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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Reuben Fine
AVRO (1938), The Netherlands, rd 8, Nov-17
Four Knights Game: Spanish. Rubinstein Variation (C48)  ·  1/2-1/2

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-23-09  AnalyzeThis: In his prime years, Fine was very strong in the openings. This made him close to unbeatable.
Sep-24-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant> In the variation you give on 29 Ne2 b6 30 Nf1 Black is not compelled to play ..Ba6 but can choose 30...dxe4+ 31 Kxe4 Bd5+ 32 K xe5 Bxg2 and White is definitely not holding the balance.
Sep-25-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
I don't think White has any need to fear the situation you posted recently, since his king is more active and he is the first to create a passed pawn. What's the basis of your claim that <White is definitely not holding the balance>? In fact I can't find any advantage for Black after 33. b3.

I could post a long line ending in a draw, but more importantly I'd like to understand what you think Black is playing for here. Clearly we're not talking about a space advantage or a zugzwang.

Sep-27-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant > On 31...Bxg2 Black not only has a powerful B for a N but the B ties the N to the h3 pawn. On 32 b3 a5 threatens ...a4 gaining the point c4 for the Black King followed by a Queen side invasion. On 33 a4 b5 threatens again to gain c4 for the Black King by ...bxa4.
Sep-28-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
To review, the line we were discussing is:
20. Qf4 f6 21. Qxe5 fxe5 22. a3 Rxf1+ 23. Rxf1 Rf8 24. Rxf8+ Kxf8 25. Kf2 h5 26. h4 Ke7 27. Ke2 Kd6 28. Kd3 Kc5 29. Ne2 b6 30. Ng1 dxe4+ 31. Kxe4 Bd5+ 32. Kxe5 Bxg2


click for larger view

White's king has an excellent centralized position, White's a few moves ahead in the passed pawn race, Black's kingside pawns are blockaded and vulnerable, and Black may lose another move soon when White's knight reaches f4. It will take much time for Black to invade the queenside, and meanwhile White can attack Black's pawns.

It probably continues 33. b3 a5 34. Ne2 a4 35. bxa4 Kc4 36. e4, and again I don't really see what Black is playing for here.

Sep-28-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant> After 36....c5 Black is playing to advance his c pawn after driving the N away from its defence of the c3 pawn. If some tiny little detail somewhere can transform the conclusion, Black may have to find more exact play which will consist then of more intricate play.
Sep-29-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
From the diagram above, after 33. b3 a5 34. Ne2 a4 35. bxa4 Kc4 36. e4 c5 37. Nf4 Bh1 38.Nd5, how can Black carry out the plan you suggest? Then 38...Kd3 39. Nxb6 Kxc3 40. Kd5 catches the c pawn.

Do you still believe <White is definitely not holding the balance> in the diagram position?

Sep-30-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant> In the variation which you give 37...Bf3 instead of 37...Bh1 avoids obstructing Black's h pawn. Then after 38 Nd5 Kd3 39 Nxb6 Kxc3 40 Kd5 g5 41 hxg5 h4 threatens to run with the h pawn
Sep-30-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
I agree that 37...Bh1 in this line is an error.

Against your 37...Bf3 38. Nd5 Kd3 39. Nxb6 Kxc3, White has <40. a5> Be2 41. Na4+, and I certainly don't see Black winning it.

Oct-01-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant> Instead of 40...Be2 suppose Black tries 40..Kd3. On 41 a6 Bxe4 42 a7 c4 ( advancing now the c pawn instead of trying to advance the h pawn by ....g5) 43 a8/Q Bxa8 44 Nxa8 c3 and the N seems unable to stop the c pawn.
Oct-01-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
How to stop the a pawn after 40...Kd3 41. a6 Bxe4 <42. Nd5>?

In all these lines, note the value of having a centralized king and being several moves ahead in the pawn race.

Oct-01-09  chillowack: This game ended on move 20, and these two guys are analyzing move 44. :)
Oct-02-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <chillowack>
My impression is that this game was a typical grandmaster draw. The players chose drawish lines, quickly reached a lifeless position, and agreed a draw.

But <Ulhumbrus> claimed <After 19...Qxe6 Black seems to have much the better of it>, and he won't give up that idea without a comprehensive demonstration of the lack of any possible winning chances for Black. Hence the interminable lines above.

We're reaching the end of this branch, and there are only two more branches to go. Or maybe we should agree to disagree, since we don't seem to be able to convince each other.

Oct-02-09  AnalyzeThis: It looks really ugly for white, but apparently 19.....Qxe5 20. Qf4! holds.

Fine would have known what he was doing, he was very strong at the endgame and the author of Basic Chess Endings.

Oct-02-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant> After 36 e4 Bf1 may save Black time <My impression is that this game was a typical grandmaster draw. The players chose drawish lines, quickly reached a lifeless position, and agreed a draw.>

My impression is that this was not a tyoical draw at all. The players agreed a draw where White looks close to a loss if he is not in fact lost.

<But <Ulhumbrus> claimed <After 19...Qxe6 Black seems to have much the better of it>, and he won't give up that idea without a comprehensive demonstration of the lack of any possible winning chances for Black. Hence the interminable lines above.>

It is you who seem unwilling to give up the idea that White can draw without a comprehensive demonstration of the lack of any drawing chances for White, and you have even indicated so earlier. It was not I who asked for variations, but you.

<We're reaching the end of this branch, and there are only two more branches to go. Or maybe we should agree to disagree, since we don't seem to be able to convince each other.>> These variations are by no means conclusive. Perhaps we should agree to disagree if you don't wish to continue the analysis.

<AnalyzeThis: It looks really ugly for white, but apparently 19.....Qxe5 20. Qf4! holds. Fine would have known what he was doing, he was very strong at the endgame and the author of Basic Chess Endings.>

My belief is that Fine did know what he was doing when he agreed to a draw, but not in the way which you suggest. Fine had done very well in the first half of the tournament. Then in the second half he collapsed. Fine was probably worried that in his playing form as it was then, he would risk losing this game if he attempted to win it. White can after all win this ending in at least some variations if Black misplays it. I believe that this is why Fine agreed to a draw.

Oct-03-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
<It was not I who asked for variations, but you.>

Asking for evidence is not a sign of being unwilling to give up one's idea; quite the contrary. For example, after you showed that 37...Bh1 is wrong, I agreed with it.

As for 36...Bf1, it takes the pressure off the e-pawn, so it allows 37. Nf4 Kxc3 38. Kd6 c5 39. e5, and now the e-pawn is very dangerous. Again, I don't see Black winning this.

<These variations are by no means conclusive.> I've given my reasons why White has no reason to fear the diagram position above, and I think the variations bear witness to that. I've also shown why I don't think Black can get a space advantage or a zugzwang in this ending. But if you find something surprising to overturn these conclusions, by all means post it.

Oct-03-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant>
<Asking for evidence is not a sign of being unwilling to give up one's idea; quite the contrary.> Asking for evidence certainly is a sign of being unwilling to give up one's idea. <For example, after you showed that 37...Bh1 is wrong, I agreed with it> That does not mean that you agreed with my initial assessment. It means only that some individual variation needed improving. I also agree with any conclusions you may show to the effect that this or that variation fails,but that does not mean that I agree with your initial assessment.

<As for 36...Bf1, it takes the pressure off the e-pawn, so it allows 37. Nf4 Kxc3 38. Kd6 c5 39. e5, and now the e-pawn is very dangerous. Again, I don't see Black winning this.>

In this variation one alternative to 37...Kxc3 is 37...g5 acquiring a passed h pawn which the B on f1 will support if it reaches h3

<I've given my reasons why White has no reason to fear the diagram position above, and I think the variations bear witness to that.>

As the reasons are not conclusive you will have to give more to convince me,and the witness borne by the variations given thus far will require additional testimony

<I've also shown why I don't think Black can get a space advantage or a zugzwang in this ending.> My thoughts differ as yet.

<But if you find something surprising to overturn these conclusions, by all means post it.> I will, beginning with the alternative above. My initial assessment is not based upon the conclusion of this or that variation. It is based upon two other things, namely, that (1) Black has by far the more powerful minor piece, a B against a N in an open position and that (1) White has a wretched pawn structure. Other things being equal, that amounts to a positional advantage very close to a win. In other words White has to be very lucky to save the ending. In this case Botvinnik did have the benefit of such luck: Fine was in terrible form at this time, and if Fine had taken the risk of playing on, he might indeed have been unlucky enough to misplay it badly enough to lose.

Oct-03-09  chillowack: <beatgiant: <chillowack> My impression is that this game was a typical grandmaster draw. The players chose drawish lines, quickly reached a lifeless position, and agreed a draw.>

I don't agree with that assessment at all. This position is far from "lifeless," nor is this a "grandmaster draw."

A "grandmaster draw" is when two GMs play a few perfunctory moves and then agree to a draw because neither one wants to risk his position in the crosstable, or because they both want to conserve their energy.

But that's not what this game was: this was a tense battle in which Black came out on top. Fine had the advantage in the final position, but he knew Botvinnik was the stronger player, and so rather than try for a win, Fine prudently offered a draw, and Botvinnik prudently accepted.

That's my impression of what happened here, anyway.

Oct-03-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Ulhumbrus>
<In this variation one alternative to 37...Kxc3 is 37...g5 acquiring a passed h pawn which the B on f1 will support if it reaches h3>

But that gives White an unstoppable passed g-pawn, for example 38. hxg5 h4 39. g6 h3 40. Nxh3 Bxh3 41. g7 and queens.

But as you rightly point out, the basic issue is we have differing evaluations of doubled pawns and knight versus bishop in the initial position. You think that gives Black close to a winning advantage, but I think that's unlikely given the other factors here. I'll write a longer post soon to address that controversy.

Oct-04-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant> This may warrant looking at further, but to go back to an earlier point, after 30 Ng1 dxe4+ 31 Kxe4 you mentioned that the White King was centralized. This suggests an alternative to 31...Bd5+, and that is 31...Kd6. One point is that if the bishop gives then a check on f5 or d5 the White King has to withdraw. Another point is that if the bishop gives the check on f5 and the White King withdraws, the black King gains the d5 square. If White cooperates, which one does not expect him to, on 32 Nf3?? Bf5 is mate.
Oct-04-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: This game was played in round 8, the first round of the 2nd half of this double round tournament.

After round 7, Fine was in 1st place with 5.5 points, Keres had 5 points, and Botvinnik was 3rd, with 4 points.

In this game, Fine had equalized early. After 19...Qxe5, Fritz slightly preferred Black's position, indicating White should play 20.Qf4: (-.11) (23 ply) 20...Qxf4 21.exf4 dxe4 22.Nxe4, or (-.09 (23 ply) 20...f6 21.exd5 Bxd5 22.c4.

A draw seems to be a reasonable decision. Perhaps based on his tournament position, Fine was satisfied with a draw in this game. Had he known what difficulties he was to face in the next few rounds, he probably would have continued this game.

<beatgiant> In your diagram, posted 09/28/09, White is winning after 33.Kf6!.

As White had a slightly inferior position after 19...Qxe5, there must be some errors in the analysis provided by you and <Ulhumbrus>.

However, the diagrammed position provides a very interesting endgame study.

Here is Fritz's analysis of the position after 33.Kf6!: (1.36) (27 ply) 33...Kc4 34.Kxg6 Kd3 35.Kxh5 Kxe3 36.Kg4, (2.14) (27 ply) 36...Kf2 37.Nh3+ Ke3 38.Ng5 Bf1, (2.15) (27 ply) 39.Nf7 Ke4 40.Ng5 Be2 41.Nh6 Kd5 42.Ng4 Ke6 43.h5 Bd3 44.h6 c5 45.Nf6!, and White is winning.

Oct-06-09  Ulhumbrus: <beatgiant> <Pawn and Two> It may be worth quoting Karsten Muller's comment on the game D Jakovenko vs Carlsen, 2009 after Black's fifty-fourth move, 54... Kxd7: "In any case, in this setup with an open centre and pawns on both wings the bishop is superior to the knight, and so Carlsen was able to convert his extra pawn into a certain victory" ( Muller)

If Muller's remark applies here, this suggests that the right technique for Black is to play for zugzwang.

May-03-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <chillowack:....But that's not what this game was: this was a tense battle in which Black came out on top. Fine had the advantage in the final position, but he knew Botvinnik was the stronger player, and so rather than try for a win, Fine prudently offered a draw, and Botvinnik prudently accepted....>

This is utterly risible, especially after Fine's smashing victory over Botvinnik in the first cycle.

Apr-16-15  Marmot PFL: Very odd to see Botvinnik desert his usual style, and play a drawish line like the four knights. He lost to Fine in the first game, and instead of looking for revenge almost seems to be afraid.
Mar-25-20  ewan14: Marmot PFL - It is very odd
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