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Hans Bouwmeester vs Mikhail Botvinnik
Wageningen Caltex (1958), Wageningen NED, rd 2, Nov-02
English Opening: Symmetrical Variation. Two Knights Line (A37)  ·  1/2-1/2



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find similar games 1 more H Bouwmeester/Botvinnik game
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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Wow! Even world champions can miss sudden shockers like 27...♖b1!!!.(the third exclamation mark because a champ missed it.)
Oct-21-11  jackpawn: I found it, but took me longer than it should have. I initially wanted to play 27 . . Ra1. Nope, doesn't work. Then looked at Rb1, but somehow I rejected it initially. Tried several other silly lines before finally returning to Rb1 and finally finding it.

With the rooks doubled on the second rank the position screams for a combination. Surprising Botvinnik missed it.

Oct-21-11  jackpawn: My guess is Botvinnik was short of time.
Oct-21-11  MiCrooks: To everything else you have to allow Botvinnik that who would think of voluntarily giving up pigs in the poke AND give it up by simple dropping a pig on b1 where in taking it the Queen immediately threatens the other pig? You almost have to KNOW that there is a shot here to overcome the prejudice against a move like Rb1!
Premium Chessgames Member
  doubledrooks: 27...Rb1 deflects the white queen from the e3 square. For example: 28. Qxb1 Nxe3+ 29. Kh3 Qf5+ and now:

a. 30. g4 Qxg4#

b. 30. Kh4 Qh5#

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: Just an afterthought to the text 27...d4 28 exd4 response vs. 27...Rb1.

Black can try 28...Rb1 here, except a perfect escape square has appeared for the queen at f4.

click for larger view

Oct-21-11  Treestar: I made the usual mistake of finding something I liked, today it was <27...Re2> and fixated on it. I had my doubts. Had I just visualised Rb1 for a millisecond the penny would have dropped. Note to self: First step consider <EVERY> move at your disposal for at least least a second or two without prejudging before going deeper, or else run the risk of getting mired in inferior variations.
Oct-21-11  Marmot PFL: This is the kind of game Botvinnik meant when he said that he lacked combinative vision.

I missed it too. Just looked for a minute or so, and decided on 27...Nh4+??, idea 28 Nxh4 Rxf2+ 29 Kg1 Qb2 threatening Qxh2# and Ra1. Somehow after 28 gh4 I planned the strong but unfortunately illegal 28...Qg4+.

I have seen players win with illegal moves against players very short of time, but it's better to stay within the rules.

Oct-21-11  rapidcitychess: It's really odd that I saw this very quickly. First thought was "Ooh, Nxe3 looks really good! But of course there's that nasty queen... This won't work, that won't work, Oh, Rb1!"

I guess I can find something good every once in a while...

Oct-21-11  bachbeet: Rb1 definitely looks like the correct move. I thought of that one because it was one of many possibilities but discarded it. Should have followed it through. I wonder if Bot thought of it and discarded it too.
Oct-21-11  karnak64: Nice to know that today I'm in the same league as Botvinnik ...
Oct-21-11  Patriot: I solved it but all I can say is it took a long time! I looked at it for a while this morning and had to come back to it later.


A) 28.Qxb1 Nxe3+
A.1) 29.Kh1 Qxf3+ 30.Kg1 Qg2#
A.2) 29.Kg1 Qxf3 and black gets mated soon.
A.3) 29.Kh3 Qf5+ 30.Kh4 Qh5# (30.g4 Qxg4#)

B) 28.Qc3 Nxe3+
B.1) 29.Kg1/Kh1 Rxf1#
B.2) 29.Kh3 Qxc3 30.Rxc3 Nxf1

This was REALLY tough!

Oct-21-11  PeterB: This position was given in Bouwmeester's book 'Prisma Schaakboek 2', which my uncle sent me some 40 years ago! Bouwmeester states that the solution was first given by Salo Flohr (!) after the game!
Oct-21-11  AnalyzeThis: It certainly is counter-intuitive. Normally when you have pigs on the 7th, you just leave them there.
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: Black is a pawn down.

White threatens the pawn on d5 although it is indirectly protected by the fork on e3.

The white queen protects e3 and the white king defends f3. Hence, 27... Ra1:

A) 28.Rc6 Rxc1 29.Rxf6 Rxf1 30.Rxf5 R2xf2+ 31.Kh3 gxf5, etc.

B) 28.Qxa1 Nxe3+

B.1) 29.Kh3 Qf5+ and mate next.

B.2) 29.Kh1 Qxf3+ 30.Kg1 Qg2#.

B.3) 29.Kg1 Qxf3 30.Qxb2+ followed by fxe3 wins for White.

Instead of 27... Ra1 we can try with the other rook, 27... Rb1 so that all the previous lines win and the last one becomes

B.3) 29.Kg1 Qxf3

B.3.a) 30.fxe3 Qg2#.

B.3.b) 30.Qxa2 Qg2#.

Other moves like 27... d4, 27... Re2 and 27... Rxf2+ look either red herrings or far more difficult wins.

Oct-21-11  SuperPatzer77: <Patriot> <...A.2) 29.Kg1 Qxf3 and black gets mated soon...>

<Patriot> You chose the wrong color - it should be "...A.2) 29.Kg1 Qxf3 and white (not black) gets mated soon..."


Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: I wonder if this game was played before the 1958 match with Smyslov. If so, maybe Botvinnik saw the combination but decided not to play it in case the same position came up in the match.

Then that loudmouth Flohr had to go and spoil everything.


I don't know if time pressure was the cause; move 27 would be a bit early for that with Botvinnik. My own theory is that he may have hallucinated that sacrificing a rook on b1 would unpin the f-pawn and render ...Nxe3+ unplayable.


After 27...Rb1 28.Qc3, the unanimous choice has been the immediate 28...Nxe3+. I would probably have traded queens with 28...Qxc3 first, but then I'm lazy.

Oct-21-11  Thumbtack2007: I missed the move. But after 27...Rb1 28 Rc2 RxQ 29 Rfxc1, even though White is down a Queen for a rook, he can still put up quite a fight.
Oct-21-11  stst: Not difficult.
The e3P is guarded by the Q so that Bk N couldn't take it easily to fork the K & R. One move will put W in lurch, viz. 27....Re2 Nothing W can do to drive this R away -
IF (A)28. Re1 is suicide, since Rxf2 will put the K defenseless. IF (B)28.K flees (anywhere legal) Nxe3 and W doesn't want to exchange Q with R. QxN@f3 next, the rest should be easy.
Oct-21-11  stst: < Thumbtack2007: I missed the move. But after 27...Rb1 28 Rc2 RxQ 29 Rfxc1, even though White is down a Queen for a rook, he can still put up quite a fight.> Agreed!
I wonder if some engine would compare the virtues of 27...Rb1 vs 27....Re2, the latter of which puts W pondering what to do next!
Oct-21-11  DarthStapler: I got the general idea
Oct-21-11  Patriot: <SuperPatzer77> <<Patriot> You chose the wrong color - it should be "...A.2) 29.Kg1 Qxf3 and white (not black) gets mated soon..."> Oops, yes you are right. Thanks for the correction! I found another mistake later in B.1: <29.Kg1/Kh1 Rxf1#>. If 29.Kh1 Rxf1 is not mate since white can play 30.Ng1.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <stst> After <27...Re2 28.Kg1>:

click for larger view

Haven't Black's threats vanished? If 28...Nxe3 29.fxe3, and the ♖f1 protects the knight. Nor does 29...Qxf3 30.Rxf3 work, since the king can now flee to f1.

Oct-22-11  sevenseaman: <27...Rb1> is the sucker punch! Will I ever forget it?
Oct-22-11  SuperPatzer77: <Patriot: <SuperPatzer77> <<Patriot> You chose the wrong color - it should be "...A.2) 29.Kg1 Qxf3 and white (not black) gets mated soon..."> Oops, yes you are right. Thanks for the correction! I found another mistake later in B.1: <29.Kg1/Kh1 Rxf1#>. If 29.Kh1 Rxf1 is not mate since white can play 30.Ng1.>

<Patriot> You're absolutely right. 29. Kh1 Rxf1+ (not mated), 30. Ng1. But now Black's strong reply is 30...Qxc3!, 31. Rxc3 Raa1! (threatening Rxg1#) see below:

a) 32. h3 or h4 Rxg1+, 33. Kh2 Rh1#
b) 32. fxe3 Rxg1#


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