Narayan: actually it says ПО ШАХМАТ

Feb-25-09 TheChessGuy: Po shakhmatui, meaning, "Of chess.">

Dec-20-18  siggemannen: It's probably saying: "World Championship Of Chess", in Russian
Oct-08-19  King.Arthur.Brazil: Today, I recognize that Botvinnik had a strong chess, mainly in the middle and endgame, like Capablanca, for example. However, I would like to point something strange in this match. Sometimes you see Smyslov appearently beginning an attack, then suddenly he comes back and turn some "Petrosian" player, making defensive moves, the pieces disconnected, and the attack is simply abandonned. Once more time I must say, this is not the Smyslov we used to see. Including the many combinations and prepared tatics, you see few in this games, almost none. The Smyslov wins are quite simple, then I make the question, have they made some agreement of not playing tatic games? It is clear that Botvinnik overlooked several moves in some games, where he could win directly. The age and the tiredness counts too. They changed the pieces constantly, going almost directly to endgame. Why, if Smyslov could have best possibilities in tatics, in that time? I guess the he was forced to act this way. The change of his attacks and plans in several games, contrasts with his games against others. Nevertheless, you see the same thing, in his defeats against Geller, for the Soviet Championship Crown match, where his best chess had disappear. Unexplainable. That's why I still wonder if there were some political members controling the match development, among other things, to guarantee the result that USSR government would like. Unhappily, such a kind of things were common that time. Including, the genius Bronstein seemed blocked to go further, and you see that Keres, Geller, Bronstein, couldn't become the challenger. Look at 1957 games, in the beginning, it doesn't seem that Smyslov would win. So Smyslov became world chess champion, this was not what was expected by somebody in charge, and I feel this rematch like a direct way to bring the crown back to Botvinnik. This is the only way I can explain so different behavior. Some wins of Smyslov in this rematch are so easy and simple, that anyone could ask "why don't you play this way, on the remainning of games"? Some comments about the many uneasies that Bronstein had faced in his chess life, among other players is the basis of my view. Who could leave the USSR? Who could do anything, if the comunist party didn't allow? You see? I know that it was so good if chess (among other sports) doesn't have this componnent of politics inside. We'll never know what really happened, however, Smyslov went on his life, with his one year championship, and could participate in several worldwide tournements. Maybe, he knew that he got the topmost position once, and that this would never become real again. Sorry, if someone disagree.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <King.Arthur.Brazil>

<Look at 1957 games, in the beginning, it doesn't seem that Smyslov would win. So Smyslov became world chess champion, this was not what was expected by somebody in charge, and I feel this rematch like a direct way to bring the crown back to Botvinnik. >

At the midpoint of the 1957 match, Smyslov was leading by two. That was April 2. The match ended on April 27. Your theory is that "somebody in charge" somehow failed to notice that Smyslov was winning for the entire month of April. Sorry, but that's completely asinine. (I guess "somebody in charge" also slept through the entirety of the first Tal-Botvinnik match, where Tal took the lead in the first game, and the second half of the Petrosian-Botvinnik match.)

You have a theory that it was forbidden to beat Botvinnik. But reality is not in accordance with your theory, since in fact Botvinnik was beaten. So you simply make crap up to save your theory. Unfortunately, the crap you make up is, well, crap.

Oct-09-19  BUNA: <King.Arthur.Brazil: .... Who could leave the USSR?> Look, you can't have it both ways. In one thread people are complaining that Reshevsky had to work for a living while top soviet players like Smyslov were financially supported by the state. And in the next thread people are complaining that Smyslov didn't leave the USSR.

Other soviet top GMs had the same opportunities as Korchnoi to leave the USSR. Keres for instance was more than one time even accompanied by his wife to tournaments in the west - for the first time in 1948 during the WCC tournament in the Hague (Netherlands). (Another time I definitely know of was in Curacao 1962) He didn't leave so maybe he didn't want to?

Furthermore Botvinnik and Tal had talked about explicit proposals to support their possible defection (the Israelis were interested).

But: "Who could leave the USSR?"

Boris Spassky left in 1976 for France. He continued to play for the USSR but changed federation (and probably citizenship) in 1982 after he wasn't nominated for the soviet olympic team in 1980.

Leonid Alexandrovich Shamkovich left in 1974. Women WCC Candidate Alla Kushnir left in 1974. Vladimir Mikhailovich Liberzon left in 1974. Anatoly Lein left in 1976. Roman Dzindzichashvili emigrated in 1976. Boris Gulko emigrated in 1986. Anna M Akhsharumova emigrated in 1986. Maxim Dlugy emigrated in 1977 but he wasn't a professional chessplayer at the time.

Oct-09-19  BUNA: Yacov Isaakovich Murey emigrated in 1976. In 1978 he acted as one of Korchnoi's seconds during the WCC and took part in the Moscow Interzonal 1982 as israeli citizen.
Oct-09-19  DWINS: <King.Arthur.Brazil:> Holy wall of words, Batman! Paragraphs are your friend. Use them!
Apr-03-20  ewan14: They might check out from the USSR but they could never leave !

Thank you , thank you !

Seriously I could not see any chess players escaping when Stalin was alive

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <ewan14>
The following came to mind immediately as chess players who left the USSR when Stalin was alive:

Alexander Alekhine

Efim Bogoljubov

Fedor Parfenovich Bohatirchuk

Also there was the case of Emanuel Lasker, who took Soviet citizenship in 1935 but left the USSR for the USA in 1937.

Should I look for more examples, or will you revise your claim?

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