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

  WCC Overview
Botvinnik vs Smyslov Return Match 1957

At the 1956 Amsterdam Candidates Tournament, a ten player double round robin, Vasily Smyslov again emerged victorious +6 -1 =11, 1.5 points ahead of Keres.

 Botvinnik Smyslov 1957
 Vasily Smyslov
This earned Smyslov the right to challenge Mikhail Botvinnik for a second time. The title match was held at Moscow, March 1957.

In this match, and again in 1958, Botvinnik played without the use of a second. During the 1954 match, Botvinnik felt that Smyslov was too ready for prepared variations that he (Botvinnik) had never played before. Believing that his second was leaking information, and unwilling to trust anyone else, Botvinnik played the next two matches alone.[1]

By the half way point, Smyslov had a two point lead. In 22 games, Smyslov achieved 12.5 points and became the 7th World Chess Champion.

click on a game number to replay game 12345678910111213141516171819202122

FINAL SCORE:  Smyslov 12½;  Botvinnik 9½
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Botvinnik-Smyslov 1957]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #17     Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1957     0-1
    · Game #6     Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1957     1-0
    · Game #13     Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1957     1-0


  1. World Chess Championships by Graeme Cree

 page 1 of 1; 13 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Smyslov vs Botvinnik ½-½451957Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship MatchB62 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer
2. Botvinnik vs Smyslov ½-½411957Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship MatchE63 King's Indian, Fianchetto, Panno Variation
3. Botvinnik vs Smyslov ½-½231957Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship MatchE45 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Bronstein (Byrne) Variation
4. Botvinnik vs Smyslov ½-½401957Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship MatchE62 King's Indian, Fianchetto
5. Smyslov vs Botvinnik ½-½471957Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship MatchC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
6. Botvinnik vs Smyslov ½-½231957Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship MatchA05 Reti Opening
7. Smyslov vs Botvinnik ½-½461957Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship MatchC18 French, Winawer
8. Botvinnik vs Smyslov ½-½561957Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship MatchE45 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Bronstein (Byrne) Variation
9. Smyslov vs Botvinnik ½-½551957Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship MatchC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
10. Smyslov vs Botvinnik ½-½621957Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship MatchC15 French, Winawer
11. Botvinnik vs Smyslov ½-½151957Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship MatchA36 English
12. Botvinnik vs Smyslov ½-½131957Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship MatchE60 King's Indian Defense
13. Smyslov vs Botvinnik ½-½111957Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship MatchC11 French
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-20-08  positionalgenius: <Knight13> Yes- they are legends of the game...
Sep-30-08  Whitehat1963: In four of the five short "grandmaster" draws in this match, Botvinnik played white. I can only guess he was tired and needed a break and that Smyslov was happy to oblige. Are there other explanations?
Feb-07-09  bluberry66: wowww
Feb-07-09  bluberry66: people he was doing fine
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: In the above opening comments, it states that Botvinnik used no seconds for either the 1957 or 1958 title matches with Smyslov.

However, in "The World Chess Championships of 1957 and 1958", by Harry Golombek, he states that Botvinniks's seconds for the 1957 match were Averbakh and Goldberg, and just Goldberg for the 1958 match.

In addition to writing a book on these matches, Golombek was in attendance as an International Judge.

Perhaps Averbakh and Goldberg were seconds in name only. Does anybody have additional information regarding Botvinnik's use or not use of seconds in the 1957 & 1958 title matches?

Premium Chessgames Member
  suenteus po 147: <<Ch3ckmate: what meaning or tasks does the "second" have?> code13: The second's main task was to help with analysis. In particular adjournment analysis.> Actually, the second's main task is to fetch cheese sandwiches and beer :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <suenteus po 147:

Actually, the second's main task is to fetch cheese sandwiches and beer :)>

Bent Larsen said, "Mayny people don't understand the role of a second. Their most important function is to bring their player milk and cheese sandwiches. This is what Edmonson did for Fischer".

-- "How to Get Better at Chess: Chess Masters on Their Art", pp. 65-66

Apr-24-11  bronkenstein: <Their most important function is to bring their player milk and cheese sandwiches> :)

BTW BotvinnikĀ“s finest game of the match , in his opinnion , was 13th , and almost no kibitzing there ...?

I tried to remember some of the comments on that one from his autobiography , and paraphrase them there atleast .

Jun-10-11  AVRO38: This was the first decisive title match in 20 years. Smyslov actually winning a title match before Botvinnik.
Jun-16-11  AVRO38: This is also the first World Championship match without a Queen's Gambit game!
Jan-29-14  RookFile: <During the 1954 match, Botvinnik felt that Smyslov was too ready for prepared variations that he (Botvinnik) had never played before. Believing that his second was leaking information, and unwilling to trust anyone else, Botvinnik played the next two matches alone.>

That's a fascinating tidbit.

Jan-29-14  hkfr: In Botvinnik's comments to one of the games of the 1958 match he states that Goldberg was his second.
Jan-29-14  thomastonk: In his book "Schacherinnerungen" Botvinnik mentions Goldberg as second in 1958, too, but interesting is also his report on the phase before the match. He prepared and played with Pjotr Tichonowitsch Ryschow (German transliteration), his chauffeur! He mentions him just before he turned to the Caro-Kann, which - in his view - became decisive.

That's Botvinnik!

Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project:

Just a week after losing this match, <Botvinnik> published the following open letter:

<"I had 'firmly' resolved not to write anything about this match, but the decision of a judge is law, and at the request of the arbiter, chess-master Golombek, I have to say a few words.

If a match for the World Championship is an examination for a candidate, then it is now clear that the examination has been passed, and that the examiner himself was not sufficiently prepared for the examination.

Now the question arises: <<<Is it necessary to play a return match? Is it necessary for the chess world that the same two chess-players should play the same match (at the same time of year and at the same place)? I am most interested to hear the opinion about this, not only of British chess-players, but of chess circles all over the world.>>>

Anyhow, I hope that the chess-players of Great Britain will not refuse to accept the sincere wishes and greetings of a Soviet chess-player who, though he has lost a match for the World Championship, has still tried not to lose the sense of humor that is so essential both for the struggle and for the victory in this field.

Moscow, May 3, 1957.>

--Harry Golombek "The World Chess Championships of 1957 and 1958" (Hardinge Simpole, 1958), p.139


Despite his "question to the world" about whether or not a return match was necessary, just two months later <Botvinnik> telegrammed his challenge for that return match to FIDE president <Folke Rogard>.

-Mikhail Botvinnik "Botvinnik's Complete Games (1942-1956) and Selected Writings (Part 2)." Ken Neat, transl., ed., (Olomouc 2012), p.32


Here is <Botvinnik's> account of the process by which he decided indeed to play the return match of 1958:

<"I had to decide whether I should play a return match or not. In other words did I have hope of winning back the lost title? Over the course of two months I carried out analytical work. This established what the reader already knows. I might add that in the period from September 1956 to April 1957 I played too many games (50!). When I ceased to experience chess "hunger" I always played without any drive. I prepared my plan of preparation, but still had hesitations over taking a final decision. Podtserob came for me, we called in on Ragozin and Podtserob drove us up to the Lenin Hills.

<<<'Mikhail Moiseyevich, you simply must play the match. I have studied you, you simply can't just 'live'. If you opt out of the struggle for the world championship then you will think up something else to undertake. It's better if you just play chess.'>>>

I told my friends about the work I have done and my plans of preparation- we came to the conclusion that I should play! So I sent an official telegram to the FIDE President, and there was now no retreat.">

-Mikhail Botvinnik "Achieving the Aim" Bernard Cafferty, transl. (Pergamon 1981), p.148

Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project:

Of further interest...

Botvinnik originally published the following recollection in 1978: < the period from September 1956 to April 1957 I played too many games (50!)">.

-Mikhail Botvinnik "Achieving the Aim" Bernard Cafferty, transl. (Pergamon 1981), p.148. Originally published as "Achieving the Aim", (Moscow: Young Guard), 1978


But he either forgot the number of games he had played during this period, or he deliberately left out his 9 training games with <Averbakh>, wanting to keep that information concealed. The following count shows that <Botvinnik> actually played 59 (50 + 9) games during this period:

Botvinnik played 13 games at the Moscow Olympiad (31 Aug - 25 Sept 1956), 15 games at the Alekhine Memorial (9 Oct - 2 Nov 1956), 9 training games vs. Aberbakh (25 Dec 1956- 30 Jan 1957) at Botvinnik's dacha in Nikolina gora, and 22 games in the second championship match vs. Smyslov (5 March - 27 April 1957), for a total of 59 games.

So it seems likely that at the time of publication of his autobiography "Achieving the Aim" in 1978 Botvinnik was deliberately concealing his 9 training games with Averbakh.


Game count sources for period from September 1956 to April 1957:

<Moscow Olympiad 1956> (13 games)


-Edward Winter, ed. "World Chess Champions" (Pergamon Press 1981), p. 148


<Alekhine Memorial 1956> (15 games)

-Di Felice, "Chess Results 1956-1960" (McFarland 2010), p.48

-Winter, ed. "World Chess Champions", p.148


<Averbakh Training Match 1956-1957> (9 games)

-Yuri Averbakh "Centre-Stage and Behind the Scenes" Steve Giddins transl. (New in Chess 2011), p.101

-Jan Timman, "Secret Matches: The Unknown Training Games of Mikhail Botvinnik" (Russell Enterprises Inc. 2000), pp.79-83


<Championship match vs. Smyslov 1957> (22 games)

-Winter, ed. "World Chess Champions", p.148

Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project:

Just to let all <> members know- in the coming months, the incorrect information in the existing intro to this match, and also to the <Smyslov-Botvinnik 1958> match, will be replaced by new, more accurate intros.

In particular, as many have already noted, this information from the existing intro is incorrect:

<In this match, and again in 1958, Botvinnik played without the use of a second. During the 1954 match, Botvinnik felt that Smyslov was too ready for prepared variations that he (Botvinnik) had never played before. Believing that his second was leaking information, and unwilling to trust anyone else, Botvinnik played the next two matches alone.[1]

1. by Graeme Cree>

In fact, as is well-documented by better sources than a *dead weblink* to the entirely unreliable "Graeme Cree" site, <Botvinnik> did indeed have a second in both the 1957 and 1958 matches. In 1957 both <Grigory Goldberg> and <Yuri Averbakh> served as his seconds, and in 1958 <Goldberg> was his second.

Here you can see the current state of our research for the two drafts meant to replace the intro on this page, and also the intro on the <Smyslov-Botvinnik 1958> match page:

Game Collection: WCC: Botvinnik-Smyslov 1957

Game Collection: WCC: Smyslov-Botvinnik Rematch 1958

We will be re-writing every intro in the History of the World Chess Championship series, and as we finish drafts they will replace the old pages. So far, one of the old intros has been replaced by one of our new intros, written by <Karpova>: Steinitz-Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890).

This is an "open project" in which all members of <> are welcome to participate. If you are interested in helping us with this or any other intro, please drop by our forum.


Oct-18-14  CountryGirl: I think this is mis-labelled as 'Return Match'. It was the second match between the two, sure, but the Return Match was in 1958, when Botvinnik regained the title. Likewise, Botvinnik had a return match against Tal in 1961....
Oct-18-14  Strelets: <CountryGirl> I'd have to agree with you. The title didn't change hands as a result of 1954's drawn match.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Another vote here for this being labelled a 'return match' as a misnomer.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: If Botvinnik did not get a flying start in his matches he was often in trouble. In the matches he won or drew he was often leading +4-1 after 5 games or so.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Smyslov: <"Your superior intellect is no match for my puny weapons!">
Jan-15-18  GT3RS: Smyslov demolishing one of the weakest and overrated champions in history.
Jan-15-18  Petrosianic: <GT3RS>: Didn't you lose this argument on another page a few days ago? Switching pages doesn't change the facts.
Jan-16-18  morfishine: <Petrosianic> lol, <GT3RS> is a certified idiot.

I've always felt that Botvinnik has to be rated as one of the toughest champions. Winning the title 3 times takes a huge amount of moxy. Lesser individuals would retire after losing the title, not having the commitment and/or guts to attempt to win the title back.


Jan-16-18  Howard: Regarding Offramp's comment, I do remember reading once that Botvinnik's strategy in WC matches was often to jump to an early lead and then "grimly hang on" on it as the match progressed.
search thread:   
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>

NOTE: Create an account today to post replies and access other powerful features which are available only to registered users. Becoming a member is free, anonymous, and takes less than 1 minute! If you already have a username, then simply login login under your username now to join the discussion.

Please observe our posting guidelines:

  1. No obscene, racist, sexist, or profane language.
  2. No spamming, advertising, duplicate, or gibberish posts.
  3. No vitriolic or systematic personal attacks against other members.
  4. Nothing in violation of United States law.
  5. No cyberstalking or malicious posting of negative or private information (doxing/doxxing) of members.
  6. No trolling.
  7. The use of "sock puppet" accounts to circumvent disciplinary action taken by moderators, create a false impression of consensus or support, or stage conversations, is prohibited.

Please try to maintain a semblance of civility at all times.

Blow the Whistle

See something that violates our rules? Blow the whistle and inform a moderator.

NOTE: Please keep all discussion on-topic. This forum is for this specific tournament only. To discuss chess or this site in general, visit the Kibitzer's Café.

Messages posted by Chessgames members do not necessarily represent the views of, its employees, or sponsors.
All moderator actions taken are ultimately at the sole discretion of the administration.

Spot an error? Please suggest your correction and help us eliminate database mistakes!
Home | About | Login | Logout | F.A.Q. | 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 2001-2021, Chessgames Services LLC