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Mikhail Botvinnik

Number of games in database: 1,191
Years covered: 1924 to 1983
Overall record: +568 -140 =465 (68.2%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 18 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Nimzo Indian (90) 
    E40 E23 E24 E45 E48
 King's Indian (64) 
    E67 E69 E60 E62 E72
 English (52) 
    A16 A15 A13 A14 A10
 Queen's Gambit Declined (44) 
    D37 D35 D31 D30 D38
 English, 1 c4 e5 (38) 
    A22 A28 A25 A26 A23
 Slav (34) 
    D10 D13 D14 D18 D11
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (87) 
    C18 C19 C15 C07 C01
 Sicilian (55) 
    B63 B62 B58 B27 B32
 Ruy Lopez (47) 
    C98 C90 C92 C68 C82
 French Winawer (46) 
    C18 C15 C19 C17
 Nimzo Indian (45) 
    E34 E33 E21 E53 E41
 Caro-Kann (40) 
    B18 B12 B15 B10 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 V Chekhover, 1935 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Alekhine, 1938 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Bronstein, 1951 1-0
   Botvinnik vs Fischer, 1962 1/2-1/2
   Keres vs Botvinnik, 1941 0-1
   Alekhine vs Botvinnik, 1936 1/2-1/2
   Denker vs Botvinnik, 1945 0-1

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 1930/31 (1930)
   Leningrad Championship (1932)
   Moscow (1935)
   USSR Absolute Championship (1941)
   USSR Championship (1939)
   USSR Championship (1944)
   Groningen (1946)
   USSR Championship (1945)
   Moscow (1947)
   USSR Championship (1952)
   Hastings 1961/62 (1961)
   Alekhine Memorial (1956)
   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 Okavango
   Mikhail Botvinnik's Best Games by dcruggeroli
   Mikhail Botvinnik's Best Games by KingG
   Botvinnik's Best by Koolcat
   BOTVINNIK"S BEST GAMES VOL 1: 1925-1941 by Okavango
   BOTVINNIK"S BEST GAMES VOL 1: 1925-1941 by Malacha
   BOTVINNIK"S BEST GAMES VOL 1: 1925-1941 by hanwubai
   book: Botvinnik: One Hundred Selected Games by PassedPawnDuo
   Botvinnik: One Hundred Selected Games by smarticecream
   GOOD STILL TODAY by Imohthep

   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 Vasily Smyslov 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 (kibitz #1197).

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]

Last updated: 2020-11-22 08:25:51

 page 1 of 48; games 1-25 of 1,191  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Botvinnik vs I Kalinin 1-0291924Leningrad 2/3th catC55 Two Knights Defense
2. Botvinnik vs N Begunov 1-0321924Leningrad 2/3th catD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
3. Botvinnik vs N Timofeev 1-0231924LeningradD26 Queen's Gambit Accepted
4. Botvinnik vs I Folga 1-0371924LeningradA48 King's Indian
5. G Andreev vs Botvinnik 0-1461924LeningradE60 King's Indian Defense
6. V Miliutin vs Botvinnik 0-1231924Ch Leningrad juniorsD72 Neo-Grunfeld,, Main line
7. S Kaminer vs Botvinnik 1-0281924Training GameD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
8. G Abramovic vs Botvinnik 0-1321924Leningrad jrE61 King's Indian
9. Botvinnik vs A Makhlin 1-0281924Leningrad 2/3th catC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
10. Botvinnik vs A Zilberman 1-0481924Leningrad jrD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
11. Botvinnik vs S Kaminer 0-1411924Training GameE90 King's Indian
12. G Abramovic vs Botvinnik 0-1171924URSA80 Dutch
13. V Zbandutto vs Botvinnik ½-½431924Leningrad 2nd catC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
14. Botvinnik vs B Rivlin 1-0211925Leningrad mD46 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
15. Botvinnik vs B Rivlin 1-0331925Leningrad 1st catD67 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
16. G Yagdfeld vs Botvinnik 0-1351925Leningrad (1b and 2a category)D15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
17. V Yuriev vs Botvinnik 1-0381925Leningrad 1st catD02 Queen's Pawn Game
18. Botvinnik vs M Schebarschin 1-0321925Leningrad 1st catA50 Queen's Pawn Game
19. J Dobropistsev vs Botvinnik 0-1351925Leningrad 1st catC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
20. N Proskurin vs Botvinnik 0-1361925Leningrad 1st catC90 Ruy Lopez, Closed
21. Botvinnik vs J Zverev 1-0381925Leningrad 1st catD92 Grunfeld, 5.Bf4
22. A Perfiliev vs Botvinnik 0-1361925Leningrad 1st catC56 Two Knights
23. B Rivlin vs Botvinnik 0-1321925Leningrad 1st catD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
24. Botvinnik vs S Kaminer 1-0391925Leningrad (1b and 2a category)D44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
25. A Vaits vs Botvinnik 0-1311925Leningrad 1st catD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
 page 1 of 48; games 1-25 of 1,191  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Botvinnik wins | Botvinnik loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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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.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: Happy 109th birthday to the patriarch of Soviet chess. This man was serious (no blitzing!) and tenacious... world champion for many years, lost the title and recovered it twice. And he was still world champion past 50, something that we will probably never see again. Granted, chess was an older sport back then. Computers and simple expansion of the game have made players mature and reach their peak so much more rapidly now. But still, Botvinnik was, on and off, world number one for 15 years.
Jan-29-21  fabelhaft: Botvinnik was a hardcore Stalinist until his death in 1995, and supported the failed coup attempt in 1991. His views were “fixed forever” according to Kasparov, and while some might seem dated, he is far from alone in having a positive view of Stalin (for example Grischuk does too). This has changed a lot the last decades.

Less than 20 percent see Stalin strongly or moderately negatively in Russia, and those numbers are decreasing swiftly. No other ruler of the past is even remotely as popular as Stalin. Even Putin is behind Stalin in approval rating, and all the Russian polls from the last years on greatest individual ever are topped by Stalin. So Botvinnik is much more “in” politically than when he died.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: What's the difference between a Stalinist and a hardcore Stalinist?
Jan-29-21  fabelhaft: <What's the difference between a Stalinist and a hardcore Stalinist?>

Well, many were Stalinists in the 30s or 40s but to continue being it during the Khrushchev, Gorbachev and Yeltsin years is a bit more hardcore. At least he didn't gain anything from it. Karpov was a Communist and always said the "right" things in interviews, but I wonder if he was Communist a day later than he could benefit from it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < MissScarlett: <Botvinnik was a toxic humourless Commie.> Agreed.>

I can think of at least one funny thing he said. Though it was also a bit cruel. (Reminds me of you, MissS.)

Botvinnik / Polugaevsky vs Keres / Prins, 1966

< 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>

In 1942-43? You might want to check those dates.

< (his texts were either manufactured or written under direct order.)>

The Nazis committed lots of genuine crimes, you don't have to make any up.

Premium Chessgames Member

<fabelhaft> I met a retired Russia soldier- he was a student in an English as a second language class I was teaching years ago.

He told me he liked life in the Soviet Union. He said that in the army he always had a decent place to live, clothes, and enough food. He eventually emigrated to Canada some years after the Wall fell. After he got demobbed from the army, he had trouble making ends meet in Russia.

Jan-29-21  fabelhaft: On Soviet times I think this is the best possible book to read, 10/10:

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <fabelhaft: On Soviet times I think this is the best possible book to read, 10/10:>

On the strength of that recommendation, I'll try it. Have you (has anyone here) read a book re the other end of Soviet communism, <The House of Government>? I've also heard high praise for that.

Jan-30-21  fabelhaft: <keypusher> No, haven’t read that one but the reviews look promising.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < fabelhaft: On Soviet times I think this is the best possible book to read, 10/10:>

<Secondhand Time> was mesmerizing, harrowing. Thanks for the recommendation.

Premium Chessgames Member
Aug-17-21  tspchessfan: Happy Birthday Dr. Mikhail Botvinnik the great. Your contributions to chess and technology will be remembered for ever.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Didn't he work for years on a chess computer that was a complete failure?
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <MissScarlett: Didn't he work for years on a chess computer that was a complete failure?>

LOL. When Stalin had a look at the result, the blood must have drained from his Georgian face.

When Stalin thought of playing this new computer gave Botvinnik only one resource:

He would hide a small competent chess player inside a wooden cabinet.

Botvinnik selected the young Tal.

Great player BTW.

Premium Chessgames Member
  0ZeR0: Happy birthday Mikhail Moiseyevich Botvinnik. Though you did not teach me personally, I have learned much from your games and writings over the years. A better teacher could not exist.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Happy birthday to my favorite commie bastard!
Oct-20-21  Caissanist: Nothing much ever came of Botvinnik's computer chess projects, but I doubt that had anything to do with the quality of hs work. He would not have had decent machines to run on, thanks to the failure of the Soviet computer hardware industry after 1968 and Cold War restrictions that prevented them from importing modern machines from the West.
Premium Chessgames Member
  NatashaFatale: <keypusher> Sorry for the late response. The House of Government is purely wonderful.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < PAGE 65 OF 65 · Later> Premium Chessgames MemberJan-04-22 NatashaFatale: <keypusher> Sorry for the late response. The House of Government is purely wonderful>

Yes, I read it. It’s amazing!

Feb-02-22  Dionysius1: "Botvinnik once wrote 'Chess is the art which expresses the science of logic as music is the art which expresses the science of acoustics' " (Becoming a Grandmaster, by Raymond Keene. Batsford, 1977. p 35)


Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Read <The Russians> by Hedrick Smith, a New York Times correspondent. Still relevant in understanding the Russian psyche, 40 years later.


May-29-23  King.Arthur.Brazil: I would like to say a word about many critics to the big Botvinnik (about his defeat against Kotov, gid=1032133).

Fistly, Smyslov placed in his best-games book, two of his victories against KOTOV who seemed to be an attack genius, like others: Ragozin, Keres and Geller. But, none of them succeeded to have a world crown.

Moreover, in this theater from 70 over, several times you will see bad results from the people we repute as "best players". Smyslov was 15-16th in the 73 and 13-15th in 77 USSR also . In the Lvov Zonal of 78, Geller was the 15th (last one) and Smyslov only 7-9th. In the last, the leaders were Balashov, Vaganian and Kusmim. My point is that: aged happens to everyone, so you are not the same as you were at 40ties.

Even so, Bovinnik resistered as few, his score is: Bronstein (8+ 6- 19=), Geller (1+ 4- 7=, his worst), Keres (8+ 3- 9=), Kotov (4+ 1- 4=), Korchnoi and Stein (1+ 1- 2=), Petrosian (4+ 7- 20=, similar to Geller), Polugaevsky (1+ 0- 1=), Smyslov (29+ 24- 52=), Spassky (1+ 0- 7=), Tal (12+ 12- 20=) and tied with Fischer 1 game. Man, he did great!

Just to compare, Smyslov has the following score: Bronstein (7+ 6- 25=), Geller (8+ 11- 37=, his worst too), Keres (9+ 9- 22=), Kotov (6+ 3- 10=), Korchnoi (5+ 3- 14=), Petrosian (6+ 3- 27=), Polugaevsky (4+ 3- 19=), Spassky (3+ 5- 21=, bad too), Stein (1+ 1- 8=),Tal (4+ 3- 21=). But Smyslov were 10y newer than Botvinnik.

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