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Vasily Smyslov vs Mikhail Botvinnik
23rd Ch Moscow (1943), Moscow URS
Spanish Game: Open. Dilworth Variation (C82)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-24-05  chess man: Black will lose the d-pawn and eventually the game.
Feb-24-05  chess man: Oh and by the way, nice game by Smyslov!
Jun-13-05  Kangaroo: To the best of my knowledge, the game had nothing to do with Alekhine memorial. Played in 1943, this was the game from the tournament in Sverdlovsk, I assume. Perhaps, the unofficial championship of the Soviet Union took place there.
Jun-13-05  Resignation Trap: Wait a minute! Alekhine Memorial ?? Alekhine was still alive in 1943, and furthermore he was considered a traitor and a renegade in the USSR at that point in history. As far as I know, the USSR didn't "rehabilitate" Alekhine until 1956.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Great game by Smyslov -
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Could White have played ♗f4 a move or two earlier than at move 36?
Feb-16-09  outsider: This is NOT from Sverdlovsk. There, Botvinnik had +7=7-0, and +1=1 with Smyslov
May-03-09  WhiteRook48: Ouch!
Aug-09-09  King.Arthur.Brazil: This game is one of the book of Smyslov's best. 32. Ta7! as 27.Ng5 was a kind of moves that Botwinnik (and nobody expects), and that make Smyslov catch an nice win. 36...gxf4?? Bf5+ (Rxf5 Qxg7++) Kh6 Qh4++! 36...Re1+ (37.Kh2?? Qxf4 wins) 37.Qxe1 recover a quality again (1B x 1P).There's not much after this.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: This sort of risky play by black seems unusual, for Botvinnik, at least by reputation. I haven't seen this early exchange sac much in GM play, at least not in the strongest events. Smyslov makes Misha pay.

I'm always amazed by these WWII tournaments. The German army was still in occupation of much of western Russia, and the Soviets had experienced huge losses of manpower and industry/agriculture. Yet, there was time for a chess tournament. I guess Joe felt that "doing something normal" during these times would help people feel normal.

I read somewhere that even when Moscow was directly besieged, in 1941, with huge numbers of retreating troops and industrial components headed east of the Urals, the theaters in Moscow were still performing ballet and opera.

Nov-21-11  King Death: <HeHateMe> There's nothing wrong with the Dilworth, but Black's best move is 13...Bf2+ 14.Kf2 Qf6. White can then play 15.Nf1 or 15.Nb3.

Botvinnik put in for time off when he wanted to prepare for any events he played. Most of his time was spent in his field of electrical engineering.

Oct-02-12  DarthStapler: Smyslov's first win over Botvinnik in the database
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: <Benzol: Could White have played Bf4 a move or two earlier than at move 36?>

Smyslov comments in his book that he missed the combination at move 34. Kh1 due to being in some time pressure.

I played this game over again today, I'd forgotten it, and it took me some time to see the start of the combination (albeit I was tired) but I am pretty certain that Botvinnik missed it also. It is an unusual one although the R looking at g7 gives a clue!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: So 34. Bf4! wins.

He also comments that 15.Qd3 would have led to a better endgame for White.

He said that Botvinnik had wanted to try the Nxf2 line out so they were committed to a sharp struggle.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: 33. ... Qb8 holds it seems.
Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project:

On the identity of this tournament:


<Kangaroo:> To the best of my knowledge... this was the game from the tournament in Sverdlovsk, I assume. Perhaps, the unofficial championship of the Soviet Union took place there.

<outsider:> This is NOT from Sverdlovsk. There, Botvinnik had +7=7-0, and +1=1 with Smyslov


<outsider> is correct.

This game was played in the <23d Moscow Championship 1943-44>.

Cross table:

This was Smyslov's first career victory over Botvinnik, and Botvinnik's only loss in the tournament.

<Botvinnik> 1st with +11 -1 =3

<Smyslov> 2d with +7 -0 =9


-Edward Winter ed., "World Chess Champions" (Pergamon Press 1981), p.147-8

Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project:

Another note of interest about this game and the <23d Moscow Championship 1943-1944>.

Although Botvinnik won the event, Smyslov was actually the "official" winner because Botvinnik was from Leningrad, not Moscow.

Apr-11-14  Petrosianic: <Although Botvinnik won the event, Smyslov was actually the "official" winner because Botvinnik was from Leningrad, not Moscow.> That makes Smyslov the Moscow champion, but not the winner of the tournament. We had club championships like that all the time. Open tournament, and the highest finishing club member wins the title (often not the same person who won the tournament).

Botvinnik played in the tournament hors concours, similar to the way Keres played in the 1946 Georgian Championship.

Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project: <Petrosianic>

Interesting. Thanks for posting the correct distinction in this, and other similar cases.

That's an interesting tournament you mention-

The top three finishers were "hors concours"!

Keres, Mikenas, and Zagoriansky.

So that would make this interesting character the <Georgian Champion> of 1946: Archil Silovanovich Ebralidze

Jun-27-14  zydeco: Smyslov says 15.Qd3 was a better defense and 18....h5 gave black better possibilities for attack. Smyslov has a painstaking defense from move 14 to 26. Botvinnik missed 27.Ng5! -- and could have prevented it with 26....Bg6.
Premium Chessgames Member
  nizmo11: This is Game 23 in Terekhov's book on Smyslov.
To the previous comment:

According Terekhov: "It appears that after 18...h5! 19.h4 Qd6 White's position is lost." [ convincing analysis is given.] He also tells that Russian amateur Larin discovered in 1958 that 28.Ng5 was a actually a mistake after which Botvinnik had a defense 27...Bxd1! 28.Nxe4 dxe4 29. Rxd1 Rd8! and it turns out that White cannot get rid of the pin without losing the bishop.

click for larger view

The above two were not the only mistakes in the game, from the concluding comments to game: "Game full of drama, but also full of errors -not only by the players, but by commentators as well!."

May-15-21  macer75: Never heard of these people.

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