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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Samuel Reshevsky
FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948), Hague NLD/Moscow RUS, rd 24, May-13
Four Knights Game: Spanish Variation (C49)  ·  1-0

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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-07-05  Helios727: Sammy got whopped in this one.
Mar-22-07  Resignation Trap: Botvinnik had already clinched first place and the World Championship earlier in this tournament, and was probably content with a draw, hence the normally placid opening. Second place was still up for grabs, and Reshevsky wanted it, but his winning attempts backfired on him and he lost instead.
Mar-23-07  RookFile: Yes, that is the feeling, that Reshevsky overpressed with black. He probably could have offered a draw after 11...Rd8 and Botvinnik would have accepted.

However, one point about Fine and Reshevsky during these days was, they came to win... period. Damn the consequences.

May-24-08  Wone Jone: <RookFile> That is, when they showed up at all!
May-30-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Actually very shrewd psychology on Botvinnik's part: he knew Reshevsky wanted to win at all costs, so played a drawish opening where it's quite risky for Black to try that. But he would have also been disappointed if Reshevky had played for an easy draw, because on the previous round, Smyslov had agreed a quick draw and ask, with a view to second place, "will you try to beat Reshevsky tomorrow?"

Reshevsky's pseudo-active moves 13... ♘g4, 14... ♕f6 just resulted in misplacing these pieces in the face of White's accurate defence. Later activity like 20... d5, 24... h5, 25... b5 hastened defeat by opening the game for White's ♗s, while his ♘s couldn't find a safe square.

May-30-09  AnalyzeThis: I was looking at Reshevsky's openings, and saw something interesting. Before this tournament in 1948, he only played the Sicilian a handful of times - maybe like 4 or 5. Starting around 1950 or so, going forward, the Sicilian became a regular part of his repetoire. Games like this, where white could employ the strategy <Jonathan Sarfati> is referring too, must have convinced him that when he was playing for the win with black, it needed to be 1...c5, not 1...e5.
Feb-17-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <AnalyzeThis: I was looking at Reshevsky's openings, and saw something interesting. Before this tournament in 1948, he only played the Sicilian a handful of times - maybe like 4 or 5. Starting around 1950 or so, going forward, the Sicilian became a regular part of his repetoire. Games like this, where white could employ the strategy <Jonathan Sarfati> is referring too, must have convinced him that when he was playing for the win with black, it needed to be 1...c5, not 1...e5.>

A parallel game to this is Smyslov vs Reshevsky, 1953 in Round 25 at Zurich. Again Reshevsky is trying to play for a win with Black, but doesn't seem to have a strategy beyond <get a weird position with knights against bishops and hope your opponent screws up>. Not too promising. Not that <win with Black against a strong opponent who is happy to draw> is a good position to be in.

Guessing both Botvinnik and Reshevsky were in bad time trouble at the end. At move 36


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...pushing the c-pawn looks like an awfully easy win, and on move 38


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White could just play Rxe6. Botvinnik probably "forgot" that he had the f4 square covered.

Feb-17-16  Granny O Doul: I suspect there was time pressure, but ...Nf4+ was actually doubly impossible because of the pin. Also, 40. gf looked liked a fun move. On the other hand, Black was amazingly lost regardless.
Feb-18-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Granny O Doul: I suspect there was time pressure, but ...Nf4+ was actually doubly impossible because of the pin. Also, 40. gf looked liked a fun move. On the other hand, Black was amazingly lost regardless.>

You're right, of course. And 40.gxf6 works like a charm -- pretty much everything does. As you put it, Black was amazingly lost.

Mar-26-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: A couple of interesting notes from Keres' tournament book: Botvinnik was indeed happy with a draw and played the Four Knights to see if Reshevsky was too. If Reshevsky had played 4.....Nd4, Botvinnik could have continued 5.Nxd4 exd4 6.e5 which <quickly gives rise to a dead draw>.

<As Reshevsky let this chance pass by, Botvinnik expected winning attempts from Black, and so now he continues the battle with his full strength.>

Of course Reshevsky's course of play doesn't really provide any winning chances either; for example Botvinnik could have played 9.Bxc6.

After 18.Nh4-g2 Reshevsky offered a draw, but Botvinnik <naturally refused, as White has a clearly better position>.


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I was most surprised by the following note after move 24: <At this point both players were already in marked time pressure; Botvinnik had approximately 10 minutes left for the next 16 moves, while Reshevsky had 25 minutes as his disposal.>

This was the position.


click for larger view

<Despite this, Reshevsky played the following moves almost without thinking, in the hope of utilizing his opponent's time-trouble. Perhaps this constituted the best practical saving chances for Black, since his position would be lost if the game continues normally.>

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