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Mikhail Botvinnik
Number of games in database: 1,181
Years covered: 1924 to 1983

Overall record: +565 -138 =463 (68.3%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 15 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Nimzo Indian (89) 
    E40 E24 E45 E48 E23
 King's Indian (64) 
    E67 E69 E60 E62 E72
 English (55) 
    A16 A15 A13 A14 A10
 Queen's Gambit Declined (43) 
    D37 D35 D31 D30 D38
 English, 1 c4 e5 (37) 
    A22 A28 A25 A26 A23
 Slav (34) 
    D10 D13 D14 D18 D11
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (87) 
    C18 C15 C19 C07 C01
 Sicilian (55) 
    B63 B62 B58 B27 B32
 Ruy Lopez (47) 
    C98 C90 C92 C68 C82
 French Winawer (46) 
    C18 C19 C15 C17
 Nimzo Indian (45) 
    E34 E21 E33 E46 E41
 Caro-Kann (40) 
    B18 B12 B10 B15 B11
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Botvinnik vs Capablanca, 1938 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Portisch, 1968 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Vidmar, 1936 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Chekhover, 1935 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Alekhine, 1938 1-0
   Denker vs Botvinnik, 1945 0-1
   Botvinnik vs Fischer, 1962 1/2-1/2
   Botvinnik vs Keres, 1966 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Bronstein, 1951 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Boleslavsky, 1941 1-0

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: [what is this?]
   FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948)
   Botvinnik - Bronstein World Championship Match (1951)
   Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Match (1954)
   Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Match (1957)
   Smyslov - Botvinnik World Championship Rematch (1958)
   Botvinnik - Tal World Championship Match (1960)
   Tal - Botvinnik World Championship Rematch (1961)
   Botvinnik - Petrosian World Championship Match (1963)

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   USSR Championship (1931)
   Leningrad Championship (1932)
   Moscow (1935)
   USSR Championship (1939)
   USSR Championship (1944)
   USSR Absolute Championship (1941)
   Groningen (1946)
   USSR Championship (1945)
   Moscow (1947)
   USSR Championship (1952)
   Alekhine Memorial (1956)
   Hastings 1961/62 (1961)
   Moscow (1936)
   Palma de Mallorca (1967)
   USSR Championship (1940)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Match Botvinnik! by chessgain
   Match Botvinnik! by amadeus
   Bot_vin_nik Blinked at Fredthebear by fredthebear
   Das Schachgenie Botwinnik (Suetin) by Chessdreamer
   Mikhail Botvinnik's Best Games by KingG
   Mikhail Botvinnik's Best Games by dcruggeroli
   BOTVINNIK"S BEST GAMES VOL 1: 1925-1941 by Malacha
   Botvinnik's Best by Koolcat
   botvinnik best games by brager
   Botvinnik: One Hundred Selected Games by Trabischu
   GOOD STILL TODAY by Imohthep
   Botvinnik: One Hundred Selected Games by smarticecream
   GOOD STILL TODAY Compiled by Imohthep by fredthebear
   Botvinnik's Best Games 1947-1970 by uglybird

   Robatsch vs Botvinnik, 1962

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Mikhail Botvinnik
Search Google for Mikhail Botvinnik

(born Aug-17-1911, died May-05-1995, 83 years old) Russia
[what is this?]
Mikhail Moiseevich Botvinnik was born in Kuokkala, near Viipuri (Today, Vyborg) in what was then Finland. He was raised in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). He learned the game early and progressed rapidly, winning the 1st of his 6 USSR Championships in 1931; the other 5 victories were in 1933, 1939, 1944, 1945 and 1952. He also won the Leningrad tournament of 1934, the Absolute Soviet Championship in 1941, and the Sverdlovsk super tournament of 1943. Other significant achievements include equal first with Salomon Flohr in Moscow 1935, 2nd at Moscow 1936 behind Jose Raul Capablanca, equal first with Capablanca at Nottingham 1936, 3rd at AVRO 1938, and first at Groningen 1946 before playing for the World Championship in 1948. He also won the Tchigorin Memorial tournament of 1947 and came equal first with David Bronstein in the Alekhine Memorial of 1956.(1)

With the death of Alexander Alekhine in 1946, the FIDE saw its chance to take control of the World Championship and invited six players to take part in a tournament to determine the championship. With Reuben Fine declining the invitation to play, Botvinnik won it ahead of Vassily Smyslov, Paul Keres, Samuel Reshevsky, and Dr Max Euwe in the quintuple round robin FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948). He retained the crown in 1951 against David Bronstein when he tied the match, by winning and drawing his last two games. He again retained it in 1954 against Vasily Smyslov by again drawing the match, however Smyslov turned the tables in 1957 by wresting the crown from Botvinnik. At the time, a defeated champion was entitled to a return match the following year and so in 1958, Botvinnik defeated Smyslov in a return match. Likewise, after losing to Mikhail Tal in 1960, Botvinnik defeated him in a return match in 1961. He lost the title for the last time to Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian in 1963. FIDE had eliminated the return match and so Botvinnik chose to retire from world championship play.

Generally regarded as the Patriarch of the Soviet Chess School, his style was based on rigorous opening preparation, deep calculation, and accurate endgame technique. Students of his school include Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov and many more.

Live footages of Botvinnik from 1933-1963 starting at the following link: Mikhail Botvinnik.

Special edition of This Week in Chess devoted to Botvinnik and his career, assembled by Mark Crowther soon after Botvinnik's death in 1995:

Wikipedia article: Mikhail Botvinnik

(1) Crosstables of competitions mentioned in this paragraph are successively linked at [rusbase-1], [rusbase-2], [rusbase-3], [rusbase-4], [rusbase-5], [rusbase-6], [rusbase-7], [rusbase-8],, [rusbase-9], [rusbase-10],,, [rusbase-11], and [rusbase-12]

 page 1 of 48; games 1-25 of 1,181  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Botvinnik vs N Begunov 1-0321924Leningrad 2/3th catD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
2. Botvinnik vs A Zilberman 1-0481924Leningrad jrD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
3. Botvinnik vs S Kaminer 0-1411924Training GameE90 King's Indian
4. Botvinnik vs N Timofeev 1-0231924LeningradD26 Queen's Gambit Accepted
5. G Abramovic vs Botvinnik 0-1321924Leningrad jrE61 King's Indian
6. S Kaminer vs Botvinnik 1-0281924Training GameD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
7. Botvinnik vs I Folga 1-0371924LeningradA48 King's Indian
8. V Zbandutto vs Botvinnik ½-½431924Leningrad 2nd catC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
9. G Andreev vs Botvinnik 0-1461924LeningradE60 King's Indian Defense
10. Botvinnik vs A Makhlin 1-0281924Leningrad 2/3th catC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
11. V Miliutin vs Botvinnik 0-1231924Ch Leningrad juniorsD72 Neo-Grunfeld,, Main line
12. Botvinnik vs I Kalinin 1-0291924Leningrad 2/3th catC55 Two Knights Defense
13. G Abramovic vs Botvinnik 0-1171924Soviet UnionA80 Dutch
14. J Dobropistsev vs Botvinnik 0-1351925Leningrad 1st catC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
15. V B Yuryev vs Botvinnik 1-0381925Leningrad 1st catD02 Queen's Pawn Game
16. G Jagdfeld vs Botvinnik 0-1351925LeningradD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
17. Botvinnik vs J Zverev 1-0381925Leningrad 1st catD92 Grunfeld, 5.Bf4
18. A Vaits vs Botvinnik 0-1311925Leningrad 1st catD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
19. Botvinnik vs S Kaminer 1-0391925LeningradD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
20. Botvinnik vs M Schebarschin 1-0321925Leningrad 1st catA50 Queen's Pawn Game
21. B Rivlin vs Botvinnik 0-1331925RussiaE00 Queen's Pawn Game
22. B Rivlin vs Botvinnik 0-1321925Leningrad 1st catD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
23. B Rivlin vs Botvinnik 0-1431925Leningrad ttC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
24. Botvinnik vs B Rivlin 1-0331925Leningrad 1st catD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
25. Botvinnik vs N Liutov 1-0341925RussiaA46 Queen's Pawn Game
 page 1 of 48; games 1-25 of 1,181  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Botvinnik wins | Botvinnik loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 63 OF 63 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: I've read a piece claiming that Botvinnik's brother was 'killed by the Germans in the war'. Wikipedia confirms the existence of an elder brother, <Issy>, but only in the context of Mikhail's childhood. Does <Achieving the Aim> mention this?
Sep-14-18  Telemus: < Botvinnik's brother was 'killed by the Germans in the war'. [...] Does <Achieving the Aim> mention this?> Yes.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Who was involved?
What happened?
Where did it take place?
When did it take place?
Why did that happen?
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: <In September 1941, Botvinnik’s brother, Isya, died at the front from incoming German bombs. His aunt and uncle also died in the early days of the war.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Botvinnik being interviewed after playing at the 1961/1962 Hastings.


"What do you consider the main strengths and weaknesses of the British and American players...What advice could you offer them."


"In my Opinion the British Master lack all-round playing strength...R. Fischer has no longer any need of my advice."

CHESS. January 1961 (page 120)

Sep-27-18  gokusano: The advent of computers reduces drastically all the advantages the Soviets have over their contemporaries. Years ago, they were ahead in opening preparations and strategies because they (the topnotch players) can collaborate with each other at any given time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Botvinnik in the same 1962 interview (see above) regarding computers.


"In how many years do you think Chess by electronic computers will become a serious factor in the game?"


"I believe the time when an electronic machine will play chess is not far off."

Sep-27-18  john barleycorn: Always remember: "A fool with a tool is still a fool"
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <1d410>

If I was going to list great Botvinnik exchange sacrifices, I really should have included Botvinnik vs Vidmar, 1946. I also really like Tal vs Botvinnik, 1961 for both players!

Jan-29-19  ughaibu: According to the database! and my rough and ready calculation!! of Botvinnik's wins, 10% were miniatures. For a player with such a heavy style, I find that percentage surprisingly high. For example, Smyslov has 6% miniature wins, on the other hand, Zukertort has 19% miniature wins.

Anyone want to look at some others?

Jan-29-19  Retireborn: <ughaibu> How are you defining miniature? I have seen various limits (20, 25, 30 moves) imposed.

I am not sure that percentages are useful, since eg Smyslov will have played a much higher number of games than Zukertort.

Personally I associate the word miniature with Alexander Beliavsky. The one against Larsen is well known, but a surprising number of people have had to turn down their kings well before move 30, against him.

Jan-29-19  ughaibu: <How are you defining miniature?>

At most 25 moves.

<Personally I associate the word miniature with Alexander Beliavsky.>

About 6% of his wins are miniatures!

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <retireborn> <ughaibu>

I'd expect the % of the minatures, like the % of decisive games, to fall over time.

There are still ground rules to set, e.g. do you include casual games, simuls/exhibitiions, rapid, blitz, etc.

The keys to a high percentage would be a sharp style, heavy opening prep, and a relatively high share of weak opponents. Beliavsky and Botvinnik get 2 out of 3 on that criteria, Fischer 3 out of 3.

Botvinnik played in the 1938 USSR semi-final, a weak field for him. He got 4 minatures in 13 wins, including two under 15 moves.

I Mazel vs Botvinnik, 1938

Botvinnik vs Kasparian, 1938

Botvinnik vs A Poliak, 1938

Botvinnik vs A Budo, 1938

Jan-29-19  ughaibu: Keypusher: Certainly I expected Zukertort to have a higher percentage of miniatures amongst his wins, not just for stylistic reasons, but because a lot of the games would have been informal. But Smyslov was more or less a contemporary of Botvinnik's, or at least that was my thinking, but, looking just at their wins from 1940 on, the results are much closer: Smyslov 6%, Botvinnik 7-8%. Of course it would be interesting to limit the figures to "serious" games, but that would require more effort than I'm prepared to put in.
Jan-29-19  ughaibu: Fischer: 18-19%.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <ughaibu> <start from 1940>

Don't forget that Botvinnik is ten years older than Smyslov and was very strong in the 30s. I'm always looking for an edge for MMB...

On the other hand Botvinnik retired when he was 58, while Smyslov played until he was much older. I don't imagine Smyslov was winning many minatures in the 80s and 90s.

Jan-29-19  Retireborn: <keypusher> I hate to be that guy, but in head to head Botvinnik v Smyslov miniatures, Vassily leads 2-0. Heh!

It's true he didn't win many miniatures in the 80s on, although there was that time he beat Kevin Spraggett in 14 moves.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Retireborn: <keypusher> I hate to be that guy, but in head to head Botvinnik v Smyslov miniatures, Vassily leads 2-0. Heh!>

It's Ok. :) If you win a lot of minatures, you'll definitely lose some. Hell, Fischer lost two the same year to the same guy.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: Old lion is still a lion.... K Spraggett vs Smyslov, 1985
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: But my favourite is Smyslov vs K Arakhamia-Grant, 1998
Jan-29-19  ughaibu: Aged twenty to fifty, percentage of wins that were miniatures: Beliavsky 6%, Smyslov 6%, Botvinnink. . . . 11%!
Jan-30-19  Troller: <ughaibu: Aged twenty to fifty, percentage of wins that were miniatures: Beliavsky 6%, Smyslov 6%, Botvinnink. . . . 11%!>

Interesting stat. Maybe it has something to do with Botvinnik's opening prep in sharp lines? Or is it that he dominated USSR completely in the 1940's?

Of course, Beliavsky was active at a time where the study of openings had made great progress and where I would suspect miniatures between top GMs had become rarer. Smyslov on his hand never had a style suited to lots of miniatures.

Jan-30-19  ughaibu: Again, aged twenty to fifty: Petrosian 5%, Tal 13%, Spassky 12%, Karpov 5% and Euwe 16%.

Fischer, Kasparov, Kramnik and Carlsen don't meet the 20-50 condition, in any case, almost half of Fischer's miniature wins are from simuls, open tournaments or similar. Surprisingly, Karpov's figure appears to be somewhat inflated in this way too, and to a much lesser extent, so is Tal's, and I expect there would be similar inflation for pre-Euwe and post-Karpov champions. Not so surprisingly, a lot of Euwe's miniatures appear to have been played in comparatively weak tournaments.

Jul-13-19  Chesgambit: Botvinnik vs Capablanca
Oct-09-19  posoo: why oh WHY did dis man have to DIE. MIKHAL MIKHAL com bak to us, i am SO sad about dis.
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