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John Eric Littlewood vs Mikhail Botvinnik
Hastings (1961/62), Hastings ENG, rd 2, Dec-28
Sicilian Defense: Dragon Variation. Yugoslav Attack Early deviations (B75)  ·  0-1

ANALYSIS [x]

FEN COPIED

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Given 41 times; par: 32 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Nov-22-02  Cyphelium: On 20.gxf7+ Rxf7 21. Qg5+ black doesn't have to play the losing 21.-Rg7. If white wants the e5 pawn he can have it: 21.-Kh8 22.Qxe5 cxb2 and white has to show what compensation he has for being a piece down. A knight jump suggests itself, but I don't see anything concrete for white.
Nov-22-02  drukenknight: Come see a world champion lose.

20. gxf7+ Rxf7 21. Qg5+ Kh8! 22. Qxe5 cxb2 23 Nxb2

Cyphelium, it's back to you.

Nov-22-02  ughaibu: Drukenknight: the knight cant capture on b2. Anyway what is the point of the capture cxb2? Also why Rf7? Kf7 looks natural to me.
Nov-22-02  Cyphelium: The idea of 22.-cxb2 in the variation 20.gxf7+ Rxf7 21.Qg5+ Kh8 22.Qxe5 cxb2 is simply to not lose a pawn. White can play bxc3 soon and if he gets to many pawns it will be harder to win for black. Perhaps 22.-Rc8 is better though.

20.-Kxf7 looks playable to me too.

White could try 21.Ne6, but loses after 21.-c2+ 22.Kxc2 Qc8+ picking up the e6 knight. 21.Nf5 loses to same c2+ idea.

It seems like white has to move the knight, but he has no good way of continuing the attack. 21. Nc2 Qc7 and black is a piece up and looks ready to take over the initiative.

Nov-22-02  drukenknight: oh I thought he pused the pawn to c2, instead he captured. So I think it's just 23 Kxb2 there.

I have to reset this. this one is definite computer analysis time, lots of lines to look at.

Nov-22-02  drukenknight: 22...cxb2 23 Ne6
Nov-23-02  ughaibu: Drukenknight: a good reason not to play cxb2. The main reason that I prefer Kf7 is that white doesn't get to capture the e5 pawn so the knight stays under attack and black gets the initiative. Unless the knight goes to c2 (where it isn't dangerous) black can still play c2 followed by Qc8-f5 and Rd8. Black is a piece up and now fully developed, I dont see why there should be any difficulty winning.
Nov-23-02  drukenknight: okay ugh. you're going with another move I take it, 22...Kf7 then? I have to reset this one, I'm more into that Karpov/Miles game right now.
Apr-24-04  weary willy: (this should be john e littlewood - not his son paul - born ca 1956)
Sep-14-04  RisingChamp: This was a nice game.While it was going on many ppl had crowded around the board thinking it would be a famous victory for Littlewood.He had just overlooked the c2+ tactic after Nf5.Against the World Champion he should have been a lot more careful.
Sep-14-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  ray keene: i watched this game being played when i was 13. it was incredibly exciting and all the spectators-having overlooked botvinniks c2+ resource-were convinced littlewood was going to win
Jan-02-09  Ychromosome: The position at move 21 makes me nervous just playing over it!
Sep-17-09  keithbc: C2+ resource??
Sep-23-09  SimonWebbsTiger: Rest in Peace John Littlewood
Sep-23-09  erimiro1: What about 20.N-f5 with a mate threat on g7?
Sep-23-09  erimiro1: Ah - missed 20.-c2+ 21.K:c2 Qc8+ and the poor horse is lost
Sep-23-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  ray keene: as i said-i watched this game being played and everyone in the audience overlooked the c2 + resource as well
Sep-30-09  jerseybob: This system played by Botvinnik, a combo Dragon-Najdorf, is fascinating. I have a dim recollection of a game Browne played against Stewart Reuben in some late 60s British tourney, and he at some point moved a minor piece to d5. I think. And there's the game Fischer-Reuben in this database in which Fischer dispenses with all the Yugoslav niceties like f3 and Qd2 and just kills black down the h-file.
Nov-22-11  King Death: < erimiro1: Ah - missed 20.-c2+ 21.K:c2 Qc8+ and the poor horse is lost>

This was the point White overlooked when he went into this, as Botvinnik mentioned in his annotations. It's very easy for even an outstanding attacker like Littlewood was to miss this kind of resource at the start of one's analysis.

Jul-13-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  samsloan: I cannot understand why Littlewood played 13. cb3 instead of the standard ab3.
Jul-13-14  parisattack: The Dragondorf seems to be regaining popularity. I believe Carlsen essayed it a few times three or four years ago?
Jul-14-14  zanzibar: <samsloan> Boy, I must be out of the loop - how is 13.axb3 more standard than 13.cxb3?

I played out the Tree Window (using SCID) from the Dragondorf 7...a6, where 305 games had it (3.9%). (I'm using <MillBase> with 1.6M games.)

By the time I got to move 13, there were only 2 games in the database which matched, and both played 13.cxb3.

Looking with Stockfish 4 DD 64, out to 22-ply, gives a slight preference to playing 13.Nxb3 (+0.16/22), vs 13.cxb3 (+0.00/22) or 13.axb3 (-0.24/22).

My naive impression is that the open a-file isn't going anywhere, and you'd need a tempo, or even two, to get the king out of the way safely.

Why not fight it out of the c-file? (And not play 17.h4?)

Jul-14-14  zanzibar: Botvinnik had nerves of steel playing this, and the c2+ fork setting up the fork is quite beautiful.

Ironically, Black would have been better off allowing it versus what was played.

Best would have been 20.Nc2, which shows Botvinnik's steel nerves, since he had to calculate the king safe after, let's say:


click for larger view

20.Nc2 Qc7 21.gxh7+ Kh8 22.Ne3 c2+ 23.Nxc2 Rad8 24.Rxd8 Rxd8 25.Ne3 Rc8 26.a3 Bd5 27.Ka1 Be6


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Aug-30-14  RookFile: As others have said, Botvinnik showed nerves of steel in this game. It requires supreme confidence in your defensive abilities to play this way.
Dec-30-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Remember when this game appeared in a collection by the US GM Larry Evans. 7...a6 is definitely too slow (7...0-0 with the usual mayhem is standard), and Littlewood could have pulled off a major upset. 13.cxb3 is a thematic move in the Dragon, but here it allows 20.Nf5?,c2+!; 21.Kxc2,Qc8+ winning the Nf4. With 13.axb3, Black probably would have tried a different defense, perhaps 13...h5!? or ...b4!? In any case, rather decent defensive brilliancy by Botvinnik.
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