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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Fedor Bohatirchuk
USSR Championship (1931), Moscow URS, rd 12, Nov-05
Semi-Slav Defense: General (D43)  ·  1/2-1/2

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-21-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: The only 0.5-point Botvinnik ever extracted from Bohatirchuk was not a simple draw. Botvinnik tried a small perturbation on well-known predecessors; for instace, Alekhine vs Capablanca, 1927. By castling early, Botvinnik keeps the queens on the board. The first real suprise is 11...Rd8?! It was common to play 11...N5f6(!) in similar positions back then, Botvinnik vs Lisitsin, 1931, because the natural 11...N7f6(?) proved an error in Alekhine vs K Treybal, 1925.

The next ten moves Botvinnik plays for a structural clampdown. And he gets an impressive one. Bohatirchuk's 18...f5!? 19...Kh8 20...Bh5 is a cool mmaneuver, but it's easy to like White assets--Nd6, 'good' Bb3 bearing down on the weak e6, extra space and easy maneuvering. (Botvinnik was probably adjusting his tye.) Black does not have much in return--some minimal counterplay on K-side, no mayor weaknesses besides e6, and some limited use of the d5. (The use of d5 is limitted because in many exchange scenarios, black can not retake the exd5 nor cxd5 for structural reasons.) Black piecess are at the edge of the board and do not look impressive at all. The counerplay down the d-file looks too much like the proverbial straw to hold on in difficult situations.

So why do the fortunes not turn Botvinnik's way? I think that he gets so attached to his assets that he just maintains them and maintains them never gets to any active play. A more dynamic and flexible play, for instance a minority attack with his a and b pawns, deserved a consideration.

For the start, 21.Rfe1? is a listless move; 21.f3 would have blocked the bishop to White's advantage. After 21...Ng6! 22.g3 White stops the transfer Ng5-f4-d5, but Bh4 will now rule the white squares on the K-side. White now also needs to keep the square f3 under surveilance, lest Bh4-f3-d5 becomes a possibility.

Black plays 26...Nb6 because, as we noted before, he wants neither the structure after cxd5 nor the structure after exd5. I am not sure whether by 27.Qa5 it is too late for the minority attack. White still has so much of sturdy extra space that he still seems to have the time for it. But a minority attack does not seems to be in White's frame of mind. And he is not going break through in the center, Black has prepared enough pircing x-ray type problems for White should the center move. (Partly because the White K-side is now so weak.)

With the move 30.Qc5 (if not already with 27.Qa5) White commencess to exchange all and bring about a draw. Black can not decline, for White would get the upper hand again. I like the final maneuver of the black knight.

Jul-21-04  Calli: Botvinnik's tactical chance was 28.Nxc8 Rxc8 29.d5! exd5 30.Nxf5 with some advantage. For instance 30...Qg5 31.Nd6 Ra8 32.f4 Qe7
Jul-21-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: I think you have just significantly improved on Botvinnik, <Calli>. The initial sequence <28.Nxc8 Rxc8 29.d5! exd5 30.Nxf5> seems forcing and beyond question. Now 30...Qe6 lets the black queen onto a possibly better quare than Qg5 would. Still 31.Nd6 brings the white knight into the awfully commanding position.

I was counting on something like 31...Bf3, with the threat of Qh3, to keep Black in the game. But, looking at it now, 32.Bd1 stops all of that. For the sake of argument, lets exchange the bishops 32...Bxd1 33.Rxd1. The knight is so trong at d6 that, objectively, Rxd6 may actually be the best. That is a pretty good indicator that Black position is beyond hope. But let us say that next comes 33...Ra8 34.f4 g6. Well, White should have all the chances in the world to win this.

Ergo sum: Great tactical eye (29.d5! and Nxf5-d6), I think it does win.

Aug-09-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Another tactical point to note is that 37...Nf3? 38.Nd6 Nxh2? would loose as 39.Ke2 and f3 traps the wayward knight.
Sep-09-18  goser: The battle of principle between Botwinnik and his most inconvenient opponent. Botwinnik had noticeable advantage but failed to convert it into something tangible.
Sep-09-18  WorstPlayerEver: 15. a3, a prophylactic move, ok Steinitz and Stockfish do not agree with me, so be it, their loss:


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15... Rab8 16. e4 Nc7


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Really, you know it's not going to look great for Black. Needless to say 15. a3 is more effective.

------

SF 6 secs gives this 15. Rfe1 b6 16. Nd3 Nb4 17. Nxb4 Qxb4 18. a3 Qe7 19. Be2 Rdc8 poor little thingy. Like it comes from the wrong dimension.


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Sep-09-18  WorstPlayerEver: PS corr. the first diagram 15. a3 has to look like this:


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