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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Vasily Smyslov
"The Peasant's Revolt" (game of the day Apr-01-2010)
Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Match (1954), Moscow URS, rd 14, Apr-15
King's Indian Defense: Fianchetto Variation. Classical Fianchetto (E67)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 5 OF 5 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-21-12  andrewjsacks: <perfidious> <King Death> Thank you both for being continuing assets to CG. I always value your comments.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <andrew> I've seen a few such posts from <rjsolcruz> and suppressed the urge to say something, till now.
Dec-07-12  Eduardo Bermudez: "How would you describe the seventh World Champion, Vasily Smyslov? - How can I express it in the right way? ... He is truth in chess! Smyslov plays correctly, truthfully and has a natural style" V. Kramnik 2005 !!
Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project:

Ilia Abramovich Kan was <Botvinnik's> second for this match, and here's something perhaps unexpected he got for his troubles...

Andrew Soltis:

<"Smyslov later said the game that gave him the greatest esthetic pleasure in his entire career was the 14th of the match. But Botvinnik later saw treachery, since in the 14th game Smyslov quickly innovated in an opening Botvinnik had never tried before. <<<He accused his second, Kan, of disclosing his opening preparation to the enemy camp.>>>

Even though Smyslov publicly denied this, Botvinnik never took back his accusation.">

-Andrew Soltis, "Soviet Chess 1917-1991" (McFarland 1997),p.220

Jan-29-14  thomastonk: <WCC Editing Project: ".. Botvinnik never took back his accusation."> Who thinks the patron took anything back voluntarily? I tried to find the accusations against Kan in "Schacherinnerungen", but I didn't find them in the (surprisingly brief) match description. Was not-repeating enough of a disclaimer? Just a thought.
Jan-29-14  john barleycorn: how history repeats! what happened to Vladimirov and the accusations by Kasparov?
Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project: <thomastonk>

Well since <Soltis> doesn't footnote or list his sources properly, we are forced to hunt for confirmation.

The following is hardly confirmation for <Soltis'> purple prose, but it hints strongly at the notion <Botvinnik> did suspect <Kan> had given away secret preparations in this game.

This is what <Smyslov> writes, from this position, Black to move:

click for larger view

And now,

<"11...exd4! A highly unpleasant <<<surprise>>>, leading to great tactical complications...">

click for larger view

<"...This continuation made such a strong impression on my opponent, that in his notes to this game Botvinnik wrote: <<<'It is surprising that Smyslov was able to make highly detailed preparations for a variation which I had never before adopted, except in training games...'>>>">

I suppose the rest of the passage might serve as something like a "public denial" by Smyslov that he was gifted with this analysis by somebody else.

<"As we know, the move 9.Be3 had been played earlier, and so, <<<in my theoretical analysis>>> of this opening system, this move was also examined, along with 9.d5 and 9.h3. And I succeeded in discovering an improvement for the defence with 11...exd4! Such is the history of the innovation which brought me success in the present game.">

-Vasily Smyslov, "Smyslov's 125 Selected Games" Ken Neat transl. (Cadogen 1983), pp.86-87


Here is <Botvinnik> speaking for himself about the nasty <11...exd4!> surprise:

<"My opponent played the last three moves (Botvinnik means moves 9-11) immediately, about which <<<I could not hide my surprise>>>. It is certainly rather surprising that Smyslov should have been so well prepared in all the subtleties of a variation that I had never played before, except in training games...">

-Mikhail Botvinnik, "Three World Chess Championship Matches: 1954, 1957, 1958" I.Y. Botvinnik, ed., Steve Giddins transl. (New in Chess 2009), p.55

The ellipses (...) are added by <Botvinnik>. In this context, they seem intended to connote something "implied but not said."

At <Nikolina gora> from 17 Oct. 1952 up until 13 Feb. 1954, on the eve of this match, <Botvinnik> played no fewer than 27 training games with <Kan>, so there can perhaps be little doubt "which training games" he is referring to here.

-Jan Timman, "Secret Matches: The Unknown Training Games of Mikhail Botvinnik" (Russell Enterprises Inc. 2000), pp.59-78


Of course, all of this is a very long way from stating that "<Botvinnik> accused <Kan> of giving away his opening preparation and he never recanted this statement, though <Smyslov> publicly denied it."

I have a feeling that there may indeed exist some more strongly worded and explicit accounts of <Botvinnik's> suspicions of <Kan>, perhaps in Russian chess journals, but that's just guessing, and it doesn't help us any here.

And again, the maddening thing about <Soltis> is that he does not footnote and list sources for his claims here. I really doubt <Soltis> just made all this up, but I don't like having to guess about it either.

Anyways <thomas> you make a good point, no doubt about it and thanks for posting it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project: <JB>

<Vladimirov and the accusations by Kasparov>

I don't know about that story. Might you fill me in on the details?

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Jess> The accusations referred to by <john b> were made by Kasparov.

See <Karpova>'s post of 7.12.08 at Evgeny Vladimirov for more information.

Jan-29-14  john barleycorn: <There is relatively little off-the-board comment, but enough to underline what Child of Change has already shown: Kasparov has precious little regard for truth, accuracy, consistency or fairness. One example will suffice. As is well known, after losing three consecutive games to Karpov, Kasparov accused Vladimirov, his second, of treachery. He repeated his denunciation, at length, on pages 203-208 of Child of Change. A couple of sample extracts follow:

‘... the logic of the way things developed then, prove, to my mind though Vladimirov denies it – that I was betrayed ...’ (page 204)

‘I have often wondered what drove Vladimirov to behave as he did ... The motive, I think, was a twisted kind of jealousy ... He was having to live through me. I was achieving the sort of success he craved for himself and which he thought his own talents deserved. Deep down he resented my success. He thought it should be his. This kind of feeling makes a man a natural traitor, especially if it is allied to a weak personality with a tendency to self-degradation.’ (page 205)

International Herald Tribune, 11-12 October 1986

Kasparov has never offered proof, and fawning journalists have never demanded any. But now, having destroyed Vladimirov’s reputation, the same Kasparov has the gall to write on page 113 of London-Leningrad Championship Games:

‘... a serious conflict occurred in my relations with Vladimirov after the 19th game. To me he seemed to be behaving strangely – copying out the analysis of openings employed in the match. I cannot assert anything, and I have no grounds for accusing him, but equally I can no longer trust Vladimirov as I used to.’

Note those words carefully:

‘... I cannot assert anything, and I have no grounds for accusing him ...’>

Jan-29-14  john barleycorn: above post from

Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project: <Perfidious, JB>

Thank you both for giving me the sources so quickly!

Yes I see the parallel with the topic, except as <thomastonk> implied, we don't have a source at present to support the wording of <Soltis'> claims about the "Botvinnik-Kan-Smyslov-Game 14" affair.

At least with the <Kasparov> incident we can read directly what he actually said about <Vladimirov>.

That Gazza, once he gets an idea in his head, that becomes the God's truth for him eh?

Jan-29-14  john barleycorn: one more due to overwhelming request

<Months later, Kasparov won a rematch to officially become world champion, and subsequently won two more closely contested encounters with Karpov. Swirling around their chess wars were bizarre rumors that Karpov's seconds were sending him messages during the games in color-coded snacks and drinks and that the former world champion was getting through demanding games with the aid of amphetamines. During the third match, after losing several games where his opening novelties were easily outplayed by Karpov, Kasparov claimed that one of his most trusted trainers, Evgeny Vladimirov, who had been acting suspiciously in camp, was discovered copying the world champion's newest opening ideas into a notebook; Kasparov is convinced that Vladimirov was bribed by Karpov.>


King Kasparov - New York Times - The New York Times

Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project:

<The Wrath of Kan>

Well I have yet to find any corroboration of Soltis' claim that <Botvinnik> directly accused Ilia Abramovich Kan of revealing his opening preparation to <Smyslov>.

But I did find this item-

Yuri Averbakh:

<"Before me, apart from Ragozin, it was I.A. Kan who had played training games with Botvinnik. And also at the dacha. He too, had to listen to the world champion's monologues, in the intervals of play.

<<<'You cannot imagine what a strange chap he is,'>>> Kan once told me, regarding Botvinnik. <<<'Once, we were discussing something quite peacefully, when suddenly, for no reason, he went into a sulk, stalked off into the woods, and very demonstratively refused to come to lunch!'>>>

Later, I risked asking Ilya Abramovich about this incident. He remarked sarcastically: <<<'Botvinnik thinks that he is world champion not only at chess, but in everything else. He- a totally ordinary person!'>>>>

-Yuri Averbakh "Centre-Stage and Behind the Scenes" Steve Giddins transl. (New in Chess 2011), p.102


Here is stunning rare film footage of <Botvinnik's> response to <Kan>:

Sep-19-15  The Kings Domain: Pretty exciting game, gotta love a game with fireworks.
Sep-19-15  Howard: This was one of the 3-4 best games of their three encounters---no doubt about it.
Sep-28-15  rookpawn101: Marvellous game! The piece coordination for black is magical.
Sep-28-15  john barleycorn: wonderful game.
Dec-08-18  MrJafari: I enjoyed this game specially because it's natural style (mostly Smyslov style). This style is rare in today's professional chess unfortunately...<WCC Editing Project:> I envy for your relaxation, convenience and time (+interest) to write such comments!
Dec-08-18  Howard: This game made the top-20 in Soltis' book of the best-100 games of the 20th century...

...and for good reason.

Dec-08-18  Dionysius1: This is what shook me about this game. As far as I understand things, the assessment of a position when White has a ♕ and Black has 3 minor pieces is whether Black can coordinate the pieces quicker than White can really start causing trouble with the ♕. How quickly Smyslov coordinates the pieces (moves 26 to 29)! Suddenly they're all secure and causing their own trouble.
Apr-04-20  joddon: Symslov pulls a Fischer queen sacrifice...or did newer world champions all learn from Symslov??
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: In Botvinnik's next three whites (games 16, 18 and 20) he chose the more modest, less theoretical 6 e3. 11..Ngf6 had been played in Lilienthal-Konstantinopolsky Sochi 1952; 11..exd! was Smyslov's improvement. Botvinnik's 14 Nxd4!? has not been repeated; 14 Be7 is more popular nowadays though the whole line (with 9 Be3) doesn't seem too promising for White. Botvinnik defended well up until 22 Rb1? (after 20 minutes of thought); 22 Bxb7 would have likely been good enough for a draw. White's intention of sacrificing the exchange with 30 Rxd6 would have been refuted by 30..Rc1.

Excellent opening preparation by Smyslov followed by a very pretty finish.

May-09-23  butilikefur: the game is nuts...but the comment section is more hilarious!
May-15-23  Saul Goodman: Botvinnik cheated throughout his career. Of course he assumed that other players cheated too.

I think the accusation is all you need to know about Botvinnik’s character.

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