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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Viacheslav Ragozin
Moscow (1947), Moscow URS, rd 11, Dec-12
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Normal Line (E40)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-14-03  Bionic Brain: A Couple of things -
1) After 11.e4, White's central superiority is very difficult to challenge - Botvinnik has the Bishop pair and a stable space advantage. Botvinnik makes these look sufficient to win the game, but note how vigorously he has to play.

2)After 20.Qd2! why didn't Ragozin resign? There doesn't seem to be a satisfactory defence for Black.

Mar-15-03  bishop: White's 26th move is of course a typo, it should be Bg1 instead of Kg1.
Mar-15-03  ughaibu: Is this from the match in which Ragaozin was instructed to blow smoke in Botvinnik's face?
Dec-03-03  Resignation Trap: No training match here, this was played in Moscow at the Tchigorin Memorial Tournament on December 12, 1947, round 11.

Bishop is correct, 26. Bg1 was played.

Black played passively, and preventing Botvinnik's bind by 7...d5 is one improvement.

Black should have played for the lever of f7-f5 to get any counterplay, and 14...Ne4 (instead of 14...Ne5?) should have been tried.

Failing this, Botvinnik's energetic advance of his g and f Pawns made Ragozin's Knights look very clumsy indeed.

Botvinnik finished first in this tournament, while Ragozin was second in a very strong field.

Mar-04-17  zanzibar: In his "Best Games (1947-1970)" G2 p12, Botvinnik has a rather harsh eval of 8...d6:

<Black simply loses the thread. ...

leads to a loss of time and a weakening of the Q-side>

Of course, modern engines disagree, giving 8...d6 as 2nd candidate move with +0.32/31 vs. 8...exd5 at +0.42/32. (Essentially equal).

Botvinnik does suggest 8...exd5 (and 8...O-O) as better.

Is this a case of a GM's far-vision besting an engine, or is this Botvinnik allowing a personal bias to affect his eval?

"loses the thread" is a pretty strong statement.

Mar-04-17  zanzibar: Let me follow up with Botvinnik's comment about 4...Qe7:

<This is a far from pointless move...>

But MillBase has 19721 Nimzo games, only 5 of which have this 4th move by Black.

Mar-04-17  Retireborn: <z> There's nothing wrong with 8...d6 and Botvinnik's objections were probably more aesthetic than anything else. I do prefer 11...Nc5 to Ragozin's 11...exd5; after 11...Nc5 12.f3 a5 Black seems to have comfortable equality and can possibly folow up with ...a4 and ...Nb3.
Mar-04-17  zanzibar: Botvinnik goes on to label 14...Ne5 losing:

<This move in effect loses the game. Black's position is critical and he has no time for making moves on general considerations, ... Ragozin fails to recognise that his number one enemy is White's knight ... The correct move was 14...Ne4!>

It's clear that by move 21 Black is losing. But perhaps it's not just one move as much as Black adopting a failing plan not to fight for the center (his lead in development evaporates as he tries to rearrange the pieces to defend the K-side).

I would pinpoint the drifting began with the needless bishop remaneuver, 15...Bc8, which loses support for the needed mini-break ...c6.

Mar-04-17  zanzibar: <RB> agreed, that plan (11...Nc5) is playable, though Black will be a little cramped for awhile.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: This game turned out to be the key result in the tournament as Botvinnik finished first a half point ahead of Ragozin and another half point ahead of Smyslov and Boleslavsky. This was Botvinnik's last tournament before the 1948 World Championship tournament. 4..Qe7?! had never been played before and has been repeated only a few times since. 14..Ne5? worked out poorly as the piece was vulnerable when White started pushing his kingside pawns; better was 14..Ne4 15 Bd3..Nxc3 16 Bxh7+..Kh8 17 bxc..Qh4 18 Bd3..Ne5 with counterplay sufficient for near equality. 18..c5 would have saved the piece though White would have retained a clear edge.

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