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Isaac Boleslavsky vs Mikhail Botvinnik
Sverdlovsk (1943), Sverdlovsk (Yekaterinburg) URS , rd 11, May-09
Spanish Game: Open. St. Petersburg Variation (C82)  ·  1/2-1/2

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-02-03  Open Defence: I found this game very interesting, does any one have Boleslavsky as a chess hero?
Nov-02-03
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Boleslavsky never beat Botvinnik but this game was probably the closest he ever got. At move 61.Bf8 sets up a mating threat on h6 that's not easy to meet.
Dec-04-04  aw1988: <Benzol> Not easy to meet? It is unavoidable mate.
Aug-20-05  Hincho: <Benzol><aw1988> Benzol you have discovered a clear win. I agree with aw1988 there is no escape. Just makes me wonder why Boleslavsky missed it.
Aug-20-05  Koster: <Just makes me wonder why Boleslavsky missed it.> Orders.
Jun-27-06  bernardchinshin: I am thinking of this line. Any comments. 38. Rd3 Rf8 39. f6 seems to be good for White and maybe winning.
Jun-28-06  Nasruddin Hodja: Er, well, the mate is not unavoidable. With the problem-like 61. ... Rh1+, 62. Kxh1 d1Q+, and either 63. Bxd1 Kg8 or 63. Rxd1 Kg6, Black avoids an immediate mate though his endgame is still hopeless.

In the middle of WWII, this Soviet-only tournament was not something anyone outside of the USSR was paying attention to, so I doubt Boleslavsky would have been given orders not to win (1948 is another matter). Most likely he just missed the continuation due to time trouble or from not even realizing that mate was possible.

Feb-26-07  Brown: It's draws like this that probably made Boleslavsky believe he couldn't beat Botvinnik.

Bronstein, of course, didn't believe anyone was unbeatable.

Mar-24-08  acirce:


click for larger view

Quite unusual and aesthetically pleasing position at the moment where Boleslavsky missed 61.Bf8 .


click for larger view

Mar-24-08  slomarko: laddies and gentlemen we found the smoking gun: the soviets were indeed throwing games to botvinnik!!
Mar-24-08  Knight13: Botvinnik would've paid $1 million to kill off that light squared bishop.

This game's really good.

Jan-21-09  Nietzowitsch: <slomarko> Most of the things you know are............ WRONG !!!
Jan-21-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: This game is mentioned in Smyslov's book of his games. he later won as White in famous game v Reshkevsky which is also in duMont's collection of great master games. He thought the position might favour White but clearly wasn't sure as to who was better.

Maybe 34 Rff4 was better as it threatens to play Rh4, Rxh7+ then Rh4 mate.

Jan-21-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Here is the Smylsov-Reshevsky game:

Smyslov vs Reshevsky, 1945

Jan-21-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Paul is right!! 61 Bf8 wins!!
Jan-21-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Well my idea of 34. Rff4?? (34. ... c2 wins) was rubbish but <Benzol>'s 61 Bf8 !! definitely wins even according to my steam driven version of Fritz. Most of the game it favours black but I think that is perhaps partly bean counting...(but after about move 55 Black's advantage seems to be less...

This is nevertheless an amazing game and shows practical "real" chess versus "perfect" chess and Botvinnik almost being beaten by "intuition" (backed by calculation of course!) or "reality" (of time, nerves, and so on... Fatigue must have played a a part in such a long game.

Sep-11-12  Antiochus: Maybe 26 ...c4
May-22-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: Surrealistic game. Absolutely mind-blowing. Both players missed their chance to win it, though I would say that Boleslavsky's win after 61.Bf8! would be very cruel joke for Botvinnik and pure luck for him, as in fact white was fighting for survival in objectively lost position for a most part of game. In heavily imbalanced position with R+2B against Q+5P he had shown great invention, and even Botvinnik in his very best form was not able to nail him then (and not that he did not try hard). I would say that one quite lovely possibility to catch and eat that eel called Isaac was 46...Qf5!? 47.Re7 Qf4 48.Rd3 Qh6 49.Re6 Qg7 50.Ra6 Qe7 51.Re3 Qd7 52.Rd3 Qf5 53.Rd6 a4!! 54.Bxa4 Qxd3! 55.Bxf6+ Rxf6 56.Rxd3 Ra6 etc.
Jan-16-17  Ayaend: <Benzol> Like 65.Bg6 win too
Jan-16-17  Ayaend: Oops I didn't look black take queen and black had not better than draw so yes 61.Bf1 was the winning move
Apr-17-19  NeverAgain: <Honza Cervenka: Surrealistic game. Absolutely mind-blowing. Both players missed their chance to win it>

Indeed, the pendulum swung wildly in both directions so many times during the game as to make one wonder.

<14...f4> -- with the view to a kingside attack. The immediate counter in the center 14...c5 appears more sound, yet it apparently has never been tried in master practice!

<17.hxg3> -- there was no need to fall in with Black's plans. The simple 17.Rf2 left White with a sizeable advantage. Now White has to show all his ingenuity to maintain a precarious balance.

<27.Be5> -- the first slip. It was essential to maintain the a2-pawn with 27.Be6+ and only then 28.Be5. Now White finds himself with a lost game.

<30...Qd2> -- Black's turn to go wrong. Either 30...Qb4 or 30...Qa3, not blocking the d-pawn, were much preferable. Now the chances are even.

<32.f5>-+ -- too hasty, 32.Re4 had to be played first.

<33...c3= -- Black should have opened the way for the d-pawn with 33...Qg5

<34.Ref4>-+ -- White missed a chance to force a draw by repetition here: 34.Bf4 Qb2/Qc2 35.Be5 and the black queen must return to d2 as White threatens Rg4

36...b4>= -- 36...c2 would have decided the game quickly.

<41.Bd4>? -- apparently playing for a win, White throws away an easy draw. 41.Bxg7+ Qxg7 42.Rxg7 Kxg7 43.f6! and if Black takes the pawn rooks come off the board whereas the remaining white bishop will have no trouble holding the queenside on its own. If Black doesn't take his rook or king will be tied to the advanced passed f-pawn's blockade and won't be able to help with a breakthrough on the queenside.

Now White is definitely lost.

<46...h6>? -- Black throws away the win again. True, something had to be done about 47.Bxf6+ but 46...Qf5, followed by 47...h5 was the way to deal with the threat. The queen would have kept three important squares -- f6, h5 and c2 -- under observation.

<51...Qb7>? -- and now White is winning again. 51...Qd7 was an instant draw: 52.Rgh3 (52.Bd1 c2) Qc6 53.Rg3 Qd7. Neither side has anything better than repeating moves.

<53.Bf4>= -- incomprehensible. After 53.Rgh3 Black is forced to trade his queen for this bishop.

<55...Rd8> -- wrong file, the rook needs to get to the first rank.

<51...Kg6> -- wrong rank, 51...Kf8 was better. Now White is winning again until the next incomprehensible move

<58.Bf4> -- keeping the black rook away from the first rank with 58.Rd5 seemed like a no-brainer. Now White got nothing. Again.

<59...Kg7??> -- walking into a mate in 11

<61.Bg5??>= -- as pointed out earlier, 61.Bf8 was a mate in eight.

<61...Rb1>+- -- 61...Ra1 was still =.

<65.Bxd2>= -- 65.Bh6+ first left White with winning chances.

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