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Alexander Tolush vs Mikhail Botvinnik
USSR Championship (1945), Moscow URS, rd 2, Jun-??
French Defense: Winawer. Positional Variation (C19)  ·  0-1



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Given 12 times; par: 67 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-29-03  Fulkrum: I'm not sure what white was thinking when he moved 9. a4 This seems to lose a pawn for him.
Apr-29-03  Fulkrum: Interesting positional exchange sac.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GlassCow: My favorite move in this game was 31 ... Rh8!! Botvinnik knew that taking the insignificant h pawn would have lost him the b4 pawn, so he pushed the rook to the first rank in order to swing it to b8 after the exchange of pawns. Quite an ingenious concept.
May-29-05  aw1988: This is Botvinnik's famous blockading of the a4 square in the French, now a well-known idea.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Botvinnik was in great form in this event which I think he won by two clear points. In the first round he had beaten the almost-indestructible Flohr. This game against Tolush was in round 2.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Botvinnik finished 15-2 (+13-0=4), which was three points of second-place Isaac Boleslavsky and five points ahead of third-place David Bronstein!

Smyslov, Kotov, Bondarevsky and Lilienthal also participated.

Probably the best performance of Botvinnik's career, and one of the greatest tournament performances in history.

Nov-11-07  fictionist: I guess Mr. Petrosian learned something from Mr. Botvinnik's 21...Rxd6!?
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 8..c4 is not mentioned in any of the theoretical works I have. 8..Nbc6, 8..Qc7, 8 Bd7 and 8..Qa4 are all mentioned. I guess in modern chess it is not fashionable to release the tension this quickly. Botvinnik considered 10 Be2 to be too slow recommending 10 Ng5 instead. It is not clear whether the pawn sacrifice 9 a4 is valid given how passive white's position is. The maneuver 12 Nh4 along with the exchange on g6 is unfortunate for white as, after this, there is no pawn break on the kingside to play for. Tolush's best piece was his dark squared bishop and 19..Rb6 already anticipated the exchange sacrifice to get rid of it. If Tolush had not played 21 Bd6 Botvinnik could have forced it with ..Qb8 threatening ..b4. The game was adjourned at move 40. 41 Be2 was sealed but Tolush resigned without resuming.
Jul-18-08  GetClubChess: What opening is this? It looks like the French except not.
Feb-22-09  WeakSquare: Botvinnik makes the French look like a forced win for Black.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: It was better for white to keep the Queens on the board. Maybe 30.Qh2!? deserved attention.
Feb-14-13  Garech: Another superb Winawer from Botvinnik - the man's a legend!


Feb-28-14  LIFE Master AJ: Fine called this one the greatest French games ever played. (A truly superb game by Botvinnik.)
Mar-01-14  john barleycorn: <Honza Cervenka: It was better for white to keep the Queens on the board. Maybe 30.Qh2!? deserved attention.>

Botvinnik's comment on 30.Qh2:
30.Qh2 Qf6 31.cb ab 32.Rb1 Qxd4 and the advantage for Black increases.

Jun-15-14  paramount: This is a good game for 1940s standard game.

How far Bot calculated it, only God knows.

Bot sacrificed his rook to bishop and knew that his pawn storms on queen side would be lethal in the endgame, and he was right.

Because my kind of games based on the deep studies and position understandings, that automatically become very positional instead tactical, i always admire the games like Botvinnik or Karpov even Kramnik more than the bold imagination of Tal's or deep tactical of Kasparov's.

Feb-09-16  Ulhumbrus: The move 23...Kd7 suggests the pawn sacrifice 23 d7+
Oct-13-17  Toribio3: Move 21 Rxd6 by black sacrificing rook for a knight for a strong center. Botvinnik is a strategic thinker; ten moves ahead. At the same time, he is a visionary.
Sep-05-19  Zephyr10: To the extent this game may have been brilliant, it shows how much the chess world, and of course Botvinnik himself, was robbed of his prime years by WWII. Let's not forget how on the eve of that conflict he beat Capablanca in an all-time classic, and, playing black, held Alekhine to a short draw. The early 40s would have been HIS time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <john barleycorn: <Honza Cervenka: It was better for white to keep the Queens on the board. Maybe 30.Qh2!? deserved attention.> Botvinnik's comment on 30.Qh2:
30.Qh2 Qf6 31.cb ab 32.Rb1 Qxd4 and the advantage for Black increases.>

Yes, it looks quite convincing. But still 30.Qxh4 is bad for sure. Maybe 30.Bg4 Qf6 (30...Qxg3 31.fxg3 almost forces black to sac the second Exchange 31...Rxg4 with equality after possible 32.hxg4 Nxc3 33.Rxc3! bxc3 34.Rxa5 Kxd6 etc.) 31.cxb4 axb4 32.Rae1, and now 32...Qxd4 is not good for 33.Qh4 Qf6 34.Qh8 with dangerous counter-attack, and 32...Nc3 33.Rxc3 bxc3 34.Qxc3 Qxd4 35.Qa5! Qxf2+ 36.Kh2 Kxd6 37.Qd8+ Bd7 38.Ra1 Rxg4 39.hxg4 Qf4+ 40.g3 Qd2+ 41.Kh3 Qh6+ 42.Kg2 Qd2+ 43.Kf1 Qxc2 44.Ra6+ Ke5 45.Qxd7 Qd1+ with draw by perpetual check.

Mar-17-21  Gaito: An impressive positional thrashing by Botvinnik. The exchange sacrifice 21...was a deep concept, although engine Stockfish 13 spotted that exchange sacrifice in one second. I suspect that Petrosian learned a lot from this game when he was young. Many players of the French defense quicky want to get rid of Black's light-square bishop under the belief that it is bound to be a "bad bishop". Botvinnik shows in this game that it is not a "bad" bishop, as it protects the pawn chain from behind. There was an Indian master, Sultan Khan, back in the thirties, who also shared that opinion: the so-called "bad bishop" in the French defense should not be exchanged, because in reality this piece is not a "bad" bishop, but a potentially "good" bishop: in the middle game it protects Black's pawn chain from the rear, and in the endgame it comes out with devastatating effect.

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