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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Viacheslav Ragozin
Training game April (1936)
Sicilian Defense: Scheveningen. Classical Variation (B84)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-15-04  ughaibu: What are the views on the genuine-ness of the queen sacrifice in this game?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: I am not quite sure what you mean by your question. Botvinnik used Ragozin as a sparring partner to analyze over and over positions of interest. They often played thematic games. So I think they aimed for the position after, say, the 12-th move and, probably, right for 'that crazy idea that Ragozin had just in the game prior'. (I am not sure about this, I just think it likely.) Would that disqualify it from being a genuine sacrifice?

From the purely over-the-board standpoint, I think that the sacrifice is simply a desperado that, for once, worked. After the Bf2, black can not hold the pawn on e4. So, rather than being slowly destroyed he decides to mix things up via the knight sacrifice. (Subsequent Q for 2R exchange is not much of a sac.) Suprisingly, things just work out.

The suprising part is that the attack has such anemic pickup: black pieces stand rather awkwardly; they are not positioned well for the attack. On the other hand, white piecess prove to be still more awkwardly positioned for the defense.

My $0.02.

Apr-16-04  ughaibu: I asked the question in response to the discussion on the Byrne-Fischer 1956 page as to whether or not Fischer "sacrificed" his queen. In that game after a short series of forcing moves Fischer ended out ahead on material, this game is rather different as Ragozin only has rook and exchange for his queen but wins quickly due to his passed pawn, it's a pity Botvinnik didn't play a few more moves, for example: 29.Qd1 Bd1 30.Be3 Bc5 31.Kf2 Bf3 32.Be2 Be3 33.Ke3 Bc6 etc. On move 17 or 18 black could've protected the e-pawn by Qb7, so I think Ragozin planned the queen sacrifice and favourably assessed his chances at that point. Ragozin was a great player, here are a couple of other games in which he chose to play with pieces other than the queen: V Bergraser vs Ragozin, 1956 Najdorf vs Ragozin, 1948
Apr-16-04  ughaibu: Looking at it again, cant white win in the final position with Ne7?
Apr-16-04  ughaibu: I see, 29.Ne7 Be7 30.Qc8 Bf8 31.Bc5 Rf1 and black has a mate.
Apr-16-04  Calli: <ughaibu> wrote "a few more moves, for example: 29.Qd1 Bd1 30.Be3"

Hold right there :-) 30...Bf3! wins because if 31.Bxd2 Bc5 is mate. All in all, a very interesting combination.

Apr-16-04  ughaibu: Calli: Yes, good one, thanks.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: I think I now understand the philosophical aspect of your question <ughaibu>. Indeed, sacrifices do not always follow a neat classification scheme. In the Duras vs Teichmann, 1906 for instance, the final ~12-move finish starts with a crude grab of material, involves a forced defensive queen sac in the middle, and finishes with an exacting ~8-move forced-mate manuever of rooks and exposed active king at the end. All of it had to be seen when White took the Black bishop because of the doubly-edged tension in the game. So, to what move do we actually assign the queen sac? When the sac happens it is already the only defense. So should we assign it to the piece grab?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Thanks <ughaibu> for pointing out the related games. The Najdorf game is a kind of a 'second cousin', but the Bergraser game setup and pawn-promotion motives realy make it a baby half-brother.
Apr-19-04  ughaibu: Gypsy: That's an interesting point about which move to assign the queen sacrifice, after all individual moves are just elements in a process with both a past and a future. In the present game I assume Ragozin had the possibility in mind when he played Rac8 and it's even conceivable that he played Bd5 in order to provoke Rfc1 and set up the possibility. It can be confidently stated that he had seen it when he played Nc5 and Botvinnik must also have seen it when he chose to reply with b4 rather than, for example, Qe3. A very interesting position as we get the rare chance to see a direct conflict between the players in their assessment of the position arrived at on move 22.
Apr-19-04  ughaibu: Lawrence: I'd be interested in how your machines evaluate the position from move 18 onwards, if you have the inclination. I've just seen that Chessbase give this game as a win for white, which is very puzzling.
Apr-19-04  Lawrence: <ughaibu>, Junior 8 gives this game an eval of -2.74 whereas Fritz 8 gives it -1.78. J8 thinks the Queen shenanigans were not correct on Black's part and gives White an advantage of +1.34 until Bot. made a mistake on move 23.Qb2, should have played Qd2. Ragozin missed out on 2 good moves, 25...Rd1 (R8c3!) and 27...d2 (Ra8!)

This game is not in the 3 volume "Selected Games" but while looking for it I came across something I think you'll find interesting because you were discussing this sort of thing on another thread. At the beginning of his analysis of the actual Moscow Tournament game against Ragozin Bot. says "Before this game a strained atmosphere had been created. I was under quite a lot of pressure to agree to a draw before the game even started." Since he and Capa were fighting it out for first place--Capa eventually won, Bot. came 2nd--Bot. didn't want to lose half a point. He spoke to the influential A.V.Korasiev (one of the founders of Komsomol) and decided to go for a win (and won). So Bobby's story of collusion among Soviet players must surely have been true.

Apr-19-04  meloncio: <Lawrence> This game is in the foreword of the Botvinnik's book "Ragozin's Selected Games", as a 'bonus extra' apart from the 74 games of the book. He wrote that they both agreed to keep in secret the Sacherenne training games of 1936, but after the Ragozin's death in 1962 he decided to show this one as a little homage to his close friend.
Apr-19-04  Lawrence: <meloncio>, does he comment on his move 23? Any interesting remarks about the game in general?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: I do find it refreshing when our silicone brethren disagree in their evaluations. :-))
Apr-20-04  ughaibu: Lawrence: thanks for that, I must admit I dont find any of Junior's three suggested improvements convincing. Your story is interesting, Botvinnik under pressure to draw when he needed a win to try to catch Capablanca, it certainly turns all the mooted motivations on their heads. Had Fischer been correct Ragozin would surely have been pressured to throw the game(?)

Meloncio: I take it then that Chessbase are wrong in claiming white won. I'd be interested to know what Botvinnik had to say about the moves leading up the the queen sacrifice, especially his own 19.b4 and his assessment of the position at move 22.

Apr-20-04  Lawrence: <ughaibu>, hey, you're right, never thought about that. Capa finished with 13 points, Bot. with 12. Bot.'s only loss was against Capa. It would have been easy to have thrown Bot. 2 or 3 extra half points. Bot. doesn't say who it was who was pressuring him to give Ragozin a draw.

<Gypsy>, did you see <ugi>'s comment the other day about a "monkeys' teaparty" to describe the engines squabbling among themselves? lol

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <did you see <ugi>'s comment the other day about a "monkeys' teaparty" to describe the engines squabbling among themselves? lol> No, I did not, but would love to see it. I am sure I will run accross it somewhere, but a pointer would simplify the search.

Also, does 'lol' stand for lord-oh-lord? (That is the only plausible unfolding I can think of.)

Apr-20-04  meloncio: <Lawrence> <ughaibu> Some Botvinnik's comments about this game:

"19.b4 ... consistent but bad move. However, in case of 19.Re1 Qd7 20.b3 f6, white position is uneasy. 19. ... Nd3!! Black decides to exploit the white's king bad position. White has no choice ...."

"22. ... Rfc8! Black don't need to hurry. All his pieces are in perfect harmony."

"24.b5 ... Hopeless, there's no salvation ..."

"25. ... Rd1! The rook is now invulnerable. The threat is Rcc1, or Ra8 and Ra1"

The comments are not really very deep, but remember it was a 'bonus extra' game.

At the end, a mysterious remark: "Now, you reader will surely understand the 'Ragozin question'. Personally I have seen it very clear after this game". A remark for Russian readers ??

Apr-20-04  Lawrence: <Gypsy>, gone with the wind, I can't remember which game it was where <ugi> introduced the "monkeys' teaparty" concept. lol means "laughing out loud."
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <Gypsy> lol means "laugh out loud", although I thought it meant "lots of love".

Botvinnik wrote of his friend :

"Slava's chess intuition was phenominal, and he often saw things which others did not notice. He achieved a lot in his chess career, and would have achieved more had it not been for his gentle character".

Botvinnik also commented that Ragozin found Botvinnik's play "too realistic" hence the lifetime score between them +19; =14; -0 in Botvinnik's favour in official competition.

However, given the help that he gave Botvinnik during his lifetime it was pleasing to see Ragozin win the World Correspondence Championship.

Apr-21-04  ughaibu: Meloncio and Benzol: thanks.
Jul-05-08  Fast Gun: At last a Ragozin win against Mischa, it took him fifteen games to manage this !!
Dec-09-11  indoknight: 17...Rac8! if 18.Qxa6? ,queen will trapped with 18...Bc4 19.Nb5 Bc5!! 20.Bxc5 Qxc5+ 21.Kh1 Nb8! 22.Qa7 Nc6 23.Qd7 Rd8 24.Qb7 Bd5!... nice trap!

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