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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Efim Geller
Belgrade (1969), Belgrade YUG, rd 2, Nov-??
King's Indian Defense: Fianchetto Variation. Classical Main Line (E69)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jul-21-08  notyetagm: <Marmot PFL: Bad tactical oversight by Botvinnik.>

Yes, and Geller or Tal was probably the strongest tacitcal player in the world back in the 60's.

Jul-21-08  RookFile: This game also shows Geller's strength in the opening, I think. He was one of the strongest opening theoreticians.
Jul-22-08  notyetagm: <RookFile: This game also shows Geller's strength in the opening, I think. He was one of the strongest opening theoreticians.>

Yes, between his excellent opening preparation and outstanding tactical skill you can easily understand why no one wanted to face him.


Premium Chessgames Member
  James Demery: Geller makes defeating a former World Champion look easy.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: <hcgflynn>arsen387: 16. ♗h3 ♘f3+, followed by 17...♗c3 & 18...♘d4

15.b3? left the knight on c3 undefended - I remember a chess coach saying to me that you should always look for loose or unprotected pieces in a position.

Oct-13-11  jerseybob: Something happenin' here; what it is ain't exactly clear. Well, Buffalo Springfield could have been talking about this game! In Geller's game collection, he has the final moves listed as 21..Bxc3 22.Bxc3,Ndxf4ch 23.0-1, leaving out the queenside pawn play initiated in this version with 21..a5. So who's telling the truth?
May-28-12  YoungEd: This is the shortest game in the database in which Botvinnik lost with the White pieces. Neat tactics by Geller!
Jun-28-12  RookFile: Well, it is really unbelievably strong play by Geller. Nobody does this to Botvinnik, but on this day, he did.
Dec-19-12  jerseybob: This game is a throwback to the early days of the modern K.I.D., when Bronstein and Boleslavsky steamrollered hapless opponents who didn't know what was hitting them.
Mar-06-19  anjumskhan: Botvinnik never knew what Geller is doing.
Mar-06-19  WDenayer: I really don't remember - was it Krogius who was cursing in Moscow after Spassky lost the QGD Tartakower game to Fischer in '72, joining the applause after resigning? Krogius (I think) opined that Geller would have been better opposition than Spassky. Geller himself was furious too. This was not the proper way to act.
Oct-01-20  Caissas Clown: Every time I see Efim Geller victorious on the black side of the KID , I think WOW !
Oct-01-20  sudoplatov: Another triangle.

Geller beat Botvinnik 4 to 1, with 7 draws.
Botvinnik beat Keres 8 to 3, with 9 draws.
Keres beat Geller 9 to 7, with 21 draws.

There are more (Portisch>Keres>Korchnoi>Tal>Portisch as a quadrangle).

Oct-01-20  CaliWest: Can someone point out the winning continuation for black? I am not very good; I can't see it.
Oct-01-20  sudoplatov: After 25.gxf4 then ...Nxf4 26.Kh1 Nxe2 seems to leave Black up the Exchange and a Pawn at least with no slowdown in the attack.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Count the pieces: the resulting material balance would actually be R+ three pawns for B+N.
Oct-02-20  SChesshevsky: <CaliWest> As noted after 25. gxf4 Nxf4 26.Kh1 Nxe2, the e pawn also can fall. 27. Qxe2 Qh4+ 28. Nh2 then ...Qxe4+ chops the pawn and exchanges queens.

So now white has very little attacking power, probably doesn't want to exchange rooks, and knows that eventually a black passed pawn is going to win. And Botvinnik is likely so disgusted with the sloppy way he played the opening, resignation saves him a lot of suffering.

Dec-29-22  EphemeralAdvantage: It's somewhat of a pity we will never see the 9. ... Qb6 Classical line in the highest level again. The "gambit" 10. c5 dxc5 11. dxe5 Ne8 seems to be losing for Black after 12. Na4! and not 12. e6. Yusupov had it right all along!

GM Kotronias based a 700-page book on 6. ... Nbd7/ 7. ... e5/ 8. ... c6/ 9. ... Qb6 in 2013 and not even 10 years later the line is basically refuted. This line has given the chess world incredible classics such as the famous 6th game from the 1960 WCC (Botvinnik vs Tal, 1960)

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <EphemeralAdvantage> What do you consider as the "highest level"? It's certainly possible to find games with 9...Qb6 among players who are in the top 100 today, for example

And it's not obvious to me that 12. Na4 refutes the line. Have you got a source game with a convincing example of that? Or can you post a sample continuation after, for example, 9...Qb6 10. c5 dxc5 11. dxe5 Ne8 12. Na4 and now, say, 12...Qb5 and show how White gets a major advantage?

Dec-29-22  EphemeralAdvantage: <beatgiant> First of all I would like to point out that the Database is incomplete. But even here you can see a decline in the usage of the variation. This is always indicative that something has been found. If you have access to a bigger database you will notice that 1) 8. ... exd4 has taken over as THE mainline and 2) 6. ... Nbd7 is not being played that much recently.

These facts made me question the validity of the line. I always thought the whole 6. ... Nbd7/ 7. ... e5/ 8. ... c6/ 9. ... Qb6 approach was the best way for Black to play. I talked to some titled players about this and an FM told me that 10. c5 dxc5 11. dxe5 Ne8 12. Na4 is actually losing for Black. Now, that would be a hard pill to swallow a few years back but luckily we all have access to very strong (and free) computer chess programs.

Writing the lines here would not only be a tedious task but also completely pointless. Everybody has access to the latest Stockfish and Scid is a perfectly acceptable and free UI. So fire up the engines and don't take my word for it! If you are bored of analyzing on your own just have Stockfish play against itself from the position after 12. Na4.

I wish you could luck! This should be good practice of you are ever interested in correspondence chess

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <EphemeralAdvantage> If we find positive examples here of top GMs playing this line recently, we can't really cite the incomplete DB here. We see players like Cheparinov, Amin, Adhiban and even Firouzja playing 9...Qb6 within the last few years.

I did use the engine feature here and it doesn't find much for White in the given line, just the typical slight opening advantage around +0.2 or +0.3.

I did find some recent examples of White winning with 12. Na4 among GMs: (at a quick look, Black could have equalized playing ...Rxf3 a few moves earlier than he did) (I see no White advantage against 17...Nd4 here)

Based on the above, and with all due respect for the titled players you spoke to, I must say I remain unconvinced.

Dec-30-22  EphemeralAdvantage: <beatgiant> With all due respect to this site, the engine here is not good. Download stockfish 15.1 and a open source chess UI and analyze the position there. The position after 12. Na4 is given as +1.2 at sufficient depth by Stockfish 14 and I assure you that this evaluation is optimistic for Black. If you don't want to download anything to actually go in depth on this then this conversation is kind of pointless.

I would also like to point out that the mainline with 12. e6 fxe6 13. Ng5 Ne5 14. f4 Nf7 15. Nxf7 Bd4+ 16. Kh2 Rxf7 17. e5 also gets a +1.2 evaluation from the most recent engine, which again is too optimistic.

Regarding the games you cited: first of all 14. Bg5 is NOT a good move, or at least it is far from the best. Secondly the first game is between two 2000 rated players. Thirdly your second game is between GMs but it was played before the emergence of Neural Network Engines.

One last point would be this: the fact that the line is refuted at top level does not mean anything for us. I have certainly played it a lot even after learning the fact. Just don't expect to ever see it at a top event, where people actually prepare

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <EphemeralAdvantage> Yes, this discussion will be inconclusive until one or the other of us posts some good-quality analysis. I might do so in the future if time permits.

The first game is between Khismatullin ( and Kotronias ( who have both been GMs for a long time, so I'm not sure where you're getting the idea that it was <between two 2000 rated players>.

Of the players above I listed as playing this line, the most recent examples we find are Cheparinov in 2021 Sunway Stiges and Amin in 2021 World Blitz Championship, both about a year ago at the time of this writing.

Cheparinov's game is here Vladan Nikolic vs I Cheparinov, 2021 and he won with Black from the mainline you cited as +1.2 eval.

(To be sure, it's always possible the refutation was found only since that time, but hasn't yet appeared over the board because all the top practitioners decided to avoid it.)

Dec-31-22  EphemeralAdvantage: <beatgiant> By the first game I was refering to so that was a mistake on my part.

The Cheparinov game is against a 2200 opponent. Of course he is strong, but Cheparinov is former second of a world chess champion challenger. Nikolic's 19. h4 is a sideline. 19. Ne4 is the mainline. Incidentally Cheparinov has a game in 2020 against Amin in this line that is not in this database.

<you cited as +1.2 eval> you don't have to believe me though, just download stockfish 15 or analyze the position on lichess. Toggle on "Use NNUE" and "Infinite analysis". There is no point in posting analysis in 2022 when you can just use a strong computer.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <EphemeralAdvantage> Yes, that other game was between 2000 players. Evidently the British Championship is more open than I realized.

And yes, Cheparinov was stronger than his opponent in his most recent example, but still I doubt he would have played a line if he knew it was busted.

And I agree there is no point in engine analysis and evals in themselves. What we seek is understanding. That means something like "the engine uncovered a major improvement on move 23" or "the neural nets don't trust Black's ugly looking structure in the long run" or whatever it is. And that's why I keep posting concrete chess ideas on the site.

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