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Mikhail Botvinnik's Best Games
Compiled by Okavango

The best games of Botvinnik's career.

If you play Botvinnik, it is even alarming to see him write his move down. Slightly short-sighted, he stoops over his score sheet and devotes his entire attention to recording the move in the most beautifully clear script; one feels that an explosion would not distract him and that examined through a microscope not an irregularity would appear. When he wrote down 1.c2-c4 against me, I felt like resigning. – Hugh Alexander

Yes, I have played a blitz game once. It was on a train, in 1929. – Mikhail Botvinnik

Young man, remember this: I never played chess for pleasure. – Mikhail Botvinnik (on having it suggested to him in his latter years, that he play blitz chess for fun)

Am I to understand you are unfamiliar with my game from the 1927 Soviet Metal Worker's Championship? – Mikhail Botvinnik (to a young Piket)

Botvinnik could play clear positions well but was unafraid of complications - perhaps the secret being that they too were clear to Botvinnik. – Dave Regis

Botvinnik almost makes you feel that difficulty attracts him and stimulates him to the full unfolding of his powers. Most players feel uncomfortable in difficult positions, but Botvinnik seems to enjoy them. Where dangers threaten from every side and the smallest slackening of attention might be fatal; in a position which requires nerves of steel and intense concentration, Botvinnik is in his element. – Max Euwe

Of course, I would have crushed him! You know, every chess champion has a period in his life when he is just in a class by himself, and if for Alekhine it was the period from 1927 till 1934, for me it was from 1941 through 1948. Nobody could have beaten me at the time. – Mikhail Botvinnik (on the never played match with Alekhine)

I begin my actual preparations with a review of chess literature, especially in order to acquaint myself with new and interesting games; as I read I make notes on questions which are of particular interest to me. I also study all the games played by my rivals in the forthcoming competition. I study their peculiarities of play, and their favorite opening variations; this should be especially useful when preparing for each game during the tournament. Then I study all those opening lines, which I intend to apply during the contest. Here I must remark that in my view a player should not, and indeed cannot attempt to play all the openings known to theory. For one competition three or four opening systems for White and the same for Black are quite sufficient. But these systems must be prepared thoroughly. If you do not have such systems at your command you can hardly count on finishing very high in the table. – Mikhail Botvinnik

I can only think when I am calm. – Mikhail Botvinnik

Chess is the art of analysis. - Mikhail Botvinnik

Chess mastery essentially consists of analyzing
Chess positions accurately. - Mikhail Botvinnik

Chess is the art which expresses the science of logic - Mikhail Botvinnik

Chess is a part of culture and if a culture is
declining then Chess too will decline. - Mikhail Botvinnik

Chess is no whit inferior to the violin, and we have a large number of professional violinists. - Mikhail Botvinnik

Chess, like any creative activity, can exist only through the combined efforts of those who have creative talent, and those who have the ability to organize their creative work. - Mikhail Botvinnik

Botvinnik tried to take the mystery out of Chess, always relating it to situations in ordinary life. He used to call Chess a typical inexact problem similar to those which people are always having to solve in everyday life. - Garry Kasparov

He has become a real school of how to avoid superficiality. – Bobby Fischer (on Botvinnik)

We all view ourselves as Botvinnik's pupils, and further generations will learn by his games. – Tigran Petrosian

He has made himself at home in each department of the game: opening, positional strategy, combinative tactics and endplay, so that it is impossible to say that he is stronger in one brand of play than another. His best games have the smoothness of an epic poem, rolling on grandly to their appointed end. – William Winter (on Botvinnik)

Botvinnik definitely represented a new era in chess. I would call him the first true professional. He was the first to realise that chess performance was not only dependent on chess skills. He developed comprehensive preparation for competitions which consisted of opening studies along with healthy sleep, daily routine and physical exercises. He was a pioneer in this field. - Vladimir Kramnik

To add:
Reshevsky vs Botvinnik, 1948

G Abramovic vs Botvinnik, 1924 
(A80) Dutch, 17 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Stoltz, 1926 
(D55) Queen's Gambit Declined, 31 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs K Kholodkevich, 1927 
(E72) King's Indian, 36 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Ragozin, 1927 
(C16) French, Winawer, 34 moves, 1-0

I Rabinovich vs Botvinnik, 1927 
(A95) Dutch, Stonewall, 42 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Vladimir Borisovich Yuriev, 1927 
(D60) Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, 31 moves, 1-0

Y Rokhlin vs Botvinnik, 1930 
(C49) Four Knights, 43 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs A Batuev, 1931 
(D60) Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, 25 moves, 1-0

A Yurgis vs Botvinnik, 1931 
(A15) English, 37 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs N Sorokin, 1931 
(D60) Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, 55 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Kan, 1931 
(A96) Dutch, Classical Variation, 38 moves, 1-0

V G Kirillov vs Botvinnik, 1931 
(A34) English, Symmetrical, 32 moves, 0-1

A Akshanov vs Botvinnik, 1931 
(E34) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Noa Variation, 23 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs G Miasoedov, 1932 
(E23) Nimzo-Indian, Spielmann, 27 moves, 1-0

I Rabinovich vs Botvinnik, 1932 
(C01) French, Exchange, 61 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Alatortsev, 1932 
(D26) Queen's Gambit Accepted, 46 moves, 1-0

Lisitsin vs Botvinnik, 1932 
(A04) Reti Opening, 44 moves, 0-1

Rauzer vs Botvinnik, 1933 
(B74) Sicilian, Dragon, Classical, 29 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs M Yudovich Sr., 1933 
(D96) Grunfeld, Russian Variation, 23 moves, 1-0

Flohr vs Botvinnik, 1933 
(A95) Dutch, Stonewall, 30 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Kmoch, 1934 
(B13) Caro-Kann, Exchange, 27 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Alatortsev, 1934 
(D55) Queen's Gambit Declined, 20 moves, 1-0

M Yudovich Sr. vs Botvinnik, 1934 
(A95) Dutch, Stonewall, 47 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Menchik, 1934 
(D37) Queen's Gambit Declined, 25 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Chekhover, 1935 
(A13) English, 43 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Spielmann, 1935 
(B13) Caro-Kann, Exchange, 12 moves, 1-0

V Goglidze vs Botvinnik, 1935 
(D90) Grunfeld, 29 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Tartakower, 1936  
(A15) English, 30 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Vidmar, 1936  
(D60) Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, 24 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Lilienthal, 1936 
(A15) English, 44 moves, 1-0

Bogoljubov vs Botvinnik, 1936  
(A47) Queen's Indian, 25 moves, 0-1

Alekhine vs Botvinnik, 1936  
(B72) Sicilian, Dragon, 20 moves, 1/2-1/2

Botvinnik vs Flohr, 1936 
(B05) Alekhine's Defense, Modern, 57 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Alekhine, 1938 
(D41) Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch, 51 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Capablanca, 1938 
(E40) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, 41 moves, 1-0

Sokolsky vs Botvinnik, 1938 
(D94) Grunfeld, 40 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Chekhover, 1938 
(E21) Nimzo-Indian, Three Knights, 41 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Reshevsky, 1938 
(A25) English, 37 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Kan, 1939 
(E21) Nimzo-Indian, Three Knights, 41 moves, 1-0

Kotov vs Botvinnik, 1939 
(E33) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 38 moves, 0-1

Lilienthal vs Botvinnik, 1941 
(D49) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran, 55 moves, 0-1

Keres vs Botvinnik, 1941 
(E34) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Noa Variation, 22 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Boleslavsky, 1941 
(C07) French, Tarrasch, 65 moves, 1-0

Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1941 
(C19) French, Winawer, Advance, 42 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs E Zagorjansky, 1943 
(A13) English, 42 moves, 1-0

V Makogonov vs Botvinnik, 1943 
(D45) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, 55 moves, 0-1

V Liublinsky vs Botvinnik, 1943 
(C77) Ruy Lopez, 53 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Konstantinopolsky, 1943 
(B14) Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack, 52 moves, 1-0

A Zhivtsov vs Botvinnik, 1943 
(D44) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, 27 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Ragozin, 1943 
(E44) Nimzo-Indian, Fischer Variation, 5.Ne2, 41 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Flohr, 1944 
(A09) Reti Opening, 68 moves, 1-0

Denker vs Botvinnik, 1945 
(D44) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, 25 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Boleslavsky, 1945 
(C79) Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Defense Deferred, 46 moves, 1-0

Tolush vs Botvinnik, 1945 
(C19) French, Winawer, Advance, 41 moves, 0-1

G Goldberg vs Botvinnik, 1945 
(A34) English, Symmetrical, 33 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Vidmar, 1946 
(D02) Queen's Pawn Game, 60 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Szabo, 1946 
(D41) Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch, 31 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1946 
(D98) Grunfeld, Russian, 50 moves, 1-0

H Steiner vs Botvinnik, 1946 
(A90) Dutch, 28 moves, 0-1

E Lundin vs Botvinnik, 1946 
(E18) Queen's Indian, Old Main line, 7.Nc3, 52 moves, 0-1

K Plater vs Botvinnik, 1947 
(B20) Sicilian, 62 moves, 0-1

Keres vs Botvinnik, 1947 
(A95) Dutch, Stonewall, 80 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Ragozin, 1947 
(E40) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, 33 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Ragozin, 1947 
(D41) Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch, 39 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Keres, 1948 
(E28) Nimzo-Indian, Samisch Variation, 23 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Euwe, 1948 
(D46) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, 32 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Euwe, 1948  
(D49) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran, 36 moves, 1-0

Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1948 
(B60) Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer, 41 moves, 0-1

Bronstein vs Botvinnik, 1951 
(D44) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, 50 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Bronstein, 1951 
(E60) King's Indian Defense, 57 moves, 1-0

Bronstein vs Botvinnik, 1951 
(A84) Dutch, 40 moves, 0-1

Bronstein vs Botvinnik, 1951 
(B63) Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 57 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Keres, 1952 
(D35) Queen's Gambit Declined, 37 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Kan, 1952 
(A04) Reti Opening, 49 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs B Goldenov, 1952 
(A13) English, 35 moves, 1-0

Suetin vs Botvinnik, 1952 
(B63) Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 76 moves, 0-1

Szabo vs Botvinnik, 1952 
(A94) Dutch, Stonewall with Ba3, 78 moves, 1/2-1/2

Botvinnik vs Geller, 1952 
(E62) King's Indian, Fianchetto, 41 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Kan, 1953 
(B59) Sicilian, Boleslavsky Variation, 7.Nb3, 39 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Taimanov, 1953 
(E40) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, 42 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1954 
(E45) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Bronstein (Byrne) Variation, 30 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1954 
(D18) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Dutch, 38 moves, 1-0

Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1954 
(A07) King's Indian Attack, 36 moves, 0-1

Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1954 
(D44) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, 41 moves, 1/2-1/2

Botvinnik vs N Minev, 1954 
(D47) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, 91 moves, 1-0

Kotov vs Botvinnik, 1955 
(D46) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, 65 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Najdorf, 1956 
(E42) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 c5, 5.Ne2 (Rubinstein), 73 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Uhlmann, 1956 
(A07) King's Indian Attack, 41 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Gligoric, 1956 
(A37) English, Symmetrical, 30 moves, 1-0

N Padevsky vs Botvinnik, 1956 
(B89) Sicilian, 25 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Stahlberg, 1956 
(A14) English, 41 moves, 1-0

Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1957 
(B62) Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer, 41 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1957 
(A16) English, 54 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1957 
(E45) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Bronstein (Byrne) Variation, 41 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Tal, 1960 
(A70) Benoni, Classical with 7.Nf3, 41 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Botvinnik, 1960 
(B18) Caro-Kann, Classical, 58 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Pachman, 1960 
(A07) King's Indian Attack, 42 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs L Schmid, 1960 
(A43) Old Benoni, 30 moves, 1-0

O Neikirch vs Botvinnik, 1960 
(B88) Sicilian, Fischer-Sozin Attack, 26 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Tal, 1961 
(D14) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Exchange Variation, 42 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Tal, 1961 
(E24) Nimzo-Indian, Samisch, 33 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Tal, 1961 
(E48) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3 d5, 43 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Pomar Salamanca, 1962 
(A07) King's Indian Attack, 30 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Ake Olsson, 1962 
(A22) English, 28 moves, 1-0

K Skold vs Botvinnik, 1962 
(B27) Sicilian, 45 moves, 0-1

J Littlewood vs Botvinnik, 1961 
(B75) Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack, 28 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs B Soderborg, 1962 
(A16) English, 46 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Petrosian, 1963 
(D31) Queen's Gambit Declined, 57 moves, 1-0

Petrosian vs Botvinnik, 1963 
(E34) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Noa Variation, 40 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs J H Donner, 1963 
(A14) English, 31 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Petrosian, 1964 
(A30) English, Symmetrical, 63 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1964 
(A22) English, 44 moves, 1-0

Yoel Aloni vs Botvinnik, 1964 
(A56) Benoni Defense, 36 moves, 0-1

Tolush vs Botvinnik, 1965 
(B06) Robatsch, 37 moves, 0-1

Aronin vs Botvinnik, 1965 
(B08) Pirc, Classical, 50 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Larsen, 1965 
(D35) Queen's Gambit Declined, 52 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Tolush, 1965 
(E42) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 c5, 5.Ne2 (Rubinstein), 41 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Keres, 1966 
(A29) English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto, 27 moves, 1-0

Spassky vs Botvinnik, 1966 
(B18) Caro-Kann, Classical, 68 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Pomar Salamanca, 1966 
(D14) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Exchange Variation, 41 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Robatsch, 1966 
(D35) Queen's Gambit Declined, 24 moves, 1-0

Mecking vs Botvinnik, 1967 
(A88) Dutch, Leningrad, Main Variation with c6, 42 moves, 0-1

M Mukhitdinov vs Botvinnik, 1967 
(B08) Pirc, Classical, 36 moves, 0-1

E Jimenez Zerquera vs Botvinnik, 1967 
(B07) Pirc, 35 moves, 0-1

Benko vs Botvinnik, 1968 
(A10) English, 34 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Portisch, 1968 
(A22) English, 26 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs N Padevsky, 1968 
(E07) Catalan, Closed, 27 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Suttles, 1969 
(A42) Modern Defense, Averbakh System, 53 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs P Ostojic, 1969 
(A42) Modern Defense, Averbakh System, 46 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Kavalek, 1969 
(A10) English, 43 moves, 1/2-1/2

Botvinnik vs T D van Scheltinga, 1969 
(E48) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3 d5, 35 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Ree, 1969 
(A22) English, 40 moves, 1-0

Matulovic vs Botvinnik, 1970 
(B06) Robatsch, 46 moves, 0-1

Botvinnik vs Bisguier, 1962 
(A12) English with b3, 44 moves, 1-0

M Stolberg vs Botvinnik, 1940 
(E48) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3 d5, 41 moves, 0-1

Lilienthal vs Botvinnik, 1945 
(D43) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, 37 moves, 0-1

136 games

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