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David Bronstein vs Mikhail Botvinnik
Botvinnik - Bronstein World Championship Match (1951), Moscow URS, rd 24, May-11
Semi-Slav Defense: Accepted (D44)  ·  1/2-1/2



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David Bronstein vs Mikhail Botvinnik (1951)

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Nov-01-06  who: <I have read, in Gligoric's essay on the World Championships, that Bronstein offered the draw and Botvinnik said something like 'your offer is so attractive that it is impossible for me to refuse it'. White played the last move so this is probably right.> That was about Smyslov's last game in the first match with Botvinnik.
Nov-01-06  who: Doesn't 11...Bxc3 pick up a pawn?
Nov-01-06  who: Regarding 12.Ndb5 Qxd1? 13.Nc7+ Kd8 14.Rfxd1+ Kxc7 15.Nb5+ Kc6 16.Rac1 b6 17.Bd5+ Kd7 18.Bxa8+ Ke7 19.Nxa7 Bd7 20.Bxb6 is a rout. (black's moves after 13...Kd7 are all forced. Fritz think 13...Ke7 is better but then black is clearly losing)

click for larger view

Dec-12-06  blazerdoodle: > aw1988: Yes, let's all believe in conspiracy theories.<

From Bronstein's own words, it sounds like he was under tremendous pressure. It could have affected his play, even if he didn't intend to throw the match. No matter how you look at it, all those championship matches in the cold war were tainted somehow. Oh, They say John D. wasn't really shot at the bio, either, but it was a stand in.

Mar-22-07  talisman: <refutor> botvinnik(black) offered the draw.22...Q-b4 23...KN-d5
Apr-16-10  DrGridlock: Rybka scores the final position as an advantage to Black:

click for larger view

1. (-0.64): 22...Qb4 23.Qe2 Kg8 24.g3 Nd5 25.Bd3 Rd8 26.Be4 Qb6 27.Qc2 c5 28.Bh7+

2. (-0.48): 22...Nd5 23.Nxd5 cxd5 24.Bxd5 Bxd5 25.Rxd5 Qb4 26.Rd1 Qxa4 27.b3 Qc6 28.h4

3. (-0.40): 22...Kg8 23.Qe5 Qb4 24.b3 Nd5 25.Ne4 a5 26.h3 Rd8 27.Qd4 Bc8 28.Rd3 Qe7 29.f4

4. (-0.31): 22...a5 23.b3 Qc7 24.Qc5 Kg8 25.h3 Rd8 26.Rxd8+ Qxd8 27.Qe5 Bc8 28.Qb8 Kh7

5. (-0.28): 22...a6 23.b3 a5 24.h3 Qb4 25.Ne4 Nd5 26.Qc5 Qxc5 27.Nxc5 Rb8 28.Kh2 g6 29.Kg3

Fairly "generous" draw offer from Botvinnik (who could afford some generosity at that point, since he would retain the title with a draw), and obvious acceptance by Bronstein.

Apr-16-10  DrGridlock: Black's (Botvinnik's) continuation 7 ... c5 is rare, appearing 12 times in the ChessGames database. It had only previously been played in 1947:

Cortlever vs T Van Scheltinga, 1947

a black victory. The line has an overall winning record for White - 4 wins, 2 losses and 6 draws. The line has not produced a Black victory since 1992.

Bronstein improves on the first games line at move 8 for white (e5) with Bxc4. After the exchange on d4, Black drives away white's bishop with h6. White has a choice of where to retreat his bishop, and he chooses to gambit the e-pawn with the retreat to e3. All three games in the database with this retreat were drawn. Other options are Bf4, Bh4, Bxf6 and Bb5+. The modern options have led to more victories for the White pieces.

After the bishop retreat to e3, Botvinnik accepts the e-pawn gambit, and retreats his knight. There are now the discussed options for White at his move 12. Bronstein played Qf3, others have suggested and analyzed Ndb5. Rybka suggests another line, which is a small improvement on these:

click for larger view

1. = (0.12): 12.Ncb5 Na6 13.Nf3 0-0 14.Qxd8 Rxd8 15.Bxa7 Bd7 16.Bb6 Rdc8 17.Ne5 Bc5 18.Bxc5 Bxb5

2. = (0.07): 12.Ndb5 Nc6 13.Qxd8+

3. = (0.05): 12.Qf3 0-0 13.Rfd1 Nbd7
14.Be2 Bxc3 15.bxc3 Nd5 16.Bc1 Ne5 17.Qg3 Qf6 18.Bxh6 Qxh6

4. = (0.03): 12.Na2 Be7 13.Qe2 0-0 14.Rfd1 Bd7 15.Nc3 Bb4 16.Qf3 Qc7 17.Bd3 Nc6 18.Ndb5 Qb8

5. = (0.00): 12.Qe2 0-0 13.Na2 Ba5 14.Rfd1 Qe7 15.Bf4 Re8 16.Nf3 Nc6 17.Bd6 Qd8 18.Nb4 Nxb4

It's the c-knight, and not the d-knight played to b5 which gives White the best chance for an advantage. White regains the gambited pawn (by taking black's a-pawn), with some sharp piece-play following in the middle game.

There's not much of a difference between Rybka's evaluation of Ndb5, Ncd5 and Qf3 to call one move a blunder or another a good move. Differences at that level come down to styles of game that one wishes to pursue.

To the question of whether 11 ... Bxc3 picks up a pawn: this is the continuation of

M Brodsky vs A Van de Oudeweetering, 2004

Black continued 12 ... 0-0 and Rybka gives this evaluation:

click for larger view

1. (0.27): 12...0-0 13.Nb5 Nc6 14.Qc2 Qh4 15.Be2 Nf6 16.Rfd1 Nd5 17.Bc5 Rd8 18.g3 Qg5 19.h4

2. (0.34): 12...Nxc3 13.Qe1 Nd5 14.Bxd5 Qxd5 15.Nb5 Na6 16.Rd1 Qc6 17.Nd6+

So yes, Black does pick up a pawn, but White's pieces come alive with Black's king in the center of the board. I did not run a deep-enough Rybka analysis to be definitive, and the program kept switching between which queen move was best for white at move 13, but that would have been an analysis Bronstein would have LOVED to have done over the board. With Bronstein attacking, and needing the win for the title, THAT would have been the game that everyone would have wanted to see. Maybe someday this continuation will grace a grandmaster game.

Apr-16-10  BarcelonaFirenze: Najdord told once that, after losing a game, Fischer was very sad, almost crying... Bronstein asked him: "Are you crying because you have lost a game? Look at me... I've been obliged to lose the world match and I don't cry...". Najdorf tells that he knew this for Fischer.
Apr-16-10  Everett: Except Bronstein didn't lose. He drew.
Apr-16-10  DrGridlock: Everett - you know that, and I know that, but nobody else in 1951 knew that. In the rules that Botvinnik had set up, a draw in the match retained the title for the current champion. Bronstein wrote,

"When the 24th game was finished, many journalists came to the stage and asked Botvinnik to hold a press conference. The Champion agreed, but "forgot" to invite me to attend also."

The results of the drawn 24'th game were treated by Botvinnik, and the Soviet chess community, the same as if Bronstein had lost the 24'th game.

Apr-16-10  Petrosianic: <Everett - you know that, and I know that, but nobody else in 1951 knew that.>

Including Bronstein? That hardly seems likely.

Apr-16-10  Everett: Btw, besides the drawn result, I believe that "quote" is BS. Bronstein didn't even revise what went down in '51 while he setting fire to the legacy of Zurich '53 in his final days...
Apr-16-10  DrGridlock: Petrosianic - I have a feeling that after drawing a match for the world championship, and then watching Botvinnik conduct a "solo" press conference, that Bronstein began to get a clue about what had happened.
Apr-16-10  Petrosianic: Probably, but I doubt he thought he lost the match, even if everyone else did.

Although Chess Life once thought he had won! Seriously, in the late 80's, Bronstein was a guest at a US Open, and the Chess Life article twice described him as a former world champion. I don't think it was done deliberately to make any kind of point, I just got the feeling it was a really badly researched article.

Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Here is a photo of the final game:

Dec-09-10  blazerdoodle: Smart of Fischer to leave Botvinnik off his top 10 list. The sleazeball.
Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project: <euripides>

You wrote:

<I have read, in Gligoric's essay on the World Championships, that Bronstein offered the draw and Botvinnik said something like 'your offer is so attractive that it is impossible for me to refuse it'. White played the last move so this is probably right.>

You, or maybe <Gligoric>, might be confusing that anecdote with this game here- Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1954.

On this final game against Smyslov in the 1953 world championship match, this is what <Botvinnik> had to say:

<"...when Smyslov, after considering his 22nd move, decided, to my great surprise, to offer a draw, thus giving up any last hope in this match of winning the title of world champion, what was I to do? <<<'Your offer is so tempting',>>> I replied, <<<'that it is impossible to refuse...'>>> To the credit of both players it should be added that this game was the only one where there was a premature end to the struggle.">

-Mikhail Botvinnik, "Botvinnik's Complete Games (1942-1956) and Selected Writings (Part 2)" Kean Neat ed., transl. (Olomouc 2012), p.29

Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project: And more on this topic:

<euripides>: <I have read, in Gligoric's essay on the World Championships, that Bronstein offered the draw and Botvinnik said something like 'your offer is so attractive that it is impossible for me to refuse it'. White played the last move so this is probably right.>

According to Evgeni Ellinovich Sveshnikov, it was actually <Botvinnik>, not <Bronstein>, who proposed the draw- despite the fact that white did indeed play the last move in the game.


Annotations of this game by Evgeni Sveshnikov:

<"19...Rxd4 20.Rxd4 Bc5 21.Rd1 Bxe3 22.Qxe3 <<<Draw agreed on the proposal of Black.>>> Of course, in the final position Black has a big advantage, and it is especially marked after the accurate 22...Qb4!, and if 23.Qe2, then 23...Nd5! 24.Ne4 a5, when White has no way of strengthening his position, whereas under the cover of his strong knight at d5 Black gradually prepares the advance of his central pawns. But the title of world champion is far more valuable! Final match score: Botvinnik 12 Bronstein 12.">

-Mikhail Botvinnik "Match for the World Championship- Botvinnik Bronstein Moscow 1951" Igor Botvinnik ed. Ken Neat transl. (Edition Olms 2004), p.102

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <blazerdoodle: Smart of Fischer to leave Botvinnik off his top 10 list. The sleaze ball. >

Wow! I've never thought of Fischer as a sleazeball.

Oct-01-14  RookFile: Botvinnik was a worthy champ. However, taking Steinitz as an example, Botvinnik doesn't measure up to the task of being top 10. Steinitz won matches as champ. Botvinnik - not exactly.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Most players in Botvinnik's situation (needing only a draw) would not have played such a sharp variation. Reading Bronstein's comments gives the impression that he was not very confident in his opening preparation. There is nothing wrong with the sideline 6 a4 but he seemed to play it on a whim without much advance preparation. 8 Bxc4 was a new move that led to a position after 9 Nxd4 very similar to the Vienna variation with the extra move a4 included. This does not work in White's favor because with the pawn on a4 the Black bishop on b4 doesn't have to worry about a queen check on a4. After missing the tricky 12 Ndb5! Bronstein lost any opportunity to play for a win.
Oct-08-18  Tiggler: <offramp: <blazerdoodle: Smart of Fischer to leave Botvinnik off his top 10 list. The sleaze ball. >

Wow! I've never thought of Fischer as a sleazeball.>

I've never thought of him as anything else. Oh, yes he did play chess quite well for a short period.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I was in the playing hall at the Bled Olympiad (2002) and I yelled out, "<Hey! Sleazeball!!>"

Only Garry Kasparov turned around.

Oct-09-18  Howard: Regarding the comparison between Botvinnik and Steintz, need one remind you that the caliber of opposition that the former faced was not very comparable with that of the latter ?!
Apr-11-19  oolalimk1: If he wanted to go easy on the champion 10Be3 was the way to do it alright.
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