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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Vasily Smyslov
Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Match (1954), Moscow URS, rd 24, May-13
King's Indian Defense: Fianchetto Variation. Classical Main Line (E69)  ·  1/2-1/2

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-11-07  shalgo: As stated below, a draw in this game, the last in the match, meant that the final score was 12-12. Botvinnik therefore retained the title. Botvinnik is much better in the final position--only white has any chance of winning. Therefore, Smyslov, in offering a draw, was conceding the championship to Botvinnik.
Mar-22-07  Resignation Trap: Botvinnik was in the same situation three years earlier in his match vs. Bronstein (see Bronstein vs Botvinnik, 1951 ). White has the better game here, but he retains the title of World Champion if he agrees to a draw. So why should he try for more?
Mar-22-07  talisman: <Resignation Trap> why would smyslov accept a draw w/ the match on the line in this position...amazing.
Mar-22-07  Resignation Trap: <talisman> White holds all the advantages that there are here: passed pawn, control of the d-file, Black's c5 Pawn can become a target, and a space advantage foe White.
Mar-22-07  whatthefat: If nothing else, White can play Rd6, and if Black plays ...Nc8, White simply returns the rook to d3, threatening Na4. At worst, White can repeat moves. Black looks to be completely at White's mercy.
Mar-22-07  PolishPentium: Sorry, can't understand why Black doesn't play 18...Bxc3. If he's worried about the reply 19 Bxc5, winning the N at c6 (of course, he'll shuffle the queen out of danger and have to abandon the knight), then perhaps he should first let the knight go desperado (revised line, 18... Nxc4), and then upon 19 pxNc4, 19 ...Bxc3, and at least Black is a pawn ahead on the deal.

If a duffer such as CRW, aka PolishPentium, can see this, perhaps there ARE reasons to be suspicious of a pro-Botvinnik conspiracy at work. Then again, it could just be that the above analysis is flawed. Elucidation from the peanut gallery will be appreciated...(^-_-^)

Mar-23-07  whatthefat: <PolishPentium>

I'll admit this is without engine or board, but how about 18...Nxc4 19.Bxc5 Qc7 (19...Qe6 20.bxc4 Bxc3 21.Rd6 Qxc4 22.Rc1 looks clearly better for White to me) 20.Nxa4


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Mar-25-07  Resignation Trap: Here's what <<>>Chess Review<<>> had to say about this game:

<<Let Down>>

<<> A conventional opening leads to a tense situation. White has a powerful passed Pawn, Black a chance to break through on the Queen-side (with...b5). Smyslov, however, seems to conclude that trying for a win may lose instead. On the 22nd move, he offers a draw, and Botvinnik naturally accepts it as it secures possession of the title.<>>

The bald game score is then given, no diagrams, notes or punctuation.

Mar-25-07  Resignation Trap: Following this game, <<>>Chess Review<<>> made this short conclusion about this match:

<<Primus inter Pares>>

<<> Of course, the chess world now really has three champions, Botvinnik holding the title only as first among equals.

It would be intertesting to know if only two players truly equal Botvinnik. There maybe one or two inside Russia - that is hard to judge. Not so hard, however, is it to judge the rest. Only Reshevsky has real chances - provided he is permitted to prove it in a match.<>>

Mar-21-08  Knight13: <Botvinnik is much better in the final position--only white has any chance of winning. Therefore, Smyslov, in offering a draw, was conceding the championship to Botvinnik.> But Smyslov has nothing to lose. He should've still fought on. A loss and a draw is the same result. Who knows, Botvinnik might've messed up.

10...exd4 is not that good.

Instead of 13...Nfd7 I like 13...Be6 followed by ...Qd7. That bishop can barely do anything in this game so if white takes on e6 it'll only favor Black and brings a pawn toward the center for black to fight with.

Apr-28-08  positionalgenius: Its a good thing that this was not played in the modern age... can you imagine kramnik and anand going for a 24 move draw in the final game of their upcoming Bonn match?
Nov-04-08  whatthefat: <positionalgenius>

Wow, how did you do that?!

Nov-04-08  Shams: apparently his genius is more than positional.
Jul-03-09  WhiteRook48: boring positional play
Jul-03-09  WhiteRook48: sorry no offense
Jan-21-11  soothsayer8: It was win or go home for Smyslov and he didn't even TRY! I'm starting to buy this whole conspiracy theory surrounding Soviet Chess in this time period, this game was just unexplainable, and a shame, really.
Nov-09-11  chesstyro: agree that white should win. but wow, make him make the moves.
Mar-26-12  talisman: White's position is slightly better, but a long struggle lay ahead...M. Botvinnik. i guess it's only right that Botvinnik gets the final word.
Jan-24-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project:

<Mikhail Botvinnik's> recollection of "the draw offer":

<"Since the first twenty-three games had ended with the result 11 1/2 - 11 1/2, and thus I had not succeeded in outplaying my opponent- we had both demonstrated roughly equal strength, the last, 24th game had a restricted competitive importance. And 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

-Originally published in Mikhail Botvinnik, "Match Botvinnik-Smyslov" (Fizkultura i sport, Moscow, 1955).

Jan-29-14  RookFile: ...Bf8 in the king's indian for black almost always means his game is in trouble. His game is predicated on getting a dark square cannon on g7, to be forced to play it to a passive position indicates something is quite wrong.
Feb-07-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Here are some (but not all) of Botvinnik's comments:

4...d7-d6


click for larger view

<A draw is no use to Smyslov, so he refrains from the Gruenfeld Indian Defence, hoping for a more complicated game.>

10...e5xd4 <Not good>.

13.Ra1-d1


click for larger view

<And now there is a threat of 14.Nxc6 bxc6 15.Bxc5. Black usually defends by means of the move ...Qa5, but this is not possible in this position. Even so, the immediate 13.Nb3 is preferable, as was played in the game Botvinnik-Salo, Amsterdam 1954), since here black could have played the quite useful move 13...Qe7.>

14.Nd4-b3!


click for larger view

<Black cannot play ...a5-a4...>

22.Rf1-d1


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<Here black offered a draw, which white accepted.

The continuation 22... Ra3 23. Qc2 Rea8 24. Rd6 (Nd7 25. Nd5 cxd5 26. Rxe6) would be dangerous for black.

After 22...Ra6 white could in time prepare the move g3-g4 (black cannot exchange, because of the e4 square), followed by operations on the g-file. White's position is slightly better, but a long struggle lay ahead.>

Jun-15-15  RookFile: When black is playing ....Bf8 in the King's Indian is usually means there is something wrong with his position.
Apr-21-19  King.Arthur.Brazil: I had seen this match before, and I decided today to make whole match games again and when I saw this one, I found two players exausted (tired), with the same number of points. It seems that in Soviet Union, maybe, it doesn't matter how much Smyslov or Bronstein played well, Botwinnik is more older, hard fighter which already faced Capablanca, Alekhine, Euwe, etc. Therefore, for me, the Soviet government could decide that it wasn't time to bring a new World Champion and forced the tie. Maybe, for Smyslov -he'd earn the same of Botwinnik and Bronstein, without the crown. If he or Bronstein did lose, maybe the looser would not recieve the same money. So, both players were interested that the match would result tie. Therefore, this tie was a question of MONEY (surviving) not a question of chess games decision. None of them would like to lose. That is the sad truth.
Apr-21-19  King.Arthur.Brazil: About the 18.Qf2... it was a trap. If Smyslov would tried to win material with 18... Nxc4? (hoping for 19.bxc4 Bxc3 and winning of a P) he would meet: 19.Bxc5! (now Qe6 20. f5! Qe5 21. f6 Bf8 22. Bd4 Qc7 23. bxc4 win the N!) Therefore, 19... Qc7 20. bxc4 Bxc3 21.e5! a3! 22. Td3 Bb2 24. Bb6 Qe7 25. T1d1 and white position is very strong with 1 Pawn more. Surely, Smyslov thought it was a prepared home-made variation and refused this line.
Apr-21-19  King.Arthur.Brazil: About Botwinnik commentary "The continuation 22... Ra3 23. Qc2 Rea8 24. Rd6 (Nd7 25. Nd5 cxd5 26. Rxe6) would be dangerous for black." I would like to say that, after 22...Ra3 23. Qb2 (not Qc2) R8a8, white has two good moves: 1. the shown 24. Rd6 with the threat Bxc5 followed by Rxc6 (depending on the black answer) and 2. the simple 24. Na4 (if Nxa4 25. Qxa3) 24... Rxa4 25. bxa4 Nxa4 26.Qb3 and white win the quality. This evidences what I said before. The game was just over for Smyslov, that's why he offered the draw (he was begging to tie the match and win the same money that Botwinnik and Bronstein earned before.
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