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Mikhail Botvinnik vs David Bronstein
Botvinnik - Bronstein World Championship Match (1951), Moscow URS, rd 9, Apr-03
Dutch Defense: Classical Variation (A91)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Sep-22-06  OJC: He lost only three of them too. Keep in mind also that he was at least 10 years older than all of those opponents and that he was 40 years old (almost the age of Kasparov at retirement) when he played the first match against Bronstein. The results are not bad considering he was already past his prime playing years.
Sep-22-06  slomarko: well that means he lost more matches than won. if there would have been rapid tie-breaks like today he'd lost the first match agaisnt bronstein and never again won the candidates tourneys..
Sep-22-06  Resignation Trap: <slomarko> Botvinnik never played in a Candidates Tournament, let alone win one. These were tournaments to determine who would be the challenger in the World Championship matches for 1951, 1954, 1957, 1960 and 1963. In every instance, the defending WC was Botvinnik!

Prior to the 1951 match, Botvinnik played only two matches against top-notch opponents. In 1933, he played a much-publicized non-title match against Salomon Flohr . That match ended in a draw. In 1937, he played a match for the USSR Championship against Grigory Levenfish , and that match, too, ended in a draw.

Sep-22-06  slomarko: that was my point. he was a bad match player and held the title for so long only coz the rules which favoured him. by the way i've another question. botvinik got a rematch after losing to tal. why didnt tal get a rematch after losing to botvinik?
Sep-22-06  OJC: < why didnt tal get a rematch after losing to botvinik? >

There was only one rematch per three-year cycle. If Tal or Smyslov had won (or drawn I think) the rematch then they too may have gotten a rematch clause for their first defense from the winner of the next candidates' cycle. In the case of Tal this is unlikely, however, since the rematch clause was abandoned by 1963.

Sep-22-06  slomarko: well i still dont understand this "one rematch per cycle" rule. it means that smyslov or tal position as a world champion is not same as botvinnik which is absurd. and besides botvinnik held the title by drawing which is enough of a privilege...
Sep-22-06  OJC: If there is a possibility of more than one rematch per cycle then the challenger as selected by the candidates tournament might never get a chance to play for the championship.

Botvinnik would have lost all his championship rights if Smyslov or Tal had won or drawn their rematches.

This doesn't mean that the rematch clause was a fair concept in the first place but that is another discussion altogether.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <he was a bad match player and held the title for so long only coz the rules which favoured him.>

You can't look at his results and conclude that he was a bad match player unless you believe that his match results were worse than you would expect given his non-match results. In fact, his match results are a mixed bag. Drawing with Flohr in 1933 was considered a very good result. On the other hand, drawing with Levenfish four years was a great disappointment.

He was favored going into the match against Bronstein on the basis of his career achievements, but hadn't played in three years (and was rumored to have suffered a nervous breakdown in 1950). Against Smyslov and Tal he scored about 50% overall in the WC matches. That is a very fine result. I've always wondered how he would have done in a rematch against Petrosian. Hard to believe he could have won, but I wouldn't have expected him to win his rematches with Smyslov or Tal either.

Of course, the rematch clause was a huge advantage, no question. But it resulted in some very interesting chess.

Sep-22-06  slomarko: i wouldn't say huge advantage i'd say unfair advantage one that smyslov and tal didnt get. can tell sth more about the botvinnik's nervous breakdown? it is first time i hear about it!
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <can tell sth more about the botvinnik's nervous breakdown? it is first time i hear about it!>

I don't have any more to tell. I read somewhere -- can't remember where -- that Botvinnik was rumored to have had a nervous breakdown in 1950. As far as I recall the account did not cite a source. I have no idea if it's true or not.

Sep-22-06  slomarko: maybe he was shocked when he heard he has to play bronstein
Sep-22-06  euripides: <I don't have any more to tell. I read somewhere -- can't remember where -- that Botvinnik was rumored to have had a nervous breakdown in 1950. As far as I recall the account did not cite a source. I have no idea if it's true or not.> Put him on the stand.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: I've never heard any rumours of Botvinnik himself having a breakdown but I did hear a rumour that Botvinnik's wife may have had mental problems. I've no idea if there's any truth in it.

Anyone have any information on what happened to Mrs Botvinnik (a former Bolshoi ballet dancer) or Gayanne Botvinnik (Botvinnik's daughter)?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <... to direct the Commissariat of Justice, great initiative and a serious attitude toward oneself is required. Whereas Comrade Krylenko used to spend a great deal of time on mountain-climbing and traveling, now he devotes a great deal of time to playing chess. ...> Being a mountain-climber as well as a chess-player, I guess I am just a dead meat...
Dec-22-07  scholes: Wow , Botvinnik must had been so disappointed after this game , drawing the game after being rook up in the opening.
Jul-02-09  Knight13: <Gypsy: <...Bronstein had lack of character.> Bronstein showed his character when he refused to sign condemnation of Viktor Korchnoi.> That's just one out of....
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Knight13> I am not clear if your question is a rhetorical one or not. At any case, the missing names on the Korchnoi condemnation letter were those of <Botvinnik, Bronstein, Karpov, and Spassky>.

Botvinnik stated that he would not sign a group condemnation letter and 'proposed' that he would rather compose his own letter later. Then he procrastinated and the issue did not rise a second time.

Bronstein refused to sign and, as a retribution, the apparatchiks of the USSR Chess Federation severely curtailed Bronstein's chances to earn livelihood.

Karpov was left of the condemnation letter by the authorities who understood that his inclusion would have been totally crass.

Spassky was already residing in France, and both physically and financially outside the clutches of the USSR Chess Federation.

Nov-05-10  Poisonpawns: Bronstein actually had the better chances early.13..axb5! black is better;for instance 14.Nxb5 Qf7! 15.Nc3 c6! exploiting the position of the Rook on a1.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 6 d5 was a new move. Botvinnik was critical of Bronstein's response 6..Bb4 moving the bishop a second time; since this game 6..e5 has been the standard response. Instead of the sacrificial continuation initiated by Bronstein with 12..Bc5!? Botvinnik recommended 12..Bxc3 13 Nxc3..bxc 14 Qxc4..Qf7 with the idea of ..c6,..a5 and..Ba6. Had Bronstein realized the huge flaw in his calculation he could have bailed out with 15..cxb 16 Nxb6..Bxb6 17 Qxb6..Nxd5 18 Qxd6 where he is only a pawn down. In his calculations Bronstein had thought that it was his move after 17..Bb6 and could play ..Bxd5 winning the queen. There was no reason to give up the exchange with 20 Rxa6?!, easily sufficient was 20 0-0..f4 21 Kh1..fxe 22 Bc1..Bd4 23 Re1. Again Botvinnik unnecessarily gave back material with 22 Qa4?!; 22 Nxd5..Qxd5 23 Ke2..f4 24 Qd3 would have been stronger. 24 Bf1?! lost time as after Bronstein's 24..Ra8 the continuation 25 Bc4..Rxa4 26 Bxd5+..Kf8 27 Bxe3 (27 Ke2..Bxd2 28 Kxd2..Rd4+) 27..Ra1+ is good for Black. After the game was adjourned Botvinnik spent the night analysing the position and realized that Black's pawns were too strong to allow White winning chances and a draw was agreed to without the game resuming.
Apr-22-15  Howard: How in the world did Bronstein save this game ?!
Sep-11-16  NeverAgain: It's not a case of Bronstein saving the game, it's Botvinnik getting rattled and throwing away his huge advantage over the course of several moves.

Resignation trap listed Botvinnik's comments here: Botvinnik vs Bronstein, 1951 (kibitz #33)

plang's post right above yours is another good overview, although it could use some formatting.

Finally, a selection of highlights from the game seen through the prism of a recent Stockfish dev build (Sep 04 2016). Some comments in parenthesis followed by SF's preferred moves after the "better is" symbol):

9.Nge2 -0.36/36 (unnecessary overprotection of c3, the knight would be placed better on f3, IMO; ⌂9.a3 Bxc3 10.Bxc3)

11.f3 -0.61/41 (a stodgy move that does nothing for White's development; ⌂11.a3 Bc5 12.h3)

12.Qb3?! -1.66/38 (the overprotection business is getting slightly ludicrous; ⌂12.cxb5 axb5 13.0-0)

13...Bd7?! -0.78/41 (setting the stage for the two consecutive blunders to follow, ⌂13...axb5 14.Nxb5 Na6 maintaining a big advantage)

14...Ba7? 1.20/41 (⌂14...axb5 15.Nxc5 dxc5)

15...Bxa4?? 3.84/43 (⌂15...Bxb6 16.Nxb6 cxb6 16.Qxb6 Nxd5 17.Qxd6 )

17...Bb6?! 5.58/33 (hoping to keep the white queen bottled up; ⌂17...Bxd5 18.Qxa7 Qc8)

20.Ra6?! 3.43/36 (this hasty exchange sacrifice aimed at getting the queen back into action ASAP unnecessarily complicates White's task; ⌂20.Ra3 Qxb2 21.Ra2)

22.Qa4? 1.36/38 (after this a win becomes highly problematic; ⌂22.f4 Nxc3 23.bxc3 )

30.Be2 0.86/42 (White can hardly hope for a win at this point, even after SF's ⌂30.Bc4 d5 31.Bf1)

33.Bd1 0.34/40 (⌂33.Nb2 c5 34.Na4 - looks like SF is out of winning ideas already)

35.Rh4= 0.00/50 - = for the rest of the game (d=40 to d=47)

Premium Chessgames Member
  kbob: <Benzol> In reply to your now ancient post, I am intrigued to learn that Botvinnik had a daughter named Gayanne. Circa 1996 I worked for the Wisconsin USA Department of Natural Resources. In the course of my work I spoke by telephone with a woman whose last name was Botvinnik. Half in jest I asked her if she was any relation to the former world chess champion. And if I recall correctly she said something like "Most people in America don't know that. He was my grandfather." However, if he was her maternal grandfather it seems unlikely that she would have retained his last name. Did Botvinnik perhaps have a son as well and a granddaughter by him?
Premium Chessgames Member
  kbob: <Benzol> But on further research I read that Gayanne was Botvinnik's wife and they had a daughter named Olga, born 1942. So none of that jives with my recollections, and I suppose I must chalk it up to some kind of misunderstanding.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <kbob>, Botvinnik's wife was called Gayane and their daughter and only child, Olga.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: There was a good online biography of Botvinnik I read a few years ago -- link is now dead. It didn't say anything about Botvinnik having a mental breakdown in 1950 but says that Gayanne was in bad physical and mental health toward the end of her life and he took good care of her. Botvinnik had to reinforce the windows in their apartment to make sure she wouldn't fall through them.

There's a picture of Gayanne and Olga with the Patriarch on the back of Igor Botvinnik's book on the Tal rematch. Gayanne was very pretty, as you might imagine.

The 2009/7 edition of New in Chess has a long article about Botvinnik by Genna Sosonko. I'll post excerpts some day.

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