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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Vasily Smyslov
Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Match (1954), Moscow URS, rd 22, May-08
Gruenfeld Defense: Brinckmann Attack. Grünfeld Gambit (D83)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-19-08  Knight13: 45. Kg3 h4+ 0-1

6. Be5 is a waste of time and useless.

Mar-20-08  Resignation Trap: <Knight13> I wouldn't say that 6.Be5 was a waste of time and useless. The idea of playing Bc1-f4-e5xf6 followed by Nc3xd5 is almost as old as the Gruenfeld Defense itself. See: Colle vs Gruenfeld, 1925 . Botvinnik tried the same idea one move later.

6.Be5 was comparatively new and rarely seen when this game was played. An earlier game, Erno Gereben vs Laszlo Szollosi , 1948 was a quick and painful loss for Black:

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7
5.e3 0-0 6.Be5 Nbd7 7.cxd5 Nxe5 8.dxe5 Ng4
9.e6 f5 10.h3 Nf6 11.Bc4 c6 12.d6 b5
13.Bb3 Qa5 14.Nge2 Ne4 15.dxe7 Re8 16.Qd8! 1-0

Botvinnik wouldn't have played 6.Be5 without his usual deep home preparation. Smyslov probably didn't expect it at all, and, suspecting a ton of home analysis, most likely spent much time considering his reply. This is an instance of a sacrifice of tempo in the position in order to gain a time advantage on the clock. The outcome of the game is an indication as to whether it was worth it, or not.

At the start of the game, Botvinnik was leading in the match 11-10, and so a draw would bring him closer to retaing his title at this late stage.

At the very least, 6.Be5 could be viewed as an experiment. And no experiment is ever a complete failure, it can always serve as a negative example!

Sep-11-13  zydeco: A couple of neat maneuvers from Botvinnik: 14.g4-Bg3-h3 (I feel like this type of position comes up a lot, but I've never seen this technique for tucking away a bishop) and 19.Ba6 -- seizing the opportunity to trade off an opponent's bad bishop before it can devise a way to get active.

Smyslov probably felt that he had a kingside initiative but allowed white's pieces to get active. 20.....cxd4 feels like a mistake; black should play ...,Nf6 immediately to retain tension in the center.

Jun-24-14  offramp: <Resignation Trap: ...At the start of the game, Botvinnik was leading in the match 11-10, and so a draw would bring him closer to retaining his title at this late stage.>

Correct! And yet here is an oddity:
<[After 41.♖d6xb6]

click for larger view

Here the game was adjourned, the move 41.Rxb6 was sealed. Smyslov offered me a draw, even mentioning the first few moves of [some] variations. However, because he did so in breach of the rules (via our seconds, rather than through the match arbiter), and because mentioning the specific moves in the variation to some extent compromised the secrecy of the sealed move, I considered myself obliged to play on.>

What an idiot.

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 6 Be5 is a rarely played alternative to the four popular continuations 6 Nf3, 6 Rc1 6 cxd and 6 Qb3. It has the advantage of avoiding mainline theory. It was first introduced in Colles' win over Gruenfeld at Baden Baden 1925 where Black responded 6..dxc; 6..e6 was new and appears solid though it has not been repeated. While White uses several tempi with his queens bishop early in the game this is partially balanced by Blacks' inability to achieve the ..c5 break. After 12 moves the pawn configuration looks more like the Semi Slav than the Gruenfeld. 14 g4 was weakening but ..f5 was a strong positional threat. 20..c4?! would have cost Black material after 21 Qb7..Qe6 22 Ng5. 26..Qe8 looks strange but given the match situation Black needed to play for a win.

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