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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Vasily Smyslov
URS-chT (1966), Moscow URS, rd 2, Sep-25
English Opening: King's English Variation. Reversed Sicilian (A21)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-28-04  whithergoes: From the balance of the encounters, Botvinnik seems to have outclassed Smyslov by quite a bit...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: It's interesting that in their three world title matches the scores were Botvinnik 17 wins; Smyslov 18 wins and 31 draws, but in lifetime scores Botvinnik had 26 wins; Smyslov 22 wins with 50 drawn games.
Apr-29-04  Jim Bartle: Excuse my ignorancy, but I thought Smyslov and Botvinnik only played two WC matches: Smyslov taking the title from Botvinnik, then Botvinnik winning the rematch. Is the 1948 (?) post-Alekhine tournament considered as a WC match as well?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: <Jim Bartle> Smyslov's lifetime score v Botvinnik (1940-70) is: +22,=50,-26 = 48%. This is just worse than his lifetime world championship score against Botvinnik:

1948 tournament: +0,=4,-1
1954 championship match: +7,=10,-7
1957 championship match: +6,=13,-3
1958 championship match: +5,=11,-7

+18,=38,-18 = 50%

Apr-29-04  Calli: I would actually give Smyslov the edge. He was 10 years younger than Botvinnik and lost a lot of games early. According to Chessgames DB, Botvinnik's was +7 -1 =4 in the 1940-1946 period. If you subtract that from Chessical's totals, Smyslov was +21 =46 -19 after he matured as player.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Moreover, Smyslov had a flu during their 1958 match. That affected a number of games. (A burst error, rather then single-bit error when an indisposition happens during a tournament- or team match game.)
Mar-24-06  offramp: I am pretty sure that Smyslov and Botvinnik played 101 serious games together, which includes the two training games played in October 1951. The DB must have two doubles.

Khalifman's Chess Stars book gives their totals as Smyslov +23, Botvinnik +27 and 51 draws.

I would think that when their marathon series of matches was finished, people at the time thought, "We will never again see such a rivalry as this!" But a much bigger one was to come, and who is to say that that record will last forever? I just hope that I am not around to see it broken.

Mar-24-06  Calli: <offramp> Here's one duplicate

Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1958


Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1958

Mar-24-06  Calli: The other one is

Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1957


Botvinnik vs Smyslov, 1957

Jul-20-06  Maynard5: This is a rather interesting positional game, with several phases. After 6. f4, White has a small advantage. But Smyslov's play here is indifferent -- he fails to recognize the threat on the f-file until it is too late, and he is forced to sacrifice the h-pawn to shake off the pressure. After this, Black is able to counterattack along the h-file, but Botvinnik defends effectively. When the attack has been repulsed, White emerges with a won rook ending.
Apr-01-10  Whitehat1963: Last decisive game in this marathon rivalry, and a good one it is.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: ....and the final decisive clash of the titans, 1966, MB also wins.
May-07-12  Ulhumbrus: After the move 6 f4, one justification for 6...Qe7 instead of 6...Bg7 is that on 7 Nf3 Black can then play 7...e4.

A more general reason has been indicated by Alekhine in his notes to the game Alekhine vs Rubinstein, 1921. It may be that the move 6 f4 can be called an accentricity which will give White a good game in the end, unless Black reacts strongly, conceivably matching eccentricity with eccentricity.

8...exf4 increases White's advantage in space.

12..Bxf3 concedes the bishop pair.

14 Qf4 begins an attack on the N on f6. This wins a pawn and eventually the game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < Calli: I would actually give Smyslov the edge. He was 10 years younger than Botvinnik and lost a lot of games early. According to Chessgames DB, Botvinnik's was +7 -1 =4 in the 1940-1946 period. If you subtract that from Chessical's totals, Smyslov was +21 =46 -19 after he matured as player.>

That's one way to look at it. Another way to look at it is to say that the two played ~ 10 games at Botvinnik's peak, compared to ~ 90 at Smyslov's peak, but Botvinnik nevertheless emerged with a slight plus overall.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Botvinnik himself, in an interview for <New in Chess> in 1985, stated that Smyslov was the best player in the world in the 1950s.

Inter alia, consecutive wins in candidates tournaments is a difficult proposition to argue with, though it may also be noted that Botvinnik's peak was during the 1940s and that, while holding the title through nearly the entire fifteen years which followed his 1948 win of the match tournament, he was, as he said, primus inter pares a great deal of the time.

Curious though how Smyslov's star in world championship play descended so rapidly after his unsuccessful title defence in 1958; while he remained a formidable force, he never looked like having a chance the following year, what with the murderous pace set by Keres and Tal, and only rejoined the candidates cycle from Amsterdam 1964.

Mar-11-17  Howard: The fact that Smyslov, Bronstein, and Spassky didn't make the interzonal in 1962, attests to the unfairness back then of determining who got into that tournament.

Horowitz quipped in one of his books that those three guys could have given the tailenders in that tournament odds of pawn-and-move...and they probably still could have beaten them!

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