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Pyotr Izmailov vs Mikhail Botvinnik
USSR Championship (1929), Odessa URS, rd 2, Sep-10
Queen's Gambit Declined: Cambridge Springs Variation (D52)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Nov-19-03  Fisto: What's with these nerds resigning after dropping a couple points? Mikky could have tried something, anything. White's most active piece was traded for a spectator! I find bishops more effective than rooks in the middle-game anyway.
Nov-19-03  TheAussiePatzer: Not hard to spot the tactical motif here (the Queen has no flight squares). Botwinnik should have been more careful.
Nov-19-03  northernsoul: I don't get this at all. I know he's down the exchange but surely it's not so crushing as to force him to resign? Someone tell me what I'm missing here!
Nov-19-03  Spitecheck: Probably resigned out of distaste, couldn't believe he missed this line. Black's is not only material down, the position is worse and exchanges will have to follow to free the black queen from her ugly predicament most likely, this will enhance white's material advantage. I think you're right though, he should have played on.

It's the type of game where he was probably muttering under his breath, "you tiny little patzer, why don't you quit this and sell shoes to the horses for a dollar". Look at Botvinniks own analysis when confronted with a line he missed against Fischer in that famous Grunfeld endgame, I love the way he described himself as having his equanimity wrecked or something like that LOL.


Nov-19-03  Jack21221: It is the psychology of the situation that causes somebody to resign like that. Botvinnik just took a psychological right hook to the jaw, and didn't want to suffer through a bad position for the rest of the game. It seems the game wasn't as important to him as licking his wound from that hit.
Nov-19-03  panigma: If that's the case, then why not resign right after 15. Bd6? Why wait for the rook to be taken?
Nov-19-03  Jack21221: I am sure you've done that. Make a blunder, then play a move or two more in disbelief.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Botvinnik pays ultimate penalty for bringing out queen too quickly.
Nov-19-03  ChessPraxis: Botvinnik was 18 years old when this game was played - already a very strong player but still winning his spurs, so to speak.
Nov-19-03  viderelux: I like 8.Nd2. I didn't understand it for a long time. It's the kind of move I would never see over the board, but am learning to appreciate. It seems to suck all the counterplay out of black's position.
Nov-19-03  eainca: Of course Botvinnik could have thrown the board across the room, lept up on the table and screamed "Why must I be beaten by this idiot???!!!"
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: <Botvinnik was 18 years old when this game was played>

... Botvinnik learned the rules of the game at the age of 12, BTW.

<I know he's down the exchange but surely it's not so crushing as to force him to resign?>

The exchange is a pretty crushing advantage between strong players, though Botvinnik could have played on. Perhaps he felt he was better off spending the next two hours studying Rook endgames or some such thing.

Premium Chessgames Member
  technical draw: The answer is simple. Botvinnik thought his rook was on e-8. Chess is strange. Sometimes pieces just move by themselves. Players have been known to think for half an hour, and then blunder. How is that possible? Thats just the wonder of chess.
Nov-19-03  Spitecheck: I like your take on the situation technical draw, it adds a story to Botvinniks resignation (even if it weren't true). Another reason may have been that Botvinnik wanted to see if the opponent valued his Bishop more than the rook, which would be an error here as the future of this type of game would be decided by the rooks making their way through that barrage of pawns all set up ripe for exchange.

Botvinnik's rook should have been on e8 btw the e5 push looks so automatic in this position.


Nov-19-03  fred lennox: 10...Bxc3 seems an error. Black looses control over central dark sqrs. 10...dxc4 may be worth considering.
Nov-20-03  northernsoul: yeah, when I first saw this and commented I had just awoken, so I didn't really grasp the position. Of course it's hopeless - but nice to see that even the mighty play like mortals from to time
Feb-09-04  Whitehat1963: Keep in mind that Botvinnik was still a teenager here, not the mighty player he later became in the 40s through the 60s.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <Whitehat1963> You should check out my post of October 8th last year.
Nov-14-06  stanleys: <Benzol: Believe it or not this isn't the only game Botvinnik lost to Izmailov. He also lost to him in the 6th round of the semi-final of the USSR Championship in 1931. Unfortunately the score of the game is unavailable.>

I remember seeing the second game between Izmailov and Botvinnik on I manage to find it,I'll post it here immediately.

By the way there was some interesting information about Izmailov.Apparently he was a talented player but with a tragic destiny.If I remember well, he was the first Russian champion after the creation of URSS.In 1929 he qualified for the URSS championships'final(with Verlinsky,Freiman,Kan),but he didn't play it.The official version was - "He had to pass exams in the university",but it was contested by his son later. Izmailov has been shot down in 1937(I believe)
Hope to find more about him soon

Nov-14-06  stanleys: Also I believe that we don't have the entire scoresheet here
Nov-14-06  stanleys: Here is a link to Voronkov's article with the second game between Izmailov and Botvinnik(scroll down to see it):
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <stanleys> Can you upload the game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Bogatyrchuk was Botvinnik's bĂȘte noir: beat him 3-0 -- see -- including at the great Moscow 1935 where Botvinnik tied with Flohr ahead of Lasker and Capablanca.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Voronsky also has a report on the 1929 Championship, which gives some more details about this game at It's in Russian, and the Google translation runs like this:

"Because the breaks on this record, remains Sozin quote: 'In the future, Izmailov played badly and several times not saw simple extensions, leading to a quick victory, but despite this, still won.'"

Someone who can actually read Russian might want to confirm this, but I think Voronsky is quoting Sozin (who played there) to the effect that our score is incomplete and the game continued. Izmailov played poorly but still won after missing several easy continuations.

Premium Chessgames Member

<Phony Benoni>

This is Nikolai Izmailov's account of the brevity of this game.

Nikolai includes 14...Nxf8 as the final move, and Mihail Marin evaluates the position "+-"

click for larger view

Nikolai Izmailov: <"(after 14...Nxf8) And here, Shakmatny Listok concludes that the fate of the game is practically decided and states White won. It is unknown what further moves were played in the game. I think it was quite symbolic that with this win against Botvinnik <<<my father secured the master's title>>> for himself, because the tournament regulations stated that it was enough to score 1.5 points in the semi-final, and he already had a half-point after drawing with Kan.">

-Nikolai Izmailov, "Petr Izmailov From Chess Champion of Russia to Enemy of the People" (Elk and Ruby,2021), p. 130


Shredder Classic III (13 ply, one hour) evaluated the position after 14...Nxf8 as +1.95 advantage for white, giving 15.a4 as the suggested move:

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