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

Overall record: +564 -138 =463 (68.3%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 16 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

MOST PLAYED OPENINGS
With the White pieces:
 Nimzo Indian (89) 
    E40 E24 E45 E48 E23
 King's Indian (64) 
    E67 E69 E60 E62 E72
 English (55) 
    A16 A13 A15 A14 A10
 Queen's Gambit Declined (43) 
    D37 D35 D31 D30 D38
 English, 1 c4 e5 (37) 
    A22 A28 A26 A25 A23
 Slav (34) 
    D10 D13 D14 D18 D11
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (87) 
    C18 C19 C15 C07 C05
 Sicilian (55) 
    B63 B62 B58 B27 B72
 Ruy Lopez (47) 
    C98 C90 C92 C68 C82
 French Winawer (46) 
    C18 C15 C19 C17
 Nimzo Indian (45) 
    E34 E33 E21 E44 E46
 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
   Botvinnik vs Fischer, 1962 1/2-1/2
   Denker vs Botvinnik, 1945 0-1
   Botvinnik vs Keres, 1966 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Boleslavsky, 1941 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Bronstein, 1951 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)
   USSR Absolute Championship (1941)
   Moscow (1935)
   USSR Championship (1939)
   Moscow (1947)
   USSR Championship (1945)
   USSR Championship (1944)
   USSR Championship (1952)
   Groningen (1946)
   Hastings 1961/62 (1961)
   Alekhine Memorial (1956)
   Moscow (1936)
   Palma de Mallorca (1967)
   USSR Championship (1940)

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

GAMES ANNOTATED BY BOTVINNIK: [what is this?]
   Robatsch vs Botvinnik, 1962


Search Sacrifice Explorer for Mikhail Botvinnik
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MIKHAIL BOTVINNIK
(born Aug-17-1911, died May-05-1995, 83 years old) Russia
PRONUNCIATION:
[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: http://www.theweekinchess.com/html/...

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], http://www.worldchesslinks.net/ezig..., [rusbase-9], [rusbase-10], http://www.worldchesslinks.net/ezig..., http://www.worldchesslinks.net/ezig..., [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 N Timofeev 1-0231924LeningradD26 Queen's Gambit Accepted
4. G Abramovic vs Botvinnik 0-1321924Leningrad jrE61 King's Indian
5. Botvinnik vs S Kaminer 0-1411924Training GameE90 King's Indian
6. Botvinnik vs I Folga 1-0371924LeningradA48 King's Indian
7. V Zbandutto vs Botvinnik ½-½431924Leningrad 2nd catC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
8. G Andreev vs Botvinnik 0-1461924LeningradE60 King's Indian Defense
9. S Kaminer vs Botvinnik 1-0281924Training GameD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
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, 5.cd, 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. V B Yuryev vs Botvinnik 1-0381925Leningrad 1st catD02 Queen's Pawn Game
15. G Jagdfeld vs Botvinnik 0-1351925LeningradD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
16. Botvinnik vs J Zverev 1-0381925Leningrad 1st catD92 Grunfeld, 5.Bf4
17. A Vaits vs Botvinnik 0-1311925Leningrad 1st catD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
18. Botvinnik vs S Kaminer 1-0391925LeningradD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
19. Botvinnik vs M Schebarschin 1-0321925Leningrad 1st catA50 Queen's Pawn Game
20. B Rivlin vs Botvinnik 0-1331925RussiaE00 Queen's Pawn Game
21. B Rivlin vs Botvinnik 0-1321925Leningrad 1st catD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
22. B Rivlin vs Botvinnik 0-1431925Leningrad ttC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
23. Botvinnik vs B Rivlin 1-0331925Leningrad 1st catD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
24. Botvinnik vs N Liutov 1-0341925RussiaA46 Queen's Pawn Game
25. N Proskurin vs Botvinnik 0-1361925Leningrad 1st catC90 Ruy Lopez, Closed
 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 64 OF 64 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-28-20  The Rocket: <The idea is more a restrictive one.> I understand the thinking behind the move, but kingside pawn moves with queens on the board are by definition aggression, whether you follow up that aggression is a different matter.

The perception is that white has no advantage after Bd3, and so g4 is even played by these positional players.

If you ask me, the only way g4 would be the best move in that position is if it refuted the line, which it doesn't. Assuming I face the strongest possible opposition, I would not concider that move. Pawns don't go back.

Apr-28-20  The Rocket: He is young in the games you referenced. The old Botvinnik was supposedly more positional.

g4 is not a positional move. No move which weakens your kingside without a very strong pay-off (huge advantage is positional). That is, either those types of moves are the best in the concrete position or they're anti positional.

Apr-28-20  ARubinstein: <g4 is not a positional move. No move which weakens your kingside without a very strong pay-off (huge advantage is positional). That is, either those types of moves are the best in the concrete position or they're anti positional.>

-

Chess is far too complex to bend to such dogmatic thinking. 7.g4 is not an aggressive move seeking to attack the kingside. It is a positional move aiming to restrict Black's minor pieces.

<If you ask me, the only way g4 would be the best move in that position is if it refuted the line, which it doesn't. Assuming I face the strongest possible opposition, I would not concider that move.>

Botvinnik pioneered this line at the top level. The positional 7.g4 is now the main line and the most successful one, scoring better than the alternatives in that position. It became the top choice of players like Reshevsky, Bronstein, Taimanov, Geller, Petrosian, Korchnoi, Beliavsky, Timman, Yusupov, Ivanchuk, Karpov, Kasparov, Kramnik, Morozevich, Svidler, Mamedyarov, Caruana, Ding, So, Nakamura, Nepomniachtchi... and Stockfish 10.

Apr-28-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: Botvinnik was a toxic humourless Commie.

He had to employ the entire Soviet Union to grasp a draw with Bobby.

Apr-28-20  ARubinstein: <Botvinnik was a toxic humourless Commie.>

Botvinnik was one of the greatest players, writers and teachers in chess history.

Apr-29-20  The Rocket: Call it whatever you want, g4 is a weakening, commital move. Qc2 is surely better. Qc2 at the very least provokes g6 before a trade occurs.

And dogmatism is generally correct in chess openings.

Apr-29-20  The Rocket: Anyway, how do historians view Petrosians victory over Botvinnik. Was it a natural passing of the torch and no real damage to Botvinniks legacy or was he still very strong at the time of the match?

I rarely hear Petrosians touted as one of the very best (top 5), but cases have been made for Botvinnik. I suppose Petrosians tournament results weren't spectacular enough?

Apr-29-20  The Rocket: Btw, did Botvinnik ever comment on his chances of beating Alekhine?

In my estimation, Alekhines peak strength is higher than Botvinnik, but Botvinniks lowest level might be higher. So it's not completely clear to me how that works out.

Either player is at best 30-40 elo stronger than the other.

My feeling is that Alekhine would beat him but who knows.

Apr-29-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Botvinnik was a toxic humourless Commie.>

Agreed.

<Botvinnik was one of the greatest players, writers and teachers in chess history.>

Agreed.

I don't think he was entirely humourless. Legend has it that he once smiled in 1927. Maybe a leading opponent had just been deported to Siberia.

Apr-29-20  The Rocket: Legend also has it that Botvinnik played a blitz game once. He was apparently attrocious at it.

I guess that's why he is not viewed as a very talented WC and more of a hard-worker.

Apr-29-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: < Legend also has it that Botvinnik played a blitz game once.>

Yes, I think that was also in 1927, on a train. His opponent was thrown off at the next stop, although the train didn't.

Apr-29-20  fabelhaft: <I rarely hear Petrosians touted as one of the very best (top 5), but cases have been made for Botvinnik. I suppose Petrosians tournament results weren't spectacular enough?>

He played two matches against Spassky and scored -1 over all, and won against Botvinnik when the latter was 15-20 years past his peak (after 14 games of the match Botvinnik was still keeping the title). If you look as Botvinnik's results in the 1940s, he was in a position in the chess world Petrosian never was anywhere close to.

<My feeling is that Alekhine would beat him>

I think the planned match at the end of the 1940s would have been won easily by Botvinnik. He was at his best around then, while Alekhine peaked at least 15 years before that.

As a comparison, Botvinnik peaked at 2885 in 1945 according to Chessmetrics (and was 129 lower when losing to Petrosian), while Alekhine was 2860 in 1931 and 2744 when he died. Maybe Alekhine 1930 vs Botvinnik 1945 would have been more even, but Alekhine didn't impress all that much in his four matches against Euwe and Bogo in the 1930s, and did lose to Botvinnik in AVRO 1938.

Apr-29-20  The Rocket: <As a comparison, Botvinnik peaked at 2885 in 1945 according to Chessmetrics (and was 129 lower when losing to Petrosian), while Alekhine was 2860 in 1931 and 2744 when he died. Maybe Alekhine 1930 vs Botvinnik 1945 would have been more even, but Alekhine didn't impress all that much in his four matches against Euwe and Bogo in the 1930s, and did lose to Botvinnik in AVRO 1938.>

Didn't impress all that much? He beat Euwe +10−4=11 in the rematch.

Apr-29-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Alekhine was in no fit state after the war for a title match. It took a few games for Botvinnik to also shake off the cobwebs. He had a couple of tactical mishaps till he sorted himself out this was just one of them.

Botvinnik vs Kotov, 1946

(Seems even back than Rocket was not to impressed with Botvinnik. Botvinnik vs Kotov, 1946 (kibitz #78))

However and ignoring the 4 digit number you would have to go with the younger, (he was 35, Alekhine 56) fitter Botvinnik. Alekhine would have scored a brilliancy or two and maybe taken an early lead but Botvinnik would have triumphed.

At his peak 15-20 years earlier Alekhine was the best player in world but he his time was past. No shame in that but the age difference in this case must be considered.

Botvinnik was on the verge of becoming one of the great players. It was his time.

***

Apr-29-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Alekhine was in no fit state after the war>

Look at his results from 1942-1943; his games indicate he was playing again at a very high level. I suspect being 'back on the road' and the general buzz of wartime had an invigorating effect on his game. Those last couple of years stuck in the sweaty sanctuary of Spain and Portugal sucked the lifeblood from him. The challenge from Botvinnik came like a shot of Viagra. What we missed...

<you would have to go with the younger, (he was 35, Alekhine 56) fitter Botvinnik>

What would be your prognosis of the Botvinnik-Tal rematch?

Apr-29-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Maybe the match might have perked him up. He recovered and pulled himself together for the Euwe re-match but we are now 10 years further on. Alekhine's last few days in Portugal make very sad reading. He was a shattered man. A shame. He was one of the games greatest players and authors.

My prognosis on the Botvinnik-Tal re-match?

That match took place. Thought we were offering an opinion on a match that did not take place.

I'll leave it to Tal to offer an explanation for that one, he should know better than anyone.

"I think that I lost to him, because he beat me! He was very well-prepared for the second match. Botvinnik knew my play better than I knew his."

Tal - Botvinnik World Championship Rematch (1961)

***

Apr-30-20  The Rocket: <Look at his results from 1942-1943; his games indicate he was playing again at a very high level>

But his opponents were patzers. His drumming of Keres was impressive but Keres is vastly overrated.

Apr-30-20  The Rocket: And the reason most of his opponents were patzers is because Alekhines was barred from playing a lot of tournaments due to antisemitic backlash, even though he was not antisemitic (his texts were either manufactured or written under direct order.)
Apr-30-20  ewan14: Petrosian s quote about avoiding '' unnecessary excitement '' is fairly well known , however he did realise in rhe late fifties that his play would have to become more aggressive if he was to become w.c. , especially with Tal and Keres as competition. Between 1958 , a zonal , and 1961a , another zonal , his record in the Soviet Championships was pretty good ; two firsts and two seconds ( one equal ) Just as good as some of Botvinniks tournament results keadung up to being w.c.
Apr-30-20  ewan14: Sally , with regards to the result of the 1961 w.c. rematch Tal was being a sporting loser
Apr-30-20  ewan14: So , fabelhaft , Petrosians USSR championship results were comparable ,
Apr-30-20  ewan14: The length of the 1963 world championship match obviously favoured Petrosian , and his second ( Bolyesky (?) ) knew this Their head to heads meetings before the match were sparse and equal although there is the one game where Petrosian defended brilliantly to get a draw. The rwo games post 1963 Botvinnik came out the openings better , but only one won.
Apr-30-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <fabelhaft....I think the planned match at the end of the 1940s would have been won easily by Botvinnik. He was at his best around then, while Alekhine peaked at least 15 years before that....>

The consensus is that Alekhine had definitely lost a step at the very end of his life, whilst Botvinnik was on peak form in the forties; I too see Botvinnik winning a title match with ease in 1947 or '48.

Jul-02-20  ARubinstein: No question about it, Botvinnik was a big favorite against Alekhine by the time the match was being planned. Botvinnik was by far the strongest player in the world throughout the 1940s.
Jul-03-20  fabelhaft: <So , fabelhaft , Petrosians USSR championship results were comparable>

If that refers to my opinion on the earlier post questioning why Botvinnik usually is ranked ahead of Petrosian, and the latter rarely is ranked among the top 5 of the greatest ever, I think there are many reasons Botvinnik is ranked higher.

In the 1940s he had a very impressive sequence of results, including scoring +14-0=4 in 18 games when winning the Soviet Championship, and winning the World Championship with a margin of three points. Petrosian was never in a similar position strength wise.

Botvinnik played the first of his seven title matches when he was already 40, and on the whole I think he was quite a bit greater than Petrosian.

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