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Alexander Kotov vs Mikhail Botvinnik
"In Soviet Russia..." (game of the day Jul-31-2010)
USSR Championship (1955), Moscow URS, rd 6, Feb-19
Semi-Slav Defense: Romih Variation (D46)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  DarthStapler: I didn't get it
Nov-22-09  randomsac: I can analyze the solution, but when it comes to actually finding it, I'm no good. Great job of creating <two> separate passed pawns that promote on friendly light squares.
Nov-22-09  ComboKal: I must confess that I've seen this position before, probably in one of the endgame books I have read in the past.

Black is up a pawn, but b3 looks to be lost. So, in theory, with bishops on opposite colors, a draw should be inevitable. Not so fast!

One thing about endgames is that there is a limited number of moves to choose from. I find them easier to analyze than middle games.

Just a brief glance here and only 2 jump out at you.

<59...g5> and

<59...d4+> which leads to <60...g5> anyhow.

After <g5> it seems it doesn't matter what white does next. Black will eventually advance the h pawn with protection from the king.

Nov-22-09  SufferingBruin: <Hope this helps someone, or if someone knoticed a flaw in my thinking, advice is welcome.>

It helped a lot. Now, how do I get your brain into my head the next time I play in a tournament? This is very important. Let me know.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: In addition to the passed pawn tactic, 59...g5! also utilizes the obstruction or obstruction sacrifice tactic. As <Check It Out> states the resulting "capture blocks White's bishop from defending the now blocked h pawn."

P.S.: I currently have my "Obstruction" collection in a game collection labeled "Blockade."

Jul-31-10  Kangaroo: Two other games between the same opponents show opposite color bishops positions where Black (Botvinnik) won using small combination like the one here, on the diagonal a8-g2. Compare with

Kotov vs Botvinnik, 1939


Kotov vs Botvinnik, 1944

You will be delighted to see the light square bishop in action!

Jul-31-10  GMMandetowitch: Outstanding game.Botninnik's domination of the light squares gives him the oportunity to trade into a won ending at the right time.
Jul-31-10  hellopolgar:
Jul-31-10  goodevans: This game featured as an "insane" Sunday puzzle starting <59 ... g5> but I think it could have started two moves earlier with <57 ... b3>. As far as I can see <58 Ba2> and <58 Bf6> also lose for white.

Of course, starting the puzzle earlier with <57 ... b3> would have required inventing a new classification beyond "insane". True genius by Botvinnik!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: Truly beautiful. After 61. exd4 we get to this position:

click for larger view

The black bishop on d6 is doing something that the Mem says I cannot do - it is multi-tasking. Not only is it protecting the passed pawn on b3, but it is also stopping the two white passers from promoting. What is more, it can do all of this at the same time. By shuttling along the a2-g8 diagonal, the bishop can snaffle any enemy pawns which come in range whilst still keeping an eye on the black b3 pawn. And there is nothing that white's opposite coloured bishop can do ahout it.

And to cap it all, by moving to d5 the bishop achieves a fourth simultaneous aim - it protects the h1 queening square and wins the game.

By contrast the white bishop can't find anything useful to do, and ends the game on purely defensive duties on a3. Like the ugly kid at the school disco, sitting lonely on the sidelines, desperate for someone to ask them for a dance.

<playground player: This is another one of those games that forcefully reminds me, "You are not a Grand Master, and you never will be.">


Premium Chessgames Member
  Garech: Very nice endgame from Botvinnik. I have to say I find Kotov's play a bit uninspired though, even a bit simple-minded! I know he's a famous old school GM and all - but 15. f4? and 39. bxa4? really stand out as appaling patzer-like moves.
Jul-31-10  jussu: I wonder why didn't white claim draw after 37. Qf2...
Jul-31-10  ILoveFruits: in soviet russia...
fruits love...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <jussu> I don't see a draw that can be claimed after 37. Qf2. There is no perpetual check and there hasn't been a threefold repetition of the position. White might offer a draw by shuttling his queen between e2 and f2, but black almost certainly would not have taken it.
Jul-31-10  SuperPatzer77: <Once: Truly beautiful. After 61. exd4 we get to this position>

<Once>: Yes, indeed! Beautiful endgame combination by Mikhail Botvinnik!!!

We've gotta tip our hats off to Mikhail Botvinnik!


Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: The passed pawn overcame the bishops of opposite colors. In the end,since black denied white access to the queening square as well as most of the g-file,the pawn WILL queen.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: Can anyone explain any pun in the title? Is this a line from a movie or something.

Please spare the obvious "explanation" that these two players were Soviets!

Jul-31-10  goodevans: <Once: <jussu> I don't see a draw that can be claimed after 37. Qf2. There is no perpetual check and there hasn't been a threefold repetition of the position...>

Actually there had. Check the position after white's 33rd, 35th and 37th moves.

Jul-31-10  hms123: <thegoodanarchist> Try this:
Jul-31-10  felixd: In Soviet Russia...

Law breaks you!

Jul-31-10  scormus: <33, 35, 37th> Good Heavens, so there was a 3-rep. I missed it too.

Once B's WSB got onto e4, B had a clear edge. Great play from the former World Champ initiative to take the initiative.

I much prefer to play through a game like this than have it as a puzzle.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <goodevans> <thegoodanarchist> You are of course both right! Humble apologies.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: In Soviet Russia...

me se11 House Catfish in tank...

Both Open it door domain...

often traded Guns Ammo...

Aug-01-10  SuperPatzer77: After 65...Bd5+, White resigns in lieu of 66. Kf2 Kf4, 67. Bc1+ Ke4, 68. Kg2 Be6 (Black's bishop has to protect Black's h-pawn), 69. Bb2 Kd3!, 70. d5 h3+, 71. Kg3 Bd7 (blocking the advancing White d-pawn), 72. Be5 Kc2, 73. Kf3 b2, 74. Bxb2 (forced) Kxb2 (now White will eventually lose his own d-pawn and the game) 0-1


Feb-03-12  Riverbeast: How to win these opposite color B endgames?

This is what Every Russian Schoolboy Knows!

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