Mikhail Botvinnik

Mikhail Botvinnik was the first of many Soviet chess World Champions, winning a tournament in 1948 after Alekhin died, and holding on though a couple of interruptions until 1963. He was known for a very sound, logical style of play, and thoroughly researched all the opening systems he played.

Here he is in action with an IQP position against one of the giants of the day:

[Event "Nottingham"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1936.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Botvinnik, Mikhail"]
[Black "Vidmar, Milan Sr"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "D60"]
[Annotator "QGA/IQPm: sacrifice on f7 by N"]
[PlyCount "47"]

1. c4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bg5 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. Bd3 {[#]White
does not try to save a move by delaying Bd3} c5 {With a B on d3, d4 is a
little less protected and d5 is a little less attacked, so this is better than
usual} (7... dxc4 8. Bxc4 c5 9. O-O cxd4 10. exd4) 8. O-O cxd4 9. exd4 dxc4 10.
Bxc4 {[#]The classic IQP position.} Nb6 11. Bb3 Bd7 12. Qd3 (12. d5 {is a good
idea when it doesn't lose a pawn} exd5 13. Nxd5 (13. Bxf6) 13... Nfxd5 14. Bxd5
) 12... Nbd5 (12... Nfd5 $1 {achieving exchanges}) 13. Ne5 {It's nice to get
into e5 without worrying about it being swapped off} Bc6 14. Rad1 Nb4 15. Qh3
$1 Bd5 (15... a6 16. Nxf7 $1) 16. Nxd5 {Now White has two Bishops and will
attack the weakened light squares.} Nbxd5 17. f4 $1 Rc8 18. f5 exf5 19. Rxf5
Qd6 $2 {[#]} 20. Nxf7 $1 Rxf7 21. Bxf6 Bxf6 22. Rxd5 $1 Qc6 {[#]Lots of things
now win} 23. Rd6 (23. Rc5) (23. Rd7) 23... Qe8 (23... Qxd6 24. Qxc8+ Qd8) 24.
Rd7 {'1-0 (24) Botvinnik,M-Vidmar,M Nottingham 1936'} *


[You can see how he got on against Euwe in 1934 .]

Here is another well-known game -- not spectacular, but showing a great depth of understanding of the position. The Bd5 is supposed to be 'bad', but it dominated the game.

[Event "bishops: bad bishop?"]
[Site "bishops: bad bishop?"]
[Date "1939.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "BotvinniK, Mikhail"]
[Black "Kann"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E21"]
[PlyCount "81"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 c5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 Qa5 7. Bd2 Ne4 8.
Qc2 Nxd2 9. Nxd2 d6 10. e3 e5 11. dxe5 dxe5 {[#]  White won a couple of games
with this pawn formation: the weakness of the c- pawns is less important than
the outpost on d5.} 12. Bd3 h6 13. O-O O-O 14. f4 Nd7 15. f5 Nf6 16. Ne4 Qd8
17. Nxf6+ Qxf6 18. Be4 Rb8 19. Rad1 b6 20. h3 Ba6 21. Bd5 b5 22. cxb5 Rxb5 23.
c4 Rb6 24. Rb1 Rd8 25. Rxb6 axb6 26. e4 Bc8 {[#]  The Bd5 is not bad - rather,
it is the Bc8 that has no scope. Meanwhile, the b-pawn is a glaring weakness
on the half-open file. First, White whips the Queen to a7 before Black stops
it with ...Bd7.} 27. Qa4 Bd7 28. Qa7 Be8 29. Rb1 Rd6 30. a4 Kh7 31. a5 {
Undermining the pawns.} bxa5 32. Qxa5 Ra6 33. Qxc5 Ra2 34. Qe3 Qa6 35. Rb8 {
Great move} Qa4 36. Kh2 Ra3 37. Qc5 Ra2 38. Ra8 {[#]  Black's Queen is
over-worked.} Qxa8 (38... Qc2 39. Rxa2 Qxa2 40. Qe7 {is hopeless: the Bishop,
e-pawn and f-pawn are all under attack.}) 39. Bxa8 Rxa8 40. Qxe5 Bc6 41. Qc7
1-0


This is probably his most dazzling game: he could do spectacular when he wanted to, even in his slow, positional openings.

[Event "Moscow "]
[Site "style: Botvinnik"]
[Date "1935.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "BotvinniK, Mikhail"]
[Black "Chekhover, V."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A06"]
[PlyCount "83"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. b3 Nf6 3. Bb2 e6 4. c4 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Nc3 Be7 7. Be2 O-O 8. O-O
a6 9. Nd4 dxc4 10. bxc4 Nc5 11. f4 {!} Qc7 12. Nf3 Rd8 13. Qc2 Ncd7 14. d4 c5
15. Ne5 b6 16. Bd3 cxd4 17. exd4 Bb7 18. Qe2 Nf8 19. Nd1 {[#]  ! White's slow
opening did not mean lack of ambition in the centre, and this 'retreat' is
only to advance with more effect.} Ra7 20. Nf2 Qb8 21. Nh3 h6 22. Ng5 {[#]  !
Space has been rather abruptly turned into attack: the key is mobility.} hxg5
23. fxg5 N8d7 24. Nxf7 Kxf7 25. g6+ Kg8 26. Qxe6+ Kh8 27. Qh3+ Kg8 28. Bf5 Nf8
29. Be6+ Nxe6 30. Qxe6+ Kh8 31. Qh3+ Kg8 {[#]  How to proceed?} 32. Rxf6 Bxf6
33. Qh7+ Kf8 34. Re1 Be5 35. Qh8+ Ke7 36. Qxg7+ Kd6 37. Qxe5+ Kc6 38. d5+ Kc5
39. Ba3+ Kxc4 40. Qe4+ Kc3 41. Bb4+ Kb2 42. Qb1# {[#]  An attractive finish.}
1-0


This last game is a model of what White wants to do in the Benoni:
[Event "Leipzig ol (Men) fin-A"]
[Site "Leipzig GDR"]
[Date "1960.11.03"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "7.2"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Mikhail Botvinnik"]
[Black "Lothar Schmid"]
[ECO "A43"]
[PlyCount "59"]

1.d4 c5 2.d5 d6 3.e4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Be2 Nf6 6.Nc3 Na6 7.O-O
Nc7 8.a4 a6 9.Nd2 Bd7 10.Nc4 b5 
{Black played the first ten moves at great speed -- as well he might, many people call this line the Schmid Benoni!  White's Knight on c4 is perfect, hitting e5 and d6, but it looks like White will have to retreat.  However, Black has not yet castled, which suggests a central break.}
11.e5!
{Now Black had a long think!} 
11...dxe5 
(11...bxc4 12 exf6 Bxf6 
({or} 12...exf6 13 Bf4 0-0 14 Bxd6 Re8 15 Bxc5 f5 16 Bxc4 {and White has three extra pawns on the Queen side.})
13 Bh6! {and Black can't castle})
12.axb5 axb5
13.Rxa8 Qxa8 14.Nxe5 
{So White has done well.  Black makes another attempt to make trouble on the Queen's-side.}
14...b4 15.d6! bxc3 16.dxc7! 
{Very forceful play by White -- Black seems on the edge of defeat.}
16...Qc8 17.Bf4 cxb2
18.Nxd7 Nxd7 19.Bb5 Bd4 20.c3 e5 21.cxd4 exf4 22.Bxd7+ Qxd7
23.Qe2+ (23.Qa4!) 23...Kf8 24.Qe5 Kg8 25.Rb1 f6 26.Qxc5 Kg7 27.Rxb2 Re8
28.Rb1 f3 29.gxf3 Qh3 30.Qc6 1-0
{Black had some better moves to defend (12...Nxb5, 15...Ne6), but the whole game has great feel of controlled power -- Tal, who had just beaten Botvinnik for the World Championship, called it the most impressive game of the year.}

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