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Grigory Levenfish vs Mikhail Botvinnik
Botvinnik - Levenfish (1937), Leningrad RUS, rd 11, Oct-30
Gruenfeld Defense: Three Knights. Hungarian Variation (D93)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
May-26-05  The Diamond: The position after move 73 is discussed in the introduction (diag. 5) of Levenfish and Smyslov's classic "Rook Endings." They write that White wins by giving up his f-pawn in order to get his passed b-pawn moving. Levenfish "accurately calculated that his rook would be able to cope with Black's passed pawn." However, in going through this, I thought that on move 76 Black should play 76...Kf6 rather than Re4, in order to allow his King to shepherd his passed pawn home. I won't bore anyone with analysis, but I couldn't find any clear win for White. Any thoughts? (In other words, what do Fritz or Junior say? Which leads me to another question -- I plan on getting either Fritz or Junior and am wondering what the difference is between the two?)
Aug-05-05  The Diamond: Hellooooooooo ... Oh, and I got Junior. Maybe should have gotten Hydra from Michael Adams.
Aug-05-05  paul dorion: Isn't there an error on the score or did Botvinnik tried to win on time?There was 4 times the same position from move 64 to 72.
Aug-05-05  paul dorion: <The Diamond> Hi!
76 ... Kf6
77 Rb8 Kf5
78 Rf8+ protects f4 and wins

If 77.. Re4
78 b5 Rxf4
79 Rf8+ gets a won K+p vs K+p ending

Aug-09-05  The Diamond: Hello, Mr. Dorion.

From what I've heard, the draw by repetition required the position to be the same three CONSECUTIVE times. There is a game (French Defense) between Lasker (white) and Capablanca (black) that Lasker won, even though the same poisiton was repeated at least four times. (In fact, it isn't clear to my untutored mind why Capa resigned ... ) At any rate, I think Levenfish was maybe buying time on the clock.

Now to the game: you suggested 77. Rb8 -- but instead of Black's playing 77. ... Kf5, what if Black plays Rd1+? Something like:

77 ... Rd1+
78. Kc7 Rc1+
79. Kb7 Rb1 then maybe ...
80. Ka6 Ke7
81. b5 Ra1+
82. Kb7 Ra4 followed by Rxf4

My whole idea is to eventually give up the rook for the b-pawn, but have Black's King and g-pawn far enough along so the White rook can't stop the pawn from queening.

By the way, I've got Junior working on this -- 24 hours already! It's interesting: the horizon problem definitely comes into play. Right now Junior says that White's best after 76. ... Kf6 is b5.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: 3x repetition rules changed over time: It used to be that the moves (i.e., pairs of consecutive positions) had to repeat three times before a player could claim a draw. Now it suffices for just a single position to repeat 3x and claim can be made.
Aug-09-05  The Diamond: Hey, Gypsy --

Do you mean that for a draw to be claimed, the players on 3 different occasions had to move the same piece in the same move, with the resulting position being the same? Example:

134. Na5-c7 Qe8-f8

138. Na5-c7 Qe8-f8
144. Na5-c7 Qe8-f8

So it wasn't necessary for the position to be repeated on three consecutive moves, but rather be repeated three times by THE SAME MOVES from both B & W?

Aug-09-05  paul dorion: <The Diamond> After 77... Rd1+
78 Kc6 Rc1+
79 Kb5!! (sorry for the lack of modesty , but thats a nice one to find without a board or computer).

Now Rb1 or Rf1 are useless and white threatens Rc8-c4 or Rd8-d4 protecting both pawns which will effectively end the game.

If 79 ... Ke7
then 80 Rg8 Kf7 81 Rd8
or 80 ... Rf1 81 Rxg6 Rxf4 82 Rc6 cuts the black king from the pawn and should win if I am not mistaken

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <The Diamond> Well I had to think about it, but the short answer seems to be yes. After all, even the simple repetition of moves, e.g.,

134. Na5-c7 Qe8-f8
135. Nc7-a5 Qf8-e8
136. Na5-c7 Qe8-f8
137. Nc7-a5 Qf8-e8
138. Na5-c7 Qe8-f8
139. Nc7-a5 Qf8-e8

has that form

134. Na5-c7 Qe8-f8
136. Na5-c7 Qe8-f8
138. Na5-c7 Qe8-f8

It does not realy matter how many ... are between the moves.

The point is that for handling more complex correspondence situations -- especially in endgames where often several fifferent move-sequences enforce returns to the same positions -- 3x definitions based on the notion of move are possible, but real messy. Instead, the current 3x rule based on the notion of position is delightlully clean in comparison -- one just has to hunt down the 3 times repeated position and the right to move.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gregor Samsa Mendel: <The Diamond>--By my way of understanding the rules, only the position needs to be repeated, not the move sequence required to get into the position. So if both sides shuffle their rooks back and forth one square to obtain the same position twice, if they then shuffle their kings back and forth one square to obtain the same position a third time, a draw can be claimed.
Aug-10-05  The Diamond: Hello, Mr. Dorion --

Well, you seem to have set grave difficulties in the way of my proposed line. However, I haven't given up yet! I'm still looking for a way out. But good work! I think 77. Rb8 is a very good reply to my Kf6.

Hello, Gypsy -- thanks for the reply. I was wondering what the old rule was and when and why it was changed. You're right about the current three-fold repetition being "delightfully clean." And it can even be the same position but with a different color on the move, right?

Hello, Gregor Samsa, you little dung beetle (according to Nabokov) -- you're right about the current rule. But the rule used to be something different, and that's what I was trying to figure out.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <And it can even be the same position but with a different color on the move, right?> I believe not. I think that the 3 positions do have to have the same color on move. Somebody who actually knows the rule -- international arbiter Eric Schiller could be a good person to ask -- should verify this.

My reasoning is as this: Very often, the only way to win an endgame is to return to a the same position, but pass the right to move to your oponent and thus create zugzwang. So, right then, the position, but not the right to move(!) repeats twice. And it seems too draconian not to allow at least one oportunity to just flounder and poke around before embarking on the right path.

Aug-10-05  The Diamond: Gypsy -- it appears you're right. I looked up the rules of chess (Rules of Chess by ... Erick Schiller!) and 9.2 says:

"The game is drawn, upon a correct claim by the player having the move, when the same position, for at least the third time (not necessarily by repetition of moves)...
(a) is about to appear, if the player first writes the move on the scoresheet and declares to the arbiter the intention to make this move.
(b) has just appeared.

Positions as in (a) and (b) are considered the same, if the same player has the move, pieces of the same kind and color occupy the same squares, and the possible moves of all the pieces of both players are the same. Positions are not the same if a pawn could have been captured en passant or if the right to castle immediately or in the future has been changed."

Although the rule states that a position is considered the same IF the same player has the move rather than IF AND ONLY IF, usually definitions are interpreted as IF AND ONLY IF.

And I like your sympathetic nod to the struggles of the endgame ...

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <The Diamond> This looks like a sensible definition; good to see FIDE get things right for once.

Of course, paragraph (b) is now rather inconsistent with the new WIDE ruling that players are not permited to write down moves before moving .... :-))

Sep-21-05  Raskolnikov: Botvinnik gave up not too early (I suppose the game was adjourned after for example the 70th move, thus both players had have enough time to analyze. This would also explain the repetition of moves by Levenfish). E.g. 78...♖b4 79. b6 g5 (if 79...♔f6 than 80.♔c5+) 80.♔b7 as Black has to take the pawn with the rook and his king is cut off on the 6th rank. Therefore I thought 78...♔f6 is better, but White wins too. For example 79.b6 ♔f5 80.b7 ♖b4 81.♖c5+! ♔g4 82.♖c4+ ♖:c4 83.b8♕ and black doesn´t succeed in building a castle (? I don´t know the English term really, in German it is "eine Festung bauen"). White even has a second possibility: 80.♖c5+ (instead of b7) and 81.♖b5 .
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: "Building a fortress".
Sep-21-05  Raskolnikov: <offramp>: Thanks.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: gg by Levenfish
Apr-04-09  The Diamond: Can't believe I'm back here four years later, but ... I just checked the position after move 77 with a tablebase. It turns out that if Levenfish made any other move than Rc6, it's a draw. E.g., the not-so-terrible-looking 78. Ra6 leads to a draw. Interesting, eh?
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: This game had a curious "sequel."

Taimanov vs Botvinnik, 1967

Taimanov on the adjournment:

<42.e4 was a sealed move and the players starting to analysing the game (together).

Botvinnik remarked: "A repetition of the past - I lost a similar ending thirty years ago in my match with Levenfish. Now I have mastered the way to play such endings."

Botvinnik: "Let us suppose that white has played 42.e4. Then there comes

42...a5 43.a4 e5! 44.Kf5 Kxh5 45.Kxe5 g4 46.Kf4 Kh4 47.e5 g3 48.e6 g2 49.e7 g1=Q 50.e8=Q Qf2+ 51.Ke5 Qe1+.

That is the way Levenfish won my queen."

Taimanov then opened the sealed enevelop, and wrote "and resigns" on his score sheet.>

Botvinnik was thinking of this game, but as <Retireborn> explained in a post I've copied from the Taimanov-Botvinnik page, the ex-champion didn't remember it exactly right.

<Botvinnik is thinking of a variation that *might* have happened after 58...Rg1 (instead of ...Rf2) 59.Re4 Kf6 60.b4 Kf5 61.Rd4 Rd1+ 62.Kc4 Rxd4+ 63.Kxd4 Kxf4 64.b5 etc

Unfortunately the parallel with the Taimanov game fails on two counts: with the black king on f4 it is close enough to g1 for the skewer trick to fail; and more importantly in this case White wins anyway as he will queen on b8 with check.

Well after 30 years Botvinnik can be forgiven for not remembering it very exactly :)>

Mar-13-15  Retireborn: Most of the games of the Botvinnik-Levenfish match (maybe not the 4th and 5th) are very interesting technical battles. The two players were very closely matched. It's quite different chess from Fischer or Capa crushing some weakie!
Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: The first critical position arose after 63 Rb5. Botvinnik played the innocent move 63..Kf6? which loses. Had he played 63..Ke6(!) 64 Rb6+ Kd7 Levenfish would not have been able to win. Checking with the Rook or waiting with 63..Rg1 or even 63..Rb2 also holds.

However, Levenfish relaxed his grip. He should have pushed with 65 b4! after which 65..Ke7 (what else?) 66 Kd5 Kd7 (or 66..Rd1+ it makes no difference) 67 Kc5 Rc1+ 68 Kb5 Rg1 69 Ka6 wins.

Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: The second critical moment (after Levenfish repeatedly checked and Botvinnik put his King back on the fatal square f6!) arose after Black played the correct 70..Ke6! Levenfish checked again with 71 Rb6+ but instead of finding the resource 71..Kd7, Botvinnik retreated with 71..Kf7? And now Levenfish finally put the killer 72 b4 on the board, forcing resignation five moves later.

Botvinnik must have thought he would draw through repetition on move 71. Perhaps there was also time pressure at this stage of the game.

The position after 63 Rb5 is a good one to use for training. That f6 square looks so inviting for the Black King yet it is a poisonous square alright!

Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: Sorry, misnumbered the moves: Botvinnik played the correct 71..Ke6! but after 72 Rb6+ played 72..Kf6? which lost to 73 b4!

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