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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Mikhail Szebarszin
Olympiad of Leningrad-group 5 (1926), Leningrad URS, May-??
King's Indian Defense: Orthodox Variation. General (E91)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
May-26-04  fred lennox: Botvinnik was bold in creating a weak pawn structure to allow more piece mobility. Tarrasch was willing to create an Iso, which was considered unsound, even radical at the time. Botvinnik goes further. He is willing to create a double, even triple pawns for this end. His use of weak pawns as a weapon is unprecedented. In this game, the double isolated pawns prevail at the end.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Botvinnik gives a detailed analysis in his booklet 'Botvinnik on the endgame'. He says it took him decades to find the win if his opponent had played 73...♔d4. "...more recent examination of this game discloses that 73...♔d4 also loses, since after 74.a7 ♖a6; 75.♔d2 ♔e4 White, instead of the hasty 76.♔c3, can prevent the incursion of Black's king by 76.♖f7. After this Black can only play 76...♔d4; 77.♔c2 ♔c4, but now after 78.♖c7+ ♔d4; 79.♔b3 ♔e4; 80.♖f7! White wins by supporting the a-pawn with his king". - Botvinnik.
May-28-04  PizzatheHut: A few questions about this game if anyone would be willing to help:

<1> Did Botvinnik play 12. Re1 and 13. Bf1 to guard against a sacrifice on h3?

<2> Was Botvinnik's thiking behind 18. Ng1 to let the bishop come to g2 and defend the e-pawn, and then attack the knight?

<3>Was 31. Kg2 played against a plan of ...Nd4 for black? If not, why was it played?

Also, more generally, does anyone have any helpful advice on planning? I've been reading some tactics books, but my planning skill are really sucky and I always feel like I'm playing move by move in the middlegame.

May-28-04  AdrianP: <PTheH> I can offer my thoughts on question <1>. Typically in the KID, White's play will be on the Q-side and B will try to storm the K-side. With characteristic care, Botvinnik guards against Black's K-side ideas before concentrating on his Q-side plans. White plays Bf1 because the Black N is coming to f5 and Botvinnik wants to chase it away with g3 (it's too powerful to be left there; and he doesn't want to exchange his good dark-square B for it, also opening up the long diagonal for Black's unopposed dark-square Bishop). 12. Re1 mainly just makes space for 13. Bf1.

Re <2> Yes, Ng1 seems to me to be intended to make space for the B to drive back the B Knight from h4... an exchange on h4 would be ruinous for Black. In some ways, this is a bit of a weird plan, given that the N stays out of the action for a long time.

<3> Kg2 looks to me to be an attempt to control f3, to guard against plans of Nd4-f3...? f3 is a bit of a hole and only the K and N are able to keep an eye on it.

I'd be interested to hear what stronger players than me have to say re your three questions. I wonder, as well, whether Botvinnik offers any commentary...?

Re planning, I would guess Silman's books, then Nimzowitsch's My System and then John Watson's Modern Chess Strategy are probably good bets.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <Pizza; Adrian> Botvinnik annotates this game in 'Botvinnik's Best Games Volume 1 1925 - 1941' and also in 'Half a Century of Chess'.

He doesn't specifically comment on 12.Re1; 13.Bf1; 18.Ng1 or 31.Kg2.

However, I think Adrian is right about 12.♖e1 and 13.♗f1. After 11...♘h5 Botvinnik comments "This manoeuvre makes sense when Black is able to follow it up with ...♘f4 and ...f7-f5. In the given case this proves impossible, and in the end the knight is obliged to retrace its steps. Meanwhile, the advance of the f-pawn could have been prepared immediately by 11...♘e8".

After 13...h6 he says "For the moment Black cannot find the correct plan, but even now he could not play 13...f5 because of 14.♗xf4 exf4 15.exf5. However, it was not too late to begin retreating the knight".

Regarding 18.♘g1 I think you're right Pizza. After 21.♗f3 Botvinnik comments "All the same White will occupy the b-file, but when his e1 rook occupies the square e2, this will be the moment for Black to advance ...f7-f5, since the rook will be blocking the diagonal of the queen's attack on the knight at h5. Therefore this role is taken on by the bishop".

Finally I think 31.♔g2 was played with a threefold purpose. 1.To guard against ♘d4-f3 as you point out. 2.To prevent a queen invasion at f2 and 3.To stop a possible discovered check at g4 by the f6 knight as well as provide a support for the rook if it moves to f1. See the positions during moves 38-40 where White's c3 knight is hanging.

May-14-07  pimbo: what if 42.Rf1
Oct-01-07  whiteshark: <<Benzol:> Botvinnik gives a detailed analysis in his booklet 'Botvinnik on the endgame'. He says it took him decades to find the win if his opponent had played 73...Kd4. "...more recent examination of this game discloses that 73...Kd4 also loses, since after 74.a7 Ra6; 75.Kd2 Ke4 ...>

I don't understand the move <75...Ke4> in Botwinnik's variation now:

click for larger view

As the kings standing vice versa <75... Ra2+ 76. Kc1 Kd5> looks better to me.

click for larger view

Jan-30-12  whiteshark: According to Botvinnik the game concluded
<83...Kd5 84. Rf6 Re8 85.Kh6 Ke5 86.g5 Rh8+ 87.Kg7 Rh3 88.g6 Rxg3 89.Rf1 Ke6 90.Kh7 Ke7 91.g7 Rh3+ 92.Kg8 Rh4 93.Re1+ Kd7 94.Kf7 Rf4+ 95.Kg6 Rg4+ 96.Kf6 Rg3 97.Re5> resigns
Apr-25-16  Albion 1959: If I am correct then is the game that Botvinnik refers to on page 32 of his One Hundred Selected Games. This game does not feature in the book, though given it's importance I don't know why he did not include it. He makes no actual reference to the name of the opponent, except to say that it lasted thirteen hours! Having gone through the database of the games he played in 1926, then by elimination it has got to be this game. Since there are no other games of this length and that 97 moves played over thirteen hours would appear to be about right? A fascinating game to look at, where Botvinnik's patience and iron will win the game. Maybe he considered 97 moves as too long a game to be included in a selected game collection?
Sep-10-17  andrea volponi: Why not 73...Kd5! -a7 Ra6 ?.draw for me.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Ziryab: @andrea volponi, You may be correct. I cannot refute it.
Premium Chessgames Member

From group 1 of the "Olympiad in Leningrad" in which Botvinnik took 1st prize over Mikhail Szebarszin , who finished 2nd.

Cross table:

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